Surprise Guest at Social Security Rally: An Opposition Party

April 26, 2005

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James Roosevelt stood on a large outdoor stage on Tuesday in a Washington, D.C., park filled with union members waving signs about Social Security. “Every American,” he said, “deserves what my grandfather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt laid out for them.”

The shouts that followed that remark must have been heard inside the nearby U.S. Capitol.

“Are we in this country ever a We, or is it I and Me all the time?” asked Roosevelt, read more

Government Is Not a Father or Mother, But Our Child

April 20, 2005

George Lakoff has become perhaps the most listened to thinker by progressive activists. His instruction to take care in how a debate is initially framed is very persuasive. Clearly it is much harder to bring people to a conclusion that lies outside the possibilities created by a frame. It is also useful to argue in the terms that will appeal to the widest audience.

I don’t think a lack of these communications skills has much to do with the decline of progressive politics in read more

What They Should Fight For

April 19, 2005
Harold Meyerson has an interesting article in the Spring 2005 Dissent Magazine called “Beyond The Consensus: Democrats Agree on How to Play Defense, but What Are They Fighting For?”

Meyerson encourages Democrats to “go to war against Democratic Wall Street elites,” to win back the white working class through progressive economic policies. I completely agree, but want to quibble with how Meyerson proposes we do this.

Meyerson read more

The Half-Baked Baker Carter Commission

April 19, 2005

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So, Jimmy Carter and James Baker are sitting at a table, and Carter starts talking about the disastrous election of 2000 in Florida…. It sounds like the start of a joke. It was actually the start of the first meeting of the Baker-Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform in Washington, D.C., on April 18th. Baker didn’t do much bragging about his role in Florida. In fact, there was more than one occasion during the meeting on which Baker read more

DINOs Outshining RINOs

April 18, 2005

For more than a decade we’ve heard about a political animal called the RINO (Republican in Name Only), but most species of RINO have become endangered or at least threatened. Republicans in Congress have learned to close ranks and vote as a block.

On the recent bill restricting the rights of those who would file class action law suits, Republicans in the House voted 229 to 1 in favor of it, and in the Senate 54 to 0, with two not voting. On the latest increase in war spending, read more

Camejo, Selfa, and Debating the Rearrangement of Deck Chairs

April 8, 2005
The Socialist Worker’s Lance Selfa wrote an article opposing the idea of trying to turn the Democratic Party into a truly progressive force. Hopeless, he said. I sent him a response, which the Socialist Worker published together with a reply from Selfa. See the exchange here:

At the same time, Ralph Nader running mate Peter Camejo published an article criticizing the same thing and denouncing various efforts read more

Admiring Sacrifice: Talking to Catholic Students

Presentation at Marymount University, April 7, 2005
Crystal asked me to come here because I had some connection to the hunger strike for a living wage at Georgetown University. When I told her that I was not a hunger striker, but primarily a reporter who wrote about it, she was kind enough to still ask me to speak, but asked if I could bring a hunger striker too. I couldn’t.

So, instead of hearing from one of these admirable young people who put their health and their lives on the line for read more

Why the Media Can't Read the Bankruptcy Bill

April 5, 2005
The most remarkable thing about the bankruptcy bill (which has now been postponed in the House until next week) is something that the corporate media is incapable of reporting on and probably in some cases incapable of even recognizing. Namely, this bill offers an ideal test for the Democrats.

Most bills contain some redeeming features, some elements that are good for people, not just good for corporate profits. With most bills, a case can be made, however contorted and unconvincing, read more

Labor Media, or the Lack Thereof

Panel Presentation for Conference of United Association of Labor Educators
April 1, 2005, Philadelphia, Penn.

I originally proposed as a title for this workshop “What Direction Should Labor Media Take?” Somewhere along the way, the word “Media” got lost, a fortunate accident in that it produced for us the brilliant paper that Andy Zipser is presenting today, which addresses the media question but within the important context of the broader debate over labor’s future. read more

Why Wal-Mart Should Be Kept Out of Your Community

April 1, 2005

I pulled together a list of reasons why a proposed Wal-Mart should be kept out of my community. They all apply to yours too.

Not About NIMBY: We are not saying “not in my back yard.” We don’t want to see a Wal-Mart built in a different part of the county, or in a different county, or in a different state. We are opposed to Wal-Marts being built anywhere. It is here in our neighborhood that we have the possibility of stopping one, as others around the country have read more