AFL-CIO sponsors "Tell Us The Truth" concert tour…

[The American labor movement has been, and in a large sense, still is, the last vestige of organized and institutionalized opposition to the status quo in American politics – the only one with the resources to really make things happen on a large scale… it is great that they’re funding this tour. Progressives have, and have always had, a huge advantage over right-wingers on the cultural front… it is one that they’ve really failed to take advantage of effectively. This is a good sign, I hope to see more of it. And note how well Morello was able to stay “on message” even when challenged on the reasons for attacking globalisation. Good work. Of course, this item appears to have only made it into “print” on the web…]

Raging Against the Machine

Lefty rockers like Tom Morello join forces and hit the road in an antiestablishment tour sponsored by the AFL-CIO

By Brian Braiker


Nov. 26 — Iconoclastic rockers Billy Bragg, Steve Earle and friends recently wound down the first month-long leg of a group tour at the unlikeliest of venues: the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the AFL-CIO. Unlikely, that is, if this were your run-of-the-mill pop concert. But in an era of mega-tours organized and sponsored by soft drink and SUV-makers, the labor-backed “Tell us the Truth” tour is the unlikeliest of shows.


Thomas Leavitt

Letters to the Editor in Washington Post

[The Washington Post just published a great letter to the editor (also below, in italics), just below a letter to the editor from John Podesta and the Center for American Progress rebutting the editorial mentioned (and linked to) below.

The publication of an editorial by the Washington Post with a line like this speaks volumes about how effective the ultra-right has been at defining the terms of the game… somewhere in a Washington area smoke filled room, the right has decided to go on the offensive, and make attacking Mr. Soros and Peter Lewis the issue of the day.

Thus, editorials this (“Mr. Soros’s Millions” in the WP) which fail to place Mr. Soros’ actions in any context, and news articles (LAT, “Democrats Line Up Their Own Billionaire Firepower”) which, even as they mention the Heritage model that the Center for American Progress aims to emulate, fail to mention the overwhelmingly larger amounts poured in to the ultra-right over the last thirty years by a much broader cast of characters (most of it “laundered” through tax-exempt foundations [great tax dodge]), and paint progressives as hypocrites for accepting money from these folks.]

I was dumbfounded by this sentence in the Nov. 22 editorial “Mr. Soros’s Millions”:

“For Democrats thrilled with the Soros millions, imagine conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife opening his bank account on behalf of Mr. Bush.”

Although his money did not go to advocate defeating a particular candidate, Mr. Scaife has given $700 million to conservative organizations over more than four decades. He has been one of the main funders of the Heritage Foundation and many other conservative “think tanks” such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Contemporary Studies. In 1994 he set up a fund to investigate whether Clinton official Vince Foster was murdered, and he funded the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

Besides Mr. Scaife, let’s not forget about other right-wing billionaires such as Howard Ahmanson, who has spent millions promoting religious-right candidates and funding many conservative groups.

There is plenty of reason to worry about money in politics, but why single out Mr. Soros without pointing out the rich funders on the right too?



[The other point I wish to make, and I’ll be brief, in deference to Dave’s sensibilities: Podesta, Lewis, Soros,… they represent a moderate to liberal, Clintonian style politics. What used to be the center of American politics (before the right pulled things so far out of balance). While I appreciate what they’re doing, they’re by no means attempting to shift American politics to the degree that their ultra-right-wing opponents aimed at, thirty years ago. These groups represent baby-steps in an attempt to move things back into balance… not that I’m unhappy to have them test the waters and take the point on this, mind you.

You’d have to go to the left of the Greens (who represent what used to be the liberal/left wing of the Democratic Party) to the Peace and Freedom Party in California (who are seeking to nominate Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier for President/VP), before you find anyone near as radical as Scaife, the Koch brothers, and the Coors family, et. al. … you sure as hell don’t see Mr. Soros, et. al pouring millions into the pockets of these folks, people whose goal is to upend the system as it now exists (just as was the goal of the Heritage Foundation, et. al. and still is). When I see seven figure donations pouring in from an assortment of multi-millionaires and the foundations they control to organizations like The Green Insititute, well, then I’ll think that maybe the campaign to create balance is beginning to get some traction.

We’re living in a skewed media environment, where the American Enterprise Institute is a non-ideological mainstream institution, and Richard Perle can get away with attacking the “new liberal institutions” (where the hell does the plural come from) as “political”, and “not scholars” (as if what the Heritage Foundation produces is scholarship).

I sincerely hope that Podesta, et. al., at the very least, begin to force some “honesty in labeling” upon the American media. That would be a good first step.]

Thomas Leavitt

Things You Have To Believe To Be A Republican Today

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today. Including:

  • The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
  • “Standing Tall for America” means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
  • The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans’ benefits and combat pay.
  • What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the ’80s is irrelevant.
  • If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won’t have sex.
  • A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
  • A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
  • And read the comments at the end, left by pissed-off right wingers.

    Voted For Nader – Now Supports Dean


    “Heretofore I have opposed strategic voting tactics. When citizens vote for candidates because they seem likely to win, it creates a winner-takes-all aggregation of support. That subverts democracy’s underlying assumption: that people vote for the man or woman they’d most like to see win. At its worst, pick-the-winner voting elevates any candidate lucky enough to enjoy an early jump in the polls to premature, and possibly undeserved victory. Let the electorate vote for politicians whose ideas they like best and let the chads hang where they may.

    This year is different.

    [ . . . ]

    America is under attack, and Bush is enemy number one.

    [ . . . ]

    When you’re at war for your future, you can no longer enjoy the luxury of picking the ideal candidate or the perfect party. Under normal circumstances, third parties like the Greens and Libertarians deserve the support of like-minded voters. But, the fact is, only the Democratic Party can defeat Bush next year. “

    He goes on to make the case why Dean is the one who can beat Bush, including, “Frankly, the other Democratic contenders don’t have what it takes to stand up to Karl Rove’s brutal war machine.” Please read the whole thing!

    Tax Cuts Or Spending Increases?

    The right-wingers say that tax cuts stimulate the economy and government spending harms the economy. But why would tax cuts stimulate the economy more than spending increases? A $1 billion tax cut stimulates the economy only if the money is borrowed, by adding $1 billion that can be spent, which increases demand. But so does a $1 billion spending increase. In fact, a $1 billion spending increase would generally be used in ways that stimulate demand more than a tax cut. The spending would usually go to average people, who would immediately spend it on needed goods, so it would all be spent quickly. Meanwhile a tax cut would go to higher income people, who might spend it on a BMW, or more likely just save it.

    If the money is borrowed it means that we all have to pay interest on that loan for many years, which is the opposite of stimulus. With massive borrowing the government also competes with businesses and others who want to borrow money, which further restrains the economy.

    And what about a tax cut that is “paid for” by cutting spending? Cutting spending means laying off teachers, or not building a road that would employ hundreds of construction workers, or cutting back on unemployment payments, or cutting back on health care, which is a major employer. Think about the grocery store in the neighborhood of all the people who won’t be getting unemployment payment extensions next year.

    So when you hear that tax cuts are good for jobs and the economy, and spend is bad for the economy, it might sound simple on the surface, but it’s not what it seems. The argument presupposes that taxes are collected and then the money just disappears. Don’t fall for it. In fact, it’s a useful life rule to just disregard anything a right-winger says as a trick with an ulterior motive of taking your money or lowering your wages. ;-0

    Greider For Dean

    Why I’m for Dean:

    “Dean is opening the possibility of transforming politics–shaking up the tired, timid old order, inviting plain-wrapper citizens back into an active role–and that’s why so many people, myself included, are for him.”