Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yikes!!!! Disturbing Developments

Glenn Greenwald and Jane from FDL report about preemptive raids of protest organizer homes. These are clear violations of the Constitutional rights of these people, and apparently the police are much more aggressive than what was seen in Denver.

Some excerpts:
those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house...Nestor indicated that only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is "conspiracy to commit riot." Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional, though because it had never been invoked (until now), its constitutionality had not been tested.

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

He's got video at his site

What a scary country this has become...

Primer on the Palin Scandal

The Bellman seem to be in the business of cataloging the Palin scandal. Good stuff.

EZ Polling Results!

The results are in and they look tasty....

72% of OGnians (that participated) think that Biden is NOT CRAP. Any future references to him, the choice, VPs, and MNBA as crap will be laughingly out of touch with popular opinion, and will be subject to mockery and snark.

Note: would the 2 voters that indicated that they do not participate in opinion polls please contact me, I have a questionnaire I would like you to complete. It only takes a couple hours. I am working on a survey of nonrespondents, but have had trouble with my sample size.

The anticipation for next week's poll is building...see you tomorrow.

Huck the Fuskies

Always Nice to Get a Mention

From a GOP fund-raising e-mail.
Obama and the Democrats are ready to jam their liberal agenda on the American people. Their fundraising troika of labor bosses, Hollywood, and trial lawyers is trying to smash the Republican Senate Firewall and hand the keys over to liberal interest groups.

Crap/Not Crap

McCain's pick of Palin make concerns about his age and health legitimate talking points and lines of attack for the Dems.

I say "not crap."

Friday, August 29, 2008


h/t Hoffmania via atrios

I actually was going to post a funny bit from political radar...I was perusing past posts (led there by atrios also) and came across this:
ABC News' Jennifer Duck reports: During the heated 2008 presidential race, President Bush has never attacked Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., by name, and on Friday, Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters the president has no plans to attack the Democratic presidential nominee when he addresses the Republican National Convention on Monday.

“Do not expect the speech to define the president's legacy. This is not an opportunity to recap accomplishments of the past seven and a half years. It will not serve as a farewell to the American people, and it certainly will not attack Barack Obama," Perino said.

One reporter asked "why not" and Perino replied with a laugh, "Because he's got class.”

Yes the man won't mention his awesome legacy, the kick ass job he's done the past 7 and 1/2 years, and won't be his farewell...too bad, would have been a great speech. What is he going to talk about?
can't wait for the OG liveblog of the Convention...

Palin and Sexism

A friend sent me this. I think it's amazing that the Republicans are pushing the "Palin is hot" meme enough that it took less than three hours for someone to dummy this up.

Sorry if posting it only compounds the problem of women being seen solely as sex objects, even when they are running for VP, but it something I am seeing the Republicans push, so the sign makes a comment.

One of my first thoughts after hearing about Palin is that a good trick by the Republicans would be to have someone like Buchanan or Novak or Savage say something sexist, then she could denounce the sexists in her own party and try to win those Hillary voters over. This might be the first wave on that line.

Noted without comment

This One's Got Legs [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

An e-mail:
"Of course, you are correct that women will not reflexively vote for Governor Palin because of her gender. This pick helps more with *men*. Think we'd much rather watch Governor Palin than Sen. Biden for the next four years?"

How low will he go?

apparently, pretty low. I will not link to the ad. but this screenfreeze appears for about a full second (at least 30 frames) and the C has obviously been shaded out. There is no way this is coincidence, no f'in way.

h/t Raw story

Dean Baker on EFCA

Thanks, Dean:

Anti-labor groups have been trying to whip up opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act by arguing that it will take away workers' right to have their union representation decided by a secret ballot. The most basic problem with this claim is that workers do not currently have this right.

Under current law, it is employers who have the right to demand that recognition be decided by a secret ballot. Unions can, and often are, certified by card check, a mechanism whereby it is determined that a majority of the workers in a bargaining unit have indicated their support for a union. Unions can also be decertified by card check.

The major change of the Employee Free Choice Act is that workers would have the option to determine the manner of certification not employers. The Post gets an "A" for pointing out that it would "end a company right to demand a secret-ballot election." Under the Act, workers would still have the option to petition for a secret ballot election, but the choice would remain with the workers.

Gov. Sarah Palin

Kay Bailey Hutchinson is on CNN right now basically saying that she has never heard of her and knows nothing about her.

So McCain is basically going after the Hillary vote. Giving up the attack on Obama for not having experience and going after the women. Doing so in the most craven way possible.

This race stays pretty effing exciting.


Watching CNN, I have learned that it is sexist to ask if a woman with a 4-month-old with Down Syndrome should be running for national office. On the other hand, we will hear a lot about how she didn't abort the youngster, so she is a paragon of virtue.

Oh, What a Night!

I watched Obama rock my world. The OG did well. I got to talk to my friends. I played poker, which involved a group of us TWICE singing the UO fight song in the face of a Husky. Drank a bottle of cheap wine. Listened to this: loud enough that my ears still kind of hurt an hour later.

Now I am organizing the hell out of some grievances and trying to figure out the "plot" of Ghost Rider.

You know, sometimes life is pretty awesome.

And I try not to remember that the ability for me to enjoy my life is built on a mountain of exploitation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The GOP has been so disastrous at governing that the natural world is wreaking havoc on any attempt for them to get good PR:
Senior Republicans said images of political celebration in the Twin Cities while thousands of Americans flee a hurricane could be disastrous. "Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crisis," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds...


To add to the intrigue, should the GOP have to delay their convention by one week, and McCain accepts the nomination on Thursday... anyone want to take a look at that date on the calender?

The OMG Obama rocked open thread

Because you have scroll fatigue.

Obama speech open thread

Yak on.

DNC open thread

Here's tonight's schedule. Personally, I'm looking forward to Michael McDonald.

See you down below.

This Is Pandering to Courtney

Myerson on Labor

On the heels of several "unity" events discussed previously, Harold Meyerson provides a nonetheless sober account of the state of the unions.

More Novick Worship

Steve For Gov? Will my dissertation be done by then? Will he let me staff it up for 'em?

Marathon Hijinks

Thought some of my friends might enjoy this from Wikipedia:

The marathon was the most bizarre event of the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Games. It was run in brutally hot weather, over dusty roads, with horses and automobiles clearing the way and creating dust clouds.

* The first to arrive was Frederick Lorz, who actually was just trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes, after dropping out after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony and was banned for a year by the AAU for this stunt, later winning the 1905 Boston Marathon.
* Thomas Hicks (a Briton running for the United States) was the first to cross the finish-line legally, after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy from his trainers. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium, had he not been treated by several doctors.
* A Cuban postman named Felix Carbajal joined the marathon. He had to run in street clothes that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill to apples he finished in fourth place.
* The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics; two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). But they weren't there to compete in the Olympics, they were actually the sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit (both were really students from Orange Free State in South Africa, but this fact was not made known to the public). Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.

DNC Wednesday Nite WrapUp

Okay, these are getting increasingly less thorough as I get tired-er and you all do such an awesome, elaborate job with the real-time analysis. If anybody has any specific questions about any of this, feel free to post in the comments and I'll hold the eff forth like a sandwich-man holds forth the produce of his chrome sandwich-maker.

Some things:
  1. As Wobs and Dave discussed in the long commentary below, I had some very high highs tonight. In particular, seeing the Korean guy from Lost was hype! Not to mention Mika Brezinski (swoon) and "Morning Joe" (triple swoon). Jeepers!
  2. Seriously, though, I had a few "we can't lose" moments, but afterwards at the hotel bar (brownies and milk, thank you very much) I found myself a little bit freaked out. I am worried that about Obama's appearance after Biden's speech. Why do it, Barry? Sure, I was happy, but only after quickly repressing the thought that, shucks, it was a little like he was worried about the Clintons and/or Biden stealing "his" show. Even his attempt at explaining why his acceptance speech needs to be at a 75,000 person football arena - sure, it's because he believes in the people, okay - seemed a little control freak-y, like he wanted to preempt the GOP's criticism of him as being a self-absorbed demagogue by acknowledging that's what they were going to do, and trying to answer it in advance but instead dignifying the criticism.
  3. Yes, I am horrified about tomorrow night.
  4. Yes, the roll call drama was beautiful and chill-up-spine inducing.
  5. Yes, I am surrounded by Hillary supporters - political professionals mostly, not zealots - who are no doubt "on board," but nonetheless doing some naysaying.
  6. Dear St. Axelrod, keep playing this perfecly. Yr doing such a good job that my catholic arse can only assume there's a reckoning coming.
  7. 'Saw HRC talk at an SEIU-sponsored healthcare event avec Rendell, Strickland, Patrick, Daschle, Stern. HRC is very impressive talking about l'healthcare.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fuck it, we're doing it live! DNC open thread

Well, I've got the six-pack in the fridge, the tv tuned to CNN, and a healthy dose of cynicism ready to go. Come bring the snark! In case you want to see what's happening, here's tonight's schedule.

Together, we'll find the answers to the following questions:
  • Will the Big Dawg still be as attractive to the ladies as he's ushered out of the limelight?
  • What is the beers-ingested to number-of-minutes-Bayh-has-spoken ratio at which one can remain conscious?
  • How tasty will be the red meat Biden doles out tonight, and can he dish it out without sticking his foot in his mouth?

We'll learn the answer to these questions, and hopefully a little bit about each other as the night goes on.

Just a quick managerial note - if we're as chatty as we were last night, we'll be ginning up a new thread once the comments hit triple digits, so be prepared.

Now get your yak on!

The Place to Be for the DNC

We'll be discussing the DNC in the comments of a tread tonight. Just wanted to give you a heads up. Should kick off around 4 pm PST.

Till now, there's this:

If you can't give it the full five minutes, skip to 4 minutes in. "Pretending they love Jesus" indeed.

Leave Chief Lehner Alone!

Dear Editor of the Register Guard,

I would like to second Charles R. Williams' call for the citizens of Eugene to stop criticizing Chief Lehner for breaking the law [Letters August 27, 2008]. It is time for all citizens of Eugene to realize that the Police Chief reserves the right to break the law whenever he feels it is necessary. We must also accept that he will do this whenever he feels it is appropriate, and that we will not be notified nor given an explanation when Chief Lehner decides to break the law.

It would probably also be wise of us to assume that District Attorney Doug Harcleroad and City Manager Jon Ruiz will be breaking the law whenever they believe to it to be necessary or expedient. After all, one does not wash a back, unless one expects the same courtesy in return. Additionally, I think the men and women on the police force have made it clear over the past decade that they, too, share their Chief's respect for the law and will be violating it when convenient.

I believe that the people of Eugene are often too quick to criticize our police. Everyday these brave men and women kiss their families goodbye knowing that they maybe called on to tase some hippy who was blocking traffic, write a letter to the editor on behalf of the Torrey campaign, or, heaven forbid, rape a couple of prostitutes in the course of their duties. I think it is time to cut them some slack.

Third Way Politics

Now this is some shit I can get behind!

mega-h/t: Larry Shae

DNC report Tuesday, pt. 2

Impressions from the Evening Program

  • I spent the evening seated next to a lady from Winchester, TN, just some dozen miles down the mountain from Sewanee. She assured me that Bennet's Pharmacy continues to thrive, serving milkshakes and their famous, fructose-heavy "Bloody Martys" to Franklin County. She also informed me that, within her congressman-husband's district, Sewanee was the only town to vote for Obama in the TN primary...!
  • I saw the person I think of as "C-SPAN GUY" - cannot find a pic - riding the Pepsi Center's downward escalator and snarfing a long, tall bag of popcorn.
  • In terms of messaging and placement in the program schedule, Change to Win kicked the AFL-CIO's butt last night. Anna Berger and the "walk a day in my shoes" home healthcare worker both had close-to-primtetime slots, whereas Sweeney's bracing teleprompter recitation was buried amidst the hour of snoozeville that ensued between Janet Napolitano and Bob Casey.

dnc Tuesday report - Part 1

AFL-CIO and the American Prospect, All Boats Rising: Transforming the American Economy
  • feat. Richard Trumka, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Jullianne Malveaux, Paul Krugman, Robert Kuttner, Ezra Klein, John Sweeney, Harold Myerson, Rep. Donna Edwards and Sen. Amy Klobuchar
  • What the hell is Paul Krugman doing at this here? Apparently he and Kuttner have had long-running feuds around free trade and Krugman's allegiance to what we could call "Rubinomics." (My question, naturally, was where the hell is Dean Baker?) Anywho, Ezra Klein discussed what seemed like an "ideological convergence" among left and center-left wonks, pointing to how 60% of congressional dems opposed NAFTA, and a decade later 93% opposed CAFTA.
  • Krugman agreed that, alas, he looks forward to the time where the situation is less dire and they can resume their feuding. Krugman continued on to note that Rubinomics had resulted in a Clinton-era budget surplus that was rendered moot by the Bush tax cuts; that tax reform and social services were necessary and important, but ultimately what the macro-economy needs is a fix to the wage inequality John Sweeney calls "obscene." Krugman continued to assert that unions are the best means of rolling back this inequality, and that Friedmanites who would assert that unions were a necessary casualty of free trade should, shucks, looks to an obscure nation like Canada for an alternative example. (This underlines the argument so many of us have arrived at separately: American unions' decline is better understood as a political consequence of the Reagan era than as an economic inevitablility.)
  • Ohio's Sharrod Brown is definitely the "economic populist" face of the 2006-era blue wave, and he made the great point that Democrats can overcome the "god, guns and gays" tactics of Republican campaigning if they actually, actively enunciate not just the tepid Democratic economic platform, but a working families-centered, union-centered one. '(Beats starting a Third Party or passing arcane "fusion" legislation, no? )
  • Ezra Klein then turned to Bob Kuttner, asking how or why we can believe that Obama - whose economic plans have been okay but hardly even post-Keynesian, and who has moved towards the center in so many other ways - could lead us to something like a "new" New Deal (Kuttner's new book tackles exactly this topic.) Kuttner evoked LBJ, Lincoln and FDR, and reminded us that in the case of each administration, "more needed to be done than seemed possible." While Obama's polices did strike academics like Krugman (and I) as the least progressive when compared with Edwards and Clinton, as a genuine nice guy and charismatic leader, BHO always seemed most capable of the hegemonic work of shifting "the horizons of the possible." Kuttner continued, noting how Obama's Cooper Union speech on financial regulation was brilliant, suggested that global financial deregulation may ultimately harm workers more than free trade, but also noted the serious difficulties Obama faced in courting unionists, latinos and retirees. Obama needs these constituencies for more than electoral reasons - as Sweeney suggests, labor and other key groups will have to "have his back" if we can expect him to take a chance on serious reform.
  • Like Krugman before her, Julianne Malveaux cited the "small-ism" of progressive legislation today, and lamented how the Reagan-Bush-Clinton era has all but taken job creating - what we need most, in her mind - completely off the table. A woman of color, Malveaux had a powerful admonishment for white unionists in regards to the "elephant in the room" that is Obama's skin tone - "we cannot afford to lose this election because you are afraid to talk to have the race conversation."
  • Ezra Klein evoked FDR's famous "make me do it" challenge, and asked no less a brainiac than Richard Trumka how it was that labor planned to push Obama towards worker-friendly macroeconomic reforms. Trumka agreed that the Reagan-era political project has shrunk popular expectations for what government can do, and limited progressives in congress to putting out daily fires rather than intervening upon their root causes. He moved on to assert that since Reagan, economic problems in the USA have related neither to growth nor to income, but to distribution (I peed myself, at this point). Trumka continued to cite Working America's massive GOTV mobilization and their plan for after the election, and elaborated upon labor's vision for "wage-led growth" under the Employee Free Choice Act and the Obama administration.
  • Harold Myserson - who called Working America progressives' "best shot" for getting through to working-class whites - took us back to the election at hand, and asked how Obama could take on some economic populist characteristics without, shucks, falling into the "Angry Black Man" posture his campaign has taken pains to eschew. He lauded the AFL-CIO's "meet Barack Obama" initiatives in form and content, praised Joe Biden as a veep choice, but then returned to the question of a growing sense of outrage about our economy and society.
  • Donna Edwards (swoon!) contrasted our ticket, which is fundamentally about "working people," to the current administration comprised of two oil men. 'There's not a dime's bit of difference between Bush and McCain," she said, "and if there were a dime, it wouldn't go to working people." She suggested that with Biden, Obama's campaign can (and should) harness the omnipresent frustration to win a new mandate.
  • When asked for specific transformative programs that could make an Obama administration truly great, Kuttner concluded that, as was the case for medicare and social security, it will be necessary for Obama to "think big," and to shitcan the "fiscal responsibility" rhetoric and be prepared for deficit spending. Whether or not BHO and his coterie of neoliberal advisors agree, who knows? But the issue is, what are labor, minorities and other historically left-leaning consituencies ready to do to pull him leftward? Maybe Richard Trumka could be the new John L. Lewis? I dunno
(After the forum I was lucky enough to meet Thomas Frank, buy his new book, and tell him how the Baffler changed my life when I was sixteen more than any hardcore record. Combined with the aforementioned forum, I knew then that nothing I'd see that night at the DNC would make me feel anywhere near as starstruck and fired up. I was right, of course.)

More Carnage, More Shame

The big purple bummer continues.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Open Thread?

I'm willing to take a shot talking our way through the DNC, even if it's just the three of us. Let's do it!

If the Talking Heads Get You Down

Have a larf on Phyllis Schlafly. Apparently Title IX is the reason the US sucks at the Olympics. Well, at least in the "macho" sports like men's gymnastics and freestyle wrestling.

Please don't pass up the comments because they contain gems like this:
Once a country or a culture accepts false premises, it starts to decline.
False ideas:
1) Men and women are equal in all aspects.
2) All cultures are equally good.
3) All religions are equally valid or moral.
4) Morals evolve with the ideas required or desired by society.
5) Science must find results consistent with the politics of those in charge of awarding money. Example: Evolution must be accepted as a valid physical science even though it is just an unproven fantasy and not based on any scientific evidence.
6) Women have an assumed right to privacy of their body when they are pregnant and want an abortion; even though the baby is not their own body.
7) People are free when the government takes about 50% of their money by taxation (confiscation).
8) The practice of religion cannot be in public places.
9) The government must control education and health care.
10) Foreigners can immigrate to the US in any numbers that the foreigners want.
11) Foreigners can speak their languages instead of English, and must be accommodated by the government.

Prime time speech in the matinee slot

Kucinich rocked the house today:

Awake yet?


Pat Buchanan

Is the man's soul so withered that he actually thinks that political operatives (the Clintons) hope that the candidates in their own party (Obama) lose to improve their chances of winning in four years? Because he is arguing strenuously that anyone who thinks Hillary hopes Obama wins is a naive idealist.

Of course he doesn't think these things. He is a political operative saying whatever he can to stir shit up among the Dems to McCain's advantage.

What possible purpose does it serve to have a Republican political operative "commenting" on the Democratic National Convention? MSNBC just had their B-team eat up a full 5 minute segment arguing with Buchanan as he advanced ridiculous tripe.

Well played, sir, but jeebus.

Kill Bobo

It's four minutes into DNC coverage on PBS and I'm already hoping that a stagelight drops on David Brooks' head.

More DNC Gab

  • Here's the always interesting, must-read Washington Note with a more positive spin on Biden's foreign policy CV.
  • Tom Hayden predicts Obama will lose. Does anybody care? I dunno, but note the references to the violence on the Denver streets.
  • The good people at Venezuela Analysis are hoping that........Obama's election means a change in the USA's Latin American policy.
  • Did I mention we love us some Rachel Maddow in Me-burg?
  • Unlike James Carville, Chris Cilizza seems to grasp what Michelle O's address was actually about.
  • 10 sins of the Father (i.e., John Kerry) that BHO mustn't repeat.
  • Ted Kennedy as Ulysses? Maybe I just take my comparisons to "the big U" more seriously than others.

dnc report, Monday

Okay then.... 'Wish I hadn't looked at CNN so soon after returning from the Pepsi Center. Alas, it would seem that Gergen and Carville would have us believe that the evening was wasted, opportunities lost, etc. I am a bit confused as to what they expected, I guess. Was Michelle Obama supposed to hammer John McCain and argue against offshore drilling? Was the senior senator from Massachusetts supposed to come out of his convalescence and insult Cindy?

Only time will tell if the convention - and tonight in particular - will succeed in inuring BHO to swing-state voters, independents, et al. But I thought that the Claire McCaskill/Michelle Obama block was a very effective way of introducing Barack - and by extension, the post-Clinton, 21st Century, "50 state strategy" Democratic Party - to the at-large viewership: hence the "One Nation" theme and sentimental biopics, respectively. There will be plenty of time to hammer John McCain - and if Hillary, Warner, Biden and Bill don't hammer and hammer and hammer, than they're not worth spitting at - but that's not what
tonight was about.

Now, mebbe yr saying, that's the point, Lex! What was tonight about? Well, I gave you my impression, but it's the impression of somebody who's in the hall, not somebody watching tv like the overwhelming number of Americans who are just starting to think about this election, and just now tuning in to see who exactly the Dems are, and who exactly the Obamas are, in 2008. So why don't you tell me whether you thought tonight worked or not. And I'll throw out a few more general observations:

  • The convention is better lit, and has much better music than 2000....
  • Same stilted, staged and vapid infomercials re: the economy. I wonder if we've embarked upon a new era in which "working families" will come to be as overused a term as "middle class."
  • Nancy Pelosi's speech was dullsville.
  • The crowd went bat-crap when Joe Biden did an impromptu walk-through; ditto for Ted Kennedy, naturally.
  • Just like in 2000, Jimmy Carter was acknowledged and allowed to take a bow, but not allotted any time to speak. 'Makes me kind of sad.
  • I am not sure that Iowa Republican Jim Leach did very much for anybody. Being drunk on 20th century American history I kind of enjoyed his digression re: the Four Great debates in American history. Me and four other people. That said, the idea that Tom Harkin was reduced to little more than introducing Leach seemed kind of like a waste. I wonder if that whole half-hour was aimed at winning Iowa in Novemebr... How many electoral votes do they have over there, -2?
  • Tomorrow is a big day for me.... Onwards to the AFL-CIO Economic Forum.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Even when we're in the midst of a Democratic lovefest, it's important to remember there's still plenty of reasons to be bomb-throwingly pissed. Some Rage Against the Machine for your evening.

"Know Your Enemy"


"Killing in the Name"

Never Thought of It That Way

Chris Matthews just asserted that JFK was "Killed by a communist."

I'm not a Oswald expert, but I've never heard it put this way. What do you think, fair to say JFK "killed by a communist"?

More DNC Gab

  1. No reason not to keep your eyes trained on the Nation's DNC coverage, seeing how they themselves set a nice, inside-outside standard for supporting BHO without conflating him with the risen Christ.
  2. Oof! Tough thoughts from the Left contra Biden: both foreign and domestic.
  3. Also, Kasama has great coverage from the far Left, such as this. That said, what exactly were the gains made during the 1968 DNC that socialist/communist/anarchist/anti-globalization protesters are so hot to recreate?
  4. Another major question for BHO: will he "own" the economy issue by the time he's through convention-ing? He better, because that, women and chaps, is the whole ballgame. And if Biden helps on that score, then I'm prepared to forget about that credit card/bankruptcy vote (just as I've, uh, repressed BHO's switch on FISA.)
  5. Rules committee wrap-up featuring somebody I know.
  6. Michael Moore doing what he does best, mouthing Uncle's anti-McCain talking point #1. Actually, mebbe Uncle could produce us a White Paper contra McCain. I, for one, am still somewhat attracted by the AZ senator's "maverick" posture. It was so rebellious of him to oppose a national holiday for Martin Luther King, par example!
  7. Did I mention who I get to be in the same room with tonight?

In Advance of Le Speech

What say you?
  1. Will we hear the "Yes, We Can" chant from BHO on Thursday nite, or is that a little bit too 'movement-y' for the General Election? Has he tamped down the Cesar Chavez-inspired credo because he doesn't want to overuse it, or because he thinks a black man leading throngs of supporters in an act of empowering self-affirmation is a little too too? Coming as it is on the anniversary of "I Have a Dream," to what extent will the speech try to harness the civil rights legacy, and how sanitized will representations of said movement be?
  2. Will Iraq be referred to as "a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged," or will that sort of outright denunciation be curtailed?
  3. Will Hugo Chavez be referred to in the same breath as Ahmadinejad? You know I love it when them Democrats do that.


Picture this on a crappy t-shirt. Maybe a ringer tee.

I'd wear one.

dnc Sunday report

Okay, now we're talking. Things got underway yesterday at the Convention Center - not to be confused with the Pepsi Center - wherein representatives from various faith groups held an interfaith service celebrating religiosity as such and BHO in particular, and wherein the AFL-CIO held an amazing rally.

Important qualification: my days out here are super-regimented, and owing to the fact that I cannot bring my laptop into the Hall, these reports will be ex post facto as well as rough. Forgive me?

Heading into the arena I was pleased to visit with a whole array of ANGRY secularist protesters. Inspired by BHO's recent tip-of-the-chapeau to 'faith-based initiatives,' these atheists/humanists/agnostics brandished placards reading "The Iraq War was a Faith-Based Initiative" (to which I say, "Amen.")

Other protesters included the anti-choice crowd with their usual terminated fetus porn, and PETA, who advanced their characteristically, uh, evocative platform w/ the new slogan "Stop Global Warming: Tax Meat!"

But back to the anti-choice wankers. Their placards read, "A vote for Obama is a vote for Dead Children," to which I would have loved to reply, "A vote for McCain is a vote for Dead Soldiers."

Anywho by the time I settled into the interfaith blah-blah I was semi-impressed with the speakers and ready to be all "big tent" about the Dean strategy and everybody having a "seat" at the "table." Then two consecutive speakers respectively decried "routinized murder" (i.e. abortion) and then championed the fundamental right of School Choice.

Suffice it to say I was pleased to then dive headlong into a genuinely impressive labor rally, featuring more "rock star" labor leaders than I've ever seen in one place.

Recently, my Uncle and I have been having discussions about the tendency to so-called "rank-and-filism" in labor history and labor studies, which posits - sometimes despite a lot of evidence au contraire - that union workers are constantly primed for class warfare, and constantly let down by their conservative leadership. Well, let me say that yesterday's event belied that claim. The message - from Change to Win, the AFL-CIO, the NEA, et. al - was loud and clear: BHO needs to be the next President, labor cannot afford to wait, and most impressively, unionists need to "call bullshit" (lotta profanity at this meeting - which I loved) on co-workers looking for an excuse to avoid voting for a black man. Honestly, with the exception of GTFF meetings and some of my exploits with the brothers and sisters in Guadeloupe, I have never rolled my eyes or stifled back sardonic laughter less at a labor rally.

  1. AFL-CIO exec veep Arlene Holt Baker emceed the event, and established the theme of "giving America back to the working people who built it."
  2. Next, Colorado's AFL-CIO president got up and talked - in very familiar terms and frames - about the wide range of union-busting ballot initiatives coming down in CO.
  3. Steve Deberra - famous for his very moving appearance at the AFL-CIO Presidential Forum last Summer - brought us all to tears and then made a really funny mistake, confusing John Sweeney with George Meany. I think JS dug the comparison.
  4. John Sweeney was fiery and proud of labor's electoral clout: 17 million unionists, 28 million union households, and 2.5 million members of Working America who recently have been coming on board at a pace of 50,000/week. Sweeney also spoke of Labor 2008's voter security program, about which I'd like to know more: "We'll keep John McCain honest, we'll have Barack Obama's back, and we'll make sure that every vote is counted."
  5. Sweeney then introduced Change to Win's "estimable" executive veep Anna Berger, who was quick to tell us about how BHO is just like her federation: "He dreams big, he acts boldly, and he changes people's lives." It's a "fight for power" we're in, "not an election." As usual, Change to Win never lacks for impressive rhetoric.
  6. AFSCME leader and former HRC supporter Gerald McEntee summarized everything great and everything ambiguous about the Sweeney-era "Changing to Organize" coalition represented on the panel. With something of a scowl, but also with great fervor, he encouraged every union member to be prepared to engage with workers who might be McCain supporters; to push them to own up to the fact that their recalcitrance about BHO isn't about lapel pins, or Islam, but about his skin tone; and to look them in the eye and say "that's bullshit! this is 2008." How smug can I really be about labor leaders - and there were many others after McEntee - unafraid of foregrounding the difficult topic of race in their BHO raps?
  7. Next came a Teachers' Union medley, wherein NEA President Reg Weaver gave a funny, fancy, inspiring call to arms, and I got my first glimpse of new AFT prez Randi Weingarten. All I really know about the latter is her infamous decision to throw AFT support behind NY's former Repbublican governor, George Pataki. Well, Reg Weaver she was not, oratorically speaking... but she more than anybody else on the bill highlighted pattyjoe issues re: privatization, healthcare and expanded government services. She also made a credible, lucid plea for Hillary supporters (of which she's one) to "come along" to the BHO bandwagon.
  8. And then - oh my god! - Andy Stern graced us with his presence and made some perfunctory comments. Andy Stern is enough of a celeb on this blog, so what can I say?
  9. Unite-Here's Bruce Raynor gave a rousing speech invoking labor's historic role in creating social security (a lotta people would disagree with that claim), and citing the potential for a 'New' New Deal under an Obama presidency. Like many other speakers, Raynor spoke of the need for labor to continue organizing publicly and electorally after November so as to give President Obama the "coverage" he needs to truly make progressive social change.
  10. Next came the one and only James Hoffa, who in his demeanor never fails to provide an-all-too realistic portrait of the ideological mish-mash that is today's labor movement. In a move that'd make my Uncle shutter, he managed to go from expressing intense solidarity with the Anti-WTO movement and the legacy of Seattle, to decrying Free Trade's favoring "foreigners" over "Americans." Can we please learn to enunciate an anti-corporate politics without succumbing to xenophobia, James? Believe me, it really is possible.
  11. I was very pleased to see the Steelworkers' Leo Girard, who greeted us with a caveat: "I feel like Elizabeth Taylor's late husband in the bedroom: I know what to do but I can't promise that I can make it interesting." Zing!
  12. Girard then introduced Director Stuart Townsend, whose film the Battle in Seattle is threatening to visit the proverbial theatre near (the proverbial) "you." Woody Harrelson is in this film, really?
  13. AFL-CIO brainiac Richard Trumka came on, again pressing the race issue, and again underscoring how all of the Rev. Wright/lapel pin/Islam/Indonesia/"he's different" stuff is ultimately simply an attempt to give an alibi for those who are too embarrassed to be explicit about their fear of black people.
  14. LIUNA's Terry O'Sullivan calls George Bush a "mope" - "a moron who couldn't get a dog outta the pound with a fistfull of fifties." Okay....
  15. CWA's Larry Cohen wrapped things up - after a great, short BHO/AFL-CIO film - with a long talk about the AFL-CIO's Million Worker mobilization around the Employee Free Choice Act.
Some random thoughts:
  • it occured to me that the line-up at the dais - Change-to-Winners included - was pretty much the same coalition that elected Sweeney's "Changing to Organize" ticket to the AFL-CIO leadership back in them heady 1990s. it's kind of frustrating to note how "pale, male and stale" the leadership looks, but would my staffer-friends be living and working in this movement without this crowd and their intervention?
    • labor's political program is more sophisticated, and frankly, often more enthusiastic, than its organizing program. is it worth it, if said political program a) elects BHO and b) gets us the Employee Free Choice Act?
    • overwhelmingly, the attendees of this meeting (and the Internationals represented by the speakers) were from public-service unions. overwhelmingly, the election literature and Obama video were directed to the private sector and the building this crap or not crap? i dunno, but i plan to dissertate about it in depth.
    • notwithstanding the very impressive sense of unity when it came to BHO and the importance of this election, the animus between a lot of these different individual was palpable.
    • again, despite my, uh, faith, in, uh, the revolutionary potential of the labor movement....uh, yeah. anyway, despite that, i want to reiterate that on Sunday i witnessed a Labor-Left that struck me as way, way out front of much of the rank and file. should i be surprised and/or depressed about this? should i see it as a contradiction?
On the way home from these two events, we were joined on the light rail by an NJ delegate (and Obama supporter) from Asbury Park, and I witnessed exactly the sort of dialogue between HRC and BHO advocates that you would hope to see. That said, there remain some real disconnects. HRC supporters, many of whom are establishment Dems who seemingly "discovered" media misogyny during the 2008 primary, are more than willing to produce a "hit list" of media figures who were unduly critical of Hillary. So doing, they often fail to distinguish between the misogynist Boys' Club and, shucks, those progressives who maligned HRC's political stances on Iraq, Iran, etc. I think that's what irks me the most, though again I want to restate that I think HRC has done right by BHO, at least ever since she got around to conceding. In short, I do not think that HRC is to blame for some of her more, uh, ardent supporters. But I would also like to reiterate that a lot of this might have been avoided had she conceded earlier. That said, there is still plenty of reason to believe that the competitive primary will end up being a net gain.... or so I hope.

Meanwhile, I have met more than one Obama supporter who has wondered what it will take, exactly, to smooth things over. One Committee member also admitted to suspecting their were uncredentialed agents sabouteurs attempting to stir the DNC pot. Luckily, I think that the Clinton and Obama leaderships are working in concert to curtail those shennanigans. We'll see.

The point is that I have a very unanthropological lack of sympathy for certain HRC supporters, who I am convinced are less motivated by righteous outrage than they are by a more smug sense that they have had their party whisked away by Obama/Dean forces. I would love to hear from those more attuned to feminist media analysis and/or the Clinton 'public' as to the nature of the ongoing discontent, and I would love to parse this bloc and separate the bitter establishment Dems from the understandably-annoyed opponents of sexism. But I would also like to ask the angry Hillary masses, how is media bias BHO's fault? In what ways did he and his campaign participate in the misogyny?

Hollow Unions

One of the foundational purposes of this blog was to be an place for five people currently or formally involved in America's labor movement to comment on the current state of the movement. Much like unions themselves, we have been easily distracted by electoral politics and bright shiny things.

Back to basics.
I don't want to speak for my fellow OGians, but I am a believer in strong membership involvement and control of the labor movement. Whether the goal is to build a vibrant social justice movement centered on union rights or to win better wages and benefits, the membership must lead. They are the union's strength. Not just in terms of a strike, but in the everyday maintaince of the contract, knowledge about workplace issues, and (yes) political news.

Those of us who have spent way too much time debating union-race politics in Detroit in the 1940s know that "the will of the membership" is not always progressive, community-based, or farsighted. One the other hand, at times the union membership can be far out ahead of what is realistic to achieve at a bargaining table or in a grievance hearing. The key to success is to be open in communication, constantly talking, always in touch, and to know that it is the members' union.

As such, regrowing our labor movement will be very difficult. It is a lot of hard work getting the membership involved in a union. People tend to be busy these days. No one has free time. Getting people to make time in their schedule for a union meeting is difficult. And having a meeting with the goal of making sure everyone has a voice and everyone feels comfortable with the decision reached is not easy. But it is this hard work that cements people to their union. People will fight for something they have built.

Unfortunately, our friends at the Service Employees International Union have taken a different approach to unionism. In many areas of the country and in different service sectors, SEIU has negotiated agreements with employers whereby employers allow SEIU to organize certain workplaces, but not others. But "organize" is a misnomer. Before SEIU even enters the workplace, they negotiate the first contract with the employer, setting wages, benefits and working conditions without any input from their future members. Some contracts have provisions that prohibit employees from reporting unsafe working conditions or violations of state and federal laws. These agreements are usually secret and only leak out when disgruntled union members speak out.

Inside Higher Ed has an article on what happened at the University of North Carolina when SEIU signed one of their secret deals and left a motivated workforce with no union.

SEIU routinely denies that these agreements exist, but when presented with overwhelming evidence, SEIU typically falls back on the argument that without these secret deals, workers wouldn't be able to unionize at all, given employer resistance to unions. Better to have a quarter of the workforce in a union with a non-negotiable contract than to not have anyone in a union at all, they argue.

Except that once in the union, SEIU members aren't allowed much of a voice there either. The members of United Healthcare Workers-West have dissented from SEIU's secret deals for nursing home workers in California, so SEIU is attempting to break up that local and put those members in more compliant locals. Even SEIU members who are generally happy with and proud of their union complain that they have little to no say in what their union does.

For his willingness to completely leave the members out of decisions about their union, SEIU President Andy Stern is hailed as a visionary. Mostly he is hailed as such by people outside of the union movement. Mostly he has been hailed as such by people who have a vested interest in seeing a weak union movement. It is no coincidence that he became a media darling right around the time he was dividing the labor movement. When Stern speaks of creating one big labor movement that speaks with one voice, he can sound like a 1930s union radical. He sounds like the kind of powerful labor leader that we look back on with nostalgia. Unfortunately, SEIU operates in a a way that makes it clear that there is only one voice that matters, Stern's. He does not seem terribly interested in building a movement of workers who seek to challenge the power of the bosses.

We must find a way to prevent the SEIU model from becoming any kind of national model. SEIU cannot be the future of the labor movement, only the end of it. While SEIU is rightly celebrated for diversifying the American labor movement, we cannot forgive their efforts to create hollow unions. No lasting structure can be built on such a weak foundation.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm back!

So, what'd I miss? Any good sporting competitions? Surely it's been quiet politically...

What's that?


EZ Polling

New poll up on the right.
Same rules: vote early, vote often!
All findings will be over-extrapolated
and will include incoherent graphics.

Engage the Caterpillar Drive!

I am, like all patriotic Americans, a sucker for receiving "free" trinkets in exchange for giving someone sums of money. As such, I have given the Obama campaign a smallish sum of money in exchange for a free bumper magnet and a free t-shirt. I would like to think that the come-on that these are "First Edition!" Obama-Biden magnets and shits had nothing to do with my decision to donate, but can't, as I made the donation.

If you're like me, you won't want to pass up your chance to make this world a better place by seeing Obama-Biden elected to office and get free stuff which, I understand, would make you the first on your block to possess what will surely become the most treasured item in your house (unless you have kids. Or a dog. Or one of those $150 toasters).

Thirty bones for a t-shirt.

Fifteen turnips for a bumper magnet.

You now, if each one of us true Americans, we little guys, we toilers and workers and kid raisers and guys who make the donuts, gave just a small amount to our preferred political candidate, then maybe we could take our country away from the special interests and labor bosses corporations and lobbyists, and once again make America the greatest country on Earth and earn the right to dominate the rest of the world and have all peoples serve our interests, like under JFK. It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, when the world trembled at the sound of our rockets, now let them tremble at the sound of our micro-donations.

Me and the DNC

Okay, here I am, with my traveling companion, awaiting the whole damned thing.

I have already had enough of the hand-wringing over Hillary, and I should say that EZ would be right at home with a bunch of Baby Boomer women I've met here. My traveling companion says that the Rules Committee headed off a fledgling floor fight over HRC/BHO...but I think there are plenty of histrionics still in store.

On the positive side, there is some amazing wonkishness awaiting me, including this Main Event on Tuesday.

Today? Diss. work/Pool/Schmoozing/and, apparently, an AFL-CIO event. No grievances to organize for a whole 5 days, but plenty of a-nerding to do.