A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
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“Protest works. Just look at the proof”


The last place you will hear about the new American labor movement is in big American outlets.

Via lambert, via susie. See them, their blogrolls, Twitter hash tag #1u and just about any other outlet where citizens can get the word out.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. Via.


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« Merrill Lynch Pays Back its Bailout with Free Lunches! | Main | Anti-Fracking group meeting in Cleveland Heights, Sunday, June 26 »

Weekend wrapup

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


Our image in the Muslim world would probably improve if we stopped killing so many Muslims.

Jonathan Schell on the Orwellian evasions of our latest war:

Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists it is not a war. Why? Because, according to “United States Activities in Libya,” a 32-page report that the administration released last week, “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors.”

In other words, the balance of forces is so lopsided in favor of the United States that no Americans are dying or are threatened with dying. War is only war, it seems, when Americans are dying, when we die. When only they, the Libyans, die, it is something else for which there is as yet apparently no name. When they attack, it is war. When we attack, it is not.


Combat operations have concluded for:

  1. Marine Cpl. Gurpreet Singh, 21, of Antelope, CA.
  2. Army Spc. Levi E. Nuncio, 24, of Harrisonburg, VA.
  3. Army Pfc. Joshua L. Jetton, 21, of Sebring, FL.
  4. Marine Lance Cpl. Jared C. Verbeek, 22, of Visalia, CA.
  5. Army Sgt. James W. Harvey II, 23, of Toms River, NJ.
  6. Army Pfc. Gustavo A. Rios-Ordonez, 25, of Englewood, OH.
  7. Marine Pfc. Josue Ibarra, 21, of Midland, TX.
  8. Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus, 21, of Saginaw Township, MI.
  9. Army Spc. Tyler R. Kreinz, 21, Beloit, WI.
  10. Army Sgt. Alan L. Snyder, 28, Worcester, MA.
  11. Army Sgt. Edward F. Dixon III, 37, of Whiteman Air Force Base, MO.
  12. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvin A. Boatwright, 33, of Lodge, SC.
  13. Army Spc. Scott D. Smith, 36, of Indianapolis, IN.
Via.


There’s a lot of unhappiness with national Democrats in general, and the Obama administration in particular, for their unwillingness to address the cratering economy with what we know works and instead going along with Dark Ages conventional wisdom. At the other side of the left is the partisan equivalent of the George W. Bush 20% dead-enders who bitterly accuse some liberals of not clapping hard enough and of being insufficiently supportive.

I strongly disagree with the latter group. Blame for the big GOP gains last year is not on the shoulders of the disgruntled and discouraged portion of the left that didn’t apply the same energy it did two years prior. If a party shows poorly in an election, do you know who’s responsible? The party. Democrats failed to highlight Republican intransigence and instead bent over backwards to accommodate a party that was only interested in obstruction. Then on the campaign trail they failed to articulate a forward looking agenda. No one - not even a political junkie - could say what major policy initiatives the D’s had lined up should they have retained their majorities.

There’s no Constitutional requirement for a two party system. Flirting with, or actively supporting, a third party when the Big Two are not addressing the most urgent issues in one’s life is not naivete. Blaming anyone on the left for the big Republican gains last year is as stupid as blaming Ralph Nader for Al Gore losing the 2000 election. Know when Gore lost the election? On the night of his acceptance speech when he emptily declared “I will fight for you” and then made out with his wife. He figured America wanted to see him differentiate himself from Bill Clinton, and his response was basically “I’ll never get a blow job from an intern!” Instead of, say, distancing himself from NAFTA and the WTO, welfare “reform,” the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of Glass-Steagall (which some at the time understood the consequences of), and so on, he distanced himself on private morals.

Ralph Nader was not responsible for that.

To tell anyone who watched that to fall in line and vote Gore or it’s all your fault if he loses and how do you feel about your pathetic little civic tantrum now that George Bush is president? is an act of political nihilism. Politicians need to inspire you to vote for them. You can cast your vote for who moves you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

All that said, if you don’t like America plunging into long, horrific, expensive, intractable wars there’s a very good reason to work like hell to make sure a Democrat is always in the White House. Simply put: That is the only known contemporary circumstance under which Republicans will behave somewhat in the neighborhood of approximately human on foreign policy. When a Democrat is president Republicans actually take their Constitutional obligations seriously. They’ll actually look at what we are doing and openly question it. The terrified, paranoid, frenzied lizard brain id that rages just below the surface of right wing ideology is actually kept in check when a Democrat is commander-in-chief. That’s all the reason any antiwar activist needs to work energetically to re-elect Obama. The “not a dime’s worth of difference” critique has some traction at the national level when it comes to domestic policy; on foreign policy there’s a world of difference.


There’s also a world of difference between the parties at the state and local levels. Anyone know of a Republican analogue to Lena Taylor?


Can anyone figure out a way to plant a stolen C note on Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein? Via.


Five myths about Americans in prison


U.S. conducting ‘mass surveillance’ against Arab world. Via.


Why do I love Naked Capitalism? Posts like this, and quotes like this: “Walsh has finally stooped to offering up straight up unadulterated bullshit[.]” As that last link shows, Smith has a flair for catchy headlines.


John Cole is a very rare creature: A high traffic blogger who will candidly admit error: “I could go on and on with the emails and the pieces from other people I trust, but I’ll just save some time, admit I was wrong, and say sorry to D-Day for being a dick. I often write in haste and anger, and a lot of times blow it and lash out at people.” I really admire that.


A nice overview of how the right wing noise machine works.


Pay for play in Ohio and Wisconsin. Oh, and all you Wisconsinites who voted for Prosser? You’re assholes.


Shallow blogger confession: I like Buzz Feed. I’d like to give some sort of “I read it for the articles” line, and certainly their love of highlighting absurdity means they brush up against political relevance from time to time, but the truth of the matter is I go there for the hilarious videos and the eye candy.


ECONNED EXCERPT from page 143, on how investment banks slowly evolved from serving their clients to screwing them:

Trading kept increasing in importance during this period, and the change had wider ramifications. Underwriting and other fee businesses are service businesses. You want your client to believe you have done a good job so that he will come back to you. Reputations and perceptions matter. The job description of a trader, by contrast, is to make as much as he can, whether in an impersonal market, or against the firm’s customers. Investment banks performing services for clients have reasons to try to establish a strong image for professionalism (even if some of that might be smoke and mirrors). But to put it bluntly, the constraint on salesmen and traders is simply to steer clear of scandals and regulatory violations.

Reader Comments (8)

Dan says:

Blaming anyone on the left for the big Republican gains last year is as stupid as blaming Ralph Nader for Al Gore losing the 2000 election. Know when Gore lost the election? On the night of his acceptance speech when he emptily declared “I will fight for you” and then made out with his wife. He figured America wanted to see him differentiate himself from Bill Clinton, and his response was basically “I’ll never get a blow job from an intern!” Instead of, say, distancing himself from NAFTA and the WTO, welfare “reform,” the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of Glass-Steagall (which some at the time understood the consequences of), and so on, he distanced himself on private morals.

Just curious, why do you think Al Gore would have wanted to differentiate himself from Bill Clinton on the matter of whether or not he would ever get a blow job from an intern? As Gore had been the administration's water carrier number one on NAFTA, it would have been pretty tough for him to make distancing himself from that legislation a center piece of his campaign. DOMA was a Clinton administration strategy to head off a Constitutional amendment which would have made national progress on that front impossible for fifty or more years and which Gore saw as still having political value in 2000.

As for Gore's speech at the convention, actually it was rather well received by the unwashed. In answer to the question what lost the election for Gore, there were many contributing factors, including the Nader candidacy, each of which proved crucial as the election was decided by such a narrow margin. That said, here's one man's opinion as to which factor had the greatest impact on the result.

Then again maybe your take is right Dan, had Gore chosen to make gay rights and the return of Glass-Steagall the center piece of his campaign in 2000 he would have of won that election. I just don't think so.

If, these many years later, anyone would like to review what Gore had to say without reading the entire speech, which he delivere at the 2000 Democratic convention both before and after he kissed his wife* on stage there, here are a few selected parts which, I take it you, Dan, also found to be but empty rhetoric:

If you entrust me with the Presidency, I will put our democracy back in your hands, and get all the special-interest money - all of it - out of our democracy, by enacting campaign finance reform. I feel so strongly about this, I promise you that campaign finance reform will be the very first bill that Joe Lieberman and I send to Congress.

Let others try to restore the old guard. We come to this convention as the change we wish to see in America.

And what are those changes?

At a time when most Americans will live to know even their great-grandchildren, we will save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare - not only for this generation, but for generations to come.

At a time of almost unimaginable medical breakthroughs, we will fight for affordable health care for all - so patients and ordinary people are not left powerless and broke. We will move toward universal health coverage, step by step, starting with all children. Let's get all children covered by the year 2004....

At a time when the amount of human knowledge is doubling every five years, we will do bold things to make our schools the best in the world. I will fight for the single greatest commitment to education since the G.I. Bill -

For revolutionary improvements in our schools. For higher standards and more accountability. To put a fully-qualified teacher in every classroom, test all new teachers, and give teachers the training and professional development they deserve. It's time to treat and reward teachers like the professionals they are....

...And I will not go along with any plan that would drain taxpayer money away from our public schools and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers.

This nation was a pioneer of universal public education. Now let's set a specific new goal for the first decade of the 21st Century: high-quality universal pre-school - available to every child, in every family, all across this country....

...[L]et me say it plainly: I will not go along with a huge tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else and wreck our good economy in the process.

Under the tax plan the other side has proposed, for every ten dollars that goes to the wealthiest one percent, middle class families would get one dime. And lower-income families would get one penny.

In fact, if you add it up, the average family would get about enough money to buy one extra Diet Coke a day.

About 62 cents in change. Let me tell you: that's not the kind of change I'm working for.

I'll fight for tax cuts that go to the right people - to the working families who have the toughest time paying taxes and saving for the future....

A new prescription drug benefit under Medicare for all our seniors - that's a family value. And let me tell you: I will fight for it, and the other side will not. They give in to the big drug companies. Their plan tells seniors to beg the HMO's and insurance companies for prescription drug coverage.

And that's the difference in this election. They're for the powerful, and we're for the people.

Big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies, the HMO's. Sometimes you have to be willing to stand up and say no - so families can have a better life....

...And we will also widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans, renew the Voting Rights Act, and enforce all our civil rights laws.

We will pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

And let there be no doubt: I will protect and defend a woman's right to choose. The last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade.

And we will honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, Joseph Ileto, and James Byrd, whose families all joined us this week -- by passing a law against hate crimes....

On the issue of the environment, I've never given up, I've never backed down, and I never will....

We must welcome and promote truly free trade. But I say to you: it must be fair trade. We must set standards to end child labor, to prevent the exploitation of workers and the poisoning of the environment. Free trade can and must be -- and if I'm President, will be -- a way to lift everyone up, not bring anyone down to the lowest common denominator....

*Not being a ditto-head or a progressive, I didn't find The Kiss[es] all that outrageous. Then again, I never thought that gay marriage was the central issue of our time.

June 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCMike

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, CMike. I'll try to cover your main points.

As Gore had been the administration's water carrier number one on NAFTA, it would have been pretty tough for him to make distancing himself from that legislation a center piece of his campaign.
I'm actually pretty sympathetic to VP's claiming they were just carrying water for the president. I'm OK with them even making radical breaks from the administration they serve and saying they were constrained from doing so earlier by their boss. VP's often need to advocate for personally repugnant policies because they basically sign on to the president's priorities when they accept a spot on the ticket. Had Gore come out swinging against NAFTA I wouldn't have considered it hypocrisy or a flip flop at all.

Yes Gore got a big bounce from the convention, but I don't know if it was big by historical standards. Post-convention spikes are the norm. And yes, God knows there were other issues - Somerby catalogs the sins well - but Gore's speech struck me even at the time as offensively, transparently phony. "Fight for you" in particular stuck in my craw because nothing he detailed showed a desire to reverse the attacks against the middle and lower classes. It was all small ball, all "era of big government is over" triangulation, all acquiescence to the neoliberal narrative.

His comments on education are pure pabulum. He dishonestly promises "enacting campaign finance reform" - the president enacts nothing. The whole "Big tobacco, big oil, the big polluters, the pharmaceutical companies" business is more "fight for you" faux populism. Obviously any speech will strike different listeners in different ways, but this one left me feeling very irritated.

Gore ran a Republican Lite campaign. He could have championed gay rights, decried the reckless deregulation of the financial industry, called for rolling back wealth-privileging trade agreements that have ravaged our manufacturing base, and taken other forward looking positions. For a politician that loved claiming to be able to read ahead and understand which issues are emerging as critical ones that certainly is a reasonable expectation.

But it also would have required him to fight.

June 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterDan

Dan,

Thanks for the response. I'm not in agreement with you. In the parent post you wrote:

Know when Gore lost the election? On the night of his acceptance speech when he emptily declared “I will fight for you” and then made out with his wife.

You followed that up in your comment:

Yes Gore got a big bounce from the convention, but I don't know if it was big by historical standards. Post-convention spikes are the norm.

I'm just not seeing that Al Gore doomed his candidacy at the 2000 Democratic convention by posing as a hokey populist. Here's Bob Somerby in 2004:

What wazzup four years ago? After the Dem Convention (August 14-17), Gore shot to a significant lead in the polls. Post-Labor Day, with his lead holding, Insider Washington had decided that the White House race was essentially over. Ah yes, we remember it well!...On this day four years ago, Novak described the “undeniable panic” that was gripping Republicans....

No, Novak didn’t say the race was over. But he kept describing that sense of panic.”Republican morale is drooping,” he wrote....

And then, guess what? Eleven days later, on September 18 [the Union Label lullaby controversy], something did happen to “change the atmosphere” of the race. (Something else happened on September 20 [the dog and mother-in-law arthritis medicine cost controversy].) But it was the mainstream press corps, not George Bush, who managed to change the state of the race.

In 2004 the Republicans, perhaps with some direction from Karl Rove, felt it was advantageous to their presidential candidate for several states to have gay marriage related initiatives or referendums on the ballot. The thinking in 2004 was that there was a net electoral advantage for the candidate opposing expanding gay rights when that issue was on the ballot. Do you think that wasn't the case in 2000?

Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which repealed some Glass-Steagall provisions in 1999, passed the Seante by a vote of 90 to 8 and the House by a vote of 362 to 57. Are you sure that prior to the 2008 financial meltdown a national candidate would have gained voter support by re-arguing that issue in 2000? And wouldn't it have sounded like Gore was taking advantage a populist issue when he knew there was no chance Congress would enact the necessary legislation to reverse itself?

Which brings us to your criticism of Gore for having promising to enact legislation related to campaign finance if he were elected. You seem to be suggesting that a significant number of the semanticists among eligible voters stayed home or voted for Bush because of Gore's improper use of the verb "enact." I get where that might have offended you but do you really think that was a decisive misstep in the minds of others?

You close your comment:

Gore ran a Republican Lite campaign. He could have championed gay rights, decried the reckless deregulation of the financial industry, called for rolling back wealth-privileging trade agreements that have ravaged our manufacturing base, and taken other forward looking positions. For a politician that loved claiming to be able to read ahead and understand which issues are emerging as critical ones that certainly is a reasonable expectation.

But it also would have required him to fight.


Just to run through this again, what is your basis for claiming that this alternative message would have gained a net advantage for Gore at the polls over the one he outlined in his acceptance speech and used during his campaign? I think a fairer criticism of Gore is that, given that he lost in 2000, it would have been better if, back then, he had championed some of the issues that are now front and center in 2011.

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCMike

A big part of the 2000 narrative is that Nader voters cost Gore the election. What I'm trying to get at is that by offering a whole bunch of vague people-friendly rhetoric and not repudiating some of the odious policies he was in the White House for, he gave Nader real traction for the "both parties are corrupt" argument.

Yes, the environment towards gay rights was much different in 2000. Know why it's different now? People fought. Politicians can make their political reality. Bush certainly did, no? You seem to be implying that because bigotry polled well it was OK for Gore to accept it. If he'd have taken an unequivocal stand against DOMA maybe Friday's vote in NY happens earlier, and in more places.

Finally, I think you give the populace too little credit. While I don't think any particular line (like promising to enact legislation as president) caused a hue and cry, I clearly wasn't the only one watching who formed a general impression: "This is bullshit, and this guy is a phony." The votes for Nader suggest there were quite a few disgruntled liberals. I think their complaints were legitimate and I don't think they can be blamed for the result. Gore lost because of Gore.

June 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterDan

All you state is true, but let's not forget the role the media played in calling Gore weak, indecisive, and a liar. His campaign nor his supporters could muster enough timely push back to counter this portrayal of Gore from the start.

And then there was the Florida recount debacle with the unprecedented interference by the SCOTUS in the Bush vs. Gore decision which the media turned into another howling success by reporting it as another he-said-she-said argument of their now-usual false equivalency.

In the final analysis, the Gore campaign was a cluster fuck of missed opportunities, bad decisions, and a confusing message combined with a media that showed bias in the extreme. In spite of all that, Gore still won had it not been for the 7-2 decision of the meddling Supremes.

In the meantime, we are still suffering from the consequences and probably will for decades to come.

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterp j

Agreed, pj - and I'm glad you ordered the reasons for his loss the way you did.

June 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterDan

Dan, because there's a list of Iraq/Afghanistan deaths listed immediately after a quote about Americans in Libya, your post could be mis-read to mean that American servicemen have died in Libya. So far, we hope and believe, that is not the case.

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

Ay yi yi. I certainly didn't mean that - sorry for the ambiguity.

July 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterDan

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