Thursday, January 31, 2008

Will progressives respond?

By Terrie Albano, editor,

Barack Obama's run for the White House has captured the imagination of a wide swath of Americans. The question is, will progressives respond?

The answer is not clear, yet. There have been great signs from many who count themselves on the progressive side of life. Tom Hayden, for example, endorsed Obama. He emphasized the multiracial movement that has blossomed around him.

The Progressive Democrats of America have said many favorable things in the wake of Hayden's endorsement. Hayden is a PDA board member and many in the PDA are so excited to see the numbers of young people involved in Obama's campaign.

But looking on OpEd News front page, where no mention of the incredible turn of events in the Democratic primaries have taken place, I have to ask myself, are all who claim the progressive mantle responding to the moment? I don't think so.

What could be the reason? Why wouldn't there be a screaming headline: "U.S. on track to elect first woman, or first African American" ?

These giant steps would transform the country in and of itself. But what would take the country further in a progressive direction is the election of a candidate that has the most diverse electoral coalition this nation has seen in 50 years.

Is it that many who count themselves on the progressive side of life feel above the Democratic Party? Probably. I personally, and so many of my colleagues have had discussions ad naseum on why it is important to defeat the worst, most backwards administration – even if that means working for, being a part of a coalition that is led by (at this time) the Democratic Party.

"Oh heaven forbid I touch a Democrat" many sneer.

That is one possibility why there hasn't been a reaction to the events since Iowa.

Another is an obvious blindness to gender and racial equality and how crucial that is to ANY progressive movement. It's not just a feel good thing. It's not just about diversity. At our country's essence, at democracy's essence it's about guaranteeing EVERYONE has an equal say. And anything that prevents that, prevents the full flowering of democracy.

I think that many who consider themselves progressive take for granted the issue of unity and diversity. That it's a given in the progressive agenda.

And in many ways, the progressive agenda embraces equality values.

But it's not just about embracing it. It's about taking concrete action and initiative to realizing it.

That's the difference.

The movement that has exploded around Obama is so important. It's antiracist in essence. It's deep and broad and multiracial and multigenerational. It has insightful and sophisticated everyday people active in it. It's the cream rising to the top after the long horrendous period of the Bush administration and ultra right rule since Reagan.

But even if Obama doesn't win and Hillary Clinton does, getting rid of any ultra rightist will take this country forward. And the movement around Obama will influence Clinton.

This kind of upsurge comes around just once in a lifetime. I hope for all progressives – each of us – get involved. Don't stand on the sidelines. Be active. Don't let history pass you by.

Video: African American History and Democracy

February is Black History Month. Communists have always emphasized the importance of the African American people to the struggles for basic social change in this country from Slavery to Civil Rights to today.

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Bill Clinton, Influence Peddler in the 21st Century

by Norman Markowitz

When I teach the history of the rise of industrial capitalism in the U.S., which I am doing in one of my courses right now, I deal with industrialists and bankers whose enemies called them Robber Barons; their bribing of politicians; use of prominent figures on their corporate boards for window dressing;and decisions in some cases to run for major office themselves in order to protect their investments and save money on bribes.

I also mention that they used military and political names for themselves, "captains of industry is" and "industrial statesmen." My favorite historical anecdote of their activities concerns a meeting in Albany, the New York State capital, in which Cornelius Vanderbilt and his bitter rival Jay Gould put what was in effect a dollar cap on bribes, since their competition to bribe New York State legislators had inflated the cost of an average bribe, which of course cut into profits.

But that was the nineteenth century and this is the 21st. The Robber Barons have promoted themselves from Captains of Industry to Chief Executive Officers. And they are more generous with politicians who serve their interest, especially with former presidents. Jay Gould for example,who bribed President Grant's brother -in-law in 1969 to get inside information in order to corner the gold market (which caused a stock market panic) never bribed General Grant. Grant, who administration is connected by many with the rise of the Robber Barons was not that well off after his presidency, since he could no longer do so much for the Goulds and Rockefeller's, and actually ended up writing his memoirs (still in many respects the most remarkable of presidential memoirs) to earn money.

Bill Clinton, who like Grant didn't come from any wealth, doesn't have that problem. He has a foundation, which the Robber Barons and or their estates began to establish in the early 20th century to both counter the attacks on them by progressives and socialists and also to evade the potential new income tax and other tax reformers that progressives were fighting for to make the corporations and the rich pay taxes.

And Bill Clinton is the former president of a world empire, which is a little bit like being Queen Victoria in the late 19th century. A good word from him in the right place at the right time can facilitate big business deals. So the story today about a big Canadian mining capitalist and Clinton buddy traveling to former Soviet Kazakhstan in 2005, having Clinton make a rah rah speech for the local "leader" (whom Russians whom I know have for years denounced as a corrupt petty tyrant, of the bloc of former Soviet official who betrayed the Soviet Union in order to increase their personal wealth and power as hand maidens to foreign capitalists) as someone who deserved to be a leader of an international body to monitor elections. Lo and Behold. The Canadian Mining Baron got a big piece of uranium land to exploit and the Clinton foundation got millions as a sort of fee for services rendered (at least one can infer that if one cannot prove it legally).

The corruption that this represents is systemic and pervasive. Conservative politicians like John McCain or billionaires like Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg have no answer to this because they are in no way asking any serious questions about why it is pervasive--no more than our mind numbing media who speak endlessly about "broken government" as this is really different from the past in a qualitative way, not a quantitative way.

Let's get real. When we have had progressive government actively seeking to regulate business and protect workers, we have had far less corruption. The 1920s saw an explosion of corruption as did the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush II era, as deregulation saw the number of lobbyists in Washington multiply along with the U.S. permanent "fiscal stimulus" policy, the military budget.

The only new wrinkle in these events is that this Canadian mining baron used a former American president to gain control of a natural resource that formerly belonged to the Soviet people and, in so far as it had been developed, was developed by socialist labor (even that isn't necessarily so knew, tens of millions of acres of valuable public lands, including mineral lands, were granted to U.S. corporations by state and federal governments or in some classic cases (the Morgan-Guggenheim mining syndicate illegally gaining control of large tracts of public coal lands in Alaska, which progressives exposed and began a great scandal in the Taft administration).

Bill Clinton isn't really the point any more. He will be out on the hustings, charming people with his rogue backslapping good ole boy personality, the way American politicians have since the 1840s--pretending that by electing him they will be electing themselves and he will then by cutting the deals behind the scenes to enrich the interests who fund his campaigns.

The point is to realize how dysfunctional and destructive these institutional political relations are to the U.S. and global economy and society. At the national level progressive must fight for a politics that provides public funding and equal air time to parties and candidates; an economy that is regulated in the interests of the working people, with labor protections. Globally, the U.S., should begin to think of developing international regulatory agencies through the United Nations to deal with the sort of events that took place in Kazakhstan and are taking place routinely through the world.

Human Rights Watch Slams West

Thomas Riggins

It is no surprise to Marxists and other progressives to be told that the US and its European allies are only promoting make believe democracy and are actually only interested in the political control and financial exploitation of other peoples. It is nice to see bourgeois human rights groups come to the same conclusions.

On 1/31/2008 the AP had a story on Human Rights Watch's annual report, which just came out. It complains that the US et al often lets tyrants off the hook simply because they go through the motions of having “free” elections.

K. Roth the organization's executive director says, “It’s now too easy for autocrats to get away with mounting a sham democracy. That’s because too many Western governments insist on elections and leave it at that.”

He also said the West ignores “the key rights issues that make a democracy function: a free press, peaceful assembly and a functioning civil society that can really challenge power.”

The HRW’s leader has been moved to claim that, “It seems [say it’s not so!] Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the ‘victor’ is a strategic or commercial ally.” It’s shocking to think the US uses all its talk about “democracy” as a simple ploy to justify its own interests [Iraq and oil, for example].

AP also reports that HRW says the US et al “have made it difficult to demand that offending governments honor human rights by committing abuses themselves in campaigning against terror.” Imagine!

Sean McCormack from the US State Department defended the US by saying, “I don’t think there’s any question about where we stand in terms of promotion of democracy.”
He didn’t mention, such examples as our support for such shinning examples as Egypt and Pakistan, nor our removal of the freely elected government of Haiti a few years ago.

The HRW report lists all the usual suspects as violators of democracy over 75 countries were listed. Curiously Venezuela, a country the US calls undemocratic, was not among those mentioned in the AP story. I agree with Mr. McCormack—there is no question where the US stands when it comes to democracy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Video: Response to Bush's 2008 State of the Union Address

We heard the same old lies, the cheap applause lines, the idle boasting, and the empty rhetoric coming from Bush once again in his State of the Union Address.

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Edwards Withdraws; Some Thoughts About What It Means

By Norman Markowitz

Progressives seeking to build a national majority coalition that would both end and dismantle nearly thirty years of right-wing political power in the United States suffered a setback (that is all, I think, it can be called) with the apparent announcement that John Edwards is withdrawing his candidacy. Some, myself included, had hoped that Edwards would stay in, continue to win delegates, and form a coalition with Senator Obama's delegates at the convention to develop both a program and a presidential slate that would decisively defeat the right-wing Republicans and begin to enact in the 21st century programs like national public health care, substantial increases in minimum wages and other labor and social programs, funded through progressive taxation.

Depending on what Edwards now does, Hillary Clinton, with the greatest amount of money and establishment support, will be in a stronger position, which ordinarily will make her less likely to advance progressive initiatives.

John McCain, a traditional conservative Republican from Arizona, in essence of "old fashioned" Goldwater Republican, disliked by the most extreme and dogmatic sections of the right because he has (like Goldwater for that matter) not kowtowed to them on issues involving the separation of Church and state and has even associated himself with criticism of and policies against big business lobbying and looting in Washington, has now been declared the Republican front-runner.

This is also potentially dangerous for progressive activists who will be saddled with the Democratic nominee. McCain is the only credible candidate the Republicans have, not that he is in any real way an "independent" or an opponent of the "conservatives" but he is the only one who can disassociate himself from the domestic political disasters of the Bush administration, point to his battles with Bush in the past and represent for center right and even center voters a white male alternative to Bush and his policies. Like his lifelong political hero, Theodore Roosevelt (and McCain is in no way on domestic policy comparable to Theodore Roosevelt) McCain will try to portray himself as a representative of the smart and "socially conscious" rich, not the contemporary successor to the union busting, public land grabbing, foodstuff adulterating businessmen and politicians whom Theodore Roosevelt routinely lambasted as greedy stupid fools, setting the stage for economic crisis and social revolution.

Who can stop McCain from saving the Republican right from themselves and giving us, on domestic policy at least, a much smarter and softer version of George W. Bush's domestic policy (on the Iraq War, which is his most visible political Achilles heel, McCain takes a militarist stance that is not only disastrous as policy but undermines his candidacy)? In this moment, I would say that it is clearly Senator Obama.

First, Senator Obama has attracted people of progressive views, many of whom have been alienated from politics or are having their first experience with political activities, in a way that few candidates have for a very long time. Also, it becomes more and more obvious that Senator Obama is far less acceptable to ruling circles than Hillary Clinton, (or else why would he be so targetted right now by establishment media) because he is younger, fresher, with political hands that are relatively clean. He is far less of a known commodity, far more likely to bring into government independents and progressives from the mass organizations and the communities along with the traditional Democratic organization politicians, as Franklin Roosevelt did during the depression. His formal positions have been much more vague than John Edwards, but that, along with taking money from the Big Money is par for the course in U.S. politics. I say that not to approve of it or to apologize for it, but because it is a matter of fact.

Unlike Franklin Roosevelt, Senator Obama doesn't come from old money, with a tradition of looking down at the corporate leaders for their lack of social responsibility. Unlike Lyndon Johnson, he wouldn't bring to the presidency decades of practical political leadership over Democratic legislators. But he can, I think, turn his status as an African American, a member of the minority group most stigmatized in U.S. history, into a very positive force, becoming in effect a real unifying leader for working class and progressive people of all colors,
ethnicities and sexual orientations, in part because he is a real, not a phoney outsider to what is a corrupt racist system, even if he (like everyone else who is not a billionaire and is a serious candidate for the presidency) does take financial support from the bosses within that system.

All of these conjectures may be meaningless if Clinton wins a large victory in next week's "Super Tuesday," which is a good reason for progressives to both vote for and get out the vote for Obama. At least, that is my analysis at the moment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Film Review: Doc

by Eric Green

Film Review: Doc, A film by Immy Humes

Major literary and public figures lent their names and appeared in this film, Doc, but the main message and value of this film is truly a family message. Here is a heartfelt film by the daughters and other related people who are associated with H. L. Humes.

I had not heard of Humes before this film, but I did live through his period of high visibility, i.e., the '60s through the '90s. Humes was very involved in the campaign to legalize marijuana; and, also with LSD and Tim Leary.

Paul Auster, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton and William Styron are featured along with Timothy Leary.

The actual filming by Doc's daughter Immy was clearly done over a long period of time. As readers know, Mailer, Leary and Plimpton are both dead.

Humes' literary credentials are very impressive. He helped found the prestigious Paris Review and was Norman Mailer's, a major writer, campaign manager in his run for the Mayor of NYC in 1960.

The journey that Immy Humes takes viewers through is not an easy one to fully comprehend and at times even watch. Humes was clearly a brilliant intellectual whose range of interests was boundless. He was an inventor and a self styled philosopher to college age kids for over 20 years. He spent those 20 years with youthful academics in Harvard, MIT and other prestigious universities. But, along side his brilliance was severe mental health problems.

If this film comes to your hometown, see it. The advance publicity may be a turn off, but the family discussions and Humes himself is very moving and a must see.

Book Notes: The New Yorker on "God's Crucible"

by Thomas Riggins

The Feb. 4th 2008 New Yorker has an interesting review article of David Levering Lewis’s “God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215” by Joan Acocella. Here are some highlights that suggest this might be a good read.

Acocella starts out by reminding us that Edward Said’s “Orientalism” set out to show that Western historians have by and large tried to show the “inferiority” of non-Western peoples to justify the era of colonialism. Since Said an effort has been made to rectify this behavior and “God’s Crucible” is an example of this trend.

Lewis says the Islamic invasion of Spain in the 8th century was “the forward wave of civilization that was, by comparison with that of its enemies, an organic marvel of coordinated kingdoms, cultures, and technologies in service of a politico—cultural agenda incomparably superior” to what the Europeans had going for themselves.

The Muslim invasion was stopped at the Pyrenees in 714 and they ended with most of Spain (they wanted most of West Europe) which was renamed Al Andalus. Lewis thinks it was too bad they did not conquer “the rest of Europe” according to Acocella. Because they failed, the Europeans did not benefit from their superior culture [this sounds to me just like the European arguments of the colonial period] and, he writes, this resulted in “an economically retarded, Balkanized, and fratricidal Europe that … made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism, and perpetual war.”

We are told that Lewis makes Abd al-Rahman I (ruled 756-788) the primary hero of his book because he created the policy of “convivencia” whereby people of different ethnic groups and religions could all live together without killing each other. This made Abd al-Rahman very advanced and progressive for his day (and ours as well). Jews and Christians were not persecuted (“There shall be no compulsion in religion”-The Koran). Convivencia was the forerunner, Acocella says, to tolerance and multiculturalism.

Hero number two is Charlemagne who tried to educate and uplift the Franks and other peoples he ruled by establishing schools and centers of higher education. He planned to reconquer Spain but had to give it up because of rebellions in his own empire. This allowed Al Andalus to live and develop in peace. For several hundred years its culture was the highest in all of Western Europe but eventually civil war, Berber invasions, etc., broke it up into squabbling petty kingdoms and it fell victim to the Reconquista—from the fall of Toledo (1085) and ending with the fall of Granada 1492. The Christians did not believe in convivencia and persecuted Muslims and Jews without mercy wherever they could.

The leading city of al-Andalus in its glory days was Cordoba. Curiously the review says that both Averroes and Maimonides were Cordoban philosophers and that disappointed in the decline of freedom Maimonides “died in exile, bitterly reproaching his homeland for its abandonment of liberal ideas.” But Maimonides left Spain as a child of 10 or so and lived the rest of his life in the East, mostly in Egypt. Another misleading view is that St.Thomas Aquinas “relied heavily on Averroes’s reading of Aristotle” and that “Insofar as Western culture grew out of Greek culture, and became ‘classical,’ it did so because the scholars of Al Andalus transmitted Greek thought to western Europe.”

Aquinas actually opposed most of the interpretations of Averroes and did not rely on the Latin translations of the Arabic versions of Aristotle from Al Andalus but on Latin translations made directly from the Greek by scholars in Constantinople. Al Andalus was one of three centers for the transmission of Greek thought. The other were two were the Eastern Roman Empire (which fell to the Turks in 1453) and in the 8th Century, Ireland which had preserved a knowledge of Greek in its monasteries.

Lewis ends his book in 1215 “the year in which Pope Innocent III launched the Abigensian Crusade, an especially vicious example of the religious fanaticism that, in Lewis’s view, Europe developed in reaction to the Muslims, and inflicted on a bleeding world for many centuries thereafter."

Acocella says the book has its virtues but that it is also an example of “special pleading.” But if reading and writing history with both the intention to inform and to plead for tolerance and the reduction of human violence is “special pleading” it is nothing like the special pleading Said objected to in “Orientalism.”

Video: Democracy and the 2008 Elections

The CPUSA Internet Department interviews Sam Webb about the question of democracy and the 2008 elections. Does the CPUSA support democracy? What is the CPUSA's opinion of the 2008 elections? What difference will the 2008 elections make?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Bush still the president?

By Joel Wendland

That was the question I considered repeatedly as I heard George W. Bush repeat the same tired phrases and hackneyed platitudes in tonight's state of the union address he has often advanced as deep thinking and serious policy in the past.

Bush muddled his way through domestic policy and issues, during which he talked about New Orleans – two years too late – and economic issues – more tax cuts for the rich – and balancing the budget – something he hasn't even come close to doing in 7 years with Republican control of Congress for 6 of those years. He plodded on with demands for more taxpayer dollars for religious organizations that support his ideological viewpoint and rejecting science.

He prattled on about health savings accounts, ignoring the best analysis that has shown HSA's do nothing to make health care affordable and only help upper income families to enjoy additional tax breaks. The average income of HSA users is about $133,000, and middle and low-income families gain no tax benefit from using them.

He rejected out of hand serious health care reform – even as an economic stimulus concept. For crying out loud, how many working families would be happy to put their dollars back into the economy if they knew they could afford insurance premiums and medical care? How much of a no-brainer is that? And imagine what would happen if working families paid little or nothing for health care? Imagine the immediate savings for corporations with big employee premiums if the right kind of health care reform passed.

He did visibly anger some Republicans with talk of needing to address global warming, but he offered no new, or, for that matter, any way to accomplish it.

It quickly came evident that Bush was simply going through the motions, repeating the same tired and failed ideological talking points of the ultra right, hammering away on taxes, and issuing veto threats about spending he suddenly opposes. Despite warning against earmarks tonight, Bush succeeded in adding 580 earmarks into veterans appropriation bill in 2007, including earmarks for a Laura Bush library program and his father's foundation.

Recall that he never vetoed a single Republican spending bill that added about $5 trillion to the US debt before Democrats swept to power in 2006.

Bush also insisted that Democratic promises to roll back tax cuts for the richest Americans or even failing to make his tax cuts for the rich permanent is a tax hike.

But there is one gaping hole in his theory: Bush's tax and trade policies have not stopped (and can't stop) the looming recession. Indeed, his ideological penchant for deregulation and killing oversight has led to one of the biggest credit collapses since the Great Depression.

Even the International Monetary Fund Director General Dominique Strauss-Kahn now admits the need for regulation to prevent the kind of collapse created by the housing bubble and the subprime lending crisis.

All signs point to huge splits in the ruling class about the validity of the ultra-right economic argument (for various reasons) and a shift toward a window of opportunity to rebuild and invent new social democratic institutions that ultimately could strengthen the working class for its protracted struggle.

On foreign policy, Bush rattled off a long list of countries he doesn't like and events that took place during his presidency. But their was no urgency or even much threat behind it.

The Democratic sweep in 2006 has delivered a brutal blow to Bush's presidency, but his veto pen and Constitutional authority still give him great power to do great damage.

We heard remarks like "Al Qaeda is on the run," we'll bring justice to the perpetrators of 9/11, a re-hashed version of the old line that "when Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down," Iraqi democracy is visible in their "ink-stained thumbs," and much-doubted claims about how the enormous domestic security apparatus built in the US under his presidency thwarted a planned terrorist attack on a Los Angeles building. He even repeated the claim that "a free Iraq will deny Al Qaeda a safe haven," apparently forgetting about the safe havens it has in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

None of this was new. Some of it unsubstantiated. All of it gave Bush's speech the appearance of a "night to get through," as Time magazine writer Margaret Carlson said on MSNBC. Keith Olbermann called it little more than "the edited highlights of the Bush presidency." Chris Matthews said it was a list of "New Years' resolutions never achieved."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), in her Democratic Party response to the speech, called for a politics that moves beyond ideological division to focus immediately on three key things: passing S-CHIP as a means of creating a long-term institutional economic stimulus for working families, which Bush has vetoed twice; changing course in Iraq, which Bush has vetoed several times; and, changed course on energy policy. "Join us Mr.President," she said, and together "the new American majority," a concept Barack Obama has hit on in his recent speeches, can make huge changes before you leave office.

In a brief interview on MSNBC following the Democratic response, Barack Obama described Bush's speech as "warmed over past state of the union speeches." Obama called for an urgent strategy for dealing with the economy, both short and long term, including expanded unemployment insurance. He also said, "We have to have a plan to exit from Iraq." Obama rejected the promise of endless war embedded in Bush's proposed "status-of-forces" treaty with Iraq that would make occupation and combat operations

Bush also made vague promises and threats about peace in Israel and the Occupied Territories, but other than gaining applause when he called for a two state solution to the crisis, unfortunately, offered little in the way of specifics, urgency, or seriousness.

Clearly, this speech was not intended to govern as a president with a serious agenda in his final year. It was little more than pandering to the extreme right-wing base of his party in order to avoid leaving office with the lowest approval rating on record. He is hoping for a couple-point bump to get him past the Nixon dip, I guess.

Pathetic really.

White Men Talk Barack

By Joel Wendland

In her article, "Black Women Talk Barack," (The Nation), journalist Amy Alexander cuts through big media misrepresentations and distortions of who supports Barack Obama and why, distortions which often result from poor thinking and bad reporting and others simply are racist provocations (e.g. Wall Street Journal, "Obama's Bid Turns Focus On Class Split Among Blacks," Jonathan Kaufman, January 22, 2008.)

Alexander's article shows another side to what is happening in the movement for change mobilizing around the Obama campaign that just isn't being talked about in the big media. It opens a new discussion about race that won't break out in CNN debates or MSNBC punditry.

Alexander reflects on the fact that African American women see their male children as the most vulnerable in our country and want a president who can identify with them and will fight for them.

And I don't want to downplay or minimize the deeply personal and historical significance of Alexander description of the enduring role if race, especially as it impacts our children, in choosing presidential candidates. I do want to talk about why I – white, union member, male – support Barack Obama, and suggest a small but real affinity with what she talks about.

I live in a town (more than 40% people of color) on the brink of bankruptcy. Because of a war in Iraq that has cost our country more than $1 trillion, Bush/Republican tax cuts that have drained our treasury, and Bush/Republican trade and tax policies that have helped or pushed companies to move jobs out of the country, there is no tax base to finance town services. The police department is closing. Small businesses closing. Auto plants are shipping out. Public funding for this program and that is drying up. Every other house on every other street is for sale and has been for sale for months. Schools are being boarded up.

Barack Obama is pledged to revitalizing our economy and our communities by bringing jobs back, by financing our schools, by lifting the burden of health care costs with an affordable universal health care plan, by bringing the troops home from Iraq, by supporting our right to join and organize labor unions to boost our pay and benefits.

Aside from the fact that with an Obama presidency I might see this community return from the brink and thus my own quality of life improve, those things don't in and of themselves get down to the nitty-gritty of why I support Obama.

More closely to home, my support for Obama, like what Alexander describes, has to do with my children. Though the children in the Head Start in my county are mostly adorable and energetic Black and Latino, the overworked, but dedicated teachers at that facility, which Barack Obama has pledged to help increase funding for, are also teaching my youngest boy his ABC's as well as to talk correctly after a birth defect in his mouth limited his speech abilities. My son's life has improved over the last few months in dramatic ways, despite the hostility of the Bush administration and its attempts to cut the program's funding.

The students and teachers at the public school my oldest boy goes to are mostly African American. But when my oldest learned to read and now spends hours a day reading deep into the night, I can't help but be grateful to the under-appreciated men and women at that school, and others like it, that care for and teach our children everyday. I can't help but worry and rail against the budget cuts – fueled by disastrous Bush/ Republican policies – in the district that took away art and music classes and forced other schools to close. And again Barack Obama has pledged himself to making our schools work for every child.

When I listen to him, I feel hope for my kids, too.

I could add more: my retired parents forced to return to work to stay afloat; my grandmother worried about Medicaid covering her ailments or Medicare covering her Rx needs; my sister worried about daycare for her pre-school aged daughter.

Oh yes, Sen. Clinton has pledged to support these causes too – and if she manages to win the nomination, I will close ranks behind her. But, when she had the chance to fight for unity of our collective peoples to win our collective interests, she fell down. And don't blame it on Bill or overzealous staffers, because she is trying to be the commander-in-chief after all.

She had the chance to talk about our common interests the way Obama does: that Black mothers and white fathers could want and deserve the same things: a safe community, a fair system, equal access to quality public services, affordable health care, good-paying jobs that provide a real future, and so on.

Clinton lost her chance to convince me that she was the best candidate when her campaign implied that it was ridiculous for me to believe in these things or to struggle along side others who look different than I do or to believe that I could trust in a man who talks about them as if they were all of ours by right.

Instead of talking about how the table could be made bigger to include us all, Clinton tried to play on our fears that voting one way or another would put the seat we have at risk.

And that is just plain wrong.

Labor and the People vs. the Ultra Right

Toni Morrison Endorses Obama

Ina letter to Obama, which is partially quoted by the Associated Press, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison writes:

"In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it.


Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace — that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom."

A Kinder, Gentler Bill Clinton?

By Joe Sims

A kinder, gentler role is being projected for Bill Clinton after the routing Hillary Clinton received in South Carolina when her husband’s battering ram tactics backfired in Saturday’s primary. Or did they? The answer to that question will come on February 5th, as in this writer’s opinion, that was the Clinton’s target in South Carolina. However, the kindler gentler role seems only reserved for Mister. Today’s news reports that Senator Clinton is campaigning in Florida with two stops today and one tomorrow evening to “thank her supporters.” Clinton had pledged not to campaign there. Who said those guys would do anything to win? It’s stuff like this that causes people like Bob Herbert of the New York Times to ask; “What kind of people are the Clintons? What role will Bill Clinton play in a new Clinton White House? Can they look beyond winning to a wounded nation’s need for healing and unifying?”

The New York Times today reported campaign staffer’s new placement of the ex-president:

“They said his role would be akin to his effort before the Iowa caucuses, when he highlighted Mrs. Clinton’s record and her policy ideas, and was used in part to build huge crowds on college campuses rather than attack Mr. Obama.”

Donna Brazille, on an ANC news program yesterday morning, joked they “send him to California” where the time difference might offset his caustic remarks, allowing damage control experts to spin another story. Mr. Clinton did it again when comparing Obama to Jessie Jackson. Wrote the Times:

“Mr. Clinton’s ability to be a distraction was evident on Sunday as reporters repeatedly asked Mrs. Clinton about her husband’s role in the campaign and his comments about Mr. Jackson, which she characterized as benign.”

It’s starting to get really ugly out there. Bob Kerry a Clinton supporter made some really ugly statements using crass anti-Muslim racism masquerading as tolerance to cast the Illinois senator in a ugly light. He repeated the claim that Obama attended a Islamic school and also that his grandmother was a Muslim. Though he apologized the damage was already done.

These are hit-and-run ideological tactics: put out a lie, damage the character and then say “oops, I’m sorry.” The same kind of thing was done with the Obama-is-a-Reaganite charge.

The Obama campaign it seems will get a big boost from today’s endorsement of Senator Ted Kennedy which may offset some of the mudslinging. Caroline Kennedy endorsed Senator Obama on Sunday: The New York Times wrote:

“The endorsement appears to support assertions that Mr. Clinton’s campaigning on behalf of his wife in South Carolina has in some ways hurt her candidacy.”

Let’s see what the polls say. However, the polling seems to one of the big losers this weekend, almost as much as Mrs. Clinton’s. Here’s what Christopher Cooper of the Wall Street Journal said about the polling:

“This has proved a tough season for statewide pollsters even by historical standards. Mrs. Clinton eked out a win in New Hampshire even though most pollsters expected her to be buried by Mr. Obama. A recent analysis of polls in that state by Survey USA found that pollsters were off by an average of 10 percentage points in the days leading up to the election. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, where Mr. Obama routed Mrs. Clinton on Saturday, Survey USA found that prognosticators did even worse, chalking up average error rates of 17 percentage points.”

And remember what I said about new strategy to narrow the Obama campaign saying it’s “too Black?”

“The Clinton strategy, in part, is to play down her South Carolina defeat by attributing it largely to the state's large African American populace and to tag Mr. Obama as a black-oriented candidate. The latest shot across the bow came over the weekend when former President Clinton, in a move that many in the Obama campaign saw as a ham-handed attempt to cast its candidate as narrowly as possible, reached back 20 years to draw comparisons to the long-shot campaign of black civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson.”

These tactics backfired in South Carolina:

"Exit polling also showed that around 60% of voters said Mr. Clinton's presence affected how they voted; of those in that category, about two-thirds voted for Mr. Obama or former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who finished a distant third.”

The next days will show how the rest of the country will react. My guess is that the unity trends on the ground will deepen. The all-peoples movement is firming up in the aftermath of Saturday’s primary. In some ways it was born again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Film Review: Alice's House [from Brazil]

Eric Green

Alice's House
[A Casa De Alice]
FiGa Films
Brazil, Sao Paolo
2007 [Released in NYC; January, 2008]

Carla Ribas was interviewed at the time of the 2007 Miami Film Festival [see the web interview] on what attracted her to the film, Alice's House. She said that she is from Rio while all of the other actors in the film are from Sao Paolo. Ms. Ribas said that that put her in a position similar to the character she was playing, in that, she felt very alone during the production process. She said that the importance of the film is that it gives an insight into the life of a working class person from very poor circumstances, a person, Alice, who doesn't feel anything she does and thinks counts for anything.

In this film Alice works at a beauty salon as a finger and pedicure specialist. Her husband, Lindamor, played by Ze Carlo Machado, works as a taxi driver.

Alice and Lindamor have three sons aged from 17 to 21.

The glue of the family is Alice's mother Dona Jacira, effectively played by Berta Zenel. She is in failing health with serious sight problems. Zenel's acting strength comes, not from her lines, which are few, but from her body motion and facial expressions.

While Alice and Lindamor suffer the fierce class struggles of Sao Paolo, it is up to Dona Jacira to keep the family together by providing the meals and cleaning up after all 5 family members.

Of course she does this work without any appreciation and, in fact, Lindamor is jealous of her centrality to the family and plots her removal to a hospital, "for her own good." She reminds Lindamor that the apartment they all live in is in her name.

The acting of Renata Zhaneta as Carmen, Alice's main customer, and another woman who displays the working class situation in Brazil, is amazing.

The three sons, each have their own life and story, which young viewers would identify with.

Chico Teixeira, the Director of the film and one of three screen writers, weaves a perfect "slice of life" story that, along with amazing filming which puts the film goer close to, if not within the family fabric. It is probably due to his over 20 years of documentary filmmaking that gives him the ability to accomplish his goal.

What is life in Sao Paolo, a city of over 20 million, for the working class? See Alice's House.

Obama, Clinton: On the Ground Unity not Division is Main Trend

By Joe Sims

Obama’s win in South Carolina was huge. The African American vote was decisive. But it wasn’t the only thing. Consider that in one South Carolina county which is almost three-fourths white, Hillary Clinton suffered a devastating defeat. CNBC wrote:

“In Greenville County, which has higher average income and a more educated populace than the statewide average and which is 78 percent white, Obama won by a resounding 22 percentage points, annihilating Clinton.”

Obama also won the under-thirty white vote, and received half the votes of white men under 30. CNBC also noted that while Senator Clinton received 44 percent of the vote from white women, Obama earned 22 percent of the vote from the same demographic. Not bad under the circumstances.

Unity, rather than division seems to be the most significant trend emerging in the primary elections.

Indeed the Illinois Senator’s vote has remained fairly consistent in the three primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, where he registered, 33, 36 and 34 percent respectively. In South Carolina, 24 percent voted for his line. Compare this to the 7 percent Jessie Jackson gathered in his last bid. Quite a shift for a Southern state.

However, sections of the media are stressing the opposite. This how the lead story in Youngtown Vindicator read: “Democrats head away from South Carolina on Sunday torn between two top candidates – and deeply divided along racial lines that could pull at their party through a long a bruising campaign.”

Note the stress on “torn” and “deeply divided.” Why these adjectives? Is it because Obama won such big majority of the Black vote? Does anyone recall similar strains after New Hampshire and Nevada, when Hillary Clinton won a majority of the white vote? 52 percent of the white vote was the total in Nevada. Why should the two votes be considered differently? Is it because African Americans are perceived to vote as a block based primarily on national pride and race? But is perception, the reality?

Congresman Clyburn responded to this double standard when he commented to CNBC:

"Four years ago Al Sharpton, a black guy, ran here and a white guy won … So what’s wrong with black people voting for a black guy? They voted for a white guy four years ago.”

He was referring of course to Edwards’ victory four years ago in his home state.

There’s little doubt that the huge Black turnout was in part prompted by a reaction to Bill Clinton’s brash and bruising campaigning. But rather than a disunifying agent, the overwhelming outpouring of African Americans for Obama was a mass vote for unity, a reaching out to all voters and saying “yes we can overcome the politics of division and disunity.” They were saying to voters across the country, “We heard the notes that were sounded when Obama won in Iowa and when his campaign neared victory in the other primaries. We hear you and we are here for you.”

Black voters in South Carolina were voting for unity, not only with whites who voted for Obama – a huge increase by Southern standards – but also those who voted for Clinton and Edwards.

Notwithstanding Obama’s small losing percentages in Nevada and New Hamphire, figures that can be counted on one hand, the main trend in the election seems to be one towards coalition building and unity, as opposed to the politics of division. “Torn” and “deeply divided” seems better aimed at the ruling class, which now seems to be trying to spin the elections results in a different direction.

Reading Lenin

READING LENIN: Materialism and Empiro-criticism
Thomas Riggins

Using our editor's blog to further Marxist education seems like a good idea. So here is a famous work of Lenin's that outlines what Marxist philosophy is all about. It's 100 years old this year and we might ask ourselves what is still valid in this classic. Have new philosophic developments in the last 100 years made this work outmoded? I'm going to post some reflections on the book section by section and anyone who wants to read along and comment is welcome to do so. I hope to post weekly updates and Sunday seems the best day to this as it is a free day for me.

The Prefaces. Why did Lenin write this book? He tells us because a number of people calling themselves "Marxists" have been attacking "orthodox" Marxism ("dialectical materialism") and calling it outmoded and wanting to supplement it with new ideas borrowed from bourgeois philosophy.

Engels is specifically attacked as being "antiquated" and his views on dialectics are said to be a species of "mysticism." None of the books that Lenin attacks are of much interest today and the names of the authors have mostly been forgotten. Perhaps you will recall the name of A.A. Bogdanov, certainly the name Lunacharsky will ring a bell as he later became the first Commissar of Enlightenment under the Bolsheviks.

Lenin is not opposed to criticism of the views of Marx and Engels. He mentions approvingly Mehring's critique of "antiquated views of Marx" which was undertaken from a dialectical materialist standpoint. Any historians out there reading this are encouraged to send in comments about just what these views were and where Mehring made them as Lenin does not discuss them in the Prefaces.

Besides defending the "orthodox" view from "heretics", Lenin also wanted to know what drove ostensible Marxists to bourgeois philosophy. What, he asks, "was the stumbling block to these people" that made them desert the orthodox position.

Well, in our own day we have a similar problem. Engels is still attacked and efforts are made to cut Marx away from Engels and make Engels some sort of hack. We also have ordinary language Marxists, existentialist Marxists, phenomenological Marxists, postmodern Marxists, etc., etc.

Next week I'll look at "In lieu of an Introduction." I'm using Vol. 14 of the CW for the text. The book itself seems to be out of print. Maybe you can find a copy on line. If you google "materialism and empiro-criticism" the first entry you get should be an on line copy of the book so if you don't have a hard copy you can still read it.

Suharto, Mass Murderer and Tyrant, is Dead and the New York Times Does by its Standards a Reasonable Obit

Having written an angry blog piece about General Suharto when he was dying and the U.S. press was reporting the incident and omitting his leadership in the mass murder carried out in 1965 against Indonesian Communists, workers, peasants, and ethnic Chinese people, I thought that I would mention that Suharto is now dead and Marilyn Berger in the New York Times has written a lengthy obituary which dealt significantly with the mass murder of 1965.

Berger presented fair figures of the mass murder, 500,000 to 1,000,000 which are the serious estimates. She wrote about the alleged coup by elements of the military (she didn't mention that this was largely in response to a planned coup a few days later by the anti-Communist high command). She also mentioned very rightly that forces under Suharto's command then unleashed a mass killing directed against Communists, mobilizing what were in effect lynch mobs to murder and mutilate hundreds of thousands, and that the mass killing also was directed against the ethnic Chinese minority. Chinese Indonesians were both connected to Communism by the reactionary power structure, long discriminated against because they mostly non Muslims and regarded as a wealthy elite (it was noted by serious scholars that anti-Chinese prejudice in Indonesia was similar to anti-Semitic prejudice in Eastern Europe, where Jews were condemned as supporters of socialist revolution, non Christians, and a wealthy elite, regardless of reality). The mass murder of 1965, as it applied to ethnic Chinese, I would contend, can be seen as something of a national pogrom.

Berger in the rest of the obit, paying less respects than most U.S. media to the "economic achievements" of Suharto's regime, went on to chronicle Suharto's history of tyranny and corruption.

While Berger deserves praise for this article on the whole, one should note that she didn't really deal with the role of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, and the U.S. State Department in aiding and abetting the mass killing of 1965, although she did deal with the billions of dollars of aid that Suharto's regime received subsequently from the U.S. and other capitalist countries. Nor did she deal with the fact that the Communist Party of Indonesia was a mass party with an estimated three million members at the time of Suharto's real coup and establishment of what many analysts outside of U.S. media circles regarded as a fascist regime.

Suharto's place in history is with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet, the Tojo regime, and those whom the publisher of the Nation, Freda Kirchwey called "midget Hitler's" (The Trujillo's, Somozas, and Batista's of Latin America) in response to Franklin Roosevelt's reference to one of them as "a son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch." Suharto's crimes place him above the Latin American SO B's of the right and far closer to Hitler and Franco. His death should encourage Americans to understand that substantive change in U.S. foreign policy is much more than ending the Iraq occupation and restoring decent relations with the international community. It is about ending the military and political and economic support for regimes like Suharto's, which have inspired justified anger and resentment among the masses of people throughout the world.

Thoughts on South Carolina's Democratic Primary

Despite carefully cultivated impressions that the South Carolina primary didn't matter to her, Hillary Clinton poured huge amounts of resources in cash and staff into the state. Last December, she led in the polls there by 20 points. She had intended to send the message that African Americans would vote for her in huge numbers.

Obviously, things didn't follow that plan.

Barack Obama is the first candidate to win a majority of votes in a primary – and in the first large primary – winning twice as many votes as Clinton.

Obama won every category of voter except over 65 voters and whites. Among whites, Obama polled 24%, setting another record. Among whites under 30, he won a majority of 52%.

He swept every county except two. He won every income category.

Media pundits described it as a "rout," a "sweep," a "smackdown," and various other adjectives to suggest a massive victory for Obama and an embarrassing defeat for Clinton.

Obama won 54% of the women's vote who turned out as 61% of the voters in South Carolina.

Voter turnout, the second biggest story of the night, was about 530,000, more than 75% higher than in 2004. Again the enthusiasm for the Democratic candidates is setting records.

This vote was a clear message to the candidates that the politics of division, especially by race, is intolerable and should be rejected.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama: Redefine This!

By Joe Sims

Blowout. Landslide. A trouncing. These are the words that are being used to describe Barak Obama’s 2 to 1 victory in South Carolina tonight. Obama single handedly won almost as many as the total number of votes cast in South Carolina’s last primary. He won almost every county in the state and amongst almost all age groups, single women, married couples, the youth, and the poor. Obama won big in the Black community but also scored well among white South Carolinians. In the words of commentator Donna Brazile, “young whites Southerners are sending a signal that a new South is rising up." Obama said it best in his victory speech: “We have the most votes, the most delegates and the most diverse coalition.”

The big loser tonight was Bill Clinton: His southern strategy seems in shambles as is his image as senior statesmen of the Democratic Party.

The status quo was also a big loser in South Carolina, sensing that more than just a change in the White House is at stake. In this regard, Obama remarked, “the status quo is fighting back with everything its got.” Part of that fight was the attempt to redefine Obama’s appeal as narrowing to only African Americans.

However as a CNN reporter observed tonight, the sheer scale of the victory has the Clinton campaign “freaking out,” it’s attempt to redefine the Obama campaign now in serious trouble. Earlier today the Wall Street Journal said Obama needed a double digit victory to win back credibility. They never imagined his campaign would better their opponents by more than 20 points.

Voters in South Carolina responded to Clinton’s abrasive politicking and the ruling class attempt to narrowly shrink and marginalize the campaign’s base. How? By reenergizing its movement dimensions, lifting it back on track. Think about it: Obama got more votes than all the ballots cast in the last primary. The dynamic duo have got to be worried. Georgia, Tennessee and others states are soon to follow. The momentum is back again.

Obama Wins Big in the State of Strom Thurmond

by Norman Markowitz

As I write this, Senator Obama has a 28 point lead over Senator Hillary Clinton with John Edwards receiving 18 percent of the vote in the South Carolina Democratic primary. And in his victory speech, Senator Obama continued to call for unity and action against those who believe that he is on mission impossible.

There is still a long way to go, Clinton still has more of the money and much more of the organization, John Edwards is still better on the key domestic issues, and Dennis Kucinich is far and away the best of all of the candidates across the board (if we were living in a color blind world, which of course we are not). But this is a remarkable victory for the whole people that Senator Obama continues to appeal to in his campaign.

First a little history, because that is my profession. South Carolina gave us John C. Calhoun, the "philosopher" of the slave power before the Civil War, who saw even the racist exclusionary democracy associated with his fellow slaveholder and political enemy, Andrew Jackson as a threat to the slaveholder class. He advocated instead giving the slave states a permanent veto over democratic majorities that would threaten them, the doctrine of a "concurrent majority," and began to call for secession decades before it took place.

By end of the nineteenth century, South Carolina was represented by the racist pseudo populist politician, "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman. Its African American population, which had once constituted a majority and had elected many representatives at both the state and federal level, had lost its citizenship rights. In the 20th century, Pitchfork Ben's successors, "Cotton Ed" Smith and then, of course, Strom Thurmond, a young segregationist who began his political career by winning a local council election in 1929, the year of the stock market crash made their political living by defending Jim Crow brutality.

Over the next 70 years, Strom, was a Democratic Congressman and Governor, a segregationist third party presidential candidate in 1948, a segregationist Democratic leader in the Senate, setting personal time records for filibusters in the 1950s and 1960s, a Republican Senator from 1964 to his retirement at the beginning of the 21st century. In 1968 Strom supported Richard Nixon in the hope that Nixon as president would let the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave African Americans in South Carolina the right to vote for the first time since Reconstruction, die.

But it didn't die and tonight the African American voters who Thurmond and his predecessors sought to segregate and disenfranchise for nearly a century after the Civil War, were apparently the key to this huge victory. As was once written about another reactionary politician who died before history completely buried him I wish that Strom Thurmond was alive to see this night: he would have died all over again.

Thurmond as was revealed after his death, had a child with an African American servant women in the 1920s, and continued to see his daughter over the decades while he made his name as a segregationist politician. That is also an example of what is so tangled a history in the U.S., where poor white males were appealed to by politicians like Thurmond who portrayed Blacks as threats to white women while they used their power to do what they wanted with Black women.

Earlier today I had planned to write an article making fun of a New York Times article about the international interest in the U.S. presidential race and the very naive contention that Obama and Clinton may be re-invigorating "democracy" though the world.

The U.S. political system is, at best a second division political democracy by global standards and people throughout the world are always interested in the American presidency, because, as a Pakistani-born friend of mine and Marxist once told me, the President of the United States is the unelected President of much of the world, having more power over peoples lives than their own elected or unelected leaders.

But the fact that an African American and a woman are leading candidates for the presidential nomination is a big story. While sexism is sadly global, color racism in the U.S., rooted in a history of slavery and segregation which goes back to the 17th century, as people throughout the world know and have long known, is an "exceptional" characteristic of U.S. society, one that has been at the center of the deformation of political, economic, and social democracy throughout American history. That makes Senator Obama's victory tonight all the more important, and, in my opinion (and many, including some who read this, will probably disagree) more important than the victory of Hillary Clinton as a women for the presidential nomination would be.

The race for the nomination still has a long way to go but the possibility that the process will produce significant change and energize millions to participate in the political process and defeat the right Republicans is getting better.

Obama wins big in South Carolina

This just in from Tim Wheeler, national political correspondent, People's Weekly World:

Sen. Barack Obama won big in South Carolina. It was a huge turn out of voters, especially among African American voters. I think it broke records. The Black vote was very solid vote for Obama – somewhere around 89 percent. And the size of the support among white voters was good: about 24 percent. It really showed that people are fed up with the Clinton tactics and they really backfired. The size of the support of white voters - in a three-way race is significant.

The Obama people are over the moon. I was at a precinct some four or five miles outside of Columbia, mainly a rural area. And it was a steady stream of voters all day. Overwhelmingly African American voters. There was a feeling of victory in the air.

I'm at the Obama headquarters and you can hear the cheering all over. It's really very exciting.

[Stay tuned for next week's episode of PA Radio when we interview Tim Wheeler about his reporting from South Carolina.]

Obama: If He Wins, He Loses?

By Joe Sims

Something is happening. Over the last few days, there’s been a shift in policy on the part of the ruling class regarding the Obama campaign. At first it was subtle, but in the last day or so, it’s become full blown. The first sign was the attempt to cast Obama as “the Black candidate” as against, “a candidate who happens to be Black.” This may have been an offshoot of Hillary Clinton’s now infamous comments in New Hampshire, comparing him to King and implying he's no President Johnson.

Ruling-class pundits and ideologues are using it to pick apart the universal “all-people’s appeal” Obama's campaign acquired in the lead up to Iowa. Certainly the reaction to the pitting of race against gender, along with the broad criticism of the Clinton’s when the race card was played contributed significantly to the problem which continued to work itself out in Nevada and in the lead up to today’s primary in South Carolina.

Bill Clinton has been an instigating factor, injecting himself bodily into the contest using the bully pulpit as an ex-president to influence the national campaign.

I kept thinking, what was Mr. Clinton up to? Why were he and Senator Clinton making such a big issue of the Reagan thing? (Particularly when both have said similar things about Mr. Reagan). Scratch Obama and you’ll find a Clarence Thomas? Please! African Americans in South Carolina would hardly go for that. And then it dawned on me. African Americans were not the target. In fact, it wasn’t even the good citizens of South Carolina. The aim, rather, was the rest of the country: and more precisely it was the February 5th primaries. The goal: undermine trust and credibility; Obama is dishonest; you can't trust him!

Coupled with this tactical assault is the newly emerging line that even if Obama wins in South Carolina, it’s only because he’s “the Black candidate.” Even if he wins, he loses. As the “Black candidate” he’s lost his “universal” appeal. In other words, the coalition’s contracted and with it his “electability."

Isn’t it ironic that prior to New Hampshire, Obama wasn’t “Black enough" and couldn’t marshal the votes in the African American community, who were said to be favoring Clinton. Now after the Iowa win and the scoring of impressive votes in largely white states like New Hampshire and Nevada, he’s too Black, i.e., he’s got too much support among South Carolina’s African American citizens who encouraged by the white vote in other states, see him as electable.

But most insidious is the new “spinning” of the race in yesterday’s and today’s papers like the Wall Street Journal who now project that Obama’s South Carolina win will be a loss.

It’s hard out here for the would be president from Illinois!

"Ready for change" in South Carolina

By Tim Wheeler, national political correspondent, People's Weekly World

Columbia, S.C.- Barack Obama delivered a powerful answer to those who dismiss his message of hope and change last night drawing thunderous cheers from an overflow crowd that packed the Ira and Nancy Koger Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina.

Without mentioning Bill Clinton by name, Obama referred to the former president's dismissive comment that Obama is spreading a "fairy tale," that he is too young and naive to be president.

Those who counsel the people to be patient do not understand "the fierce urgency of now," Obama said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King's argument against gradualism.

"There is such a thing as being too late," he said. He reminded the crowd that the nation is locked in the Iraq war, people are working longer hours and earning less, seniors have lost pensions and cannot retire, the healthcare system is "broken" and "we're on the brink of a recession."

"We cannot afford to wait," he said. "We cannot wait to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home," he said. "We need a different politics based not on tearing each other down but building America up." Enormous crowds are greeting him all across the U.S. and South Carolina he said, attracted by that message of hope.

"Whatever else happens, next November the name George W. Bush will not be on the ballot." A roar went up and the crowd chanted, "No Bush! No Bush!"

He called for raising the minimum wage each year to offset inflation, health care for all, more money for schools than is spent for jails, making college affordable for all youth, and a change in U.S. foreign policy.

He vowed to "use our military wisely and that is why I opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. I will end the war but also end the mindset that got us into this war."

He quoted President John Kennedy's admonition "never fear to negotiate" and promised to negotiate with both friend and foe.

All the candidates are now talking about "change," he said. "But change is not easy. Change is hard." Pharmaceutical corporations and oil companies "are not going to give up easily," he warned.

Already, they are attacking him, he said, spreading the word, "Obama can't be president right now. We have to slow him a little bit more, boil the hope out of him." Anonymous e-mails falsely report that he is a "Muslim."

"They want to preserve the status quo by feeding on fear," he charged.

Others say Obama "has his head in the clouds. He's a hopemonger," he said.

But the American people have always "defied the odds" and chose hope over fear and cynicism: waging the War for Independence against the British Empire, abolitionists who fought to end slavery, workers who pushed through the New Deal in the 1930s, joining the worldwide movement that defeated Hitler fascism.

"Hope is not blind optimism," he said. "I know how hard it will be to reform our health care system. I know because I have fought on the streets as an organizer."

He cited the courage of youth of all races in the 1960s who braved the fire hoses, clubs, and police dogs, some of them dying, to bring down the system of segregation.

"That's what hope is," he said."I can't do it without you. I am ready for change. But you've got to be ready for change as well. If we are ready for change, then the days of the lobbyists running Washington will be over. We can make an economy that works for all Americans, that works for mainstreet not Wall Street."

The crowd chanted, "Ready for change!"

[See Wheeler's earlier posts here and here.]

On the Trail with Obama Supporters in South Carolina

By Tim Wheeler, national political correspondent, People's Weekly World

Columbia, S.C.- When we arrived at the Performing Arts Center here for a Barack Obama rally, a line stretching two blocks was waiting to go through security to get inside.

It was a perfect snapshot of the multiracial movement that has sprung up to elect Obama, African American, Latino, white, young and old, men and women. There were vast numbers of South Carolinians but also thousands who have come from across the nation to work as volunteers. Conspicuous was the large numbers of young people waiting in the chill darkness.

I interviewed many. Emily Aho, a student at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, was waiting with several of her classmates. She is from Marietta, Georgia, a freshman business major. "I'm going to listen to what he says," she told me. "I haven't made up my mind who I am going to vote for. I think it is a good thing that we have a Black person and a woman running for president," she said.

Marie Triche, a second year law student at the University of Florida drove up in a van from Gainesville with five other members of the Black Law Students Association. "This is the first time I have heard Barack Obama speak," she said."I think this night is just overwhelming, for us to be part of such a grand occasion. Obama is a young leader in contrast to all the other candidates. He is bringing out new ideas. He is getting strong youth support."

Curt Anderson, a member of the Maryland General Assembly was one of three Maryland legislators who chartered a bus, bringing 40 volunteers to work in the Obama campaign. (I was one of them). He too was waiting with other Maryland volunteers outside the hall. "Look at this line. It lasts forever and its cold out here," he quipped. "We spent the day campaigning for Obama and this is our reward. I think Maryland will go for Obama in our Feb. 12 primary. Our organization is getting stronger." He listed many elected officials who have endorsed Obama including Rep. Elijah Cummings, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, the Attorney General and Comptroller. "The grassroots is where his greatest strength is," Anderson added.

I asked why Obama's message resonates so strongly with people. Vic D'Amato, a former Maryland legislator standing nearby interjected, "People are starving for change," he said. "We have not had inspirational leadership in this country at the national level in our memory."

Brian Smith drove down from Cincinnati over a week ago to work as a volunteer. He was one of many young white people waiting in the line. "I think he is such an inspirational speaker," he told me. "He has the ability to unite a country that is pretty divided. I think Bill Clinton's comments have been disappointing. It has the potential to fracture the Democratic Party. I think the people don't want to see a negative campaign. There has been a record turnout so far in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. If this negativity continues, it has the potential of affecting that turnout."

The fact that an African American is running for president and winning, he said, "Shows that our country has come a long way. But the polling in South Carolina shows there is a continued racial divide that we must overcome. I do think that everyone here is part of that historic moment. This is a multiracial crowd."

We finally made it into the hall. It was packed with a crowd that greeted Obama with chants of "O-BA-MA!" and "Yes We Can!" and "Ready for change." Obama delivered a powerful stemwinder that drew thunderous cheers.

I'll report on his speech in the next blog...

Live Blogging from South Carolina

By Tim Wheeler, national political correspondent, People's Weekly World

Columbia, S.C.- Its primary election day here in South Carolina and the army of volunteers who have flooded into the state to campaign for Barack Obama have already left the YMCA and fanned out to polling places across this city.

It is chilly and threatening rain but the media is predicting a record voter turnout of people fired up by Obama's message of hope. I rode down from Baltimore on a bus with 40 other volunteers. It was chartered by three members of the Maryland General Assembly who have kept us working diligently since we arrived. Nights we sleep on the gymnasium floor of the Y, strewn with mostly youthful volunteers from as far away as California. Early this morning two more busloads arrived from Washington, D.C.

I have been canvassing with a friend, Rev. Pierre Williams, a United Methodist minister in Baltimore. We got a vivid feel for just how deeply Obama's message is resonating here going door-to-door in a working class neighborhood yesterday.

Sherman Stewart, employed as a maintenance worker at the Governor's Mansion here in the state capital told us, "I've been listening to all the candidates and I feel that Barack Obama is the one who can turn this country around.Everyone is feeling the insecurity from the way the economy is going. Veterans of the Iraq war are coming home and finding out their credit is all messed up, their health care is messed up. We're spending billions upon billions over there in Iraq, preaching democracy to the world, and we have millions of children here who are hungry and without health care.I'm getting ready to retire and there are so many people losing their pensions, or can't afford their medicine."

Richard Edwards came walking by. He is a student at Midlands Technical College and a U.S. Navy veteran. He deplored former President Bill Clinton's divisive statements here in South Carolina such as his dismissive statement that Obama's message of hope is a "fairy tale," implying that the Illinois Senator is too young and inexperienced to be president.

"I think Clinton's statement really affected Black voters," he told the World. "It put the Black community in a negative light. Obama is trying to unite people of all races and backgrounds, young and old, men and women. Clinton's statement has divided South Carolina. We don't need that here. I believe Barack is going to win but by a narrower margin. I hope Barack sticks to his message, positive change, hope, bringing us together, Black, white independent, even Republicans."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Middle East: Collective punishment

By Susan Webb,

The blockaded and barricaded residents of Gaza performed a dramatic mass act of peaceful civil disobedience this week.

Breaking through a wall erected by Israel three years ago, they poured by the hundreds of thousands — old, young, men, women, children — into Egypt, into the long cut-off half of their town of Rafah … and shopped.

No one was killed. No shots were fired. Goats, cement, laundry detergent, televisions, milk and potato chips were purchased. One man who works with disabled people in Gaza bought air mattresses and pumps. Others bought soap, medicines, chocolate, Coca-Cola. The ordinary stuff of life.

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Fiscal Stimulus or Corporate Con Game

by Norman Markowitz

It is sometimes hard to be an historian, harder than being an economist. I read the papers and they say that Congress is coming up with a "fiscal stimulus" package to fight the recession.

All Right. Fiscal stimulus used to mean increased public sector spending for public works, health care, education, transportation, along with various incentives for companies (often tax incentives to invest in
job production). But this stimulus package is largely about tax rebates, the kind that automobile companies offer as cash back rebates for buying their cars (a kind of tax break for consumers based on income).

The papers say that "liberal economists" see this as a step in the right direction, even though it doesn't provide for increasing welfare state benefits or "transfer payments," especially food stamps and unemployment benefits (whose real value has shrunk since the Reagan years significantly). "Conservative economists" also see this as a step in the right direction, although they are critical of the failure to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Meanwhile the culture of public sector cutbacks and rising regressive taxes and fees continues, meaning that this 150 billion rebate driven fiscal stimulus package may very well be more like Reagan tax cuts of the 1980s than a "step in the right direction"--people will get a chunk of money all right, but that chunk will evaporate rapidly as they pay more for tolls, licenses, local property taxes, utilities, etc, before there is any "stimulus" effect in regard to mass purchasing power.

Increasing minimum wages is a much better way to increase mass purchasing power. Strengthening unions who will be able to negotiate higher wages and benefits for workers is a much better way to increase mass purchasing power. Lowering the cost of necessities like health care, transportation, education, children's day care, and energy through public sector programs is a much better way to increase mass purchasing power. And, in limited ways, this was done in the past, from the 1930s to the 1970s, when it was associated with compensatory or anti-recession fiscal policies.

Of the major Democratic candidates, John Edwards is saying some of these things, and it would be great to hear others chiming in. In the 1930s and after, people sought to make sense out of the rise of the New Deal
by referring to it in terms of three Rs--Relief, Recovery, and Reform. Now, I would suggest a new three Rs for the present crisis--Reregulation of capital; retaxation of corporations and the rich; and Restoration of
the public sector, revitalization and expansion which will be a "compensatory" fiscal policy to reverse what has been nearly three decades of institutionalized cutbacks.

2007: Good Year for Union Membership Growth

In a jump that was the largest since 1979, labor union membership grew by 311,000 workers in 2007, and union density grew from 12.0% to 12.1%. And 201,000 were women workers. This is great news for working families, because it means better pay and benefits for workers. It means more economic security for working families. It also means having a voice at work and bigger political muscle to affect real change. And all of this took place in an atmosphere where the federal machinery has been arrayed against working people by the Bush administration.

It is bad news for Bush and the Republicans – and the "McRombee" they seem intent on nominating to pick up Bush's mantle after him. Because, as we'll talk about in an upcoming podcast for Political Affairs Radio, labor is preparing a huge mobilization to focus on the right issues, working families issues: universal health care, real job growth, union rights, real safety and health oversight, fair trade, and revitalizing our manufacturing sector and more in the upcoming election.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It’s not race vs. gender

By Terrie Albano, People's Weekly World,

Everyone's talking about it. Race. Gender. Who injected what first.

Especially Bill Clinton.

And that's where gender and race inequality come together.

It isn't about gender vs. race. Black women experience both racism and sexism intertwined.

There are many commonalities to both oppressions.

But that's not what Clinton-type politics want to talk about. No they want to do anything to win.

It's about Bill Clinton using racism to be the most sexist campaigner in the country.

This white guy is defending "his" woman against a Black guy. (It must really go over well in South Carolina…can't you just hear it… appeal, appeal appeal to the Emmett-Till-was-lynched-for-whistling-at-a-white-woman and wife-is-my-property-therefore-I-must-uphold-her-honor ideas…).

It's all about Bill. He's enjoying it. He's in the limelight again. "Sure I'll sign all your autographs...I'm loving this."

That's a sure sign of male supremacy…all about you, sir.

In Iowa, when he went on the stump, he spoke about "me, me, me" so much Hillary campaigners were afraid he forgot about "she, she, she."

Yet Hillary laps it up. And shame on her for it. Thought you found your voice? But it sounds just like Bill's. Anything to win, eh. You suffered a lot with that man of yours so you feel this is owed you, huh Hillary?
Guess you won't be dumping him anytime soon like so many of us hoped you would.

But this is worse than "Monica Lewinsky." Instead of cheating on and embarrassing your wife, again, you are cheating and embarrassing the whole country. And white, Black, Latino, Asian, Native American - all races and ethnicities - are disgusted by it.

And so are women.

It's all about the issues, some may say. Well aren't racism and sexism issues? Isn't it fair game to say we need a leader that won't pander, or give a wink and a nod to, the worst of our devils? I think it is.

We want leaders that will appeal to our better angels. Ones who take the high road. Let the GOP take the low road.

Hillary must be betting that once she claws her way to the top, the pro-Democrats coalition has no where else to go. And that may be right. But if that happens, madam president, you will have a really unruly bunch to rule. And tearing up won't get you too many more votes in Congress.

Keep strong, Barack and Michelle Obama. Don't feed the beast.

Paul Robeson Exhibit Opens in Detroit

Political Affairs #54 - Paul Robeson Exhibit Opens in Detroit

China will find its own way to ideological struggle

by Erwin Marquit

In his January 7 blog, "The Great Electronic Wall of China,” Joe Sims criticizes the attempts of the Chinese authorities to influence the content of views expressed in various forms on the Internet and to restrict access to certain sites. I don't think it is our duty to give lessons to the Chinese on this matter. One should not forget that China is still a third world country, suffering from underdevelopment. This includes its information technology, despite its advances in this and fields. The imperialist countries have over two hundred years of experience in fighting against socialist ideology and they have used their informational-technological resources quiet effectively in this battle, successfully preventing the working classes of their countries from adequately recognizing their own class interests.

The socialist forces in China face the additional obstacle of the presence a strong capitalist sector that constantly breeds its ideological defenders.

Cuba has found it necessary to jam Radio Marti and its corresponding TV broadcasts as the cheapest way of combating its lies. The Chinese authorities will use a variety of resources at their disposal for the ideological defense of their chosen course of development. Some will be fruitful and some will not. Some will be to our liking and some not, but it is up to them to determine the most effective way for engaging in ideological struggle. Mistakes will be made, but it is not our task to correct them by throwing stones at them.

[Note from PA: See Marquit's recent article, "Ideological Struggle and the Socialist Market Economy," in the latest issue of Political Affairs.]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Clinton's Race-Based Tactics May Backfire

By Joe Sims

I was on the road Monday night and couldn’t watch the now famous slugfest between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. So Tuesday morning I asked a friend and an astute observer how it went. He told me, “I turned it off. Couldn’t take it.” I’m reminded of that tonight when reading about yet another Democratic Party regular taking on Bill Clinton, for his destructive and divisive role in the primaries.

CNN reported it. Here’s what they said:

“In an interview with CNN, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and an Obama backer, said some of Clinton's recent remarks on the campaign trail were appeals based on race and gender, meant to "suppress the vote, demoralize voters and distort the record."

Harpootlian said the remarks were "reminiscent of Lee Atwater," a hard-hitting Republican strategist who worked for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and whose tactics were reviled by many Democrats.”

Many men and women of good heart will turn off and tune out. And there the danger lies.

President Clinton response to reporter who asked about the charge was a five-minute harangue, most of which was spent hiding behind John Lewis, Andy Young and Dolores Huerta (which itself is another story). The rest of the time, Clinton was bashing the reporters for daring to ask the question.

It made me think, what is Bill’s role, now that Senator Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. My suspicion is that Harpootlian has it right. To put it another way: create a colossal diversion, dominate the airways, keep Obama off focus, and turn potential voters off.

So much for the themes of unity and uplift. The Republicans strategists must be having a field day planning for the general election; the Clinton’s attack strategy proving a manual in the art of war. And who was it that thought that anyone would have difficulty running against a Black candidate and playing the race card well? The Clinton’s are proving themselves yet again past masters.

They should not however underestimate the reaction in the Black community. Many are furious, as well they should be. The Clinton’s short-term victory may be a long-term loss, if a less than enthusiastic Black electorate does not turn out to vote in November in large numbers. It could even severely damage the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile Obama is ahead in South Carolina. But they said that in New Hampshire. The numbers below were provided by the Daily Kos:

Amid stories that Clinton will refocus away from SC and look toward other states, today's Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby tracking poll released on Wednesday has Obama leading Clinton 43 percent to 25 (Edwards is at 15), pretty much matching every other recent poll including today's PPP automated poll (Obama 44, Clinton 28, Edwards 15).

Of note from Zogby:

More than half of the Democratic primary voters in South Carolina are expected to be black. Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, leads among African-Americans by 65 percent to 16 percent...

[Zogby] said the race in South Carolina still showed some fluidity. About 14 percent of voters in the state are undecided, and about 20 percent of voters backing a candidate say they could still change their mind.
Only one night of polling was done post-debate.

The China Syndrome

by Ben Sears

The US labor movement, in the face of — or because of the enormous challenges it faces — has in recent years broken much new ground. It has demonstrated its ability to act politically and influence elections at all levels. The sea change in Congress in 2006 was in no small part due to labor's electoral effort. And it was all the more effective because organized labor had the organized support of "Working America" which gives workers without a union a way to put their collective muscle into political campaigns. This effort showed tangible results when the Employee Free Choice Act actually got serious and sympathetic attention in the House earlier this year.

On the international front, both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win have shown considerable courage and persistence in their call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and thus oppose at least a part of the Bush Administration imperial foreign policy. In fact the readiness to discuss a foreign policy issue in a constructive and open debate marks a significant and welcome change. And of course, the AFL-CIO, a few years ago, dropped its decades long quarantine against Communists. When we recall that that body, at its birth, stated that it would actively join in the witch hunt, it should be obvious that all these changes are major, major positive steps forward.

All of which makes what I am going to say that much more difficult. The AFL-CIO filed a petition with the US Trade Representative calling on the Bush Administration to impose "trade remedies" against China in the form of sanctions or tariffs because, the petition charges, China does not "enforce workers' rights." The petition was originally filed in 2004; the article reporting on it is dated June, 2006, and it is still on the Website. Here is a quote from the article:

"China prevents workers from joining unions and bargaining collectively, denies its citizens safe working conditions, provides no minimum wage and uses forced labor. As a result, Chinese workers' wages are between 47 percent and 85 percent lower than they should be…."

The petition is allegedly based on extensive documentation and was prepared by a Columbia law professor. China's labor policies are, it is argued, responsible for the loss of over 400,000 US jobs between 2001 and 2005. The Web article makes the point that this is the first time the Trade Act of 1974 section 301 has been invoked to protest a nation's labor practices.

OK, so what is disturbing about all of this?

  1. The persistence with which forces in the labor movement have pursued this project and targeted China. The AFL-CIO has protested labor policies in other countries, e.g. Colombia or Iraq, but never filed such a petition.
  2. The apparent refusal to consider even the possibility of talking face to face directly with (or even recognizing as a workers' organization) the All China Federation of Trade Unions. (I know that at least one American labor leader, SEIU's Andy Stern has been to China several times, met with that organization's leaders and mentioned it in his book "A Country That Works.")
  3. The echoes, or hangover, of the Cold War that this whole situation evokes.
  4. The use of "dissidents" (and the use of that term itself) from the country in question — China in this case — to give an impression of legitimacy.

The Steelworkers' "Get the Lead Out" campaign can easily be seen as a continuation of this policy thrust. But this is proving hard to write about constructively. Are we in favor low wages? Lead in toys? Etc. etc.? Of course not. But neither, in my opinion, should we support the total failure to have any contact with the main labor organization in a nation of over a billion people. How do we know for a fact what the situation really is on the ground in China — or in the many parts of that vast nation? The failure/refusal of labor leaders to talk to workers organizations in "Communist countries" in the past cost American workers dearly. We need discussion on this and on how to try to ensure that the same thing does not happen again. I invite responses. I very much appreciated the discussion we started to have during our last Editorial Board phone conference.

Evangelicals Walking Away From Hard Line GOP Ideas?

by Joel Wendland

It's probably too early to tell, but one survey conducted by Beliefnet suggests evangelical Christians, many who identify as Republicans, are ready to break with that party's core values.

The survey found:

that 85-percent of evangelicals ranked the economy and “cleaning up government” as the most important or very important issues, compared to 61-percent who said the same about ending abortion and 49-percent who identified “stopping gay marriage” as a top issue.

While only 41 percent of evangelicals identified themselves as Republicans (the rest evenly split as Democrats and presumably Independent/other), "80-percent said they attended church weekly or more than weekly and 84% said the Bible is the 'inerrant word of God.'"

Still, they appear to views causes and issues associated with the left, the people's movements, and/or the Democratic Party as most important, while causes associated with right-wing politics fell lower on the list.

Here's the break down (percentage given indicates the percentage of respondents who ranked that issue as important or very important):

The economy (85%)
Cleaning up government (85%)
Reducing poverty (80%)
Improving public education/access to health care (78%)
Protecting the environment (70%)
Ending torture (68%)
Ending Iraq war (67%)
Ending abortion (61%)
Combating sex and violence in the media and entertainment (59%)
Illegal immigration (59%)
Stopping gay marriage (49%)
Helping Africa (48%)
Winning Iraq war (46%)
Fighting Islamic radicalism (58%)

Health care, ending the war, and poverty ranked higher than immigration, abortion, and gay marriage among evangelicals as important or very important.

This is a huge change over 2004 when, as you may recall, evangelicals are credited with having swept Bush back into office highlighting the war and anti-gay attitudes.

Evangelicals who identify as Democrats favor Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton by more than two-to-one.

Disclaimer: The science of this survey is unclear. The article calls the it an online survey, but doesn't describe it in detail. A better description of the poll is needed to judge its validity.

The Shame of Children's Health Care and the Continuing Economic Crisis

by Norman Markowitz

The Democrats have failed to over-ride Bush veto of their children's health care act, which would have provided coverage for four million uninsured children. Representative Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, looking at the increasing rate of unemployment, stated succinctly that "two thirds of unemployed individuals lose health coverage for their families when they lose their job." Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia responded by saying (and I am not making this up) "we will come back to this floor in the next week or two with a $150 billion stimulus package to get us out of a recession....We don't want to be squandering money to provide health insurance for those who can't afford to do it themselves."

What planet is Gingrey representing, and what century is he living in? If he was a racist white supremacist Georgia congressmen defending child labor in the mill towns who was transported from 1908 by a time machine, he might argue that increasing child labor and permitting children to work longer hours might enable them to buy their own health insurance. Perhaps he considers social investments and social legislation as part of government policy to stimulate the economy as socialism and communism. If that is true, then we will need to have a mass Communist or Socialist party (I would certainly prefer the former) to get low cost universal public health care and pro labor public economic policies that will overcome both the immediate economic crisis and protect the people from economic crises generally.

Meanwhile, the National Conference of Mayors issued a serious call for an economic program to fight the crisis. The Conference has called for a sharp increase in both Community Development Grants, used to upgrade public services and housing and also raise caps on interest free mortgage revenue bonds, which are used to help low income mortgage holders in crisis. These policies are a serious step in the right direction, that is upgrading public sector services, providing for more jobs not less, and also helping poor people keep their homes and continue to purchase goods and services in the economy.

In 1934, the National Conference of Mayors, then influenced by mass demonstrations of the unemployed councils and workers strikes, advocated policies that prefigured the New Deals Works Progress Administration and Social Security. Unemployment Insurance Legislation. These demands are much more modest and Franklin Roosevelt isn't in the White, but as this crisis continues to develop, it becomes clearer and clearer that it is only contemporary versions of the policies that reactionaries called Communist and Socialist during the great depression offer solutions for the working people.

[Note from PA: See Markowitz's latest article, "John Edwards: A Look at the Man and the Message," in the latest issue of Political Affairs.]