Near the end of August, I helped organize the Governor’s visit to City College and stood with him, despite the many fierce disagreements that I have had with Jerry Brown’s policy positions and political judgment. I did so because it’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our children is on the line this coming November. While much of the attention will be on the Presidential race at the national level, here inCaliforniathe destiny of our children and the education system is up for grabs. Specifically, Proposition 30 represents a chance to put a halt to years of cuts to education and vital public services. If it fails, we will be throwing our kids under the bus. It’s that simple.
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP makes clear what vision he has for the American future: One Market Under God
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his VP makes clear what vision he has for the American future: One Market Under God. This grand dream is put in stark contrast to the Republicans’ absurd fantasy of Obama’s big government tyranny. If only we could return the country to the days of unfettered markets and bigger tax cuts for the affluent, all will be well. As absurd as their economic delusions are, it’s worth reminding ourselves where the last several decades of moving precisely in this direction have landed us.
In The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz outlines what by now is a sadly familiar story about the American economy: it’s a rigged game. Specifically Stiglitz thoroughly documents how recent income growth has occurred almost entirely in the top 1 percent. He notes how this has led to growing inequality and how those at the bottom and middle are worse off today than middle class and working class folks were at the beginning of the century.
To make things worse, Stiglitz illustrates how the inequalities in wealth are even greater than those of income. These inequalities show up not just in people’s pocket books but also in their general standard of living and health. During the last few years, those at the bottom have been most hurt by the recession but the middle class has been hollowed out too.
Progressive media is only worth a damn when it has the courage to think bad thoughts and consistently afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
I learned of Alex Cockburn’s death when I picked up a copy of the North Coast Journal in a gas station minimart in Eureka. My family and I were in transit between the deep woods near the California-Oregon border and our next destination off the Lost Coast Highway when we stopped to fuel up and get snacks. While I stood waiting for my son to finish buying a candy bar I picked up the paper and randomly flipped it open to an article entitled “Cockburn Country” in which Marcy Burstiner chastised the local daily, the Times Standard, for failing to adequately comment on Cockburn’s demise.
To rectify this omission Burstiner details how Cockburn had been living in Petrolia for two decades where he co-edited the left online journal and publishing outlet CounterPunch, continued to pen his column for The Nation, and published many books challenging the sacred cows of American Empire and skewering the pieties of the right and left alike. Burstiner tells the story of Cockburn giving a speech in 2009 to “a rag tag bunch of nobodies” in the rain inEureka with incredible passion and energy despite the circumstances. She then ends her tribute by musing, “Alexander Cockburn, if your spirit hovers over me at some rainy Eureka rally in the future, know that one of your fellow residents appreciated you for being a thinker in a world where most people avoid thinking, for calling out the bullshit you saw in the world around you, for exasperating people around you of all political stripes and for being part of our little world out here.” [Read more…]
Recently, I had the great pleasure of visiting a Buddhist monastery to do a walking meditation on a luminous summer morning. It was a beautiful experience but what struck me afterward was how quickly even many of those bent on being here now reached for their cell phones to check their text messages or play Angry Birds. As charmingly ironic as this is, it is also a perfect manifestation of what most ails us. We just can’t stop working/amusing ourselves to death.
Not too long after my encounter with the texting Buddhists, I came upon an illustrative article in the Travel section of the New York Times entitled “Call Waiting: ‘It’s Me, Vacation’: Can’t Let Go? Eight Rules for Getting the Most Out of Your Time Off” by Matt Richtel. Richtel’s article starts with the story of a failed vacation that left him “exhausted, defeated, and irritable” rather than refreshed and at peace. He then turns to the wisdom of neuroscientists, behavior experts, and business executives to learn that “letting go” is something you have to “practice on a daily basis.” [Read more…]
After a flurry of anxiety that Mitt Romney was surging it appears that the Obama campaign has righted the ship, leading handily in a recent Bloomberg poll and by narrower margins in other polls. More importantly, Obama appears to be doing quite well in most of the battleground states as his campaign hits Romney hard as the “outsourcer in chief.” Certainly, it doesn’t hurt Team Obama to be running against a guy who at times seems to be trying to mimic the cartoon capitalist in the board game Monopoly.
The bottom line is that Romney is a laughably terrible candidate, so distanced from the average Joe that he wouldn’t know what to do if he had to sit next to him during a game of “sport.” His presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for the country, a full-court press effort to further reward the plutocrats at the expense of everyone else while dishing out a few reactionary social policy moves to appease the rubes in the Tea Party and the Christian Right. But he will be the recipient of untold millions of dollars of help from the Koch brothers et al and stranger things have happened than Americans electing an unthinkably horrible President. [Read more…]
I had an old friend in town recently for a visit, a friend who’d lived in San Diego for many years until leaving for South America before the law could catch up with him. Back in the day, my pal was a real wild man, spending much of his free time scouring San Diego for the next dive bar with its mandatory sordid adventure, so his return to our heavily gentrified city was like watching a bewildered Bukowski re-emerge after being cryogenically frozen for 20 years, stumbling through the streets of downtown, Golden Hill, North Park, City Heights, and the beaches bitterly muttering to himself about chic bistros and expensive craft brews. The statute of limitations was up but his city was gone.
Never has a stout middle-aged man seemed so distraught to be in a room full of beautiful young women as my companion was when confronted with the new gang populating the renovated Waterfront Bar and Grill or the cocktail lounge that replaced the bar with no name and the crooked pool tables. “What happened, Miller?” He kept saying to me as he shook his head disapprovingly. “Look at this! What the hell happened?”
Last week I commented on the larger economic significance of the Wisconsin recall for the average American, but it is also worth noting what it may very well mean for American politics and the soul of the Democratic Party. One thing is quite clear: Obama threw labor under the bus in Wisconsin. As a candidate in 2007, the President famously said, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk that picket line with you as President of the United States.”
But when the rubber hit the road in Wisconsin, he sent a twitter message, had Bill Clinton sub for him, and walked the other way. Indeed, back at the height of the drama in the Badger state, all the President could muster was a feeble statement about how union workers were “friends and neighbors.” [Read more…]
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s overwhelming recall victory could signal the demise of the middle class nationwide.
As Doug Porter aptly observed in his election post-mortem last week, big money spoke loudly in the big races on June 5th. This is nothing new but what happened in Wisconsin was truly historic. It was a soul-crushing defeat—not unexpected, but a gut punch nonetheless. Labor’s loss in the recall battle against Governor Scott Walker will surely go down as a key sequel to the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike for unionized public sector workers in America. Indeed, Governor Walker clearly said that he wanted to emulate that model, and he just won a very big battle in the war against collective bargaining in the United States. [Read more…]
In Under the Perfect Sun, Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew and I observe that San Diego is a city that “many conservatives extol as a utopia of patriotism and free enterprise.” Indeed it was Nixon’s “lucky city” but, as we note, “San Diego has too frequently been a town wide open to greed but closed to social justice.
Like its Sunbelt siblings—Orange County, Phoenix, and Dallas—it has a long history of weak and venal city halls dominated by powerful groups of capitalist insiders. ‘Private Government’ has long overshadowed public politics.” More recently in Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failure in San Diego, Steve Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott MacKenzie similarly illustrate how San Diego’s political and business elite have done a fantastic job of “using public resources to maximize private profit” with little to no oversight from our “shadow governments.” [Read more…]
by Jim Miller
San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio likes to portray himself in the media and in his political propaganda that he is the populist outsider that will save San Diego from itself, an image that could not possibly be more misleading
DeMaio is not just a garden-variety right winger, he is one of the architects of the movement that has pushed the Republican party into becoming a crew of corporate anarchists whose goal it is to radically remake American society into a privatopia, where the public sector serves little function other than as a conduit for public tax dollars into the hands of the moneyed elite. He is San Diego’s robber barons’ best friend. [Read more…]
Having emerged from the season opening series against the hated Dodgers with no beer or blood stains on my jersey, I thought a few observations on the nature of watching baseball were in order as we amble toward the sweet days of summer, win or lose.
In William Carlos Williams’s fine poem “The Crowd at the Ball Game” he notes the beauty, love, and menace of the crowd:
The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly
by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them —
all the exciting detail
of the chase
and the escape, the error
the flash of genius —
all to no end save beauty
the eternal –
So in detail they, the crowd,
to be warned against
saluted and defied —
It is alive, venomous
it smiles grimly
its words cut —
The flashy female with
her mother, gets it —
The Jew gets it straight –
it is deadly, terrifying —
It is the Inquisition, the
Revolution [Read more…]
Opening week is upon us and the Padres ownership debacle has already done a lot to dampen the spirits of local baseball fans even before the first pitch has been thrown. With Jeff Moorad unlikely to ever take over the majority share of the team from John Moores, many fans rightly feel they have been bamboozled once again–left to sit in a park that their tax dollars built and pay through the nose for bad baseball and overpriced beer while the swooning friars stumble uncertainly around the bases toward yet another losing season. If you watch the Vegas line, the Padres are picked to finish last in the National League West with only 70 wins. Oh, the horror!
But, of course, that is the destiny of the Padres fan: losing. As I only half-jokingly tell my friends, I have taught my son to love baseball and love the Padres so he knows from a young age the first noble truth: life is suffering. [Read more…]