Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two stories on John Edwards

I read two interesting stories on the John Edwards campaign this week.

Jonathon Tasini discusses an interesting Wall Street Journal article on how Edwards is seeting the agenda for the Democratic field. The WSJ article is for subscribers only, but here's two key paragraphs.

John Edwards may be stuck in third place in the polls and fund raising in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But the populist seems to be playing an outsized role in driving the terms of the party's debate -- generally to the left -- on everything from Iraq to health care.

This week, the former North Carolina senator has made his most prominent bid yet to place the oft-ignored issue of poverty prominently on the 2008 agenda, with a four-day tour of some of the most run-down parts of the South and Midwest, beginning with his sixth trip this campaign to this city, devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He has talked about the issue more than any of his rivals, and was the first to craft a "poverty" plank in his platform.

David Moberg has a fascinating In These Times article "The Union's Man?"

Edwards walks the talk as well, often on picket lines. The week after his swing through Iowa, he joined a rally at the giant Smithfield hog processing plant in his home state to demand that the company, a notorious labor law violator, recognize workers when a majority signs union cards. During the past two years, the Edwards campaign claims, the former senator and vice-presidential candidate has taken part in more than 200 different union events with more than 20 unions, including a national contract campaign tour for hotel workers, a fast with janitors organizing at the University of Miami and an airport rally in Texas for Continental Airlines ramp employees who were organizing.

“He’s redefined the way public officials engage the ongoing work of the labor movement,” says Chris Chafe, the former chief of staff of UNITE HERE and one of several labor officials with high-level positions in the Edwards campaign—not counting campaign manager David Bonior, the former staunchly pro-union congressman who previously headed American Rights at Work, a labor-rights advocacy group. “I don’t think anyone has come so close in recent memory to putting himself so squarely behind issues central to the labor movement. We’d welcome institutional endorsements, but our goal is to have workers and union leaders focus on what he does as well as what he says.”

Two landmarks

Important landmarks on blogs I enjoy.

Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas is leaving the state to take a position with the National Center for Science Education. Josh has been a leading critic of intelligent design. the banner on his site now say "Travelling from Kansas." Josh is also a supporter of unions and an all around good guy.

Norm Geras recently posted the 200th item of his popular weekly bloggers profile and picked a very suitable subject Norm Geras.

For the list of previous subjects, click here. My profile was no 148.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mainstreaming anti-Semiitsm

I've recently come across two disturbing examples of mainstream media outlets whitewashing two of the most notorious anti-Semites in American history.

US New & World Report publishes occasional "collectors editions" on special topics for news stand sales. I picked up "Mysteries of History" Secret Societies."

In an article on "America's Cult Culture," Philip Jenkins describes William Dudley Pelley as "a religious activist of the 1930s." Pelley was, in reality, the leader of the Silver Shirts, one of the largest and most active Nazi group in the United States with more than 15,000 members at its peak.

The Economist, in a review of Amity Shlaes book on the Great Depression, seems to vindicate Henry Ford's antisemitism.

Ms Shlaes tends to look at the Depression in terms of the conflict between business (good) and politics (bad). At the time, though, Roosevelt's view that the “lack of honour of men in high financial places” was at the root of the trouble seemed like a statement of the obvious, rather than a political pose. Even Henry Ford had been uttering warnings that “the Jews of Wall Street”, as he so nicely called them, had stored up trouble in the 1920s. The Depression appeared to prove him right.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (August 15) I've had an exchange of emails with Philip Jenkins. He writes:

USNWR took my description of Pelley from a book in which I wrote at length about his Nazi and anti-semitic activity. The article that appeared under my byline was abstracted from that book, but I do not believe I was consulted about the final text, which left the Pelley phrase out of context. (Nor did I have any idea it was to appear as a separate article). I am trying to find exactly what happened from my publisher.

Your comments about Pelley's Nazi politics are entirely correct, and I share them fully.

In short, this is a bizarre matter, and I look forward to clearing it up.
Prof. Jenkins was kind enough to send me an extract of his writings and I am informed that he has an outstanding reputation as a scholar, so I credit his explanation.

Nontheless, it is troubling that the editorial staff of one of our leading news weeklies would not realize that describing Pelley as a "religious activist" was highly inaccurate and troubling.

Minor Update August 18. In the third paragraph, I originally wrote "Dudley" instead of "Pelley" in the second paragraph.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Barry Lando Lies About Israel

Truthdig, a website associated with Robert Scheer, a much respected radical journalist, has a bad article by journalist Barry Lando, "Israel's Primal Myth: A Barrier to Peace." I've been noticing an upsurge in anti-Israel articles beyond the sewers of Counterpunch, et al. Lando's article deserves a fisking. I anticipate that someone with more time and knowledge will thoroughly deconstruct it.

For now, note of Lando's outright misrepresentation of Benny Morris.

LANDO "Morris found that not only was there no evidence that Arab leaders had
called upon their people to flee in 1948-49, but that records revealed
exactly the opposite."

MORRIS ".. it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Backlash Against Globalization

Interesting article in the Financial Times

Large majorities of people in the US and in Europe want higher taxation for the rich and even pay caps for corporate executives to counter what they believe are unjustified rewards and the negative effects of globalisation.

Viewing globalisation as an overwhelmingly negative force, citizens of rich countries are looking to governments to cushion the blows they perceive have come from the liberalisation of their economies to trade with emerging countries.

Those polled in Britain, France, the US and Spain were about three times more likely to say globalisation was having a negative rather than a positive effect on their countries. The majority was smaller in Germany, with its large export base

Corporate leaders fared little better, with 5 per cent or fewer of those polled in the US and all large European economies (except Italy) saying they had a great deal of admiration for those who run large companies. In these countries, between a third and a half said they had no admiration at all for corporate bosses.

In response to fears of globalisation and rising inequality, the public in all the rich countries surveyed – the US, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain – want their governments to increase taxation on those with the highest incomes. In European countries, a large majority want governments to go further and to impose pay caps on the heads of companies.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What secularists go wrong about Islam

Taner Edis has an interesting article on the Council for Secular Humanism website.

secular humanists have not been entirely clear-eyed about Islam. While supporting critical inquiry, many secularists have also been partial to simplistic representations of the Muslim world. Indeed, some popular secular literature opposing Islam is hardly distinguishable from Christian and neoconservative polemics. Secularists have been too eager to seek immediate doctrinal causes for Muslim problems. In doing so, many critics have been tempted to identify an essential “true Islam” that is antagonistic to reason and liberal values.
Here's the conclusion

Those of us who do not accept revelation, however, need not go in search of an idealized, true Islam. We should give up those habits of thought that prompt us to seek a well-defined true faith, now to condemn as barbaric rather than to endorse as divine. Religion is a human activity, and what deserve our attention are the varieties of faith revealed in actual practice.

Secular humanists have been very supportive of science and critiques of Islam; they have stood up for freedom of inquiry. And as a godless infidel, a scientist, and a critic of Islam, I am grateful for this support. But we secularists also have our blind spots, our episodes of intellectual laziness. Accepting the framework of a “true Islam” is one such mistake. We can do better.

Michael Yates: Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate

Radical economist Michael Yates was in Wichita yesterday, part of the book tour for his new book Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate.

Some union folks met him for lunch and talk.

He gave a book reading in the evening at Watermark books. There were some more union folks there, including some present and retired members of the letter carriers.

It's a fascinating book. It reminds me a little of John Gunther's Inside the USA but with two big differences. Gunther interviewed business and government leaders; Yates lived with and interviewed working folks. The second difference is that the USA is a very different country today than when Gunther wrote IUSA in 1947. Yates chronicles the growing disparity of wealth and income in today's America.

More important than Guthrie

What was more important than the Woody Guthrie festival? Why did I make it to Tulsa, but not the rest of the way to Okemah.

Quite simply, an almost 12 year old is a huge Weird Al Yankovich fan and I took him to the Brady Theater concert in Tulsa as an early birthday present. It was a long drive down and back, but it was worth it. Al put on a good show and Dominic thought it was great. Al signed autographs after the show.

The Brady Theater is only a couple of blocks from the legendary Cain's Ballroom, which was Bob Wills' showcase in Tulsa.

One of the highlights for me was Weird Al's palindromic tribute to "Bob" Dylan.

For the younger readers of this blog, its a parody of Dylan's premature music video

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy birthday Woody (without illusions)

Today is the 95th anniversary of Woody Guthrie, the legendary American folksinger and songwriter, who did much to enrich our life, not the least being "This Land Is Your Land"

Each year during this week, his hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma throws a grand tribute with a free folk festival. (There is a fund raising concert Wednesday nights.)

I had the pleasure of attending with friends Laura Dungan and Aaron Fowler and can attest to its excellence, even though we were able to go only on Saturday. I reported on that festival visit in 2005 and 2006.

Laura, Aaron, and I each vowed to make it back to the festival. Unfortunately, we haven't. I come closer this year, making it all the way to Tulsa, within 72 miles of Okemah. That's most of the way from Wichita. But I had something far more important to do in Tulsa. (more on that in a later post.)

2007 Thoughts on Woody

As potent as the songs of Woody Guthrie are, as powerful as the arc of his life's story, and as tragic as the suffering of Woody, his family, and friends, we should not hestitate to acknowledge the deep ambiguity of his political and moral choices. For Woody the tribune of the people, the defender of the common people against oppression, the defender of democracy, had a major blind spot. It was a blind spot as significant as the American founders participation in slavery.

Guthrie, if not a member of the Communist Party, during the long years of its slavish devotion to Stalinism, was a full-fledged fellow traveller. His songs followed, for instance, the twists and turns of the CP during the invasion of Finland, and the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Woody never wrote a "Ballad of the Legless Veteran," who after WWII was fired as a government clerk because he belonged to subversive organization. The problem for the American Stalinists was that the veteran belonged to the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. Woody never wrote a talking blues for the March on Washington Movement, the movement led by A. Philip Randolph to force the integration of U.S. defense plants. Here the problem was that the Communist Party subordinated the just demands of minorities and workers to the military needs of the Soviet Union. CP hacks denounced Randolph as a fascist for insisting on the abolishment of Jim Crow in American defense plants.

During the war, the CP applauded the Smith Trial act prosecution of Trotskyists and demanded that Socialist Norman Thomas be prosecuted under the same law. During the cold war, American Communists were, in turn, prosecuted under the same laws that they had supported a few short years before.

Wobblies Vs. Woody

Tom Herriman, producer of Shiftbreak, a Washington state labor radio program, has an intriguing interview with shipwright and anthropologist Archie Green whose new book, "The Big Red Song Book" analyzes the famous "Little Red Song Book" published continuously by the Industrial Workers of the world (aka the IWW, aka The Wobblies) since 1909. Green explodes some of the myths about labor music, and charts the political fights between L the Wobblies and other popular folk singers like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Listen here.

A Final Word for now

Let's not avoid dealing with the full complexity of Woody Guthrie's life. There is no more reason to reject the values and sentiments of his great songs because of his naive attitude towards Stalinism, than there is to reject the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights because Jefferson and Madison were slave-owners. After all, this country still has to overcome its treatment of Native Americans and the post-slavery exploitation of African Americans.

In the final analysis, "this land is your land, this land is my land." But it is not enough to say "This land was made for you and me." It is time that we say "This land is you and I make it together." And, we can, only do that with honesty, reconciliation, and justice.

So, let's celebrate Woody for all he contributed and where he fell short, lets do it right.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kansas GOP launches "loyalty" oath

Gee, the Kansas Republicans are going downhill faster than one can possibly imagine.

Our friend Thomas Frank is going to have to come out with a new edition entitled "What Used to Be the Matter With Kansas"

The Kansas GOP has come out with a loyalty oath and it's a dozy. There have been some important loyalty oaths in American history. They've always dealt with the past or the immediate future. In the post civil war era former Confederate soldiers released upon taking an "oath of allegiance". Lincoln required an oath to "faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of the States thereunder" as a condition for a Presidential pardon. The ironclad loyalty oath during the Reconstruction forbid former Confederate soldiers from elected and appointed office.

During Truman's presidency, after the discovery of Communist spy rings, loyalty oaths were imposed for government jobs. Again, they dealt with the past and present. Here's an example.

"I further swear (or affirm) that I do not advise, advocate or teach, and have not within the period beginning five (5) years prior to the effective date of the ordinance requiring the making of this oath or affirmation, advised, advocated or taught, the overthrow by force, violence or other unlawful means, of the Government of the United States of America or of the State of California and that I am not now and have not, within said period, been or become a member of or affiliated with any group, society, association, organization or party which advises, advocates or teaches, or has, within said period, advised, advocated or taught, the overthrow by force, violence or other unlawful means of the Government of the United States of America, or of the State of California...."
Political parties sometimes require that their candidates do not support the candidates of any other party in the current election or something similar.

In the past, loyalty oaths have been imposed over issues of great import. A rebellion or the infiltration of the government by a conspiracy directed by a hostile government. What has the Kansas GOP so upset pales by comparison. A couple of former Republicans won state-wide office and a few at the legislative level. And that causes the GOP to panic and demand a loyalty oath of an extraordinary sort.

But the Kansas GOP is apparently demanding an oath in perpetuity. They must pledge "never to abandon" "I will, at no point in my political or personal future" "I will not at any future time ..." become a Democratic...or a Libertarian. "I will always be a Republican"

But even these forever promises aren't enough for the fearful Kansas Republicans. No, not by any means. Now they want candidates to forswear even "to ever consider" switching parties.

I, _______________, promise never to abandon my present Republican Party affiliation for the purpose of political gain. The Republican Party, both nationally and domestically, was founded on sound and principled ideals, that include but are not limited to, personal liberty, individual freedom, responsive and citizen-based Government, life-affirming values, economic growth, strong and cutting edge military, low taxes and a mutual respect for fellow Republicans. Because of that, I will, at no point in my political or personal future, find cause to transfer my Party loyalty to any other affiliated organization.

I will not, at any future moment, become a registered Democrat for the purpose of seeking any political office. Additionally, I will not change my Party affiliation to that of any peripheral political party, such as the Reform Party, the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. Such a move would be not only opportunistic, it would be an unjustified trampling of everything that I previously claimed to stand for.

I care far too deeply about the previously espoused Republican ideals as well as the thousands of hard-working Republican citizens all over the State of Kansas to ever consider changing my political Party affiliation. I look forward to a life of citizen-serving, Republican political involvement. I thank the Kansas Republican Party, including all of the registered Kansas Republicans, for their years of service, good will and friendship.

I solemnly pledge to always be a Republican, no matter what promises are made by external forces seeking only to undermine the Republican values I stand for. I can have reasonable disagreement with members of the Republican Party; however, at no point will ‘Party switching’ or quitting of the Party be tolerable.


X __________________________________

(It is also interesting that the Kansas GOP, which once counted a great writer like William Allen White, has fallen on some hard times. Notice at the end of the first paragraph that the want people to pledge not to "transfer my Party loyalty to any other affiliated organization." Wouldn't an affiliated organization be a Republican organization.)

There were always two kinds of Republicans in Kansas. Those who were born Republicans and could never imagine anything different. Republican was just another way of saying Kansan. The absurd and insulting idea of having to swear forever to a Republican and to never at any future time to become a Democrat would be just ridiculous to this sort of GOPer. Now, they would never consider switching parties, but the very idea being asked to take an oath to never even considering switching parties would, I think, strike them as just plain loco. It might be enough to start them to thinking.

The other type of Republican is a Republican because everyone else is a Republican. It made sense to register in the GOP party where the primary made a difference. The road to professional success for many a young professional ran through the GOP. But if the Republicans have to resort to this sort of extreme loyalty oath to maintain their superiority, it may just occur to the go along Republicans that they are on a sinking ship.

Conference of Independent Trade Unions in Palestine

Via Labour Start

On behalf of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine, We would like to invite you to A Conference of Independent Trade Unions in Palestine on July 27 and 28, 2007, In Ramallah, Palestine

Democratic and independent unions in Palestine have decided to join together in order to make their voices heard.

Currently, there are four competing labor federations in Palestine—three controlled by Fatah and one by Hamas. None of these federations have had genuine democratic elections of their leadership in recent years and appointments and distribution of positions in the executive boards are made on a political basis.

This situation has considerably weakened the trade union movement and it has become necessary to create a movement independent of political factions in order to truly represent the will of Palestinian workers.

The goal of the conference is to strengthen independent trade unions and to liberate the labor movement from the hegemony of political factions and the Palestinian Authority.

Independent and democratic unions in the following sectors will participate in the founding conference: financial, health, pharmaceutical, university professors and employees, telecommunications, municipalities and electricity.

Your participation will allow you to become acquainted with the grassroots Palestinian trade union movement and with union leaders elected by their peers to lead the day-to-day struggle for decent work, social protection and equality.

We look forward to count you among us for this memorable event. Should you be able to come, please notify us as soon as possible. The detailed program of the conference will be available within a week.


Hasan Barghouthi
General Director

Normally, I have a bias against dual unions, but this is a different case. I suspect that the existing unions are really not unions, but ideological structures of Fatah and Hamas. The cause of independent and democratic unions in Palestine should be supported.

Monday, July 09, 2007

New blogs

Some interesting new blogs

George Packer's Interesting Times

Open Left

a news, analysis and action website dedicated toward building a progressive governing majority in America. The three founding partners are Chris Bowers, Mike Lux, and Matt Stoller.

For more information on the term "Open Left," please see the article "What Is" by Matt Stoller.
Progressive Strategy Blog

"This blog reports and comments on the most significant insights and debates contributing to the formulation of a strategy for building progressive power in the United States.

Wolfgang Brauner, the editor, is principal researcher and project manager of the Progressive Strategy Studies Project"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Last survivor of Ludlow massacre dies

The Pueblo Chieftain recently reported that Mary Benich-McCleary, the last known survivor of the Ludlow Massacre, died of a stroke on June 28. McClearly was 18 months old when the Colorado militia attacked striking miners and their families on April 20, 1914 at the Ludlow mining camp north of Trinidad during a labor strike.

Wikipedia has good historical survey of the Ludlow massacre

17 people were killed during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado in the USA on April 20, 1914. These deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women, twelve children, six miners and union officials and one National Guardsman were killed. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard. This was the bloodiest event in the 14-month southern Colorado Coal Strike.
According to Wikipedida, the Colorado Coalfield War was the bloodiest conflict in US labor history.

The University of Denver Anthropology Department has an informative website on the Colorado Coal War

The Colorado Bar Association prepared a historical background on the Ludlow massacre for the 2003 mock trial competition.

Here's a little from the Wikipedia entry on the aftermath.

A United States Commission on Industrial Relations, headed by labor lawyer and Democratic activist Frank Walsh, conducted hearings in Washington, collecting information and taking from all the principals, including Rockefeller. The commission's 1,200 page report suggested many reforms sought by the unions, and provided support for bills establishing a national eight-hour work day and a ban on child labor.

The UMWA eventually bought the site of the Ludlow tent colony in 1916. Two years later, they erected the Ludlow Monument to commemorate those who had died during the strike. The monument was damaged in May 2003 by unknown vandals. The repaired monument was unveiled on June 5, 2005 with slightly altered faces on the statues.

There is a memorial service every June and info on the Memorial site can be found here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fact checking Brent Castillo on immigration

Brent Castillo is the Wichita Eagle's designated right-wing Christian columnist. He can be counted on to regurgitate the talking points, snipe at liberals, and distort the facts.

Take his latest column "it's not anti-immigrant to want to secure the border."

Here are some pronouncement by Castillo and the facts as shown by polls which can be found here.

CASTILLO: President Bush and a handful of Republican senators joined the Democrats in pushing for the failed legislation. But an outpouring of negative response from their constituents persuaded many who were waffling, such as our own Sen. Sam Brownback, to vote it down.

It was the right thing to do.

FACT: Castillo apparently is unable or unwilling to distinguish between the number of phone calls generated by a rapid anti-immigrant minority and the views of the majority.

A June 22-24 CNN poll asked "Do you oppose the Senate immigration bill MOSTLY because you think it goes too far toward helping illegal immigrants, or MOSTLY because it does not go far enough toward helping illegal immigrants?"

They found that only 28 percent opposed the bill because it went to far. In contrast, 30 percent supported the bill and 15 percent opposed it because it didn't go far enough.

CASTILLO: The majority of Americans want to see our southern border under control before they're willing to talk about roads to legalization.

FACT: LA Times/Bloomberg poll "When it comes to dealing with illegal immigration, do you favor an approach that focuses only on tougher enforcement of immigration laws, or an approach that includes both tougher enforcement of immigration laws and also creates a guest worker program that allows undocumented workers to work legally in the U.S. on temporary visas." Only Tougher Enforcement 40 percent; Guest worker program too 55 percent

CASTILLO:A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll from June asked: "Compared to other problems facing the country, how big a problem is illegal immigration?"

Eighty-six percent said illegal immigration was one of the most important problems facing our country.

FACT: Only 31 percent said that illegal immigration is one of the most important problems facing the country.

CASTILLO: A Quinnipiac University poll from late last year asked if, in regard to a border fence and increased security, "additional measures are needed from Congress to deal with illegal immigrants entering the country, or do you think this is enough for now?

FACT: The same poll showed that 65 percent favored a guest worker "would allow illegal immigrants to register for temporary legal status and employment." 69 percent were in favor of allow[ing] illegal immigrants to register into a guest worker program, should that program offer them the ability to work toward citizenship over a period of several years.

CASTILLO: The majority of Americans want to see our southern border under control before they're willing to talk about roads to legalization.

FACT: This is a right-wing anti-immigrant talking point. I couldn't find a poll question that asked anything of the sort.

A May CNN poll asked people whether they would favor a number of measures dealing with immigration.

Building a 700 mile fence 45 percent favored, 53 percent opposed.

Creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a number of years to stay in this country and apply for U.S. citizenship if they had a job and paid back taxes 80 percent favored, 19 percent opposed.

CASTILLO: "our border crisis goes unresolved even though a majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, want the problem addressed."

FACT: It is not only a border crisis. It is a crisis of 10-12 million undocumented and exploited workers in the United States. It is a crisis in which major sectors of the American economy are complicit. It is a crisis of exploitation and poverty in Mexico and Central America.

CASTILLO: We need to have an open and honest discussion about what's best for our country.

FACT: Consistently misrepresenting what the polls show about American opinion on immigration is no way to begin an honest discussion. Starting your column with dishonest swipes at the Democratic leadership in the Congress, while ignoring the obstructionist tactics of the Republicans does not show a desire for dialogue.

Brownback was for immigration reform before he was against it

From NBC Carrie Dann

GOP presidential hopeful Sam Brownback was very nervous for 11 minutes this morning. That's the time that elapsed between his initial "Aye" vote for cloture on the Senate's immigration bill today -- essentially an expression of support for the Bush-backed overhaul -- and a change to "Nay" before the vote was over.

Brownback likely recognized that a vote in favor of the bill, which is deeply unpopular among many Republicans who consider it "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, would not play well in the GOP presidential race or in a potential re-election bid in his native Kansas (he's up in 2010). He's supported the bill up until now, and voted to bring the measure to the Senate floor earlier in the week.

***Update*** At 2:10 pm ET, Brownback's Senate office issued a press release entitled "BROWNBACK VOTES AGAINST CLOTURE ON IMMIGRATION BILL," but it didn't mention he voted for the bill today before he voted against it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dr. Bill Roy asks who'll retire Pat Roberts

Dr. Bill Roy, who almost defeated Bob Dole in the 1974 Senate race, has a column in the July 3 Wichita Eagle taking a look at who will retire Pat Roberts.

He writes

his most potent opponents have other things to do. Jim Slattery or Dan Glickman or Kathleen Sebelius would be not just good senators but, nearly certainly, great ones
After a nice survey of those three, Roy concludes

All I'm suggesting is we help [Roberts] graciously retire in a timely manner.

Because, let's face it, Roberts has been running around with a bad crowd -- which he probably recognizes, judging by his early, near-frantic political activity.

So if the big three have reasons not to make a race, who might make a race?

The second tier might be Representatives Dennis Moore, Nancy Boyda, Attorney General Paul Morrison, and Lt. Governor Mark Parkinson. Boyda is in a tough re-election fight and is only a freshman. Moore's seat, once very marginal, now looks safe for Dennis, but maybe not for another Dem. I've heard Morrison make some Jim Webb-like populist sounds, but he's a career prosecutor, not a career politician and probably wants to stay where he is. Parkinson hasn't been a Democrat for long and is probably planning to run to replace Sebelius.

An effective challenger to Roberts doesn't have to come from one of these tiers. Think of Paul Wellstone, a college professor elected to the Senate in Minnesota, or John Testor, a State Senator elected to the Senate from Minnesota.

Dr. Roy is right there is a need for a credible challenger to Roberts. Finding and recruiting such a challenger is one of the three big tests for Kansas Democratic party leaders in 2008. The other two being re-electing Nancy Boyda and increasing the still depleted ranks of Democrats in the Kansas House and Senate.

Labor History in July

DBet you didn't know that all these important labor events happened in July?

July 1 National railway strike with one over one million out (1922)

July 3 Children's Strike for 8-hour day Patterson NJ (1913)

July 5 National Labor Relations Act passed (1935)

July 13 Southern Tenant Farmers Union formed (inter-racial union)

July 14 Sacco and Vanzetti convicted (1921)

July 16 San Francisco General Strike (1934)

July 19 First Women's Right Convention Seneca Falls NY

July 29 Grape boycott ends (1970)

July 30 Lettuce boycott starts (1970)

I know because I downloaded the very cool free July calendar from Northland Poster Collective.
They've been doing great work since 1979, but are having to deal with some critical financial issues, so if you have a wall that needs a statement, order something or make a donation.