The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Greenspan reportedly warns on rate cuts
By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters
1 hour, 48 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said his successors at the U.S. central bank should be cautious about cutting interest rates because of inflation risks, and he forecast home prices will drop further, according to interviews published on Sunday.

Greenspan, whose memoirs hit book shelves on Monday, said the Fed should be careful not to cut rates too aggressively because the risk of an “inflationary resurgence” is greater now than when he was chairman, the Financial Times reported.

The U.S. central bank meets on Tuesday and is widely expected to cut benchmark federal funds rate — currently at 5.25 percent — by at least a quarter of a percent age point to help the economy weather a housing downturn and a credit crunch.

2 Search for clues in Thai air disaster
by Griffin Shea, AFP
1 hour, 53 minutes ago

PHUKET, Thailand (AFP) – Investigators scoured the debris for clues Monday after a Thai passenger jet crashed on the resort island of Phuket, killing 88 people in Thailand’s worst air disaster in a decade.

Officials said 55 of the dead were foreigners aboard the MD-82 of budget carrier One-Two-Go, which smashed into an embankment, broke in two and burst into flames while trying to land in heavy rain on Sunday.

The low-fare carrier, in business for less than four years, said the plane’s two flight recorders had been dug out of the wreckage and would be sent to the United States for analysis.

3 World should brace for possible war over Iran: France
AFP
Sun Sep 16, 4:48 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) – The world should brace for a possible war over the Iranian nuclear crisis but seeking a solution through talks should take priority, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Sunday.

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” he said in an interview broadcast on French television and radio.

“We must negotiate right to the end,” with Iran, he said, but underlined that if Tehran possessed an atomic weapon, it would represent “a real danger for the whole world.”

4 Bush to nominate judge for Attorney General
By Thomas Ferraro, Reuters
2 hours, 20 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush has settled on retired federal judge Michael Mukasey as his choice to replace outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, people familiar with the selection process said on Sunday.

The nomination of Mukasey, considered a law-and-order conservative and authority on national security issues, was expected on Monday, according to the sources, who asked not to be named.

A senior Republican aide told Reuters that background materials about the retired 66-year-old jurist were distributed to Senate Republican staffers, in preparation for Mukasey’s anticipated Senate confirmation hearing.

5 Prime minister’s party wins Greek vote
By ELENA BECATOROS, Associated Press Writer
46 minutes ago

ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s conservative prime minister won re-election Sunday with a diminished majority in parliament after a financial scandal and devastating forest fires that killed more than 65 people last month.

The slimmer majority could make it harder for the government to carry out crucial economic and educational reforms, including overhauling Greece’s fractured and debt-ridden pension system.

But the conservatives inflicted a stronger defeat than expected on their rival socialists, who were seen as being in disarray after receiving the lowest number of parliament seats in 30 years.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

6 Myanmar monks lead anti-junta protests
By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer
Sun Sep 16, 2:28 PM ET

BANGKOK, Thailand – Monks have vandalized shops of those supporting the dictatorship in Myanmar, briefly taken local officials hostage and are now threatening to launch a boycott as early as Tuesday against the military leaders and their families.

Nearly a month into the worst demonstrations to hit Myanmar in decades, the saffron-robed Buddhist clergy are emerging as the focal point of the anti-government protests. With dozens of pro-democracy activists behind bars or in hiding, most people are counting on monks – who have a role in almost all aspects of society from weddings to funerals – to take the lead in challenging the repressive regime in the mostly Buddhist country.

“Monks are our only hope now as they always have been in Myanmar political history,” said Hla Myint, a 75-year-old schoolteacher. “The military rulers can easily crush protests by students and other people. But brutal suppression of monks usually results in negative consequences and further protests.”

7 Suspects in W.Va. torture set for court
By TOM BREEN, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 20 minutes ago

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Six white people accused of holding a black woman captive while they tortured and sexually assaulted her are scheduled to make their initial court appearances this week.

But the proceedings may be delayed because public defenders representing two of the defendants have recused themselves, Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham said.

The six defendants are charged with assaulting Megan Williams, 20, for more than a week at a ramshackle trailer in Big Creek. Police say she was tortured, sexually assaulted, forced to eat animal droppings and taunted with a racial slur.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Emailed

8 Travelers ask to see Craig bathroom
Associated Press
Sun Sep 16, 4:33 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – When tourists ask for the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport lately, it’s usually not because they have to go.

It’s because they want to see the stall made famous by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s arrest in a sex sting.

“It’s become a tourist attraction,” said Karen Evans, information specialist at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “People are taking pictures.”

From Yahoo News World

9 As Ramadan begins, Al Qaida in Iraq seeks a turnaround
By Jay Price and Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers
Sun Sep 16, 12:29 PM ET

BAGHDAD – Staggered for months by the U.S. troop buildup in Baghdad and a loss of support among many Sunni tribes, Al Qaida in Iraq is apparently pushing to reassert itself as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins.

A Web site believed to be controlled by the terrorist group posted statements Friday and Saturday taking credit for the killing Thursday of a high-profile tribal leader who had sided with the United States and announcing a Ramadan offensive.

It also belatedly took credit for a multiple bombing in northern Iraq in August that left at least 322 dead, the largest fatality count in a single attack since the start of the war in 2003.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

10 Alaska corruption prosecutors criticized
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
Sun Sep 16, 4:01 PM ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Justice Department inappropriately pressured a former state lawmaker to consider pleading guilty in a corruption case, according to his lawyer, who wants a federal judge to review the agency’s actions.

The claim is surfacing in a bribery investigation that has now stretched to Capitol Hill, where Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both from Alaska, are under scrutiny.

A lawyer for former state Rep. Vic Kohring said the FBI recently used another state lawmaker, who was cooperating with investigators, to press Kohring to take a plea deal.

11 Greenspan memoir links Iraq war to US thirst for oil
by Antoine Agasse, AFP
1 hour, 26 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, for years an inscrutable seer on the economy, is causing a stir by alleging in his new memoir that “the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

Greenspan, who as head of the US central bank was famous for his tight-lipped reserve, is uncharacteristically direct, also accusing President George W. Bush of abandoning Republican principles on the economy.

“I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows — the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he wrote in reported excerpts of “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” which is set for release on Monday.

From Yahoo News Politics

12 Six Democrats court activists
By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Sep 16, 9:27 PM ET

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Six Democratic presidential candidates took aim at President Bush as they made their case Sunday to thousands of activists scattered across an Iowa field.

“Everybody is sick and tired of being sick and tired of George Bush,” said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. “All you have to do is take a look at the president pretending that going around in circles was making progress. If that doesn’t get you ready to get rid of George Bush I don’t know what will.”

The six candidates paraded after each other in a carnival-like atmosphere in a field about 20 miles south of Des Moines. An estimated 12,000 activists streamed in for Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, shelling out $30 each in a fundraiser for a veteran Democrat senator who doesn’t face serious opposition in next year’s election.

From Yahoo News Business

13 GM-UAW talks reach critical point
By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer
1 hour, 1 minute ago

DETROIT – Contract negotiations between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers reached a critical point as local union officials hoped for an agreement but prepared once again for a possible strike on Monday.

Leaders at factories across the country received conflicting reports out of Detroit Sunday afternoon. Several reported progress and optimism but said that if no agreement was reached Sunday night, the union would walk out Monday morning.

A local union in Arlington, Texas, told its members to report to work as scheduled Monday but said it was committed to a strike if necessary. In a joint statement sent to union members and the media, UAW Local 276 leaders told members they expected negotiators either to wrap up talks or declare an impasse at the end of Sunday’s negotiating session.

From Yahoo News Technology

14 Al Gore collects interactive Emmy for Current TV
By Steve Gorman, Reuters
2 hours, 22 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Six months after grabbing Oscar glory for his eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore collected an Emmy Award on Sunday for his fledgling youth-oriented cable network, Current TV.

The network, which launched in 2005 with video clips and other short programs made by viewers, received the “interactive television services” Emmy, a noncompetitive award picked by a panel of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“We are trying to open up the television medium so viewers can help to make television … and reclaim democracy,” Gore said in accepting the award, given Sunday for the first time during the Primetime Emmys telecast.

15 Microsoft court case to test EU antitrust power
By Sabina Zawadzki, Reuters
49 minutes ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A European Union court rules on Monday whether Microsoft abused its near-monopoly on computer operating systems to push out rivals, in a protracted case that has major implications on the EU’s power to enforce antitrust policy.

The executive European Commission decided in 2004 that Microsoft (MSFT.O) used its Windows operating system, running on 95 percent of the world’s computers and servers, to choke off competing makers of server and streaming media software.

The Commission fined the software giant a record 497 million euros ($690 million) and ordered it to change its business practices. Microsoft appealed, so a special 13-judge panel at the Court of First Instance will decide who was right.

From Google News U.S.

16 In Iowa, Democrats Eat Steak and Look for Votes
By JEFF ZELENY, The New York Times
Published: September 17, 2007

INDIANOLA, Iowa, Sept. 16 – With a blue “Hillary” sticker fastened to the left side of her blouse, a white “Obama” sticker on the right and an “Edwards” sign tucked beneath her arm, Patty Walsh is the object of considerable attention from Democratic presidential hopefuls.

So Ms. Walsh came here on Sunday, to a green pasture outside this central Iowa town, to hear candidates make their pitches to voters who will be among the first to voice their opinions in the presidential race next year. She listened intently, but walked away as uncertain as when the day began.

“I’m still quite torn and can’t commit,” said Ms. Walsh, a 55-year-old high school art teacher. “I like Hillary. I love what Edwards says about poverty. I’m moved by Obama.”

Not because it’s new, because it’s The New York Times.

From Google News World

17 Greenspan: Ouster Of Hussein Crucial For Oil Security
By Bob Woodward, Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 17, 2007; Page A03

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview that the removal of Saddam Hussein had been “essential” to secure world oil supplies, a point he emphasized to the White House in private conversations before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Greenspan, who was the country’s top voice on monetary policy at the time Bush decided to go to war in Iraq, has refrained from extensive public comment on it until now, but he made the striking comment in a new memoir out today that “the Iraq War is largely about oil.” In the interview, he clarified that sentence in his 531-page book, saying that while securing global oil supplies was “not the administration’s motive,” he had presented the White House with the case for why removing Hussein was important for the global economy.

“I was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive,” Greenspan said in an interview Saturday, “I’m just saying that if somebody asked me, ‘Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?’ I would say it was essential.”

Not because it’s new, because it’s Woodward and the WaPo.

So anyway, that’s all I could find tonight.  Hope your day is a happy one. –ek

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion VII

Art Link
Working with Silver

On Worth

Treasure comes in many shades
For some it is always material
For me it is the wonder
of the measurable variability
of human thought and emotion

In the hearts and minds
and souls of others
I find the value
of my own
substance
of my own
independence

Difference is the light
in the darkness

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–March 13, 2006

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

In The News! Help Wanted: Japanese Prime Minister

This in the first in what will be a weekly look at news from Japan and occasionally Korea. One thing you’ll discover your not the only ones with strange people, weird events and idiot politicians

Rewarding the punished

Kyoto City’s board of education gave the title of “super teacher” to a 52-year-old city-run high school teacher in 2005 even though he had been repeatedly reprimanded for corporal punishment, board officials admitted Saturday.

When in doubt reward teachers who abuse their students.

The Dynamic Duo

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Taro Aso clashed over issues surrounding North Korea and Tokyo’s war-related Yasukuni Shrine as they kicked off a dove-versus-hawk duel Saturday for the Sept 23 party presidency election to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

One thing you can say about Japanese politics and its political leaders its all about as exciting as a grass growing contest in winter.

Money and Politics its like having an affair: All wine and roses until your found out.

Some fund-management and other organizations headed by Diet members used part of their funds to provide questionable donations to lawmakers, according to Diet members’ political fund reports made public by the government.

According to the reports for 2006 released Friday, People’s New Party deputy leader Shizuka Kamei received 25 million yen in donations from his own political organization that manages his political fund.

The Political Funds Control Law prohibits political organizations from donating money to individual politicians.

Just before Shinzo Abe resigned as Prime Minister he reshuffled his cabinet. The person he appointed as Agricultural Minister lasted a whole week before resigning. The one before him lasted about month before he resigned in July. Finally the the person before him committed suicide in May. Everyone of these guys were in trouble due to campaign financial misconduct.

No receipts for half of political funds
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

More than half of spending reported by Diet members’ fund management groups in 2006 carried no receipts nor details on where the money went.

But the groups were not required to explain those expenses. Under the Political Fund Control Law, no details are needed for office operating expenses or political activities costing less than 50,000 yen for a single payment.

The Cook, the Beast, the Vice and its Lover
A disgusting and twisted restaurant in the Tokyo entertainment district of Roppongi is enticing warped rich folk with the opportunity to figuratively have their cake and eat it, too — with animals, according to Jitsuwa Knuckles (9/25).

Roppongi’s bestiality restaurant is being regarded by its main nouveau riche patronage of young company presidents and venture capitalists as a decadent practice only possible among the wealthy.

Using English the Japanese way.

Japan, known for holding the record on the World’s Largest Orgy, is one of the most sexually aware countries around. So it was of little surprise when we learned that the newest hip shop, that all the girls love in Shibuya, Tokyo, was named “Beaver”

Some thoughts on the new AG nominee, Michael Mukasey

(Topical enough for the afternoon? Hello, Fall.
Sorry I’m late with this, crew…

(FP’ed at 12:50 pm, PDT, September 17, 2007) – promoted by exmearden)

First, I’ll confess a minor bias in favor of federal judges.  I’ve clerked for federal judges, and I’ve had personal interactions with quite a few of them.  By no means are they all perfect, but compared to the politicians from the other two branches of government, I think they deserve a much higher degree of regard.

That said, I think liberals could do much, much worse than Michael Mukasey as AG.  He’s not an idiot like Gonzo, and he’s not a partisan hack like Ted Olson or Lawrence Silberman.

First, and most importantly, Mukasey is not stupid.  This guy spent 19 years as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, and was chief judge for the last six.  SDNY is one of the most critical districts in the country, and any district judge sitting in that district for 19 years handles a wide variety of complex and high-profile cases.  Mukasey handled several high-profile, complicated trials quite well, and that is no small feat, regardless of political persuasions.

Second, I think he is likely to exercise a much greater degree of independence than most likely Bush nominees.  Independence comes with the territory of being a solid federal judge.  Despite what conservatives say, most federal judges do actually feel bound by established law, and do their best to follow it when the guidance is clear.  (Of course, when the established law is unclear, then things can get messy).

I took a look at some of Mukasey’s opinions, and found some examples to back up this assessment.  For one small example, check out United States v. Lindauer, 448 F.Supp.2d 558 (S.D.N.Y. 2006), one of his last opinions.  In a criminal prosecution for acting as an unregistered agent of Iraq, the government moved to forcibly medicate the defendant to render her competent to stand trial.  From the court’s standpoint, it was largely a judgment call, and any judge predisposed to act favorably towards the government easily could have granted the motion.  But Mukasey denied it. 

It wasn’t a ground-breaking opinion, but this sort of ruling suggests to me that Mukasey was capable of acting independently — as a federal judge anyway.  That’s no guarantee he’ll stand up to Bush when the time comes, because Attorneys General aren’t members of the judiciary, but I think he’s noticeably better than any of the other names being floated.

Is he still conservative?  Sure.  But Bush isn’t about to appoint Ramsey Clark any time soon.  And until you win the Presidency, you’re more-or-less forced to take what you can get.  The Justice Department is in shambles right now, and the country can’t afford to reject every nominee Bush makes.

Update: 

Here’s Greenwald’s take, which is a little more in-depth:

Greenwald on Mukasey

And Merritt:

Merritt on Mukasey

Both of them are pretty accurate, I think.

Happy birthday to me!

I’m 53! In about 12 hours, central standard time.

Some think me wicked.But I heard that it was best for local birds to keep the dead flowers on the plants to give them seed. So I did. I love critters. I plant for the impossible hummingbird that dwells in the urban world. I let the wasps do what they want, and at the end of seasons am rewarded with the remnants of their precious nests. I love architecture.

When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I couldn’t get enough of the spiderwebs, dangling in dew. Or walking in Discovery Park, listening to the pods snapping from a particular bush.

Aquatic life. On a sand dunes vacation when I was about eight, I found a stone that resembeled a footprint.

A lotta people like me. An equal amount despise me.

Go figure. There isn’t much motivational greed in me.

But I still think it’s worth everything to speak one’s mind.

Sunday Night Theme Songs

In which some of the week’s top stories are given theme songs.

Democrats are impressed with General Petraeus’s shiny medals, before he proceeds, as expected, to catapult the propaganda about the war.

Washington Post:

Even Democrats who despise the war policy were deferential in the face of the general’s even-keeled demeanor and his shiny silver stars, four to a shoulder. “He’s one of the best,” said Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, who ran proceedings in the ornate hearing room and ordered a succession of protesters ejected when they shouted their anger at the war.

Bush speaks to the nation, to catapult the propaganda about the war.

Alan Greenspan blames Bush for the fiscal disaster he had helped Bush create.

Vladimir Putin dissolves Russia’s government, while the chairman of Russia’s upper house of Parliament says he should run again in 2012.

Abu Gonzales goes away.

A new blog is born.

Building Resilient Communities, Round 2: Solar Ovens

Hey kids, I’ve got an idea. Let’s build resilient communities!

When the power and the natural gas go out in a disaster, or a Long Emergency…how ya gonna cook?

Try Solar Cooking!

A resilient community is a place where accidents, disasters, tragedies, traumas, and other disruptive events can be handled as well as can be expected, given competent preparation. Yes, bad things will happen. Yes, some tragedies and damages can’t be undone. But with a little foresight and creativity, the process of getting back to normal quickly, and helping everyone out around you in the process…well, this can be easier (and more reliable) than waiting for FEMA or the Red Cross to show up!

I think the way resilient communities might be built is by a community process. That is, no one like me should come along and describe, design, or dictate what a resilient community should or must have or do. Instead, I would like to adopt the way of emergent creativity from the action of a large collective of intelligent motivated agents (that’s you all, reading this, and contributing).

Interested in Round 2? please keep reading…

Here’s the program: I’m going to put an idea out here, with suggestions on why it might be  a good one as far as resilient community building is concerned. Then, instead of posting a ton of links and text from my pre-derived solution set (which is assuredly suboptimal), anyone who gets motivated by the concept can contribute: a link, an idea, a resource site, and/or additional concepts or replacement ideas that are relevant to the intent of the Round. Then, anyone who is motivated to act on the concept does so, in their local community, nucleating a node of community resiliency. With enough concepts, enough nodes, and enough enlightended action…next time, fewer people die. And there is always a next time…unfortunately. Not to worry! We can have a resilient community!

Off we go: Round 2, ding ding ding!

In Round 1, we kicked off this epic essay extravaganza by mentioning Solar-powered DC Refrigerators.
That’s a fridge whose primary purpose is to work off the grid, independent of the electric utility, propane, generator, etc. I’ve decided to adopt a spiral/meandering/fractal approach to this…so sometime in the future we’ll revisit solar powered DC fridges after more research on my part. Expect repetition, elaboration, and tangential exploration of the technological landscape. We’ll come back to everything, so if you find anything on any topic in the series, post it in the current essay, and I’ll synthesize. Maybe one day this can turn into a website of its own…but don’t forget! Unless you are EXTREMELY WELL PREPARED…The Internets Go Away In Disasters, And It Is Too Late To Look It Up Online Or Buy It On eBay!!!!

Today, we’ll nucleate around the concept of Cooking with Sunlight…Even on A Cloudy Day !

Yesterday I took my 11-year old son to a solar fair…it was excellent! If there is one in your area, check it out! It is possible now to get completely off the grid with solar cells and solar heat, and even sell the juice back to the utility for a profit! I’ll cover that in some detail in a future Round.

What was truly enjoyable about the solar fair was smelling all the tasty treats cooking in the solar ovens spread out all over the exhibits. Cookies, yum! A solar oven is a very simple device…no moving parts, no power supply except the Sun, and it can reach and internal temperature of 350 to 400 degrees F on a sunny day, even in winter.

A sun oven is a black box with insulation, a transparent front window, and some reflectors to shine sunlight inside. I ate cookies yesterday that were just like those cooked in a 350F oven. Aiming it at the sun is easy, and adjustments every 30 minutes for max radiant input are trivial it seems.

This page shows the basic operation and examples of foods from a sun oven:

  SunOven Website

Disclaimer: I don’t distribute or advertise for SunOven, I just saw a bunch of their products yesterday and ate some free food! There were several elementary schools exhibiting, and they made simple solar ovens from pizza boxes covered with aluminum foil…S’mores were the delicacy of choice.

I’m going to buy a solar cooker, cook some tasty food, and take a lot of pictures. I even thought up a good business idea for my kids, and also a way to teach them about entrepreneurship. I’ll buy the solar oven (about $250, and I bet you can make one yourself a lot less expensively), and invest it in their enterprise. They will write up a stock certificate, keep a balance sheet and an income statement, buy flour and supplies and make and sell bread to our neighbors. This sounds like a great activity for toddlers too. I’m excited!

In a disaster, a solar oven will enable you to boil water, and cook without a fire (handy when everything flammable is wet, like after a hurricane). In regions of the world where deforestation from fuel scavenging is a crisis, solar ovens are making a difference.

Have you used a solar oven to cook or dry food? Tell me about your experience.

Ok, that’s it. What do you think? Ideas? Links? Text blocks? Pictures? Your experience with solar? Better ideas? Helpful suggestions masquerading as scorn and ridicule? Pertinent snark? Incivility? Have at it!

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Getting the word out

(FP’ed at 12:15 AM PDT, September 17, 2007.

It’s an open issue…how big is too big? How does spreading the word benefit/impact us?
(I have seven dogs, did I mention that already? Shhhh. What’s wrong with a little tattoo among canines?) – promoted by exmearden
)

Here are some simple ways to spread the word about Docudharma:

1
2
Push
3!

  • Adding a link to here in your signature line at other blogs.
  • submitting your diary’s newsfeed to various news gathering sources.  For instance if you click on notlightnessofbeing’s rss you will be taken to my own newsfeed here on docudharma.  To find your newsfeed link simply go to the top of your diary and you’ll see the link.  Click on it and copy the URL, then submit it.  Some places to submit are outlined here.
  • Referencing other people’s diaries that you feel are important in and around the blogosphere.
  • Making a t-shirt or bumpersticker, I’ll make some designs ASAP.
  • Adding the URL to search engines and directories.  Most engines allow for free submissions of URL’s so if you happen to find an engine that does not list docudharma.com please add it.  You’ll usually just be asked for the URL and an email address.
  • Radio call-in shows.  Feeling brave? Mention an article on the site to a local call-in show and start a local frenzy.
  • Accessing the site in a crowded wi-fi location with people looking over your shoulder.

Ways not to promote:

  • spamming
  • pasting hundreds of docudharma stickers all over your nearest police barracks.
  • skywriting – unless you know a guy
  • attacking 3 bouncers and crashing the stage at a local chamber music recital in order to deliver your message of progressivity
  • tattooing your dog with the URL.

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On TV Now: Al Gore Wins Emmy Award

crossposted at Daily Kos and Truth & Progress

BREAKING: Al Gore’s Current TV Wins an Emmy Award for ‘Interactive Television Services’ — Sunday, September 16, 2007, 8pm-11pm on FOX


Al Gore and Joel Hyatt Arriving at Tonight’s Emmy Awards (behind Actress Ali Larter)
(photo: courtesy ‘Snarky Gossip’)

I’m watching the 59th Emmy Awards on FOX — yes, even on FOX, this year’s Emmys have gone ‘all Green’ — where it was announced just now that Gore’s television network, Current TV, has won the Emmy Award it was nominated for.  Gore’s walking on to the stage now and I’ll update if more news becomes available later tonight.

More below the fold.

As was pointed out earlier today in this diary, Hollywood Today noted something really interesting yesterday: Gore winning a major award in Spain could result in him also receiving the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 12th 

Emmys & Politics: Gore Goes to Green Emmys After Spanish ‘Nobel’ Win: Several actor/politicians have won Hollywood awards, but not like Gore

By Jeffrey Jolson & Laurie Mavica

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 9/15/07 – Former Vice-president Al Gore is building one strange mantelpiece.  It already has an Oscar and tomorrow night, it may have an Emmy from an awardcast being themed around Green.  And just this week Spain gave him the country’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize for his efforts to stem global warming.  And he’s still a frontrunner for the main Nobel Peace Prize in Sweden.

That’s not to mention all the political honors sitting on that long mantle that many leading statesmen might have… And while actors can sweep all four top awards (Emmys, Oscars, Grammys and Tonys) like Rita Moreno did, none can boast a Nobel Peace Prize.  Or lay claim to 2005 honors from Harvard for their environmental efforts AND hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

Gore won the Prince of Asturias award for international cooperation, considered by some to be a warm-up for the Nobel Prizes, for which Gore is nominated this year in the peace category.

Does Gore need the Nobel Peace Prize?  Not really.  It isn’t as if he hasn’t won other awards (see my opening comment) but I would point out that it would only be the fifth time that a US President or Vice President would have won this prestigious prize since 1906.  Among other Americans, past winners include

* Teddy Roosevelt (1906) was the first to win it for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War. 
* Woodrow Wilson (1919) was the second winner for his League of Nations idea, one that eventually led to the creation of the United Nations after World War II.
* Charles Dawes (1925, Calvin Coolidge’s VP) won it for originating the ‘Dawes Plan’ to collect reparations from Germany after World War I.
* Jimmy Carter (2002) was awarded the Nobel for a lifetime of achievement in promoting peace and his approach to conflict resolution.

What are Gore’s chances on winning it on October 12th?  See this recent exchange for a range of opinions in this diary and, in particular, click on the links I provide in this comment in the exchange.  As the NBC Political Team (no fans of Gore, if you’ve followed them), recently put it, “If Gore wins it, watch for buzz to explode again.  An Oscar, a Nobel prize, why not filing papers too?”  In anyone’s book, winning the Nobel Peace Prize is a very big deal!

How is ‘Current TV’ different from other cable channels? Gore implemented this innovative idea in 2005 with his business partner, Joel Hyatt (former US Senate candidate from Ohio), and the cable channel reaches 50 million subscribers in the United States and Britain. 

Billed by Gore as a revolutionary TV outlet that encourages a “two-way conversation” with its audience, the 24-hour network airs a mixture of professionally produced segments with viewer-produced videos running from a few seconds to 15 minutes.

Organizers say about 25 percent of Current’s programming “pods” – a term borrowed from Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod portable digital music player – consist of homemade pieces dubbed viewers contributed content, or “VC Squared.”

The rapid-paced format is targeted at Internet-savvy viewers 18 to 34 years old, a generation Gore said “wants to be in control of its media.”

Programming subjects range from fashion and lifestyle trends to news and current events.

Here’s a video of Al Gore being interviewed in the UK last year in which he talks about Climate Change and the simple steps that all of us can take to reduce our carbon footprint.  From Gore’s Alliance For Climate Protection, here’s a few more video tips in ‘Stars Speak Out’ from Hollywood stars like Pierce Brosnan, Naomi Campbell, Will Ferrell, and Julia Louis Dreyfus. 

Gore himself had also detailed these steps when he went shopping in an earlier diary I’d written about his appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s television show. 

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Al Gore Goes Shopping on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’

I’d never seen the video before and thought I’d share it with you


(h/t: ‘Political Cortex’)

One other thing of interest to environmentalists: the 2008 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy will be presented in June 2008 in London

World’s Leading Green Energy Awards Calls for 2008 EntriesClosing date for entries 13 November 2007

The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy are seeking entries from inspirational and innovative local sustainable energy projects from Asia, Africa and Latin America to compete for a share of £160,000 in prize money.

Former US President Al Gore, who presented the prizes in 2007, commented: “No-one can attend an event like the Ashden Awards and fail to be inspired.  What impresses me most about these projects is they truly are becoming the change that’s needed in the world. These awards tell us how to illuminate the path to a sustainable future together.  I hope that we can make it quickly.” (Watch a video of Al Gore’s speech at the 2007 Awards ceremony)

For further information and for a downloadable application form (available from the end of September 2007) please visit www.ashdenawards.org or contact: Jane Howarth tel. + 44 20 7410 7023 email: info (at) ashdenawards (dot) org

You can see videos of the 2007 winning projects here and read more about the 2007 winners here.

The Tennessee Guerilla Women are urging everyone to write to Al Gore and highlight a video made by DKos member Calvin Sloan

Dear Al Gore, It is your moral obligation to run for the presidency

“I just can’t take it anymore.  I am sick and tired of waking up indebted to imperial occupation, to rising Co2 emmisions and environmental degradation, to CIA secret prisons, Guantanamo Bay and torture policy, to a failed healthcare system, to gratuitous and increasing income discrepancies that leave the poor helpless and the rich richer, to an entrenched military industrial congressional complex, to a dysfunctional voting system, to soaring deficits that will burden future generations, like the one that I am a member of, and to a society addicted to oil, economically and culturally – a society completely unaware of the recessionary implications of a global production peak.”

Send your pleas to:
The Office of the Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

For now, you are all caught up on ‘Gore News.’

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37

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March of the Progressives

The little guy, whether he lived in a tenement in the city or in a ramshackle house on the plains, was getting trampled by the money trust and the captains of industry.  Disgust with both major parties was growing as pandering pols refused to take a decisive stand on the major issues of the day, and the White House seemed incapable and/or unwilling to change things.  Money and cynicism were inseparable from the political process, and tabloid journalism ruled the media, fanning the flames of America’s basest passions and prodding the nation toward an imperialist horizon.

No, this isn’t another story from the Cave’s BREAKING!!! desk – but it could have been, a little over 100 years ago.  Join me, if you will, for a look at how turn-of-the-century Progressives dealt with issues not all that dissimilar from the ones currently being bungled and shied away from in Washington…

Historiorant:  Please consider this a sequel to Plain Progressives, which was posted a couple of weeks ago.  Last week, of course, your resident historiorantologist had to clear the decks for a piece on Delaware, Caesar Rodney, and possum, so as to coincide with the campaign-announcement-week festivities surrounding Jerry Northington‘s entry into the DE-01 Congressional race, but that’s turned out to have resulted in another bit of blogospheric/real-world synchronicity: now the article on Coxey’s Army happily coincides with the Washington protests.  Regrettably, I could be there only in spirit, but my names (both Moonbatty and real-world) were carried on signs wielded by Kossacks jlynne – who was the driving organizational force behind Road2DC.com – and Got a Grip.  Thanks, ladies – this one’s for you!

More Progressive Prophets of the Plains

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen the tumultuous story of the rise of the Populist movement cliffhanged a couple of weeks ago, I was babbling about Atlantis-finding Ignatius Donnelly – one of dozens of left-wing messengers and would-be prophets who sought to explain and define progressive positions in the late 19th century.  Unfortunately for them, these issues were regionally and vocationally diverse; outside of a few overarching social issues, there was little basis for unity among the different species of progressives, who might hail from union factory towns in the east, sharecropper plots in the south, or foreclosure-threatened farms on the plains.  Still, they made one hell of a charge against the gates of power, and those terrible walls shuddered to their very foundations – changing government policy and societal outlook for the better – for a couple of decades before the foe once again found its footing through the mechanism of war. 

Ah, to hear those great orators! – proclaiming progressive goals with an eloquence so far removed from present political discourse that many in our government and pundit classes could scarce understand, much less match wits with, even the least of the angry soapbox speakers.  To wit: Once my time machine is completed and I can freely roam the temporal seas, I’m going to make sure to sit in on an event that features a Populist “calamity howler” named Mary Elizabeth Lease.  A good one might be her pro-silver address at the Cooper Union Hall in New York on August 10, 1896:

“An organized effort is making to deceive the people. There are two great enemies of thought and progress, the aristocracy of royalty and the aristocracy of gold. Long ago, the aristocracy of royalty came to a common plane with the common people by the discovery of gunpowder, and the two met on a common field. Where is the respect of old for royalty? Even the English speak of their sovereign, Queen Victoria as being made not of common clay, but of common mud. The aristocracy of royalty is dying out.

“But here in this country we find in place of an aristocracy of royalty an aristocracy of wealth. Far more dangerous to the race is it than the aristocracy of royalty. It is the aristocracy of gold that disintegrates society, destroys individuals and has ruined the proudest nations. It has called Rothschild’s agent here to make the platform of the Republican party.”

Of course, that’s the part the comes in the form of a objective quote, not a biased interpretation.  For that, you’d need to visit the article in the August 11 edition of the New York World:

CHEERED MARY E. LEASE.
 
The Crowd Liked Her Dununciation of Cleveland and Whitney
 
  SOCIALISM RAMPANT AND NOISY.
  Every Reference to Wealth and Its Owners Received with Wild Delight.
ATTACKED THE ENTIRE SOCIAL SYSTEM.

Likened John Sherman to a Footpad and Evoked the Most Enthusiastic Applause.

ibid.

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Mary Lease (nee Clyons) was an Irish Catholic from western Pennsylvania whose life story reads like an epic screenplay of the “Angela’s Ashes” variety.  Her parents emigrated from County Monaghan during the Potato Famine that emptied Ireland of a quarter of her population in the mid-1800s, then she lost a brother and her father during the Civil War.  Mary developed a lifelong hatred for Democrats when she learned of the conditions under which her dad – a prisoner at Andersonville – perished, but she found little solace in the policies of the Republicans (by the time of Lease’s greatest prominence in the 1890s, the elephants had drifted from the sanctimonious righteousness of Reconstruction to wallowing in money-soaked debauchery not alike that we see today).  In 1870, she took a job in a mission school in Kansas, where she met and married her husband, a druggist named Charles.

Alas, the salad days were short-lived: Charles (along with a whole lot of other folks) lost his ass in the Panic of 1873, when a bank owned by one of the Union war effort’s (and Union Pacific Railroad’s) principal financiers collapsed.  Predictably, this precipitated a run on local banks, massive sell-offs on Wall Street, and a decline in farm prices coupled with an increase in foreclosures – and since these things tend to fall hardest on those least able to weather them, the Leases found themselves starting over again in Texas, where two of her six children died in infancy (one of the surviving kids was named Ben Hur, after the Christian hero in Civil War general/pop author Lew Wallace’s novel).

A “petticoated smut-mill”

The 1880s saw Mary Lease becoming involved in political issues, as well as her return to Kansas and an increasing notoriety amongst unionists, free silverites, and, eventually, socialists.  Her path toward radical rabble-rousing began innocently (and typically, for the time) enough: she joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in support of Prohibition, then became active in the women suffrage movement.  After moving to Wichita, she got involved with labor politics, the Farmer’s Alliance, and finally, the Populist Party, where she really hit her stride as anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, pro-progressive stump speaker.

Weird Historical Sidenote:  The entrenched powers on both sides of the aisle detested Mary Elizabeth Lease, so much so that her detractors began asserting that her middle name was actually “Ellen” – which, when paired with the word “yellin’,” had an alliterative quality – “Yellin’ Mary Ellen,” or just “Mary Yellin'” – that “Elizabeth” or its diminutives simply couldn’t provide.  And as long as we’re setting the record straight on things, she may not have been the first person to tell Kansans to “raise less corn and more hell” – the honor of that coining falls to labor leader Ralph Beaumont – but Mary Yellin’ didn’t correct folks when they attributed it to her.

Mary Lease traveled around the country speaking on behalf of progressive causes throughout the 1890s, staking out positions in opposition to “fusion” with the Democratic Party (though she supported William Jennings Bryan in the critical 1896 election), while simultaneously pissing off Republican wingnuts.  By the middle of the decade, her outspoken and fiery demeanor was causing the mainstream media to react in ways that shows clearly how little they’ve evolved since the days of Pulitzer and Hearst:

Mrs. Lease is representative of the party–we will not call it Democratic–which presents Mr. Bryan as a candidate…. In the principles she avows, and the policies she advocates, in the coarse vigor of her speech and the startling aggressiveness of her manner, she is in the highest degree the best and truest exponent of the Bryan platform and party. In the extravagance of her language, the wantonness and recklessness with which she appealed to class hatred, pointing out by name as the proper objects of popular vengeance good and honorable citizens whose only offence is the possession of property accumulated honestly under the laws, she may have seemed to be in advance of her party. But only a step; just enough to bring out with clearness and distinctness the real spirit and purpose of the revolutionists and Anarchists who are bent on the destruction of public credit and the overthrow of social order. A step behind this raging virago, foaming with fury and blazing with wrath, is the wild mob of levellers eager for the general distribution of spoils; behind them the Terror, with its bloody bacchanals and merciless savagery. –

New York Tribune, August 13, 1896, via Vasser.edu

Aww…those poor little “good and honorable citizens” with their honestly accumulated property, under assault from Anarchists favoring a general distribution of spoils – and a Reign of Terror, to boot!  I feel as bad for them as I do for Paris Hilton, knowing that her inheritance is going to have to pass through a government estate-tax wringer before being returned to her nearly intact – though on the other hand, Ms. Hilton did do more jail time for her crimes than Scooter Libby ever will for his.

We’re not in Bleeding Kansas anymore

…Or are we?  The election of 1890 was a watershed year for both Mary Lease and for the Populists, as farmers tired of getting screwed by railroad companies showed up in unexpectedly high numbers (107,000 in Kansas alone, according to Populist Kansas: A Human Capital Interpretation) and propelled to Washington a total of 8 Congressmen and 2 Senators.  They also became a driving force in Kansas politics for the next decade, at times controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion before assembling the typical liberal circular firing squad and engaging in self-defeating compromises with a minority foe.

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Left:  80.1-100% Republican  80.1-100% Democratic  60.1-80% Republican  60.1-80% Democratic  <=60% Republican  <=60% Democratic  60.1-80% Populist House seats by party holding plurality in state
Right:  6+ Republican gain  6+ Democratic gain  3-5 Republican gain  3-5 Democratic gain  1-2 Republican gain  1-2 Democratic gain  3-5 Populist gain  1-2 Populist gain  no net change (source: Wikipedia)

The most extreme of these flaps came after the State House elections in January and February, 1893, after the Populists won the governorship and 58 seats in the House in the 1892 elections.  The Republicans won 65 seats (Dems had the other 2), but the Populists claimed that due to Republican election fraud (some things really don’t change) they’d been cheated out of an additional 18 seats, and went ahead with electing their own Speaker based on that premise.  At the same time, the Republicans formed their own private legislature, and by Valentine’s Day, the sergeants-at-arms of the Republican House was attempting to arrest members of the Populist one, the members of which had barricaded themselves inside the state capitol.

In a move that must be one of the first chapters in Karl Rove’s secret book on how to steal elections, the Republicans ignored the fact that both the Senate and the governor had recognized the Populist House as the legitimate governing body.  They gathered up weaponry and sledge hammers, threw aside the guards set up outside the capitol, and literally battered in the doors.  Once inside, they ensconced themselves as the new (though fraudulently elected) Congress by driving the Populists into the basement and daring the governor (and an increasing number of armed farmers streaming into the capital) to do something about it.  He tried, but a Colonel Hughes of the state militia (a Hughes-friendly website here) defied orders to remove the Republicans “at the point of a bayonet” based on his own interpretation of the separation of powers.

The situation created a standoff which saw the insubordinate commander relieved of duty (and eventually courts-martialed, stripped of rank, and dishonorably discharged – but don’t worry; the next governor re-promoted him to brigadier general and he went on to serve as Adjutant General of Kansas from 1905-1909).  Still, the delay he caused was enough to get the whole matter tossed to the courts – then, as now, an almost wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.  The justices found against the overreaching governor, and the Republicans were permitted to keep their ill-gotten, obstructionist House, which they used to derail Populist legislation for the next two years. 

Later, after unassailable majorities had been secured in subsequent elections, the Populists fell into that ever-popular left-wing trap of being willing to compromise on core beliefs in the name of being equitable toward those who, were the positions reversed, would run roughshod over their socially responsible programs without a second thought.  So it was that even with a Bush-like hold over two of the three branches of state government in 1897, the Populists were unable to agree on a formula for rail freight rates (the issue that had brought many farmers to the party in the first place), and saw a compromise measure vetoed by a Populist governor on the basis that it wasn’t Populist enough; eleventh-hour attempts to rein in the evils of the rail barons after the losing elections of 1898 were later found (predictably) to be unconstitutional.  (a far more exhaustive look at the railroad/human being battles can be found at Kansas Conflict: Populist Versus Railroader in the 1890’s – u.m.)

High Water in Omaha

They’d come out of nowhere in 1890 to win a disconcerting number of seats in Washington, and two years later, the Populists had a fuller head of steam than any of the railroads they were fighting.  At their convention in Omaha in early July, they adopted one of the ballsiest platforms ever advanced by a party that contended seriously for the White House – looking at it now, I have a pretty good idea who would’ve gotten my vote on November 8th:

PLATFORM

We declare, therefore-

First.-That the union of the labor forces of the United States this day consummated shall be permanent and perpetual; may its spirit enter into all hearts for the salvation of the Republic and the uplifting of mankind.

Second.-Wealth belongs to him who creates it, and every dollar taken from industry without an equivalent is robbery. “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.” The interests of rural and civic labor are the same; their enemies are identical.

Third.-We believe that the time has come when the railroad corporations will either own the people or the people must own the railroads, and should the government enter upon the work of owning and managing all railroads, we should favor an amendment to the Constitution by which all persons engaged in the government service shall be placed under a civil-service regulation of the most rigid character, so as to prevent the increase of the power of the national administration by the use of such additional government employes.

FINANCE.-We demand a national currency, safe, sound, and flexible, issued by the general government only, a full legal tender for all debts, public and private, and that without the use of banking corporations, a just, equitable, and efficient means of distribution direct to the people, at a tax not to exceed 2 per cent. per annum, to be provided as set forth in the sub-treasury plan of the Farmers’ Alliance, or a better system; also by payments in discharge of its obligations for public improvements.

1. We demand free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the present legal ratio of l6 to 1.

2. We demand that the amount of circulating medium be speedily increased to not less than $50 per capita.

3. We demand a graduated income tax.

4. We believe that the money of the country should be kept as much as possible in the hands of the people, and hence we demand that all State and national revenues shall be limited to the necessary expenses of the government, economically and honestly administered.

5. We demand that postal savings banks be established by the government for the safe deposit of the earnings of the people and to facilitate exchange.

TRANSPORTATION-Transportation being a means of exchange and a public necessity, the government should own and operate the railroads in the interest of the people. The telegraph, telephone, like the post-office system, being a necessity for the transmission of news, should be owned and operated by the government in the interest of the people.

LAND.-The land, including all the natural sources of wealth, is the heritage of the people, and should not be monopolized for speculative purposes, and alien ownership of land should be prohibited. All land now held by railroads and other corporations in excess of their actual needs, and all lands now owned by aliens should be reclaimed by the government and held for actual settlers only.

The Omaha Platform, July 4, 1892  (note that that last bit regards the kind of aliens Republicans actually like – the ones who rake in wealth as absentee landlords and tenant farm amassers)

The Populists nominated James B. Weaver as their Presidential candidate; he went up against Republican incumbent Benjamin Harrison, ex-President and three-time-in-a-row Dem nominee Grover Cleveland, and a pair of no-chance-in-hell darkhorses from the Prohibition and Socialist Labor parties.

The Man, 1…Oppressed Steel Workers, 0 

1892 was a tough summer, in a lot of ways:  Occurring at the same time as the Populist convention was an involuntary wage reduction and lockout (complete with a three-mile wooden wall topped with barbed wire and pierced by what in the Middle Ages would have been called arrow slits) perpetrated by classic industrial age villain Henry Frick, a toady of the eminently-culpable Andrew Carnegie, at the Homestead steel plant in Pennsylvania.  There, ham-handed attempts to break a union which had initially been supported by Carnegie resulted in an overwhelming majority of even non-union workers to vote strike, even as the great library-builder retreated to a remote castle in Scotland and made himself available only to Frick.

The strikers ran off the deputized townsmen who were guarding the plant for Frick, and occupied and fortified it against the inevitable counterattack.  This came on the night of July 5, when tugboats pulling barges full of Pinkerton Detective Agency goons made their way up the Monongahela and made to offload the Winchester-toting private army on the banks below the plant.  Owing to good intel – and a Revere-like ride through town at 3 AM – the workers were prepared to contest the amphibious assault, and upon their arrival, the Pinkertons were told not to step off the barges.  They did so anyway, and in the ensuing commotion, the first (though it never was clear who fired it) of what turned out to be many, many shots was fired.

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Over the next 14 hours, the strikers, who held the high ground in more ways than one, rained gunfire and all kinds of other stuff down on the Pinkertons – at one point, they even lit a railroad car on fire and sent it tumbling down the hill toward the barges, then followed up by tossing dynamite at their hulls in an effort to sink them.  Later an attempt to burn the barges fizzled when the oil the workers had pumped onto the river upstream failed to ignite, but at the end of the day, the Pinkertons were obliged to surrender nonetheless.

They’d given as good as they’d got: 3 “detectives” had been killed, and 9 workers, but the defeat of the Pinkertons allowed for the governor of Pennsylvania to up the violence ante in favor of Frick and Carnegie.  He ordered in the state militia; the workers’ fortifications were, of course, no match for either real soldiers or for Gatling guns.  With the plant back in the hands of those who didn’t labor there, Frick began importing scabs and strikebreakers, often in locked rail cars so as to be unaware of their destination until they arrived to screw their brethren. 

The strikers held out for four months before the threat of starvation compelled them to return to work, and in the spirit of kicking one’s defeated enemy into a shapeless mass of goo, murder charges were brought against strike leaders, lesser counts against 160 others, and the entire Strike Committee was arrested for treason.  The Alberto Gonzaleses of the time apparently had a difficult time finding a jury sympathetic to their case: none of the strikers charged with crimes during the Homestead Strike were convicted.  Their solace presumably came from the fact that union power in steel mills was broken, and that the blacklisting of strike organizers was something that would continue to exert vengeance for years to come.

Historiorant:  And Carnegie?  Oh, he’d cry you a river as big as the Johnstown Flood of 1889 (for which he was also tangentially responsible), if you’d hear him out.  It just tore him apart, don’tcha see?, that he’d been forced into busting a union he’d helped to empower – ’cause, well, sorry, but it’s just business:

This is the trial of my life (death’s hand excepted). Such a foolish step — contrary to my ideals, repugnant to every feeling of my nature. Our firm offered all it could offer, even generous terms. Our other men had gratefully accepted them. They went as far as I could have wished, but the false step was made in trying to run the Homestead Works with new men. It is a test to which workingmen should not be subjected. It is expecting too much of poor men to stand by and see their work taken by others. . . The pain I suffer increases daily. The Works are not worth one drop of human blood. I wish they had sunk.

ibid.

But they didn’t sink, and Carnegie continued to let them smelt out a fortune with which he could buy historical forgiveness by constructing libraries and music halls – and at least his hands were clean of the blood spilled by federal troops in breaking a strike among silver miners near Coeur d’Alene at the same time as the Homestead violence.

Next, place the muzzle against the top of either foot…

With passions thus inflamed, the Populists seems poised to make enormous gains in the November elections – all that remained was to get the disparate elements of the outraged left on board their platform, which naturally proved far more difficult than any of the single groups of players could have imagined.  Exploited urban industrial workers, apparently unaware that a rising tide lifts all boats, didn’t exactly rally to the cause of Midwestern farmers, and there were even divisions among the farmers themselves.  These were nothing so nuanced as a disagreement over the regulation of railroads, but instead can be traced to the racism so prevalent during the era – conservative “Bourbon elites” (nearly all Democrats) in the South used cynicism and historic antagonisms to persuade poor whites to vote against their own self-interest and leave the black sharecroppers with whom they shared so many miseries high and dry at the ballot box.

The Populists sent in their big guns in their ultimately failed effort to woo the crucial Southern farm vote.  Among these was Georgian Thomas E. Watson, who for a while saw past the racial divide and used his oratorical skills – it was said he could “talk like the thrust of a Bowie knife” – to stump for solidarity among the poor, irrespective of skin color.  I say “a while,” because Watson later reinvented himself as a class-A racist bigot; by 1908, he was advocating the disenfranchisement of blacks. 

Watson’s later works were written in the context of a South that strongly desired never again to be threatened by the potential exercise of black political strength.  So it was that while Watson wound up with a statue at the steps of the Georgia capitol, those sharecroppers and poor urban blacks who had had the insolence to believe in the system were made to pay dearly for their agitation – the post-1892 era saw an aggressive increase in the use of literacy tests and poll taxes to disenfranchise blacks, along with more severe Jim Crow laws and, a few years later, the handing down of the Plessey v. Ferguson decision. 

Even more odious was the implementation of a “grandfather clause” in several states, which stated that no one who had not been eligible to vote (or who ancestors hadn’t been eligible to vote) prior to 1866 – back before the Reconstruction-era amendments abolished slavery – would be allowed to vote now.  Though declared unconstitutional in 1915, the damage caused by the grandfather clauses was long-lasting: an entire generation had been cut out of the political process, while their oppressors reworked the laws that would keep them disenfranchised even after the most egregious laws were judicially undone.

The Agony of Defeat

James Weaver did better than virtually any third-party candidate in American history, but that’s not to say he won.  When the ballots were counted and the electoral map colored in, the results looked like this:

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I’m proud to note that your humble Moonbat’s current state of residence is among those that sent its electors to Washington with a true message for change, but the Populists just weren’t able to gather enough momentum in the East and South to seriously threaten capturing the White House.  In the end, the presence of the Populists probably drew more support away from the Republican Harrison than the Democrat Cleveland, and Grover took over for a second, famously non-consecutive time. 

He’d barely lowered his hand after the inauguration when yet another of those 1800s Panics ensued – and it turned out that the Panic of ’93 was the worst one of all.  Within 6 months, 8000 businesses had shut down, dozens of railroads went into receivership, and hobos and soup lines that presaged those of the 1930s were commonplace.  Also presaging the beginnings of the Great Depression was the federal government’s unshakeable adherence to the doctrine of laissez-faire economics – a firm belief that it was absolutely powerless in the face of the almighty Free Market.

Though the reasons for it were legion, the main cause of the Panic of 1893 was a well-meaning piece of legislation passed back in 1890.  The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 had been part of a broader compromise between Republicans who wanted a high protective tariff and Populist-pressured Democrats who favored the use of silver-backed currency.  Under the deal, the government issued notes that were redeemable in either gold or silver, which essentially turned the Treasury into a machine that dispensed gold in exchange for silver (part two of this lunacy was that the government was obligated to buy up virtually all the silver being produced, which drove its price down, thus exacerbating the problem).

President Cleveland pushed for a repeal of the Sherman (btw, this is the same Sherman as the Antitrust Act of 1890 guy) Silver Purchase Act, but he was voiciferously opposed by some more of those Populist inspired/pressured Democrats.  Among these was 33 year-old Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan, who promised that “hell would freeze over” before Cleveland rescinded the law, but the old pol was just too cagey for the naïve young silverite: Cleveland used his nepotistic powers to break a Senate filibuster, thereby ensuring a nice, healthy split in the Democratic Party for the remainder of his term.

An Army of Pissed-Off Progressives

No, I’m not talking about Road2DC.com and yesterday’s mass protest against the continued occupation of Iraq, but I am talking about their ideals-driven ancestors-in-spirit.  In 1894, Jacob Coxey, a wealthy quarry owner from Ohio, organized a march he called the “Commonweal of Christ” or “Industrial Army,” with a rather pie-in-the-sky vision of gathering more than 100,000 unemployed and angry men under his banner as he closed in on the capital.  Alas, the marcher’s song

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We’re coming, Grover Cleveland,
500,000 strong,
We’re marching on to Washington,
To right the nation’s wrongs.

turned out to be as fantasy-ridden as Coxey himself – I mean, the guy named his kid “Legal Tender” to show his undying support for the workingman’s cause, and rode in a carriage at the head of his army along with his wife and family.  His protest fizzled like a Gathering of Eagles when, as vasser.edu reports,

Coxey’s Army picked up many allies and sympathizers on its march to Washington, but it also stirred panic among those who feared an insurrection of the unemployed. When the (+/- 500) members of the Army reached Washington they were driven from the Capitol lawn. Coxey, who tried to read a prepared statement on the Capitol steps, was jailed for trespassing, though allies later read his speech into the Congressional Record.

(note: the standard Powers That Be dismissal of Coxey usually ends with some mention of the trespassing charge amounting to his failing to keep off the grass. – u.m.)

However his march may have turned out, Coxey advocated some serious reforms – they would have included selling government bonds to finance public works spending, as well as the issuance of $500 million in inflationary notes, to counter the depression.  Though he continued to be a leading voice of the Populists through the end of the century (“Coxeyite” was often used interchangeably with “Populist” by those not in the know), Jacob Coxey never again achieved the national prominence he did with his militant act of civil disobedience.  He did turn out to be a remarkably prescient predictor of the future, however – in 1896, he wrote in The Coming Nation (a reform paper based in Tennessee),

That concentration of wealth will rather be accelerated than otherwise by the change. That the election of a Republican or a Democrat as president of this “republic” will have no more effect on invention than the use of more machinery, than the kick of a gnat on the Rocky Mountain.  We admit that this is rather a gloomy forecast; but experience warrants it and events will justify it.

Government by Injunction

A few days after Coxey’s Army disbanded at the foot of the U.S. Capitol, another group of downtrodden workers demanded respect from yet another oppressive industrial master, this time outside Chicago.  There, laborers at the Pullman Palace Car Company had long been subjected to the feudal conditions of life in a company town, where, as one of the workers put it,

We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shop, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman church, and when we die we shall be buried in the Pullman cemetery and go to the Pullman Hell.

Actually, the company-built church usually stood empty, since no company-approved congregation was willing to rent the facility from the bosses.  Their souls didn’t much matter much to their paternalistic overlords, but where they lived and shopped did: they were obligated to rent housing from the company (which had a right to unannounced inspections and eviction with ten days’ notice), and often found themselves in a sort of debt-slavery when they found they couldn’t keep up with their credit payments to the company store.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPullman was a manufacturer of luxury rail coaches, and as such, found itself hit especially hard by the depression that followed the Panic of 1893.  To compensate for its losses, the company decided to slash worker’s pay by one-third, but not to reduce the amount they were paying for rent – leaving little option for the retention of human dignity but to strike.  Urged by the charismatic Eugene V. Debs, who had helped to organize the American Railway Union, the strike quickly became an object of concern to Illinois and federal officials, with Pullman cars being overturned in their yards by angry workers and rail traffic between Chicago and the Pacific coast soon paralyzed.

The Governor at the time, John Peter Altgeld, was a German immigrant and a friend of the little guy – the year before, he’d pardoned those convicted of violence in the Haymarket bombings of 1886 (or at least, the ones who hadn’t already been executed).  Unfortunately, Attorney General Richard Olney was cut from a more Gonzalesian cloth: he cooked up a legal basis for federal intervention by suddenly getting real worried about the mail getting through.  Cleveland declared with all the pompousness of a concern troll, “If it takes the entire army and navy to deliver a postal card in Chicago, that card will be delivered,” and in went 2500 soldiers, with bayonets fixed.

The strike was crushed in under a week, and with it, much of the progressive dream for securing equitable treatment from the federal government.  Debs was arrested and imprisoned (where he did a lot of the reading that turned him into a diehard Socialist); the AG had, Cheney-like, discerned a heretofore unknown federal power over the states; the Sherman Antitrust Act had been transformed into an evil mirror twin of its original intent, as it was now a weapon to be used against unions; and labor dealt itself a punishing blow when the AF of L – concerned for its reputation as a “respectable” player in the whole debate – refused to support their brothers dying in rail yards, and allowed Cleveland and the industrial barons a barely-contested victory.

Historiorant: 
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Folks were angrier, less naïve, and more certain than ever that the upcoming presidential election was epochal – but 1896, the Cross of Gold, and the Mark Hanna-inspired anointment of William McKinley will have to wait for another diary in this Land of Enchantment-inspired series.  Tune in next week – same bat-time, same bat-channels – for all the impassioned, failed efforts, quixotic charges, and Pink Floyd soundtracked YouTube creations you can shake a silver bug at.

Historically hip entrances to the Cave of the Moonbat can be found at Daily Kos, Progressive Historians, Bits of News, and Never In Our Names

Obama on Iraq: No Funding Without Timelines

Via Kos:

“We are going to bring an end to this war and I will fight hard in the United States Senate to make sure we don’t pass any funding bill that does not have a deadline,” Obama told the crowd.

Big props to Senator Obama. Hurrah!

Deities, Ice, and Motion

On September 28th, 1972, adult Canadians found a way to skip out of work and school children were packed in gymnasiums to watch an event on those horrible TVs in a box. Most Canadians over forty have some memory of it, many can tell exactly where they watched the game and who they were with. Canadians have tendency to struggle with their identity. They often define themselves by what they are not, which might be why hockey remains consistent in popular culture.

Canadians fully expected to dance and weave around the Soviet team for the historic 1972 series. Instead they were stunned when in game one they lost to a team that was in better shape and played a completely different style. The Globe and Mail was blunt the Canadians made enough bad plays to fill a garbage dump. The first four games were played in Canada and by game four Canadians started booing team Canada. As they left for Moscow, team Canada trailed the Soviets in an eight game series. In the final and decisive game Paul Henderson became an instant icon.

Gradually, over the years the NHL has been bloated by expansion and lock outs. Canadians no longer dominate the game and yet they still cling to hockey and a weird strain of anti-Americanism that can be both funny and disturbing.

It should be no surprise that this is a beer commercial.

This one mixes hockey and the annoying American theme.

When Canada finally won a gold medal at the 2002 Olympics after a fifty year drought using professionals, of course, it was the Americans they beat not the Russians.

At one time Canadians used to comfort themselves by being able to beat the Americans at hockey. As it happens, Americans, like the Europeans, are every bit as good at our national game.

Canadians long for a team to come back to Canada. Sure they got tossed the Ottawa bone, but they resent the fact that Americans largely view hockey as a circus sport while having the luxury of the teams. Hockey makes sense in the north and north east, but Atlanta?

I wonder about myself with a foot in two countries. I wonder about the extent to which I romanticize my country of birth, when the truth is where I am from in Southern Ontario, it is indistinguishable from the US. I often find myself in the weird position of defending Americans when I visit home, and then chastising colleagues and friends here because they have so little interest in Canada or any other country. I have really become a North American, a hybrid, comfortable nowhere and yet strangely contented by that.

My love of hockey is a way of connecting back to Canada, of remembering my childhood when neighborhood mothers were scandalized because my mother let me play in a girl’s league. It is a way to connect to my grandmother as she becomes more frail and her world gets smaller. My grandmother and I are loyal and stubborn Maple Leafs fans. It is a way to remember real snowy winters when the parenting style of the day was,”Go out and play and don’t come back till lunch,” when the neighborhood kids played on homemade rinks. The boys didn’t want the girls to play, they grudging included us and knocked us on our asses to make that point clear. When a boy from another neighborhood knocked us on our asses, the fists would fly.

Hockey isn’t a nice sport. It has moments of violence and flat out stupidity but in 1972 it was still our game.

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