Friday, December 31, 2010

My books of 2010

Here is my list of the most memorable books I read in 2010.  I've included only recently published books and minimized duplication with a list of best books for union activists that I'm working on.  

  1. John Atlas, Seeds of Change
Peter Drier writes "No group was better at kicking ass than ACORN. That’s the story that John Atlas tells in his fascinating new book, Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group,.."

Essential reading for social change activists.

2. Ian Fletcher, Free Trade Doesn't Work
Fletcher popularizes the fundamental flaws in the free trade model that have developed in the economics profession over recent decades. Absent highly unrealistic, but often unstated, assumptions, free trade theory falls apart. Jettisoning this misleading and economically destructive theory is essential to constructing a just economy.
A small book that makes the ethical case for socialism based on a camping trip metaphor.
  1. Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer, The  Sate of Jones
In 1863, a poor farmer deserted the Confederate Army and began a guerrilla battle against the Confederacy. Newton Knight refused to fight a rich man's war for slavery and cotton. It is a fascinating history that blows apart the traditional myth of the Confederacy as a heroic and unified Lost Cause.
  1. Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land
The late historian analyzes what has gone wrong in Western democracies over the last three decades.  An eloquent defense of social democracy, the public sector, and progressive politics.

  1. Dennis Lahane, The Given Day
Dnnnis Lahane is one of the country's most successful mystery-crime writers. His novels featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro have been made into movies (Mystic Rivers and Gone, Baby, Gone). The Given Day is a departure is subject matter and style. It is an epic historical novel with the 1919 Boston police strike as its central pivot. It features Aiden "Danny" Coughlin, a Boston Police patrolman and Luther Laurence, a talented African-American amateur baseball player from Columbus, OH. Babe Ruth plays a recurring role.

Radical followers of John Brown applied the values of democracy and racial equality in the Federal Army of the Frontier. Mobilized and inspired by the idea of a Union that would benefit all, black, Indian, and white soldiers fought side by side, achieving remarkable successes in the field.
Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter have written a fascinating and eye-opening history of the companies, institutions, and policies that have created our chemically altered environment over the last century.

If Earth Day or the Love Canal tragedy were the events that brought the environmental crisis into your consciousness, then you owe it to yourself to read The Polluters. Even more so, if it was Global Warming or the BP oil spill.

Killer smog in LA and mass zinc poisoning in Denora, Pennsylvania are two dramatic events, just after WWII, covered by Ross and Amter. But there is also the story of DDT and leaded gasoline. The coverups by companies and the obfuscations of industry-influenced scientific groups are constants in the story.

Government has rarely been an effective regulator. The chemical industry in pursuing its own pecuniary interests has promoted and exploited an ideology of market fundamentalism, which has helped to negate and undermine efforts at regulation.

Jim Stanford, an economist in the research department of the Canadian Auto Workers, thinks economics is too important to be left to economists. So, he wrote this concise and readable book to provide nonspecialist readers with all the information they need to understand how capitalism works – and how it doesn’t.
Published to mark the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, Sullivan sheds new light on the history of America's leading civil rights organization. 
  1. Eric Olin Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias
Encyclopedic in its breadth, daunting in its ambition, Envisioning Real Utopias is the culmination of Erik Olin Wright’s revamping of Marxism. Dispensing with ruptural change and laws of history, Wright restores the social to socialism. He keeps alive alternatives to capitalism by exploring real utopias—their internal contradictions, their conditions of existence and, thus, their possible dissemination. Only a thinker of Wright’s genius could sustain such a badly needed political imagination without losing analytical clarity and precision. (Michael Burawoy, UC Berkeley )

Hugely rich and stimulating, Envisioning Real Utopias is many books in one: an incisive normative diagnosis of the harms done by capitalism; a masterful synthesis of the best work in political sociology and political economy over the past thirty years; an innovative theoretical framework for conceptualizing both the goals of progressive change and the strategies for their achievement; an inspiring survey of actually existing challenges to capitalism that have arisen within capitalism itself; and a compelling essay on the relation between the desirable, the viable and the achievable. Anyone interested in the future for leftist politics has to read this book. (Adam Swift, Balliol College, Oxford )












    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    The joy of fonts

    List of Microsoft Windows fontsImage via WikipediaHere's an interesting post from Kieran Healy on Crooked Timber on "Cognition and Comic Sans"

    setting information in hard-to-read fonts, including Comic Sans Italic, led to better retention amongst research subjects because of “disfluency”. When you have to work harder to read it, you remember it better.
    Abstract: Previous research has shown that disfluency – the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations – leads to deeper processing. Two studies explore the extent to which this deeper processing engendered by disfluency interventions can lead to improved memory performance. Study 1 found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than easier to read information in a controlled laboratory setting. Study 2 extended this finding to high school classrooms. The results suggest that superficial changes to learning materials could yield significant improvements in educational outcomes.
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    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Charles Brown's Christmas Masterpieces.

    Bluesman Charles Brown wrote two Christmas classics: "Merry Christmas,Baby" and "Please Come Home for Christmas."

    And he performed them at the perfect tempo in flawless arrangements that fit the mood of the songs. Enjoy.

    Influential left-wing ideas--Bob from Brockley's take

    Bob from Brockley is one of my favorite British UK democratic left bloggers.  He has new post up discussing "influential left wing ideas."

    He discusses five good ideas, five bad ideas, and five not influential enough.   It's an insightful and thought-provoking list.  I'm not sure I'll come up with my own list.

    The Good Influences: social justice, internationalism, one-state solution, open source, strangers into citizens.  Bob has a distinctive conception of the one-solution, but I still don't agree and would put it in my bad influeces group.

    I do like what Bob says about open source, though I've been a fan since I first heard of the movement.

    Open source – I remember thinking it was one of the sillier elements of the Euston Manifesto that it filled a whole clause (no.14 if you're interested) with open source software: a complete distraction, I thought, from the real issues. But since then I’ve changed my mind as I’ve watched the rise of creative commons licensing, free and open source software, participatory media, citizen journalism and citizen scholarship. If you use Firefox or Wikipedia, for example, you will have experienced small-c communism in practice: voluntary co-operation and mutual aid on a massive scale, at the most sophisticated level possible, to achieve, well, not a common goal, but an endless multiplicity of projects, completely outside the logic of the market or the state.

    The bad influences: 1) national sovereignty 2) Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions 3) Blood for oil/the Israel lobby/the shock doctrine, 4) foreigners are stealing our jobs, 5) second campism.

    Never heard of second campism?  Here is what Bob writes
    Imperialism was one of the great evils of the last few centuries, so it is to its credit that the left has historically opposed it. But nowadays, the power cartography of the world has been so re-calibrated that the whole notion of imperialism makes little or no sense, and the concept of anti-imperialism becomes more and more attenuated. It seems to me that most self-proclaimed anti-imperialism these days is better described as Second Campism – that is, supporting the other camp over one’s own. Thus leftists once flocked to Cuba and the Viet Cong as the enemies of Amerikkka; now they flock to “anti-imperialist” dictators who have even less connection to the left’s core values, simply because they are the enemies of Amerikkka.
    I like this statement.  

    Not influential enough:1)  Mutualism, co-operatives, self-management, 2) small government, 3) no borders, 4) class analysis, 5) agnosticism.
    Class analysis – This used to be one of the most influential ideas on the left. Far too influential, arguably, as the trad left was blind to anything other than class: blind to sex and sexuality, to culture and morality, to psychology, to the sacred, to other axes of identity like gender and race, to patriotism and kinship... But the post-1968, has gone too far the other way. Only the most tedious and dogmatic of leftists talk about class these days. But without that anchor, the value of social justice goes adrift, and the left just surfs every passing wave, from Third Worldism to identity politics, from Gaia to Wahhabism.




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    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Union of Their Dreams author visits Watermark Books

    Rep Delia Garcia, Joe Ewers (IAM),
    Miriam Pawel, Sandy Nathan



    On October 25, author Miriam Pawel gave a talk at Wichita's Watermark Books on her new book Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement. The book is not a biography of Cesar Chavez or a history of the United Farmworkers. Rather it is a collective biography of eight people who jointed the farm workers movement and played important roles in the movement.

    They include Eliseo Medina who was recently elected Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU, making him the highest ranking Mexican-American in the US labor movement.

    Another of the eight was actually at the reading: Sandy Nathan, who worked on the legal team for the UFW. Today, he works as a labor lawyer and serves on the Moundridge School Board. He continued a California-based practice and in the decades since has represented practically all kings of workers, except for farm workers.  He is married to Kirsten Zerger, a Kansas native who was also involved in the UFW. She is now director of education and training at the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College, where she founded a community mediation center. She also teaches courses in mediation, negotiation, law and restorative justice. According to Pawel, “the biggest legacy of the UFW today is a generation of lawyers, activists, and organizers who learned in the UFW.”

    Pawel described the United Farm Workers as “last great social movement in the country, it changed live in the farm workers in the field and those who worked in the movement...” She added “one of Chavez's great achievements was to bring visibility to a class of workers who had before been invisible, excluded from all labor law legislation. His crusades and boycotts brought them into public consciousness.”

    Her book tells the story of how Chavez imposed techniques from the human potential movement, especially the controversial “game” from the controversial Synanon group and demanded that the UFW remain a movement powered by volunteers. Others, including Eliseo Medina, wanted the UFW to concentrate on bread-and-butter union issues of winning better wages and working conditions and empowering rank-and-file union members.

    The path chosen by the charismatic Chavez, in Pawel's view, led to the stagnation and decline of the UFW. “The UFW today if a very small union, which is really more of a Hispanic lobbying organization,” Pawel said

    “Chavez has never been examined in his totality, he has been relegated to a saintly position that does neither him or the cause any good... there are lessons about what to do if you are in an organization and there is something going wrong when do you speak up, how do you preserve democracy in an organization and still get things done,” Pawel said.

    Pawel said that she hopes the stories in Union of Their Dreams will inspire and inform a new generation of activists for farmworkers. She pointed to the current exciting work by FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and the Coalition of Immakolee Workers.

    A Union of Their Dreams is one of the best books about workers that I have read in recent years. To learn more about the book and for additional materials, including historical photos and recordings, be sure to visit the book's website.
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    Friday, December 10, 2010

    RIP, James Moody

    The great saxophonist James Moody died today.  His recording "Moody's Mood for Love" is one of the great artistic statements of the 20th century.  Here in an interview with Camille Cosby he tells the unexpected story of how the classic came about.



    And here is the original recording.



    It's such a great melody, spontaneously created that King Pleasure and Eddie Jefferson come up with lyrics and produced a vocal classic. Here's Amy Winehouse.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Campaign for Peace and Democracy replies to a critic

     The Committee for Democracy is circulating an important statement in response to an attack.  The statement below is by  Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison and Stephen R. Shalom of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,

    Phil Wilayto's message "Two petitions, two approaches toward defending Iran" urges people not to support the latest statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD), "End the War Threats and Sanctions Program Against Iran -- Support the Struggle for Democracy Inside Iran." As Wilayto notes with distress, the CPD statement has drawn wide support.

     
          If you would like to read the statement, see the emerging list of signers, or add your name to it, please go to our website. Initial signers are listed at the end of this message.

         CPD has two fundamental differences with Phil Wilayto.

         First, we don't believe that the current regime in Iran is one that the left ought to admire. Governments that outlaw labor unions, oppress religious minorities, deny rights to women, criminalize gays, execute minors, censor university curricula, persecute journalists and students, impose religious rule, and torture and kill prisoners and harass their families are opposed to everything the left should stand for.

         Second, we reject Wilayto's view that the left may not "take sides on internal matter in Iran" or, presumably, in any other country targeted by the United States. (Obviously Wilayto does not object to the left taking sides on the paramilitary terror in Colombia, or Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, or South African apartheid on the grounds that these are or were "internal matters.") Of course we don't want the U.S. government invading or intervening on the grounds of a country's oppressive government. Washington only invokes Ahmadinejad's crimes hypocritically and tries to use them to cover its own imperial goals. But it's another thing entirely for the independent left, which fights against its own government's reactionary domestic and international policies, to criticize rotten regimes around the world and speak up for victims of persecution. Grassroots international left solidarity should be extended to people in all countries, whether their governments are supported or opposed by Washington.

         In an attempt to discredit CPD, Wilayto declares that the Campaign was formed back in 1982 "with the goal of promoting anti-socialist movements in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe." While we were certainly opposed to the grim one-party-dictatorships of the East Bloc (which Wilayto seems to think were "socialist"), the fact is that the Campaign was launched with the goal of opposing the Cold War and both of the superpowers. In the words of our Statement of Purpose, we "engaged Western peace activists in the defense of the rights of democratic dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and enlisted East-bloc human rights activists against anti-democratic U.S. policies in countries like Nicaragua and Chile. Along with the European Nuclear Disarmament Movement, the Campaign was recognized internationally for its leadership in building grassroots solidarity across the Cold War divide, and for its refusal to 'choose sides' in the East-West conflict. CPD rejected the self-destructive notion that 'The enemy of my enemy must be my friend.'"

         Wilayto goes on to say that CPD's "campaigns are virtually all directed at undermining governments under attack by Western powers." This is patently false, and Wilayto must know it. A cursory look at our website (www.cpdweb.org) shows the following CPD actions over the past two years, in addition to our ongoing work on Iran:

    - Our statement calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza and to all military aid to Israel.
    - Our call to urge members of Congress to vote against the Afghan war supplemental funding.
    - Our call for the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan now.
    - Our participation in the anti-drone protest, called by Cindy Sheehan, at CIA headquarters.
    - Our letter of solidarity to Egyptian labor protestors.
    - Our work to gather signatures for a statement opposing the reactivation of the U.S. Fourth Fleet deployed to the Caribbean, the military coup d'etat in Honduras, and the agreement between the U.S. and Colombian governments granting the U.S. access to military bases in Colombia.
    - Our opposition to the proposed Czech-U.S. agreement to accept a U.S. military radar.
    - Our publicity for left groups in Pakistan calling for a cancellation of Pakistan's debt and a redirection of the enormous resources wasted on the criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    - Our support of the people of Haiti after the earthquake, noting that "We need to state clearly and firmly now that we oppose the U.S. military occupation of Haiti."   

         And yes we have criticized Cuba's treatment of dissidents. We believe that the right to freedom of expression, and to form independent unions, associations and political parties is indispensable to the ability of ordinary people to defend their interests in all countries. In Cuba today this is especially urgent as a "reform" that includes the layoff of 500,000 workers has been recently announced by the government, and as critical decisions are being made about Cuba's future.

         The fact is that Wilayto's problem with CPD is not, as he claims, that we disproportionately defend democratic rights in countries under attack by Western powers. The record shows that this is a totally unfounded charge. Wilayto and people with a similar perspective from the International Action Center, ANSWER, and Workers World simply think that the left and the peace movement should not defend democratic rights in these countries at all. In our view, this is an abdication of internationalism and elementary democratic principles.

         Wilayto paints a wildly distorted picture of Iran today. He suggests that the Ahmadinejad government defends of the interests of "the poor and the working class," neglecting to mention that it has presided over the privatization of large sections of the economy. (See Kaveh Ehsani, Arang Keshavarzian and Norma Claire Moruzzi, "Tehran, June 2009," Middle East Report Online, June 28, 2009). Wilayto also ignores the fact that Iran's government has recently announced the implementation of its long-held plan to lift subsidies on energy and basic foodstuffs. Despite the government's pledge to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of this policy, working and poor Iranians are justifiably terrified for their economic futures. In Greece, France, Spain and elsewhere workers have resisted their governments' austerity plans. Iranian popular resistance has already begun and may well explode, but it is crippled by the lack of freedom to organize, in particular by the repression of independent unions. (For details on the imprisonment of Iranian trade unionists like bus drivers union leader Mansour Osanloo, see Iran Labor Report .) Iran's independent trade unions have offered broad support to the Iranian democratic movement because its struggle opens up the possibility of freedom for unions to defend the interests of Iranian workers.

         Far from asking "U.S. activists to declare their unconditional support for all" forces opposed to the Iranian government "without distinction," as Wilayto alleges, CPD has criticized Green leaders such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi for reasons that are very pertinent to Iranian workers. We have drawn attention to the murders of leftists that took place under Mousavi's prime ministership, to his ties to billionaire Rafsanjani, and to his support for privatization. We did note, however, that Mousavi's call for women's rights and greater personal freedom had inspired many people, and that their sense of being cheated had pushed many to a more thoroughgoing critique of the system. And we expressed hope that Iranians would be moved to transcend Mousavi's politics, just as we hope that people in motion in progressive struggles in our own country will go beyond the conservative politics of most of their leaders.  (See CPD's "Question and Answer on the Iran Crisis " and CPD's "Reply to Critics Edward Herman and David Peterson on Iran ")  Moreover, our statement of support clearly refers to the mass democratic movement that emerged on the streets following the election of 2009 and has since been driven underground -- not to the armed bands in the Iranian countryside or expatriate Iranian royalists whose goal is anything but democracy and social justice.

         We at the Campaign for Peace and Democracy believe that solidarity among activists from different countries in their common fight for human rights, democracy, self-determination, workers' rights, women's rights and social justice is essential to the cause of peace. We are delighted at the strong support we have received for our Iran statement, which notes the hypocrisy of Washington's invoking concerns for democracy in Iran while supporting brutally authoritarian regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. We are pleased that so many have joined with us in our forthright opposition to U.S. military and economic threats against Iran while supporting the struggles within Iran for an open society. Again, if you would like to read the statement, add your name to it --  or donate to help publicize it, please go to http://cpdweb.org/stmts/1015/stmt.shtml .
     
    Email: cpd@igc.org   Web: www.cpdweb.org
     
    INITIAL SIGNERS OF CPD IRAN STATEMENT: Bashir Abu-Manneh, Michael Albert, Greg Albo, Elahe Amani, Kevin B. Anderson, Stanley Aronowitz, Parvin Ashrafi, Ed Asner, Rosalyn Baxandall, William O. Beeman, Judith Bello, Medea Benjamin, Blase Bonpane, Eileen Boris, Sam Bottone, Joan G. Botwinick, Laura Boylan, MD, Frank Brodhead, Steve Burns, Leslie Cagan, Antonia Cedrone, Adam Chmielewski, Noam Chomsky, Margaret W. Crane, Charles D'Adamo, Hamid Dabashi, Gail Daneker, Bogdan Denitch, Manuela Dobos, Tina Dobsevage, MD, Martin Duberman, Lisa Duggan, Stephen R. Early, Carolyn Eisenberg, Michael Eisenscher, Mark Engler, Gertrude Ezorsky, Samuel Farber, Thomas M. Fasy, MD, Dianne Feeley, John Feffer, Barry Finger, David Finkel, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Jean Fox, Dr. Harriet Fraad, David Friedman, Robert Gabrielsky, Bruce Gagnon, Barbara Garson, Irene Gendzier, Jack Gerson, Joseph Gerson, Sam Gindin, John Gorman, Greg Grandin, Jules Greenstein, Arun Gupta, E. Haberkern, Mina Hamilton, Cole Harrison, Thomas Harrison, Nader Hashemi, Howie Hawkins, Bill Henning, Michael Hirsch, Madelyn Hoffman, Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice-Vancouver, Doug Ireland, Marianne Jackson, PhD, Melissa Jameson, Malalai Joya, Jan Kavan, Kathy Kelly, Tooba Keshtkar, Assaf Kfoury, Mina Khanlarzadeh, Jack Kurzweil, Dan La Botz, Micah Landau, Joanne Landy, Marc H. Lavietes, MD, Roger E. Leisner, Jesse Lemisch, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Traven Leyshon, Nelson Lichtenstein, Amy Littlefield, Martha Livingston, Robin Lloyd, Jan Majicek, Betty Mandell, Marvin Mandell, Nasir A. Mansoor, Dave Marsh, Don McCanne, MD, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Deborah Meier, Martin Melkonian, Marilyn Morehead, Bitta Mostofi, Erika Munk, Ulla Neuburger, Mary E. O'Brien, MD, Derrick O'Keefe, David Oakford, Rosemarie Pace, Leo Panitch, Mike Pattberg, Peace Action New York State, Maggie Phair, Christopher Phelps, Charlotte Phillips, MD, Frances Fox Piven, Danny Postel, Judy Rebick, Katie Robbins, Leonard Rodberg, Richard Roman, Bruce A. Rosen, Elizabeth Rosenthal, MD, Matthew Rothschild, Coleen Rowley, Saffaar Saaed, John Sanbonmatsu, Ajamu Sankofa, Saskia Sassen, Jennifer Scarlott, Jay Schaffner, Jason Schulman, Peter O. Schwartz, Lance Selfa, Stephen R. Shalom, Cindy Sheehan, Gar Smith, Stephen Soldz, Cheryl Stevenson, Patricia Storace, Bhaskar Sunkara, David Swanson, William K. Tabb, Hoshang Tareh Gol, Jonathan Tasini, Meredith Tax, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Sheila Thorne, Chris Toensing, Bernard Tuchman, Adaner Usmani, Wilbert van der Zeijden, Steven VanBever, David S. Vine, Barbara Webster, Lois Weiner, Suzi Weissman, Naomi Weisstein, Laurie Wen, Cornel West, Billy Wharton, Julia Willebrand, Reginald Wilson, Sherry Wolf, Julia Wrigley, and Leila Zand
     
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    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    James Loewen on confederate and neo-confederate myths

     James Loewen, co-editor of The Confederate and Neo-confederate Reader demolishes the myth that the cause of the Civil War was "states rights."  It was, in fact, slavery that was the cause of the Civil War and the motivation of the Southern states was the maintenance and defense of slavery.


    A talk with James W. Loewen from University Press of Mississippi on Vimeo.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Pompeo plays bigot card

    Pompeo illegal,racist billoard 2 In August, Republican candidate Mike Pompeo was embroiled in a controversy when his official campaign tweet recommended "a good read" that attacked Democratic candidate Raj Goyle as a "turban topper." Pompeo apologized, sort of. Pompeo claimed that a staffer had inadvertently linked to the wrong story." Goyle, a second term state representative, is the son of Indian immigrants. While a some experts pointed out that the Pompeo denial lacked creditability, it was generally accepted.

    Now, just days before the election, the Pompeo campaign has a new electronic billboard which proclaims "True Americans Vote for Pompeo."

    Not only does the billboard uses bigotry, it is apparently illegal.



    The Kansas Democratic Party is reportedly preparing to file a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission because the billboard does not have a disclaimer as required by election law.

    The Goyle campaign has launched an on-line petition demanding that Pompeo take down the billboard.
    Here is the letter the Goyle Campaign sent to Rodger Woods, Campaign Manager for Mike Pompeo for Congress.

    Dear Rodger,

    I am writing to request that the Mike Pompeo for Congress Campaign put an end to all bigoted and fear mongering attacks and tactics. The political process deserves better, as do Kansans.
    I have been informed that the Kansas Democratic Party will be filing a FEC complaint for illegal and offensive billboards located at 540 S Broadway Wichita, KS.

    The statement "Vote American Vote Pompeo" is unfortunately another example of offensive material linked to your campaign. We hoped that your apology over the posting of the infamous "turban topped" blog post in August was the last time we would deal with bigotry in this campaign.
    We have known about this billboard for at least 24 hours. It is simply hard to believe you and your campaign are not aware of its existence.

    I hope you agree that illegal, offensive and bigoted material has no place in this campaign.

    Sincerely,


    Kiel Brunner
    Campaign Manager for Raj Goyle For Congress

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    Friday, October 29, 2010

    I remember

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    How elite am I?

    There's a new quiz making the rounds and rapidly becoming a meme.  It's all based on a  column  by Charles Murray, the neo-racist author of the Bell Curve and now a scholar (sic) at the American Enterprise Institute.

    1. Can you talk about "Mad Men?" Yes
    2. Can you talk about the "The Sopranos?" A little.
    3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right?" Yes, Drew Cary, and it it the New Price is Right
    4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? Yes.
    5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga?  No.
    5. How about pilates? No.
    5. How about skiing? No.
    6. Mountain biking?   No
    7. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is?  Yes, I know three. (a) Race car driver, (b) ex-football coach, (c) modern blues musician.  The desired, right answer is (a)
    8. Does the acronym MMA mean nothing to you?  Mixed martial arts.
    9. Can you talk about books endlessly? Sure.
    10. Have you ever read a "Left Behind" novel? No.
    11. How about a Harlequin romance? Yes.
    12. Do you take interesting vacations? Interesting to me.
    13. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? No. I don't even own a backpack.
    14. What about an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor?  I don't even have an idea where that is.
    15. Would you be caught dead in an RV? Yes
    16. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship?  Maybe
    17. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? Yes, but I've been there twice.
    18. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? No.
    19. How about the Rotary Club? No.
    20. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town? I grew up in a town of 12,000 and lived in smaller towns for a year or more.
    21. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? Yes.
    22. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line?  Yes.
    23. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Yes.
    24. Have you ever visited a factory floor? Yes.
    25. Have you worked on one? Yes 


    I scored six out of twenty-five for an elitist score of 24%, which is better (worse) than Russell's 30 percent --eight out of twenty-seven.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Brother, Can You Spare a Dime

    Deficit spending got us out of the Great Depression. Slashing government spending risks turning the Great Recession into another Great Depression.



    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Solomon Burke passes

    The great Solomon Burke died today. He was one of the great soul vocalists of the 1960s and did some great CDs in recent years. Burke had a taste for country music, so his version of a Don Gibson classic is a fitting tribute.


    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Dems gain in State-wide races

    The latest Survey USA poll shows gains by Tom Holland for Gov, Atty Gen Steve Six,
    Treasurer Dennis McKinney, and Secretary of State Chris Biggs. There's still a long ways to go in these races, but usually when Dems win in the state it is due to late movement.

    For Governor, US Senator Sam Brownback and running mate Jeff Colyer today defeat Democrats Tom Holland and Kelly Kultala 59% to 32%. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released 1 month ago, the Republicans are down 8 points; the Democrats are up 7. Among women, Brownback had led by 35, now leads by 19. Among voters 50+, Brownback had led by 31, now leads by 20. Among the 1 in 3 likely voters who identify themselves as moderates, Holland and Kultala had trailed by 10, now lead by 9, a 19-point swing to the Democrats.


    Incumbent Secretary of State Democrat Chris Biggs has gained some ground in his fight against Republican Kris Kobach. Kobach today defeats Biggs by 17 points, 53% to 36%, down from a 32-point margin a month ago. Biggs has gained strength and Kobach has simultaneously lost ground among women, where the two are now essentially even, and to a lesser extent, among voters 50+. Biggs has also found support among moderates, where he had led by a 5, now by 22.

    Another Democratic incumbent, Attorney General Steve Six, is also gaining ground against his opponent, Republican Derek Schmidt. Schmidt today defeats Six 50% to 41%, a 9-point lead for the Republican, down from 20 points last month. There has been an 18-point swing toward the Democrat among women, a 12-point swing among older voters, and Six has dramatically improved his standing in southeastern Kansas, where he had trailed by 25 points, and is now neck-and-neck with Schmidt.

    The State Treasurer race has also tightened, with Republican Ron Estes today defeating incumbent Democrat Dennis McKinney by 11 points, down from 21 points last month. McKinney, like his fellow incumbents in the Attorney General and Secretary of State offices, is up gaining strength among women, older voters, and moderates.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Tom Holland at State Fair

    Tom Holland, Democratic candidate for Governor of Kansas, at the Kansas State Fair debate.


    The Young Guns

    Sunday, September 05, 2010

    Music for Labor Day: Four takes on Work Song

    The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, one of the most influential blues-and-beyond groups of the 1960s, recorded Nat Adderly's "Work Song" on their landmark "East-West" album.  It was also a staple of their life performances. 

    This is a version from San Francisco's "Winterland" Sept 30, 1966. It is from the fantastic Wolfgang's Vault website.


    And here's a version by the Cannonball Adderly Quintet.




    That clip was on a show hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr. who wrote lyrics to the tune.  Here's the link to his take.



    And here's Nina Simone.




    Both the Butterfield and Adderly bands were notable for being integrated, something that was rare and brave in the 1960s, and is still rare today.

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    Friday, September 03, 2010

    Glen Beck rally

     An interesting and entertaining clip from Sam Seder.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Raj Goyle's Social Security Pledge and Why it Matters

    Roosevelt Signs The Social Security Act: Presi...Image via Wikipedia(August 18) Saturday at the  Wichita Hyatt, in front of a crowd of nearly 200 people  at Demofest, State Rep. Raj Goyle, candidate for Congress representing the 4th District, signed a pledge promising to work to strengthen and protect Social Security. The event came on the 75th Anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the bill into law.

    Now some political pledges are primarily  symbolic, but some have real consequences and mark dramatic political differences. This is just such a case. Goyle's opponent, Mike Pompeo and the leadership of the national Republican party have Social Security in their crosshairs.

     

    Goyle's Pledge
    In a speech that received a standing ovation from the crowd, Raj Goyle stated, "Seventy five years ago today President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law one of the most groundbreaking, progressive and forward-thinking programs in our nation's history when he created the Social Security system. Social Security has withstood a World War, thrived in times of peace and unrest, survived recessions and deficits and held firm under Democrats and Republicans."
    "And in 2010, Social Security will be protected and nurtured for many more decades to come, because we in this room - and other like us nationwide - will not let special interests, the Club for Growthers, the greedy Wall Street raiders, the John Boehners and the Newt Gingriches of the world anywhere near this American institution," Goyle continued,
    "I pledge to you today that I will protect Social Security. I will oppose all efforts to privatize it and I will certainly oppose John Boehner's idea of raising the retirement age to 70! Together, we will protect the guarantee of dignity, security and hope that began with FDR 75 years ago," Goyle concluded.
    Pompeo's Plan to Gut Social Security
    In an April 10 interview with the Winfield Courier, Pompeo stated his position on social security.  Pompeo supports raising the retirement age and a Bush-style privatization of social security. And note that the article is featured on the Pompeo campaign website.
    On the spending side, the government needs to move down a path to reform entitlement funding, including Social Security  and Medicare -- the government's two biggest entitlement programs, Pompeo said.
    Options that could be examined include increasing the age for full Social Security benefits to retirees, he said.
    "I would advocate for a partial privatization of the system so people could choose to go into the government-funded program or to a retirement investment program where they could get a return on their capital," Pompeo said.
    Pompeo's GOP vs. Social Security 
    Pompeo's intention to privatize social security, unfortunately, is not an isolated case.
    The Wonk Room summarizes
    Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) much ballyhooed Roadmap for America's Future calls for the creation of private Social Security accounts, akin to those proposed by President Bush in 2005. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has explicitly advocated "reviving President George W. Bush's failed plan to partially privatize Social Security." 
    Reps. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have all touted personal accounts, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has expressed a desire to "wean everybody off" Social Security entirely. Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) even questioned the constitutionality of the program. 
    Kentucky's Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul, meanwhile, has said "let young working people opt out, the sooner the better, let 'em opt out and get a better investment." Indiana's GOP Senate candidate Dan Coats has endorsed a Social Security plan "along the lines of what Paul Ryan has proposed."
    As a Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis found, under a Bush-style privatization plan, an October 2008 retiree would have lost $26,000 in the market plunge of that year, and if the U.S. stock market had behaved like the Japanese market during the duration of that retiree's work life, "a private account would have experienced sharp negative returns, losing $70,000 -- an effective -3.3 percent net annual rate of return." But despite the market turmoil that America just went through, Republicans are most certainly pushing a privatization agenda, under the guise of a manufactured Social Security crisis.
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    Monday, August 16, 2010

    The Polluters: my first Amazon review

    The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment (Hardcover) Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter have written a fascinating and eye-opening history of the companies, institutions, and policies that have created our chemically altered environment over the last century.

    If Earth Day or the Love Canal tragedy were the events that brought the environmental crisis into your consciousness, then you owe it to yourself to read The Polluters. Even more so, if it was Global Warming or the BP oil spill.

    Killer smog in LA and mass zinc poisoning in Denora, Pennsylvania are two dramatic events, just after WWII, covered by Ross and Amter. But there is also the story of DDT and leaded gasoline. The coverups by companies and the obfuscations of industry-influenced scientific groups are constants in the story.

    Government has rarely been an effective regulator. The chemical industry in pursuing its own pecuniary interests has promoted and exploited an ideology of market fundamentalism, which has helped to negate and undermine efforts at regulation.


    The Polluters is free of academic jargon and is written in a lively style

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Abbey Lincoln

    Abbey Lincoln, the great jazz vocalist and activist, has died.  Here are two clips. The first from her early 1960s collaboration with Max Roach (The Freedom Now Suite) and the humanitarian classic "People in Me" from later in her career.








    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Pompeo bigotry right out of Brownback playbook

    By now, you've probably read that 4th Congressional Republican candidate Mike Pompeo was caught using Facebook and Twitter to promote a vile, racist, religiously bigoted blog attacking Democratic rival Raj Goyle. The rest of the story is that this attack on an opponent's religion is nothing new for the Kansas GOP.  Pompeo's campaign made the mistake of being crude, early, and traceable.  A little over a decade ago, Sam Brownback showed how this sort of dirty trick should be done: with a wink, late in the campaign, and with deniability.

    First, to bring you up to date on the recent controversy.

    This is part of the post that the Pompeo campaign recommended as a "good read"

    Like his comrad obama, he wouldn't give an answer, only that he was not a Christian. This guy could be a muslim, a hindu, a buddhist etc who knows, only God, the shadow and ...goyle knows! One thing's for sure ... goyle is not a Christian!
    Since the 2008 election of the evil muslim communist USURPER, barack hussein obama, political candidate "BIRTH CERTIFICATE & RELIGION" information is now a vital part of the vetting/nomination/election process for any and all American citizens seeking political office.
    Just like his evil muslim communist USURPER comrad, barack hussein obama, This goyle character is just another "turban topper" we don't need in congress or any political office that deals with the U.S. Constitution, Christianity and the United States of America!!!
              (screen shot of the since removed tweet and blog can be found here.)


    Pompeo has apologized, but apparently hasn't taken disciplinary against the staffer.

    saying a staff member posted an incorrect link, the mistakes were discovered less than an hour later and the posts were pulled down immediately.

    Pompeo said in a statement, “The statements of the blogger in no way reflect my views. There is no place in campaigns or in public discourse for language of this nature. I have placed a personal call of apology and spoken to Rep. Goyle directly expressing our campaign's regret for the error."...

    Pompeo says he spoke with the staff member in question and is convinced there was no malice. The campaign won’t say if the staffer is facing disciplinary action.
    Now, the rest of the story from Scott Swenson

     I worked on a Kansas Senate race in 1996 when Bob Dole resigned to devote attention to his presidential race. Jill Docking, the Democratic nominee, was attacked in the final days of that campaign by calls into rural areas that were clearly anti-Semitic, asking, "would you vote for Jill Docking if you knew she was Jewish?"

    Those calls, and a series of ads on TV were paid for by Triad Management Services, whose leaders were deposed in anticipation of Congressional Hearings. Triad contracted with a series of nefarious organizations like Common Sense 2006 with names that sound so reasonable, but whose tactics destroy the fabric of our democracy.

    Senator Sam Brownback, the winner of that 1996 race, also claimed he had nothing to do with those ads, though his own ads coincidentally also used Jill's maiden name emphasizing her heritage. A Senate Committee scheduled to investigate Triad canceled hearings once Brownback secured a seat on the committee.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    Remembering Ernest Eber

    Herman Benson writes in the Summer 2010 issue of New Politics

    I remember Ernest Erber, who died in February at the age of 96, as one those few remaining friends and comrades whose political life and ideas so closely followed my own, from our formative years in the mid-1930s through the last 20 years. A a very young man, he joined the Socialist Party-affiliated Young People Socialist League(YPSL) in the thirties. While president of the YPSL in 1937, Erber visited Spain and wrote a pamphlet about the Civil War.  The SP helped form and fund a Debs column and Erber himself joined the staff of La Battale, the POUM newspaper.  In 1938, he left YPSL with the Trotskyists to form the Socialist Workers Party in 1940 after the Soviet Union invaded Finland, he became a founding  and leading member of the Workers Party (later reoriented as the Independent Socialist League.) Some time in 1948, then looking for a socialist philosophy which rejected both right-wing social democracy and leftist Leninism, he resigned from the WP/ISL.

    At the point our ways parted and I lost track of where he went politically; I do know that he became a city planner; he worked briefly for Jesse Jackson as a volunteer; and remained steadfast as a democratic socialist. I knew him and respected him (as did most everyone) as a fine human being, intelligent, of absolute integrity, modest, independent-minded, decent--a  great educator.  He was a leader in the WP/ISL, under the name Ernest Lund he wrote our popular booklet "Plenty for All."  He was a member of the National Committee, served for a time as managing editor of the New International, and was on its editorial board until 1948.  AT the WP (or ISL?) convention around 1948, at a time when we were trying to redefine our role as a movement, he was a lone voice suggesting that we function as a "small mass party" an idea that went nowhere and seems to have little impression even on his own thinking.  When he presented his resignation, indicating that he had abandoned the Leninist, Bolshevik, whatever tradition, Max Shachtman wrote a whole little booklet denouncing him for his apostasy.  Erber wasn't sure where he wanted to go but he knew what he rejected.  In that respect he was a kind of pioneer for a myriad of followers who never will know of him!  At the time, I agree wholeheartedly with Shachtman, but looking back, I am convinced that Ernie, all alone, was (more) right.

    Some of Erber's youthful Trotskyist writings are online. His 1943 booklet "Plenty for All" can be found here.

    After his break with Shachtman, Erber, in addition to his work as a planner, wrote occasional articles and reviews for New Politics and Dissent.  As 1990 essay for the latter journal "Virtues and Vices of the Market: Balanced Correctives to a Current Craze" was reprinted in the Dissent collection Why Market Socialism and other books.

    I had some contact with Ernie many years after his break with Shachtman.  I knew him as a member of DSOC and DSA,  We were both involved in CATNAM (the Committee Against the NAM merger) and in a small group that published a newsletter entitled, if I recall correctly, "Mainstream."  I remember editorial meetings at a Chinese restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. and at his home in the planned community of Columbia, Maryland.  I share Herman Benson's kind thoughts towards Erber.  I wish now that I had known enough to ask Ernie about his political experiences. I am sure it would have been fascinating, but Ernie was very much involved in the issues of the day and treated his far younger comrades with the greatest equality.

    Wikipedia does a fairly good job in describing the political conjecture

    The proposal for merger [with the New American Movement]  generated vocal opposition, however. Forces on the organization's right wing, led by Howe and calling themselves the Committee Against the NAM Merger (CATNAM), urged that instead of courting New Left survivors that DSOC should instead continue to place its emphasis on outreach to larger forces in the labor movement and the Democratic Party. In addition to noting NAM's deep distrust of the Democratic Party, many adherents of CATNAM had grave misgivings about NAM's position towards Israel [and, though not noted in the article, NAM's third-worldist international politics]
    The 1981 DSOC national convention was marked by a very heated debate on the question of merger with NAM, which was ultimately resolved by a vote of approximately 80% of the delegates in favor, none against, with the 20% or so supporting the CATNAM position abstaining.
    One of our concerns, before and after, was that DSOC/DSA needed an internal political culture that consciously and unapologetically resembled the mass social democratic parties of Europe, and not the totalistic environment of the political cults or the hot-house, student movement.  (Of course, neither DSOC nor DSA never had nor desired that sort of insular political culture.  But there has not always been clarity on what they wanted, nor easy to achieve within the dominant American political culture.)  That was an echo, I think, of Erber's idea of a "small, mass party."


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    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Jean Schodorf message to supporters

    Moderate Republican State Senator Jean Schodorf finished second in the Kansas 4th Congressional District primary.  An article in the Sunday Eagle reported that the rivals of winner Mike Pompeo may not support him.   Yesterday Schodorf sent an email to her supporters with an intriguing last paragraph

    I want to challenge all of you.  Please, be concerned about the future of our city, our state and our country.  A candidate (we all know who) said at the WIBA forum that he wants to go to Washington, D.C. to "throw sand in the gears every time".  What does that mean?  Do we really want to stop programs that will help our senior citizens, our kids, the disabled , our safety, the less fortunate and businesses?"  That comment has stayed with me.  Which do you want?  Do you want to "throw sand in the gears every time", or do you want to "roll up your sleeves, pitch in, and be a part of the solution"?  I know which I choose.

    Sunday, August 08, 2010

    Wanted David and Charles Koch, Climate Criminals

    A humorous look at the Koch's. I'd like to see a more serious report. Let me know if there is one around that you are aware of.


    Wanted: David and Charles Koch, Climate Criminals from Greenpeace USA on Vimeo.

    Sunday, August 01, 2010

    Kansas primary outlook 4th District

    Via Daily Kos which also has analysis of other Kansas races.

    A SurveyUSA poll taken just during the past few days identifies the favorites for both parties in this battle to replace Todd Tiahrt. The district is reddish (58-40 McCain in 2008), but Democrats are high on their well-funded challenger: state legislator Raj Goyle. SUSA polling in June showed Goyle actually trailing unknown retiree Robert Tillman, but a quick pre-primary advertising blitz handled that effectively. Goyle now has a 40+ point lead. Meanwhile, Republicans have a more muddled field, which has become a three-way race at the last. For the longest time, it was a battle of the businessmen, as manufacturing exec Mike Pompeo and Florida transplant Wink Hartman paced the field. But moderate state senator Jean Schodorf has surged at the wire, and could figure in the conversation on Tuesday. This week's SUSA poll had Pompeo at 31 percent with Schodorf (24 percent) and Hartman (21 percent) within striking distance.
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    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Who I am voting for in the August Kansas Primary

    I don't ever remember so many choices in the Kansas Democratic primary as we have this year.  There has been a lot more heat and dollars spent on the GOP side, so the information to make an informed decision has been hard to come by.  For what it is worth, here are my recommendations.

    US Senate: Charles Schollenberger is the candidate who has taken the most progressive positions on the issues.  Schollenberger, so far as I can determine, is the only candidate to openly support unions and the Employee Free Choice Act.

    From his website:

    COLLECTIVE BARGAINING:
    Kansans have the right to a satisfying job and a fair wage, whether they work for themselves or others. They also have the right to organize unions and collectively bargain. An array of research demonstrates that union and organized labor benefits the economy by raising living standards for union and non-union workers alike, making companies more efficient and productive, and by balancing the interests of ownership and investors with the interests of the hardworking men and women that make these companies thrive.[9] As Kansas’ next U.S. Senator I will support legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would impose real penalties on employers who harass or fire union sympathizers, or otherwise try to scare workers away from a union. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards favoring a union, the act would require an employer to recognize the union, avoiding long and destructive battles.[10]
    On the economy, Schollenberger has articulated a strong, progressive program in contrast to Lisa Johnson who displays the rhetoric of the right.  She writes about the "skyrocketing federal deficit" and promotes the misleading and dangerous notion that the federal government, instead of acting to stabilize the economy as a whole, should emulate the mythical household . David Haley in the Wichita Eagle candidate survey also pushed the GOP line about balanced budgets and even supporting the line-item veto.

    Schollenberger supports a strong economic recovery program and advocates that it be paid for by a financial transaction tax.

    Schollenberger takes a courageous position in support of immigration reform and is strong in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Haley on immigration channels Kris Kobach and Pat Buchannon, telling the Eagle that the US must "immediately mitigate the rewards currently found for lawlessness and the resulting erosion of our established American culture."

    Any of the Democrats will be a decided underdog to either Jerry Moran or Todd Tiahrt in the November.  Since there is no strong practical politics case that I can see for any of the Democratic rivals,  I am going to vote for the most progressive candidate.  That is clearly Schollenberger.

    Secretary of State: Chris Biggs, the incumbent via appointment by Gov. Mark Parkinson is the clear choice over Chris Steineger.  Biggs has been endorsed by Gov. Mark Parkinson, Sen. Anthony Hensley (Kansas Senate Minority Leader), Rep. Paul Davis (Kansas House Minority Leader), KNEA, Kansas State Firefighters Association, Mainstream Coalition, Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation.

    Steineger has flirted with the Tea Party and spoken at Kansans for (Koch) Prosperity events.  He made noises about running for Governor and then lowered his sights. I can see no compelling reason for his challenge to Biggs.

    Fourth Congressional District: I'll vote for Raj Goyle, although not with the enthusiasm that I had hoped to have.  On many of the issues covered in the Wichita Eagle, I find myself more sympathetic with many of the positions articulated by Robert Tillman.  Goyle, on the other hand, is a great natural politician, a prodigious fundraiser, and an extraordinarily  well-organized campaigner.  He could have a real chance to win the open seat in the Fourth Congressional race.  While not being a progressive Democratic and, I think, running to the right of Dan Glickman, Goyle is clearly no Republican and would be a great improvement over Todd Tiahrt or presumed likely opponents Wink Hartman or Mike Pompeo. (If Jean Schodorf  should pull off an upset, which has gone from a pipe dream to a distinct possibility, Goyle will have to work hard to demonstrate his superiority.)

    Goyle defends. in part, the health care reform bill, abortion rights, affirms that the stimulus program has benefited Kansas, and opposes raising the retirement age for Social Security.  But his answer on immigration avoids taking a position in favor of immigration reform and instead touts his support for an English official language law.  He says the "Out-of-control Washington spending has taken a federal budget surplus 10 years ago and turned it into a record deficit."  As the Center for Budget and  Policy Priorities stated in 2005
    Some seek to portray “runaway domestic spending” or growth in the costs of entitlement programs as the primary cause of the shift in recent years from sizeable surpluses to large deficits. Such a characterization is incorrect. In 2005, the cost of tax cuts enacted over the past four years will be over three times the cost of all domestic program increases enacted over this period.
    Even more disappointing is Goyle's statement a key to stimulating the economy is "by cutting wasteful government spending."  The New York Times recently reported that a study by economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi showed that without the stimulus programs enacted beginning in the fall of 2008
    the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year.
    In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation.

    Gottlieb in on the web

    The Smithsonian is putting the extraordinary jazz photos of William Gottlieb on the web, on flickr to be specific.

    This photo of Art Tatum seemed a good one to share. Tatum once walked into a club where Fats Waller was playing, and Waller stepped away from the piano bench to make way for Tatum, announcing, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house." Tatum is said to be

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Great blues show tomorrow at Cotillion

    Magic Slim, a great bluesman, is performing at the Cotillion in Wichita on Thursday.  I saw Slim a lot when we both lived in Chicago, he's well worth seeing.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Eliseo Medina, SEIU VP, on immigration and civil rights at Netroots Nation

    Eliseo Medina, international vice president of the Service Employees International Union, spoke at a panel on “civil rights in the modern era” at the just concluded Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas.  Medina reviewed the impact of Arizona’s SB 1070.



    Eliseo Medina at Netroots Nation: Unite to Defeat anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic movements from Talking Union on Vimeo.
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    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    The vestigal trait of neo-conservatism

    Neoconservatism long ago ceased to have any meaningful ideological difference with just plain old conservatism. Perhaps the one remaining vestigial trait of the ideological tendency is a mania for forming committees and stuffing them with progenies (of both the ideological and the literal sort). The glory days of neoconservatism in the 1970s revolved around such committees as the Committee on the Present Danger and the Coalition for a Democratic Majority.

    Saturday, July 17, 2010

    LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference

    LabourStart, the international union news and campaigning site, held its first-ever public conference last weekend in Hamilton, Ontario. More than 200 participants from about 30 countries attended. The AFL-CIO blog had apre-conference round up, Working In These Times had a post conference report, and another report was here.

    Here is the plenary talk from LabourStart's founding editor, Eric Lee.