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:

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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day One of the LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference

As I get ready for breakfast on Sunday, I can report that the first open LabourStart conference has been a huge success. Here are photos from the first day.
Here's a pre-conference report from the AFL-CIO Now blog.

And here are photos from the first day. Additional reports later.

Friday, July 02, 2010