Thursday, January 31, 2008

Woody's turning in his grave: Arlo endorses Ron Paul

I heard this when briefly listening to one of the idiot, ring-wing radio hosts and thought it was just a joke, but I checked it out and it is sure enough true.

Arlo Guthrie, son of the legendary folksinger and songwriter, has endorsed Ron Paul for President.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Arlo said

“I love this guy,” Guthrie declared in a press release issued by the Paul campaign. “Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of the United States had he been there.”
Really? It's just as likely that Ron Paul would have opposed the Constitution and supported the Articles of Confederation.

It is clear that Ron Paul has allied himself with racists, that he supports a reactionary interpretation of the Constitution, opposes unions, and anti-discrination legislation, social security, the TVA, the Grand Coulee Dam.

It's hard to think of anyone more removed from the spirit of Woody Guthrie than Ron Paul.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Favorite English-language novelists

It's time to take part in the latest Normblog poll--this time it's favorite English-language novelists. Not only are the polls always interesting, but they are a good ocassion for a blog post. Norm emphasizes that it is "favorite" not best. Now my friend G. W. Clift who has kept a list of all the books he has read since college, who reads all of Dicken's novels--in order, and who reads when he walks his dog, might be better qualified to make a favorites list that could claim to be the best. But his list wouldn't be my list, though it would probably contain someone I'll inadvertently leave off. But that doesn't excuse me from trying.

At first, I thought a favorite lists would be easier, but I've changed my mind. Do I pick novelists that I was once crazy about (Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Tom Robbins), but haven't read in years? I've gone through periods when I've read lots of detective and crime novels, should I include them. On the positive side, my list of favorite crime novelists would have a better gender balance than this list is going to have. But it's going to hard to include Sue Grafton and leave out Sarah Paretsky, not to mention Evan Hunter, Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard, or James Elroy. Well, there's a good chance Norm will do another poll on crime writers. Do I include Ralph Ellison? His Invisible Man is a classic, but he never finished another novel.

So here's my criteria. Favorites have to have written more than one novel and I have to read and really enjoyed at least two of their novels. I was going to add without having hated or been unable to finish reading one or more, but that's really not fair. I'm thinking that every great novelists, whether for money or to fulfill a contract, has written a howler. Crime novelists are out. I would be interested in reading more novels by author and would be interested in re-reading.

So, at long last, here's the list. Norm asked for up to 10. I've come up with 8. You're also supposed to pick your top three and rank them. (They'll get extra points

1.Mark Twain
2. James Cain
3. Jane Austin
John Updike
Joseph Conrad
Charles Dickens
William Kennedy
George Orwell

PS: Wikipedia has list of American and British novelists

"Canadian " is the new N-word

The persistence and adaptability of racism in American life has been much in evidence recently. Some of it is familiar. Minister and Republican contender Mike Huckabee makes a totally crass appeal for white racist votes in South Carolina by defending the Confederate flag and, in the process, the anti-gay preacher expressed his desire to stick his pole up the a** of flag critics. Ron Paul, popular among some self-styled leftists, as well as freaked out libertarians.

Some of it is totally new.

According to an article in the National Post, a leading Canadian newspaper , it turns out that racists in the South and elsewhere have taken to using "Canadian" as code-word for African Americans.

a blogger in Cincinnati going by the name CincyBlurg reported that a black friend from the southeastern U.S. had recently discovered that she was being called a Canadian. "She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn't understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else," the blogger wrote.

"After this happened several times with different patrons, she mentioned it to one of her co-workers. He told her that ‘Canadian' was the new derogatory term that racist Southerners were using to describe persons they would have previously referred to [with the N-word.]"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brownback and Moran: what part of the frist amendment don't you undersrtand

According to an article in today's Kansas City Star, Senator Sam Brownback and Congressman Jerry Moran have gotten earmarks to give money to religious organizations.

Sam Brownback and Kit Bond used earmarks last year to direct about $1 million to an area group “empowering the un-churched urban poor for the kingdom of Christ.”
On the surface, the taxpayer-supported appropriations for World Impact Inc. raise constitutional questions about the separation of church and state.,,,

Brownback earmarked $850,000 to renovate the group’s Morning Star Ranch in Florence, Kan., and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, a Hays Republican, set aside $50,000 more. In the end, that money was whittled to $600,000.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Huckabee's racist ties

I thought it was a little strange when Mike Huckabee picked up his electric bass and played "Sweet Home Alabama" the night of the Iowa primary. So it wasn't all that surprising to learn that Huck has been pandering to South Carolina racists by defending the confederate flag.

SHA is Lynyrd Skynyrd's answer song to Neil Young's "Southern Man" and has been named of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs by the National Review

The lyrics say

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

[They also extoll George Wallace and minimize Watergate]
Pretty much echoes Huck's stance on the Confederate flag.

What I didn't know was that the Huckster has a long relationship with the neo-confederate movement. Max Blumenthal discusses the connection on the Nation website

well before he was a nationally known political star, Huckabee nurtured a relationship with America's largest white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens. The extent of Huckabee's interaction with the racist group is unclear, but this much is known: he accepted an invitation to speak at the group's annual conference in 1993 and ultimately delivered a videotaped address that was "extremely well received by the audience."
The person behind the independent ads promoting the Huckster's flag stance is a neo-confederate. According to Right Wing Watch

a belated Civil War battle is being fought in this year’s Republican primary in South Carolina. But if advocates of flying the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol hope to convince people it’s unrelated to racism, they could hardly have a worse spokesman than Ron Wilson.

Wilson is the man behind the eloquently-named Americans for the Preservation of American Culture, which is running radio ads lambasting John McCain and Mitt Romney for their stances on the flag issue while praising Mike Huckabee.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says

Wilson is a former member of the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens, both hate groups. His education expertise is limited to the business he ran out of his home selling textbooks to home-schoolers. One of these, Barbarians Inside the Gates, theorized that Jews are working towards world domination — and was specially touted by Wilson's Web site, which insisted, "You MUST READ THIS BOOK."

In his role heading the 32,000-member SCV, Wilson was part of a takeover attempt by extremists, and led efforts to purge more than 300 members for publicly condemning racism in the SCV. Since Wilson left that post in August 2004, the SCV has started to implode as the raging internal controversy continues.

Note: The intention of Lynyrd Synyrd in making Sweet Home Alabama may not have been racist as this webpage argues, but it can be a good indicator.

Presidential Matching

A friend told me he leaned towards one of the candidates, but wasn't really sure where s/he stood on the issues. So I thought I'd compile a list of on-line quizzes that claim to match your views with the candidates.

My experience is similar to that of the Seattle Times asked four readers to try several of the quizzes and concluded that the "results were all over the map."

Here are some of the quizzes I've found.

USA Today/ABC News Candidate Match Game

Comment: Very technically sophisticated. Gives a bar chart or matrix comparison, not a percentage comparison. Allows user to rate importance of issues. Doesn't seem to have caught Huckabee's shift to a strong anti-immigrant position.

No question about worker's rights or poverty.

Vote Match Quiz Not so high tech, everything on one page.

No workers right question. If you answer question "teach moral values in school" that means you favor official prayer in schools and believe "Judeo-Christian values are American valuea." Says that Ron Paul supports increased federal funding for health care.

Select Smart Presidential Candidate Selector.

This is not done by a big media company, there are annoying ads. Does have a labor question. Allow user to rate issues as more or less important. Last updated August 2007.

Didn't match well with my views.

Minnesota Public Radio

On education and other issues, it gives far too many options. Rates Ron Paul as being opposed to privatization of social security, but then explains "CANDIDATE'S POSITION: According to the Cato Institute, 'Paul contends that Congress must stop spending in order to best fix the problem of insolvency. Paul opposes personal accounts because he believes Social Security is unconstitutional. Instead, he believes that individuals should have total control over how to invest their money and is in favor of cutting payroll taxes to allow this to happen."'

Electoral Compass USA

From a Dutch company. High tech, rates user along economic and social axes.

It does show that the Democratic and Republican contenders are in two distinct clusters.

But there's something deeply flawed about this test. It shows John Edwards to the right of Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson on the economic axis.It doesn't show Ron Paul--who wants to abolish social security, the Federal Reserve, anti-discrimination legislation--as furthest to the right on economics.

It doesn't ask a question about the right to form a union. It doesn't ask a question about so-called free trade.

Votematch USA

From another Dutch company. Has a question about teacher's unions. Has a question about trade, but it is framed in terms of protecting markets. Let's you rate issues as being of special importance. Gives a one-dimensional graph of how you compare to candidates. Shows the results for everyone who has taken the poll.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Latino Studies Conference at KU

This looks like an extremely interesting conference at Kansas University, February 8 -9. I don't think I'll be able to attend, but here are few sessions I would want to catch if I could. That should give you since of the conference.

The Friday morning plenary looks outstanding.

Juan Flores, New York University: "There Is No Americano Dream." Flores is author of From Bomba to Hip Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity and Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity
Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, University of Southern California: "Migration Nation: Fronteras and Fences." Hondagneu-Sotelo is author of Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence and Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Immigration
Emma Pérez, University of Colorado at Boulder: "Nuestra America: A Decolonial Landscape." Perez is author of Gulf Dreams and The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History
Roberto Suro, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California: " The Humpty Dumpty Moment." Suro is author of Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America and Watching America’s Door: The Immigration Backlash and the New Policy Debate

Here's one panel I would like to hear.

Panel #3: Latinos/as in the Midwest (Kansas and Missouri)
3–4:20 p.m.Session IV —Friday, Feb. 8 Malott Room
Moderator: Lourdes Gouveia, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Donald D. Stull, University of Kansas, and Michael J. Broadway, Northern Michigan University: "Meatpacking and Mexicans on the High Plains: From Minority to Majority in Garden City, Kansas"
Lisa Y. Flores, Corinne B. Valdivia, Stephen C. Jeanetta, and Domingo Martinez, University of Missouri-Columbia: "Acculturation and Identity Development Among Latino Newcomers in Three Rural Communities in the Midwest"
Stephen C. Jeanetta, Corinne B. Valdivia, Lisa Y. Flores, and Domingo Martinez, University of Missouri-Columbia: "The Role of Social Capital in Latino Immigrants’ Efforts to Integrate in Rural Communities in the Midwest"
Katherine Acosta, University of Kansas: "New Immigrant Gateways: Latinos in the Heartland "

And another

Panel #1: No Mas Muertes and the New Sanctuary Movement: Humanitarian Immigrants Rights Groups
10:30–11:50 a.m.Session VI — Saturday, Feb. 9

Moderator: Marta Caminero-Santangelo, University of Kansas
Angela Ferguson, Missouri/Kansas American Immigration Lawyers Association: "Current Immigration Spectrum — The Left, the Right and the Middle"
Jane Juffer, Pennsylvania State University: "The Limits of Tolerance: Latino Immigration and Religion in the U.S."
James Diego Frazier, University of Kansas: "¿Agua? ¿Comida? ¿Atención médica?: Diary of a No Más Muertes Volunteer"
Mónica Russel y Rodríguez, Northwestern University: "Moving and Staying: the Gendered Choreography in the Immigration Movement in Chicago"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Support Campaign To Stop Violence Against Iraqi Women

The British Trade Union Congress and others are supporting a new campaign to stop violence against Iraqi women. The campaign launched on January 3rd by the Iraqi Women's League (IWL) Co-ordinating Committee Abroad against violence against women in Iraq.

Their press release is below. You can sign the online petition at

Iraqi women are being killed and subjected to all forms of violence every day. What they have suffered in the city of Basra is perhaps something unprecedented in Iraqi society. Women have been killed and their bodies thrown in streets, especially since July 2007. According to Basra police chief Abdul Jalil Khalaf, the bodies of 50 women were found in different areas of the city during recent months. This may not be the real figure, as families of victims are often reluctant or too frightened to report these horrific crimes.

This phenomenon in particular, and violence against women in Iraq in general, has been a cause of great concern for us in the Iraqi Women's League. We have therefore launched this campaign to mobilize public opinion, exert pressure and intensify efforts to stop these inhuman and barbaric acts. It is also intended to allow the voice of Iraqi women, rejecting all forms of exploitation and abuse of dignity, to be heard by the world.

Your solidarity with Iraqi women will strengthen their resolve and their struggle to change this tragic reality. It will certainly contribute to speeding up the process of uncovering the perpetrators of heinous crimes and violence against women in Iraq, and help to put an end to this barbarism.

We appeal to all the people of free conscience in the world to uphold lofty humanitarian values and support our campaign.

The petition can be signed online in Arabic and English

Friday, January 11, 2008

The invisible candidate

My friend, Eric Lee, has an interesting column on the invisible candidate (John Edwards). You might also want to take a look at his post on which candidate should the unions back.

Implicit Presidential Preference

Okay, so you haven't been able to decide who to back for President. You could closely study the positions of the candidates, or you could take the Presidential Implicit Association Test.

The IAT is, according to Wikipedia, " an experimental method within social psychology designed to measure the strength of automatic association between mental representations of objects (concepts) in memory. The IAT requires the rapid categorization of various stimulus objects, such that easier pairings (and faster responses) are interpreted as being more strongly associated in memory than more difficult pairings (slower responses)."

Here's my Presidential IAT. On the intellectual and contribution level, I'm a strong Edwards supporter and no great fan of Hillary Clinton.

I've taken some of the IATs which deal with implicit prejudice, their first subject and felt more satisfied with the results.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Best of year-end lists (in progress)

When the calendar turns, it is time not only for making resolutions, but also for the best of the the year lists. Here are some that I've come across.

Hatewatch's 1st Annual Smackdown Awards Southern Poverty Law Center's list of the very worst in hate in 2007.

Americans United presents some resolutions for the religious right.

Midwest Skeptic has a list of secular-oriented charities.

Judeosphere has the top ten Moonbats of 2007

Middle East Web's "prophet and loss statement for 2007" --what they got right and wrong.

Scott McLemmee, perhaps today's best intellectual, picked three best books of 2007 for Newsday's

Top ten under-reported humanitarian stories from Doctors without Frontiers.

Progressive economists for Edwards

Economists pick Edwards because he will fight for sustained growth, full employment and an end to poverty

Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, the John Edwards for President campaign announced that more than 30 leading U.S. economists have endorsed John Edwards for president. "Economists for John Edwards" includes such notable scholars as James K. Galbraith from the University of Texas at Austin; Deirdre McCloskey from the University of Illinois at Chicago; Thomas Palley, founder of the Economics for Democratic & Open Societies Project; Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategies Institute; Harley Shaiken from the University of California, Berkeley; and Edward Wolff from New York University.

"I'm proud to endorse John Edwards and his campaign to build One America.," said James Galbraith, the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. "Edwards understands that in order for America to prosper, our economy needs to reward work as well as wealth – and he's proposed detailed and comprehensive policies to address the growing income gap, the health care crisis, job loss and the other critical social issues facing our nation."

"I am honored to have earned the support of this distinguished group of economists," said Senator Edwards. "Today, families across the country are working harder than ever, but struggling to make ends meet. To help middle-class families get ahead, we need a president who will fight for universal health care, smarter trade policies and a new energy economy."

In their endorsement of Edwards, the "Economists for Edwards" signed on to the following statement:

"As professional economists, we support John Edwards for President of the United States in 2008 because we believe that John Edwards has best demonstrated the capacity and the policies to be the next president of the United States.

"We support John Edwards because we believe his campaign is the single best expression of progressive political values in American politics today.

"We support John Edwards because we believe that as president he will best wage the hard fight that lies ahead for the principles and programs we endorse.

"We support John Edwards because as economists, we seek effective public policy aimed at sustained growth, full employment, an end to poverty, and progress toward solving the major social and environmental problems associated with health care, education, trade, taxation and climate change.

"John Edwards' approach to these issues has been uniquely serious, honest, and far-reaching. We urge all Americans – and particularly the Democratic voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - to join us in supporting John Edwards for president."

A complete list of the members of "Economists for Edwards" is included below.
Economists for Edwards

Note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

Gar Alperovitz
Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy
University of Maryland-College Park

Lourdes Beneria
Professor of City and Regional Planning
Cornell University

Michael A. Bernstein
Tulane University

Martha Campbell
Associate Professor, Economics
SUNY Potsdam

Manuel Castells
Chair Professor of Communication Technology and Society
University of Southern California, and
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Science and Technology

Jane D'Arista
Former staff economist
U.S. House of Representatives

William Darity, Jr.
Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy Studies
Professor of African and Africa-American Studies and Economics
Duke University

Paul Davidson
Editor, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
Bernard Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis
The New School University

Gerald Epstein
Professor of Economics
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Susan F. Feiner
Director of Women's Studies
Professor of Economics
University of Southern Maine

James K. Galbraith
Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations
LBJ School of Public Affairs
The University of Texas at Austin, and
Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute

Richard Garrett
Associate Professor of Economics
Division of Accounting and Business Management
Marymount Manhattan College

Mary King
Professor of Economics
Portland State University

Jan Kregel
Visiting Distinguished Research Professor of Economics
The University of Missouri - Kansas City

Peter Hans Matthews
Department of Economics
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont 05753

Deirdre McCloskey
Professor of Economics
University of Illinois at Chicago

Richard McIntyre
Honors Program Director and Professor of Economics
University of Rhode Island.

Thomas Michl
Professor of Economics
Colgate University

David Miller
Assistant Professor of Economics
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

John Miller
Professor of Economics
Wheaton College

Tracy Mott
Professor of Economics
University of Colorado at Boulder

Thomas Palley
Economics for Democratic & Open Societies Project

Dimitri Papadimitriou
Levy Economics Institute
Bard College

Chip Poirot
Associate Professor of Economics
Department of Social Sciences
Shawnee State University

Robert Pollin
Professor of Economics and Director,
Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)
University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Robert Prasch
Associate Professor of Economics
Middlebury College

Clyde Prestowitz
Economic Strategies Institute

Bruce Roberts
Professor of Economics
University of Southern Maine

J. Barkley Rosser
Professor of Economics
James Madison University

Harley Shaiken
Class of 1930 Professor
Graduate School of Education and Department of Geography
University of California, Berkeley

Nina Shapiro
Professor and Chair
Department of Economics and Finance,
Saint Peter's College

Edward Wolff
Professor of Economics
New York University

Martin Wolfson
Professor of Economics and Policy Studies
University of Notre Dame

L. Randall Wray
Research Director
Center for Full Employment and Price Stability
Department of Economics
University of Missouri-Kansas City, and
Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Serious reading on Islam and the democratic left

The magazine/website Reset: Dialogues on Civilization has a most interesting exchange of views between Nadia Urbinati and Michael Walzer on what approach the democratic left should take toward Islam. Four letter essays by Urbinati urging dialogue and three by Walzer saying there are limits to dialogue. Read them here. Warning these are not the easiest reading, but well worthwhile.

Here's a paragraph by Walzer that I like (from this essay.)

So, where does this leave us in the 21st century? What should Western leftists be doing with regard to Islam today? We should be strong critics of jihadist radicalism—and since we are, most of us, infidels and secularists, we are bound to be disconnected critics, focused on issues like life and liberty, which have universal resonance. We should befriend Muslim critics of religious zealotry, both inside Muslim countries and in exile, and try to understand the reasons for their critique and the experience out of which it comes. We should be happy to talk to Islamic intellectuals and academics—though we are not bound to “dialogue” with people whose public position is that we should be killed (or who make apologies for the zealots who hold that position). We should be tolerant of Islam in exactly the same way that we are tolerant of Christianity and Judaism—even as we maintain a general critique of, or skepticism about, religious belief. We should be connected critics of Western intellectuals who make excuses for religious zealotry and crusading fervor (Paul Berman provides an excellent model of how to engage in this critique). And we should defend leftist principles of democracy and equality on every possible occasion. Of course, we should also try to understand the material conditions of democratic politics, as Nadia urges, but we should not neglect the importance of polemical engagements with the defenders of oligarchy and clericalism. Democracy in Europe depended on engagements of that sort, and so does democracy in the world today. I don’t see anything intolerant or Manichean in this political position.
I have two reservations about the dialogue. First, it is a dialogue about a dialogue between Islam and the left. Urbinati, in particular, seems more concerned with the attitude that the left should have towards Islam, rather than actually beginning a dialogue. An example of one side of a real dialogue between liberal, Western values is Andrew F. March's, "Reading Tariq Ramadan: Political Liberalism, Islam, and 'Overlapping Consensus'".

A second reservation is that both Walzer and Urbinati draw a line between jihadi terrorists and the rest of Islam without confronting the pervasive and deeply-rooted opposition in Islamic theology and society to elementary rights of free citizens. The International Humanist and Ethical Union recounts the latest attacks on human rights by the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the UN.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Iowa reports

A few interesting reports from or about Iowa

Marc Cooper on the Edwards surge.

has toughened his tone, making him sound more like a Latin American populist than a genteel Southern Democrat. His speeches have become emotional incitements to "rise up" against the "small band of profiteers" who have clamped down an "iron grip" on American life. He has qualified any notion of politically investing in the Clinton campaign as an agent of change as "insanity" and has said that, unlike Obama, he would "never, ever" sit down to negotiate with powerful special interests like the health care lobby. "They will never give up power voluntarily," Edwards told a cheering crowd Saturday. "The only way they will ever give up power is when it is taken away from them." After listening to just such an Edwards speech this weekend, one veteran campaign observer quipped: "No Democrat has run a campaign like this since Fred Harris." In 1976 the former Oklahoma senator unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the nomination from the left by running on an unabashedly populist platform
Thomas Edsall on will Edwards win?

As the race comes to a close on January 3, it has become increasingly apparent that Edwards and Obama are competing for the same constituency of anti-Clinton Democrats. Most importantly, Edwards has escalated his aggressive anti-corporate attacks, which are producing small, but potentially crucial, defections from the Obama camp of men who favor a bellicose response to their weakening economic position and to their lack of traction in the job market.

John Nichols in The Nation on Edwards having the right message at the right time.

Shiraz Socialist, a UK leftist, argues that US (as well as British) socialists should back Edwards.