Tag Archives: politics

The sweet scent

Blossoms_bloomingWhile running on a dirt road, up a slight hill, the Kelly green of the forest floor nearby, a soft breeze washed over me and there was the sweetest scent, I imagined, from the fruit trees nearby.  Ah, finally, the sweet smell of spring, an antidote for the sickness of mind that is modern society.

We’ve heard the metaphor in politics, invoking “spring,” the network herd of media mimics murmuring thoughtlessly the word “spring,” repeating it again and again as if it were true, misapplying this glorious time of year to mid-East street protests, armed conflict, American air strikes, AK-47s fired in the air, blood leaking through the dirt, improvised bombs, cries of pain, and needless death.

Such dystrophic destructive events cannot be compared — however you may stretch and pull a poetic metaphor — with spring’s awakening of that renewable life dormant through the cold and hard seasons until the moment when the sweet scent drifts in the air anew.

Of course, much of our public dialogue is imprecise, unfocused and misleading if not a lying whopper to lull the mind to sleep or to misdirect our attention from what really matters to what we can fear or hate.  It is this sickness of mind we must cure.

When I was young, I played a Seabee in South Pacific, and heard over and over in rehearsal the lyric how you have to be taught, carefully taught, how to hate and fear.

Much of our public dialogue is about hate and fear. Continue reading

Saving the World

Nobel prize-winning physicist Jack Steinberger, 92, and John Flannery

How can we expect the United States to save the world when it’s not able to remain open to do its business?

When you have to pay your bills past due and owing, do you get to negotiate and say, well I’ll pay if you, Mr Landlord, change your policies and, oh, reduce my rent?  Not very likely!  You live in the real world rather than the tea-induced fantasy factory that’s stymied the Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, and put our nation at risk.

In this dystopian context, we have to ask what our government is doing that’s really important, is it doing anything to “save the world,” whether it’s anticipating what we do when we’ve exhausted our fossil fuels as an energy source or how we protect against the annihilating force of a targeted nuclear weapon.

I had the opportunity to listen and talk with Nobel prize-winning physicist, Jack Steinberger, 92, about “saving the world,” although his characterization was more modest, like his manner. Continue reading

Racism rears head in mayoral run

I’m reprinting an op-ed from the Cleveland Jewish News titled Racism rears head in mayoral run because the pattern of fear-mongering, hate and corruption is all too familiar. We have allies fighting the same battles all over the world. Bravo to Cliff Savern for the brave post. It isn’t easy for Jews to stick up for Arabs in Israel.

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:00 am

BY CLIFF SAVREN |

RA’ANANA, Israel – Israel defines itself as both a Jewish and democratic state. One of the most interesting aspects of this is how the country resolves potential conflicts between the two. I think it’s fair to say that overwhelmingly, the legal system resolves them in favor of democracy, but one public official, Shimon Gapso, is advocating a swing in the other direction in his ugly campaign for re-election as mayor of Upper Nazareth. Continue reading

Ed

Mayor Ed Koch (l) with John Flannery aboard the Circle Line

If there was ever a force of nature in politics and life, a model for talking, arguing and doing, it was Ed “How’m I doing” Koch, the former Councilman, Congressman and three term Mayor of New York City.

We could use more politicians like Ed who cared so deeply and worked so hard until finally his heart failed him at 88 years of age last Friday morning. Continue reading

The W-word

Workers Unite! (Rockwell Kent - Carleton.edu)

Communism 101, capitalists own the means of production. Workers create value by producing products and services. Workers don’t own much of anything. They sell their labor power to their employer. In order to maximize profits, employers squeeze the most productivity out of the workers for the least wages and benefits possible. Capitalists and workers used to be two distinct poles of a dialectic.

Not any more. Republicans, the primary but not exclusive representatives of the owners of the means of production, are winning hearts, minds and elections. Politically, Republicans now also represent the worker. Republicans own the W-word. Take this defense of Bill Dean’s opposition to the now defunct metro phase II PLA. Please note that “[Y]your opinion” in the quote was my assertion that contractors object to the PLA because it reduces their ability to exploit the workforce.

As a merit shop subcontractor who has about 50 full-time skilled workers (it used to be more before the recession) that I consider my friends, family and valuable employees that I have invested millions of dollars in training in the latest safety and construction skills, I strongly disagree with your opinion.

…This project is already subjected to Davis-Bacon wage rates determined by the federal government with or without a PLA, so pay and benefits are a non-issue

The buffoons are holding this project up over a non-issue because they need to pay their union masters back through the corrupt political system that appointed them to the MWAA board.

The writer must think we’re stupid to believe she spent millions to train 50 workers. Really? If she spent $2M, she spent an unbelievable $40,000 to train each worker who earnins from $15 to $23 per hour per the Davis-Bacon Act. Would any company spend that much to train low wage earners? Does anybody believe that “pay and benefits are a non-issue“? If so, see capitalism.

Meanwhile, Congressman Wolf has been working with Virginia Republicans to “screw labor and strip local control” of the MWAA for the past year, or longer. His recent comment that the PLA is “a festering sore“ indicates that he has nothing to fear from the Democrats or labor. He can exhibit outright hostility with impunity.

Where do the Democrats stand? The LCDC web site reports that unions addressed the next to last LCDC meeting, including; teachers and school employees, service employees, flight attendants, AFLCIO, food and commercial workers, communication workers, air traffic controllers, and construction laborers. LUNA, the construction union that represents “5,000 construction workers in Loudoun” lobbied for union protections in the Metro Silver Line Phase II project. Too bad for them. The LCDC just threw them under the Metro train right onto the hot third rail.

After the MWAA killed the Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the message from LCDC leadership was capitulation. We fought hard for our “friends in Labor“, but we lost, and mass transit is more important, and by the way, it was only a 10% PLA bidding bonus for Phase II. Voluntary PLAs will be there, so suck it up, knock on doors, phone bank and get Democrats elected. Go Dems! Democrats may court the unions on the surface but they are not leading anything and are actually preventing inter-union organization efforts from gaining traction. Democrats do not represent workers and they have no choice but to capitulate.

Labor relations are subject to the fragile economics of the industries and broader economic fears. The teaching profession is being de-professionalized by a Democratic administration. The airline industry suffered bankruptcies and political assaults since Ronald Reagan busted the air-traffic controllers. Their union, PATCO was really “an organization of conservative, skilled white men; men with their eyes on corner lots in the suburbs where they could raise their young families.” PATCO endorsed Reagan and Reagan had cause to fire them because their generous contract barred them from striking. Reagan really stuck it to them by refusing to hire them back after the strike. When highly skilled white-collar workers became expendable, the game changed.

The conservative white-collar PATCO is a model for LCDC’s worker friends. The concept that the worker will own the means of production, that the people will be responsible for planning what society produces and how products are developed and manufactured doesn’t exist in the local body politic. There are land-use questions – walkable transit-oriented versus sprawling auto-centric – but Loudoun’s abominable “design” is so auto-centric that the idea that Metro will affect those critical done decisions is ridiculous. The development chaos that built Loudoun was outsourced to the real “corrupt political system”; the system that sells automobiles using images of Craftsman-style bungalows, but no longer manufactures those small well-built American-made homes. It now sells us plastic wrapped colonials with three car garages to house automobiles owned by workers who, while stopped in traffic, dream of returning home to the mythical bungalow that sealed the deal on the car.

Automobile sold by the mythical bungalow in the woods

We live in an endless cycle of dream and myth that never connects the harsh reality that the middle class is shrinking and most production takes place in developing countries where workers and natural resources are exploited. There are workers out there, but we dare not speak of them.

Meanwhile, the Republican black and white thinking unburdens voters from these complicated geopolitical issues. A fertilized egg is a citizen, marriage is between one man and one women (at one time), workers are bad – unless my company employs them, business is good and there is no such thing as pollution. Democrats want the same thing for the workers that the Republicans purportedly deliver, jobs, and nobody seems to want the real change that is required to build a stable, self-sustaining economy.

If “worker” wasn’t the W-word, maybe we could make some progress. For now, Scott Walker won, the PLA is dead, the people voted, and workers had better tighten their belts.