From Nathan Newman:
Well if they lie about the reasons to go to war, we shouldn't be surprised if they lie about trade agreements:
The Labor Department worked for more than a year to maintain secrecy for studies that were critical of working conditions in Central America, the region the Bush administration wants in a new trade pact...The government-paid studies concluded that countries proposed for free-trade status have poor working environments and fail to protect workers' rights...
Behind the scenes, the Labor Department began as early as spring 2004 to block public release of the country-by-country reports.
The department instructed its contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it could not discuss the studies with outsiders.
This is part of a pattern of Bush Administration dishonesty. It's not enough to disagree with a report's conclusions. They have to suppress the information, so that the public doesn't even have alternative information to evaluate the policy.
The contractor, the International Labor Rights Fund, has finally gotten the reports released and you can read them here .
As the ILRF argues, sugar interests in the United States may get bought off in any deal over CAFTA, but "Central American sugar workers will have no new alternatives to relieve them of the burden of the daily violations they face, as described in these reports." Read the reports and understand why a trade deal without labor rights is just a deal to reward multinational corporations who steal the labor of workers in developing nations, not a help to those workers.
From David Sirota's WorkingForChange blog:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) today defended the fact that he helped orchestrate a raise for himself and other Members of Congress. He said lawmakers needed a $3,100 raise to make their pay $165,200 a year. "It's not a pay raise," DeLay said. "It's an adjustment so that they're not losing their purchasing power." Funny, in blocking every serious piece of minimum wage legislation, DeLay hasn't felt his rationale about raises applies to ordinary workers, even though minimum wage is nearing a 50-year low in terms of purchasing power.
When we heard about the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. London, Conn., upholding a local condemnation of a residential neighborhood for an economic development initiative, we admit we were a bit befuddled. How could we agree with Clarence Thomas, who dissented on the side of the homeowners against economic development? [See the decision.]
On closer examination, we found that the court's majority was right. That may be little comfort for the homeowners whose property will be taken for what the State of Connecticutt has determined to be the public good. The right wingers on the court reflexively defended property rights, but the (narrow) majority upheld more than a century of precedents and the principle of eminent domain.
Nathan Newman notes:
A lot of progressives are uncomfortable with [the June 23] decision on eminent domain, fearing it will lead to big property interests driving poor people out of their homes.
But that already happens, as the history of eminent domain shows. As the lawyer for the city in the case argued :
He says the Supreme Court ruling will be a boon to spurring economic development in cities around the country.
"Otherwise, all you can do is go into blighted areas, which means you are picking on the poor people, the minority people and this means that economic development can go where it is best to go...
Don't make a mistake here. If only homeowners with lawyers can stop economic development, all the crap will flow into the poorest communities with far fewer lawyers.
There's a reason that the homeowners in this case were represented by the rightwing Institute for Justice; this was a case about restricting decent government planning. Eminent domain will inevitably have sad stories of those displaced, but letting those who own property veto democratic community planning will not serve social justice.
I really am just shocked that so many liberal bloggers are upset by the Supreme Court decision upholding local power over eminent domain.
Let me put in this is raw political terms. Do they really want rightwing courts deciding what is in the "public interest" versus generally progressively-governed cities?
To give an example from New York City, many poor section 8 and other low-income renters are threatened with evictions as rental housing is converted to condos. The NYC City Council just approved an ordinance to give such renters the right to buy their apartments. This is de facto a form of eminent domain to force landlords to sell their apartments at market rates to specific homebuyers.
Do liberals opposed to yesterday's court ruling think this should be struck down as violating the 5th Amendment rights of the landlords?
"Eminent domain" will be abused by cities and states, and poor landowners naturally will be at a disadvantage in their disputes with the local governments in condemnation proceedings. But Jeffrey Dubner notes at TAPPED:
... the New London government didn't give the land to private developers to do with it as they please, with a vague hope that the profits would redound on the community; they shifted control to a development agency commissioned by the city to carry out a government-approved plan. Assuming that the city maintained proper oversight and authority over the developer's activities, this is not in any way a transfer to a private entity, so the great cry that a "law that takes property from A. and gives it to B ... is against all reason and justice" is misplaced and misleading.
With regard to the concern of conservative dissenters on and off the court that deferring to local governments opens all sorts of corruption possibilities, give me a break. That's an argument for more transparency and stronger sunshine laws -- not for outlawing eminent domain. I absolutely agree with Thomas' concern that individual eminent domain cases can often burden "the least politically powerful." But again, how is it that this has greater implications for eminent domain than for clean elections and due process?
The only way that the Supreme Court could legitimately have found for Suzette Kelo et al. is by saying that takings with the "public purpose" of "economic development" are unconstitutional. That's a very short step away from saying that takings with the public purpose of, say, reducing poluttion are illegitimate as well. The libertarians at the Institute for Justice, who brought the case in the first place, know that full well.
If "an armed society is a polite society," as right-wingers are fond of saying, James Wolcott notes:
Think about societies where the adult men routinely pack and tote arms.
Afghanistan. Yemen. The badlands of northern Pakistan (Bin Laden Country). The Sunni Triangle. Beautiful downtown Mogadishu.
Do these regions and cultures leap out at you as polite societies? Places where you could safely stroll for a nightly constitutional and enjoy vigorous differences of opinion that wouldn't break out in a misunderstanding between AK-47s?
As a social conservative, I believe that children should be taught the fundamentals of etiquette and consideration of others. And perhaps I'm a bit old-fashioned but somehow I don't think strapping ammo belts across their chests is quite the right way to go . "Across great swathes of Africa and South Asia, child soldiers are enabled with AK-47s, exploited by adult combatants, their lives ended or distorted, their weapons still available for banditry and domestic violence even if peace does arrive."
Dig this : "America is far from alone in suffering high rates of firearm related mortality. Close competitors include Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, and Brazil—nations with whom Americans rarely see themselves in the same league." Unless of course we're talking about the League of Polite Societies, a global community that exists only between Reynolds' ears.
Maybe I've been mistaken all these years. I used to think Japan put a high premium on politeness, protocol, and the fine points of deportment. Those Ozu movies--they must have fooled me. Singapore, too--a very picky place. Canada--Canadians are often made fun of for being courteous to a fault. England may no longer adhere to the gentlemanly code so intricately and comically depicted in the multivolumed novels of Anthony Trollope but it certainly hasn't devolved into barbarism. Or so I've always thought. But according to Instapundithink, I thunk wrong.
Because according to a CDC study from 1998, there were 19 gun deaths in Japan, 54 in England and Wales, 151 in Canada.
As compared to 11,789 in the good old US of A.
Don't get us wrong. The Second Amendment means what it says, in its masterfully ambiguous way: People have the constitutional right to own firearms. But, NRA proclamations aside, government has the authority to regulate firearms. However, gun ownership does not make us more polite, much less safer or more secure.
James Weinstein R.I.P.
In These Times founder and longtime editor and publisher James Weinstein died Thursday at his home in Chicago after a long struggle with brain cancer. He was 78. Doug Ireland, a contributing editor to In These Times, offers a fine tribute.
Weinstein was a veteran of the Navy in World War II and turned to a lifetime of activism on the left after the war. While in graduate school at Columbia University, he became a member of the Communist Party, but he quit in 1956 in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary and became a critic of the party. Ireland noted that "Weinstein argued coherently that the Communist Party U.S.A. helped squander that rich legacy of native American radicalism by its slavish devotion and subservience to Soviet Russia -- which was utterly irrelevant to the needs and experience of working-class America."
Weinstein edited the journal Studies on the Left in the 1960s, ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for Congress from Manhattan in 1966, moved to San Francisco in 1967 to found (and finance) the Socialist Review, a now-defunct intellectual journal, and also the Modern Times bookstore, which still exists. "But Jimmy's most lasting creation was the biweekly In These Times, now in its 29th year of publication," Ireland wrote. "I.T.T. consumed the better part of Jimmy's bankroll and time from 1976 until he retired as both editor and publisher in 1999." Ireland writes:
I didn't always agree with Jimmy Weinstein on everything (I had, for example, serious reservations about some things in the latter part of The Long Detour [the last of five books he wrote, published in 2004]), and in the last years of his life I took strong exception to several things that he wrote. But he was a good-humored, warm-hearted man, a valued mentor to many younger radicals and journalists, and his commitment to democratic socialism and social justice was evergreen and vivid. He frequently published views with which he disagreed during his two decades as I.T.T.'s editor (unlike the editors of some other left and progressive publications today, Jimmy believed that analytical debate and disagreement was good for the left).
Weinstein jokingly called In These Times "the best-kept secret in journalism." We know the feeling. He was gracious in support of The Progressive Populist when we got started in 1995. Our condolences go to his family and colleagues at In These Times.
See excerpts from The Long Detour by clicking on the title.
See AlterNet's obit. Also, Laura Washington wrote an appreciation in November 2004 for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Nathan Newman writes: Today looks to be a big day for labor as five unions announce their plans to demand reform in the AFL-CIO or leave the federation. And in the meantime, they are forming a committee for joint organizing campaigns -- a nice historical echo of the original Committee for Industrial Organizations which existed within the AFL in the 1930s before it seceded from the federation back then.
The big news is that yesterday the United Food & Commercial Workers authorized its leadership to seceded from the AFL-CIO if the coalition's proposals are rejected. The UFCW wasn't even part of the original New United Partnership dicussions last year, so the fact that they are signed on for secession makes the whole thing more likely.
In the linked article, Harold Myerson worries that this would split "the movement" and make organizing Wal-Mart or fighting Tom Delay harder.
I don't actually buy this. It's not like unions are united today in launching massive organizing drives, which is the argument of the SEIU-led coalition. Today, unions regularly fight each other for the same workers-- CWA fighting HERE-UNITE over California Indian casion workers, SEIU and AFSCME fighting over child care workers, and all sorts of unions fighting over various health care constituencies. [See the rest]
As of Monday morning, 83 senators are listed as co-sponsors of the resolution condemning lynching. Our list below failed to note that Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are not cosponsors. Americablog noted: "They're on the bad guy list now. And remember, they can still cosponsor retroactively, so why haven't they? Call now."
And don't forget to read how Bill Frist vetoed having a roll call vote on the lynching resolution, and how he refused to have the resolution come up during the day when the media would be aware of it.
STILL HAVEN'T COSPONSORED
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - (202) 224-4944
Robert Bennett (R-UT) - (202) 224-5444
Thad Cochran (R-MS) - (202) 224-5054
John Cornyn (R-TX) - (202) 224-2934
Michael Crapo (R-ID) - (202) 224-6142
Michael Enzi (R-WY) - (202) 224-3424
Chuck Grassley (R-IA) - (202) 224-3744
Judd Gregg (R-NH) - (202) 224-3324
Orrin Hatch (R-UT) - (202) 224-5251
Kay Hutchison (R-TX) - (202) 224-5922
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) - (202) 224-4521
Trent Lott (R-MS) - (202) 224-6253
Richard Shelby (R-AL) - (202) 224-5744
John Sununu (R-NH) - (202) 224-2841
Craig Thomas (R-WY) - (202) 224-6441
You can find your senators' phone number, email address and website here.
As DailyKos commented, "We can confidently say that there has been plenty of time and attention on this matter, so that those who were inadvertantly left off the original list have had the opportunity to get on it. Those who remain on it do so because they support lynching."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist owes an apology to Florida doctors whose work he questioned after a "diagnosis" that no responsible physician would undertake.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay owes Michael Schiavo an apology for accusing Terri Schiavo's husband of abusing his invalid wife, as the autopsy found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused.
"Right to life" leaders generally owe the US as well as the Schiavos an apology for giving charlatans a public forum and letting them abuse the Schiavos and take advantage of Terri Schiavo's parents.
Freshly-released autopsy results reveal that Terri Shiavo was blind:
Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin concluded that…her brain was about half of normal size when she died. …
Thogmartin says her brain was “profoundly atrophied” – and that the damage was “irreversable.” He also says, “The vision centers of her brain were dead ” – meaning she was blind.
Which makes Dr. Frist’s expert “ diagnosis ” all the more outrageous:
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”
“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”
Frist should apologize to the nation, as well as the Florida doctors, and turn in his stethoscope.
UPDATE: ThinkProgress.org notes that Frist was not the only M.D. serving in Congress who botched the Schiavo "diagnosis."
“That woman is not in a vegetative state,” [Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) declared to a local newspaper], challenging media reports that claimed she was. “She responds to verbal stimuli, she attempts to vocalize, she tracks with her eyes , she emotes, she attempts to kiss her father.”
“As a doctor,” Weldon said, “I would never pull her tube out.”
At least these physicians are not engated in malpractice in Tennessee and Florida, but unfortunately they are damaging the public good as members of Congress.
See more on Schiavo's autopsy.
David Sirota writes:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) is continuing his self-serving, arrogant and conceited attack on DNC Chairman Howard Dean, this time telling Don Imus that "The Democratic chairman does not speak for me, an elected United States senator. No party official speaks for me anytime, anyplace, under any circumstances. And I think the rhetoric is counter-productive."
All good Democrats and progressives should make a deal with Biden: he can continue stabbing his own party in the back with impunity for his own self-promotion, and say his party doesn't speak for him. In exchange, Biden should agree to never, ever claim to speak for Democrats. Remember, this is a Senator who (among other things) led the fight to pass the bankruptcy bill, voted against limiting the interest credit card companies can gouge consumers with, voted against limiting predatory lending, voted against protecting consumers when their identity is stolen, voted for the Iraq War and voted to confirm Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This says nothing about him perpetually floating his name for president, even though the last time he ran, he got caught pathetically trying to plagiarize people's speeches.
Is it a deal, Joe? We won't speak for you, as long as you never, ever try to claim your record is representative of us. Sounds pretty fair -- and believe me, in the long run, the Democratic Party would be getting the better end of the bargain.
You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. According to FreePress.net, a House subcommittee has voted to slash more that $200 million in funding for public broadcasting -- money that sustains children's programming such as "Sesame Street," NPR, PBS and cash-strapped local stations. This would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting. NPR and PBS are under attack, but polls show Americans trust them over the commercial networks. Sign the petition at Moveon.org and/or send an email from FreePress.net to save NPR, PBS and our local public stations from losing their funding.
This is on the heels of the personal crusade of Kenneth Tomlinson, the staunch Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to make PBS and NPR programs more "fair and balanced." Tomlinson has stacked the CPB board and offices with his political cronies, forced partisan programming on PBS, and even hired someone to monitor Bill Moyers' show for signs of "liberal bias." Sign the Free Press petition calling for Tomlinson to resign.
NARROW VICTORY IN COMMITTEE SHOWS TRADE PACT IN TROUBLE. The Senate Finance Committee narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, but National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson said the 11-9 margin in the non-binding "mock markup" shows a level of dissent that indicates problems to come for the controversial trade pact.
“While I’m disappointed that the Committee approved CAFTA, the slim majority by which it won in this generally pro-trade Committee is reflective of the lack of support this agreement has in both Congress and the countryside,” Frederickson said.
The committee normally approves trade agreements by a comfortable margin, but only narrowly approved CAFTA on Tuesday. NFU opposes CAFTA.
“We cannot keep passing trade agreements that put American agriculture in jeopardy,” said Frederickson. “CAFTA does not enjoy bipartisan support, because, like NAFTA, it represents a race to the bottom for commodity prices.”
CAFTA ignores major issues that distort fair trade such as labor, environmental regulations and currency, he said. NFU does not support this agreement, which trades away US agricultural markets for no visible returns to American farmers and ranchers, he noted.
Call or email your senator to urge them to oppose CAFTA.
WHITE HOUSE LIES PILE UP. From ThinkProgress.org: One of the given rationales for attacking Iraq was that Saddam was linked to the 9-11 hijackers through a claim that Mohammad Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in April 2001 before the attacks. The supposed Prague meeting was advanced by former CIA Director Jim Woolsey , using evidence obtained from the Czech government. But according to the FBI, Atta was in Virginia Beach at the time. The Czech government later backed off its claims, but Vice President Cheney stuck to it. In December 2001, Cheney said:
“Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that–it’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 12/9/01 ]
Now we know that through a recently-disclosed British paper, the Bush administration had doubts about whether the Prague meeting did in fact occur. In the 3/18/02 memo, former British Ambassador Christopher Meyer said Paul Wolfowitz told him “ there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?).”
The new evidence indicates that Cheney had reason to believe that his claims of a “pretty well confirmed” meeting were in fact not confirmed at all.
DailyKos.com comes up with 20 senators who, as of Monday evening, 1) refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution that was passed on a voice vote Monday, and 2) refused a roll-call vote so they'd have to put their name on the resolution. As of noon Tuesday, three Republicans (Christopher Bond, Jim Bunning and Saxby Chambliss) had added their names to the resolution but 17 remained on the list of lynching appeasers:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
[16 Republicans] and 1 Democrat, a real wall of shame.
How much of a stretch can it be to denounce lynching in this day and age? I guess I'm not suprised at the reluctance of some of the Republicans from the South, who rely on the support of racists, such as Thad Cochran, Trent Lott and Richard Shelby. I'm a little surprised at some of the other Republicans. As indefensible as the foregoing senators' reluctance is, I can't imagine what Kent Conrad, Chuck Grassley and George Voinovich are doing on that list.
In any case, if you live in any of these states, contact your senator and ask him or her why s/he was reluctant to oppose lynching. Senators can add their names as co-sponsor of a resolution retroactively, so some of these senators may have covered their behinds by the time you read this (see the official Senate list of co-sponsors here), but if so, ask them what took them so long to sign on to a resolution to condemn lynching.
UPDATE from the Jackson Clarion Ledger:
Lynchings took hold during Reconstruction after the Civil War. From 1882 to 1968, there were 4,743. They occurred in nearly every state. Four out of five victims were black. According to the Tuskegee Institute archives, there were 581 lynchings in Mississippi, followed by 531 in Georgia, 391 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana and 347 in Alabama.
Simon Wright, the cousin of Mississippi lynching victim Emmett Till, also came to Washington to witness the event. Till was killed for allegedly whistling at the wife of a white man, Roy Bryant.
Wright, now 62, was sleeping next to the 14-year-old Till on the night of Aug. 28, 1955, when he was awakened by two men he identified as Bryant and J.W. Milam. The men took Till away. Till's mutilated body was later found in a river.
Wright said he felt terror that night, then sadness, outrage and hopelessness. He said the Senate apology was "not enough, but it's a step in the right direction."
"Some people say, 'Don't open old wounds,' " Wright said. "But they weren't wounded. I was."
Another good one from DailyKos
: Some of Paul Lynde's greatest hits from the center of the Hollywood Squares (yesterday would have been his 78th birthday):
Peter Marshall: Paul, Poe's The Raven said, "Nevermore." What did Gilbert and Sullivan's Dickie Bird say?
Paul Lynde: "Let's not wallow in Watergate!"
Peter Marshall: In what state was Abraham Lincoln born?
Paul Lynde: Well, like all of us, naked and screaming.
Peter Marshall: When Richard Nixon was Vice-President, he went someplace on a "good will mission," but instead wound up being stoned and shouted at. Where did this take place?
Paul Lynde: Pat's room.
Peter Marshall: Henry Kissinger was recently quoted as saying, "They aren't even sexy!" Who was he referring to?
Paul Lynde: The Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Peter Marshall: Nathan Hale, one of the heroes of the American Revolution, was hung. Why?
Paul Lynde: Heredity.
Peter Marshall: Pride, anger, covetousness, lust, gluttony, envy, and sloth are collectively known as what?
Paul Lynde: The Bill of Rights
See more Paul Lynde zingers.
Nathan Newman notes that Canada's high court has opened the way to rich people in Quebec getting to buy health care unavailable to poor people in violation of federal law providing equal care for all. The court's justification is a Quebec constitutional clause protecting a person's "life and personal security, inviolability and freedom."
Now, if people are facing some delay in health care service, there are a lot of ways to address that problem other than giving the wealthy special access to private care. Poor Americans face that every day, yet no constitutional court jumps in to mandate health care help for them.
But the problem is that courts are particularly incompetent in dealing with budgetary matters. Because they are reluctant to just mandate increases taxes to pay for better care, they prefer some legal rule to avoid budget solutions, even if they are the heart of the issue involved. More spending on better care for all Canadians might address the problem in this case, but the Court avoided that solution. ...
The Canadian examples is also a reminder to liberals that courts can be more soliticious of the wealthy than the legislative realm-- something progressives were all too aware of in the New Deal era when courts attacked minimum wage and other pro-worker laws but have largely forgotten in the modern era.
"Renee in Ohio" writes at MyDD.com:
Riddle me this--why is it that Democrats are so quick to announce that Howard Dean, Democratic party chair, "does not speak for the party"? Edwards said it, Biden said it, and probably any number of others if I could bear to slog through all of those articles. I'm having primary flashbacks from '03-04'. I agree with the person in Springdale, MD who wrote to Senator Biden , "Howard Dean speaks for me. I'd like for you to begin speaking for me also, if at all possible. It would be a welcomed change."
See a "Howard Dean speaks for me" petition.
Update: The DNC says Howard Dean speaks for them.
Howard Dean unrepentant.
President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the (London) Guardian.
We still have to go overseas to find out what our government is up to.
Chris Bowers at MyDD notes that the combined prime-time viewership of the top three cable news channels (Fox News, CNN and MSNBC) was 2,785,000 on June 3, with 695,000 in the prized 25 to 54 demographic. See the ratings.
By comparison, last week the Liberal Blog Advertising Network received 5.915 million page views, and that was the worst week in a while, because of Memorial Day. Typically, the Network generates over eight million page views per week. Further, roughly 70% of those page views came from the 25-54 demographic. In other words, these fifty-seven liberal blogs combined have already equaled, if not surpassed, the three cable news networks combined as a source of news among Americans under 55. Without any doubt, the blogosphere in general now far surpasses the three cable news networks as a source for news among Americans under 55.
David Sirota writes:
I've been closely observing Howard Dean for a lot longer than most national political watchers. I first ran into him when I worked for Vermont's Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders. There, I got a close-up look at his governing style. Then, like everyone else, I watched his run for President and DNC Chairman. I'll be really honest - for a long time, I had mixed feelings about him. For many reasons, I never really got on the Dean 2004 bandwagon, even though I was impressed with him in a lot of ways (I think it was mainly because I had trouble pinning him down ideologically). But in recent months, I really have been impressed with him. And after spending some time with him yesterday at the DNC's Western Caucus meetings here in Helena, I've decided my recent inklings about him really are valid. Dean, even with his minor imperfections, is very good for the national Democratic Party. (See the rest.)
Nathan Newman writes: With a breakup of the AFL-CIO looming, every group is asserting its own voice on key issues, and one of the most important is the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. In the Black Commentator, a piece, "Black Labor Calls for New 'Gary' Convention," lays out dissent by black unionists over both the SEIU-led coalition proposals and the status quo of the Sweeney leadership. (Link to the article in Newman's entry.)
I'll have more to say on this in the next few days, but unlike some who worry this internal fighting will undermine labor, I think it's releasing a healthy airing of issues that labor needs to address to get stronger. In its history, labor has often made its greatest strides at the same time it's been knee-deep in intra-union warfare.
David Sirota notes: Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R) has endorsed legislation that would publicly finance state elections there. Though her proposal lacks details, she said, "Get rid of political action committee dollars, get rid of state contractor dollars to campaigns. Get rid of the lobbyists' money."
As I have written before, Democrats must seize the mantle of reform and push hard for public financing of elections all over America, and in Congress. The lobbyist scandals surrounding Tom DeLay makes this a perfect time - and now we have a high-profile Republican governor pushing the issue, with backing from people like Sen. John McCain (R). Now is the time for Democrats to make the issue their own.