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Monday, November 24, 2014

Martin Heinrich and The Torture Report - Update

Update on the struggle by Martin Heinrich and other Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats to force the release of the committee's long ago completed 6,000 page report on Bush era CIA torture, which the Obama Administration is trying to bury. At a weekly briefing of senate Democrats by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, a heated discussion about the report took place, according to Huffington Post, which relates Heinrich's addition to the discussion:


“I’m concerned that there’s not a whole lot of sand left in this hourglass,” said Heinrich. "Until this report is unclassified in a way that doesn't expose people's identity, but where you can understand the narrative, our work will not be done. And we're not there yet."


Heinrich, a member of the intelligence committee, compared the report to a story, arguing that it is impossible to follow without aliases or pseudonyms to guide a reader.

"If you take all the names out of a novel, it becomes very hard to understand that novel's narrative arc," he said. "We don't need people's real names, but we need to understand why decisions were made, what decisions were made and what the ramifications are."

Heinrich's "sand left in the hourglass" reference is to the widely held belief that the Obama Administration is delaying the report's release until Republicans hold the Senate majority in January, on the expectation they will not want the report released. Later in the article Heinrich is quoted dismissing a CIA spokesman's contention that releasing the report with psuedonyms would reveal peoples' identities.

I routinely criticize New Mexico's Democrats for doing very little to stand up for us on any front, but here's one example at least of one of them doing something that got in the papers. Heinrich had earlier spoken publicly about the delay in the report's release (blog posts here and here.)

Democrats are considering other ways to get the report released, Huffington Post says, including reading it into the senate record. Some of the comments Democrats make almost sound like veiled threats to leak the report or significant parts of it.

As Heinrich alludes to, the report would be a valuable and needed addition to the public debate. Republicans are frequently provided with platforms to deny that the US government has ever tortured anybody and at the same time to argue that it was necessary to protect Americans from the non existent threats the media and the political establishment are constantly conjuring up. The report's release would be a first step in the needed reckoning Americans have to make with the incredible amount of violence their government has unleashed all across the Middle East since 9/11.





Encryptian Is Coming

We can't look to government, including the courts, to protect us from NSA spying, writes Glenn Greenwald, but he says change is coming, and it's emanating from us. The recently defeated NSA reform bill was no reform at all, he writes, in an article I highly recommend and can only think of as inspiring.

I don't often use the phrase "must read." If it's that important I try to summarize what's so important, so hopefully at least someone else will be made aware of it. In this case I just don't have the time. Greenwald covers a lot of ground, in explaining what the government has been doing to prevent reform, why we can only expect more complicity with NSA spying by big companies like Google and Facebook, and in laying out how things are happening that those power centers have no control over.

What's so inspiring to me is that he affirms what I've repeated about no significant change having ever come through the ballot box, which in more ways than not is a device meant to prevent change. It's us. Change comes only from us and by us, marching, rioting, boycotting, finding other ways to get what we need. However it manifests itself, it's the power of us acting in concert. Whether we're organized or acting individually, as long as we do it in numbers, we win.



Update: 11/24/14 6:45 p.m. While waiting for the announcement of what the Missouri Grand Jury decided about charges against a white Ferguson, MO police officer who gunned down unarmed Black teen Michael Brown, this was posted to Twitter:





Sunday, November 23, 2014

I may not be perfect, but I am perfect for Washington.



Marion Shepilov Barry - 1936-2014

Washington City Paper



As Glenn Greenwald tweets this morning, the New York Times obituary of Washington DC's former mayor Marion S Barry "does a decent job of conveying how Marion Barry's life was much more complex and varied than the caricatures."

As the obit details, for his entire life Barry was involved in civil rights struggles and politics, from organizing NAACP chapters at the colleges he attended on his way to becoming a chemist, to being one of the founders and first national chairman of the legendary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which organized lunch counter sit-ins and voter registration drives in the Jim Crow apartheid South and helped trigger the modern Civil Rights Movement. And then being elected several times as Washington DC's mayor and later to city council seats, even after the famous 1990 misdemeanor crack cocaine arrest that made him a national laughingstock.

The obit also mentions that Barry was born with simply the initial S as a middle name but in the late 1950s took on the middle name Shepilov in honor of "Dmitri Shepilov, a purged member of the Soviet Communist Party."

Shepilov was a high ranking Communist Party member and Soviet economic theoretician who was ousted during a power struggle during the premiership of Nikita Kruschev. Although the New York Times obit doesn't go into it, Barry's taking that name points out the fact that many African Americans, North and South were, as were many Hispanics here in New Mexico, attracted to Communism and Socialism during those times because of the fact that economic justice and racial equality are part and parcel of them.

Marion S Barry was colorful, accomplished, controversial, and most of all, despite what you thought about him, persevering. But because I've always associated Barry's name with his arrest and ridicule, I often refer to Albuquerque's mayor, whose last name is Berry and who is also a mayor and has earned ridicule on his own, as Marion Barry. Guilt by association.

An apology is in order. I've slandered you, Mr Mayor. You're certainly no Richard Milhous Berry.









Saturday, November 22, 2014

Buddy Holly's Clovis Connection

(New music at Best Rock and Roll Since Moses page)



Buddy Holly left an incredible amount of great work in a few years and died young, as did Rock and Roll greats Ritchie Valens and Bobby Fuller. Of those tree, two had strong New Mexico connections.

Bobby Fuller's father worked in the oil and gas industry and moved the family from Baytown, TX, where Bobby was born, to Salt Lake City, El Paso, where Fuller first played professionally in bars and clubs, and along the way lived in Hobbs, NM, where brother Randy was born and with whom Bobby would form the Bobby Fuller Four that would hit it big with their recording of I Fought The Law.

Norn and Vi Petty


Most of the music Buddy Holly left us was recorded and produced at a small recording studio in Clovis, NM. I'd never heard of Norman Petty, who although most known for recording and producing Holly and the Crickets, who were from nearby Lubbock, TX, also recorded a band that included him and his wife, Vi, that had some commercial success, especially with Mood Indigo that sold half a million copies. Petty recorded many people, some big names and many unknowns, at his Clovis home studio, which apparently is a museum you can see by appointment, according to Wikipedia.

Following are some recordings of Buddy Holly and the Crickets at Archive.org, where all the music and the wealth of other kinds of material archived there are in the public domain; the copyright has expired and you can download them for free.


Buddy Holly and the Chirping Crickets - 1958 - the complete album. The only album released before Holly's death, it contains That'll Be The Day, which the year before had reached #1 as a single and Oh Boy which reached #11 as a single. Also Maybe Baby and Not Fade Away. One mp3 file. Recorded in Clovis.

Buddy Holly Collection 1-25 - Has Think It Over, Peggy Sue, All My Love All My Kisses, Rave On, etc. This incidentally was posted by someone who goes by the name grimriper, who has posted many, many collections of music off all kinds at Archive.org, and who is one of my heroes. Individual files.

Buddy Holly The Anthology - Another collection, of 50. I see all the big hits here. Individual files. To download tunes to my computer I use the VBR mp3 files which are lined up at the bottom, below the Archive.org player. The player will automatically play all the songs if you wish.

Fool's Paradise - Single recorded in Clovis. I was looking for a picture of this record to post with an earlier blog post, which led me to the Buddy Holly and the Crickets collections at Archive.org.

 Miscellaneous Fool's Paradise Trivia: I posted a picture at the bottom of the previous post of a record made by the Cochran Brothers, Fool's Paradise. I couldn't find any information about the single, which I used as a picture because it looked like a better picture than the one of the Crickets recording of Fool's Paradise. I can't even say they're the same song. The Cochran Brothers were an early band of Eddie Cochran, who would gain fame with Summertime Blues, and Hank Cochran, who was unrelated to Eddie. They apparently broke up after 1955.

This interesting tidbit of information was at a youtube post of Fool's Paradise done by a Buddy Holly cover band:

Written by Sonny LeGlaire and Horace Linsley (and Norman Petty added his name as he frequently did) Fool's Paradise was recorded on Valentine's day Feb 14th, 1958 following Niki Sullivan's departure at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico with Buddy , Jerry and Joe B. The Roses did backing vocals. Take Three was the one used in most releases.


Joe B refers to the Crickets bass player, Joe B Mauldin. Jerry would be drummer Jerry Allison who co-wrote with Buddy what we usually think of as Buddy Holly classics Peggy Sue and That'll Be The Day. Niki Sullivan was a Cricket who had quit the band to continue his education.

And then there's this youtube recording of "undubbed take two" of Fool's Paradise.







Bonus Track

When I was in the United States Army in Mainz, West Germany from 1975-1978, I roomed off and on with Bill Mueller from the Charlestown section of Boston, a loud, wild and crazy character who did things like shower in the quadrangle during the rain and who one night shaved a bare circle on the top of his head so it looked like he was bald. Mueller strongly identified with his mother's Irish heritage and for St Patrick's Day painted a shamrock on the bald place.

Mueller always had his stereo going and went to bed with it set to AFN, the US Army station in Frankfurt, West Germany, which annoyed me and kept me awake. I said nothing because late at night they ran a program that I loved called Old Gold Retold.

When the song's opening music came -- Let's Go was by The Routers -- Bill sometimes sang along, but he was asleep when the closing theme came around, Johnny and the Hurricanes Red River Rock, which is one of my all time favorite records. When it was over I got out of bed, switched off Bill's stereo, got back in bed and lay there thinking about all the great things I'd do when I got out of the army.

I was really surprised, flabbergasted, to see both tunes in a collection I happened upon at Archive.org, The Best Rock Instrumentals - Vol 1,  There are many well known instrumentals here -- Santo and Johnny's Sleep Walk, Dave Baby Cortez' The Happy Organ, Telstar by the Tornadoes, The Ventures' Walk Don't Run, a couple charting songs by Duane Eddy, Johnny Otis' Guitar Boogie, the list, as they say, goes on.




Podcasts, Livestreams And The Future Of The Media

On arriving in America, Columbus was surprised and somewhat annoyed by the discovery that all the banks were closed.

That's from the Jimmy Dore show, a podcast with some pretty Liberal, very politically engaged comedians I tried the other night. I'd heard Dore's name before but wasn't familiar with him. Apparently he's on comedy TV but I don't know how often. The podcast was along the lines of the Stephanie Miller show broadcast on KABQ AM 1350 in the mornings, a mix of humor, political satire and straight politics ala Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or for that matter Rush Limbaugh. I've seen polls that show that more young people rely on Colbert and Stewart for their news than on the mainstream media, and the same may go for Limbaugh and his offshoots among conservatives.

For around eight years now I've listened to podcasts to inform and educate myself, keep up Lestist political and social analysis and just pass the driving hours. I've not noticed an upwelling of podcast popularity, but they've gained a measure of respectability and clout as the media has evolved in form and in how people partake of it and as "mainstream media" gradually loses audience and influence. Alec Baldwin until just recently hosted a podcast in which he interviewed movers and shakers in the entertainment industry.

I'd only listened to a few episodes of Baldwin's podcast, which had been on for two years when it was recently suspended for lack of funding, which may say something about the future of podcasts. Many I listen to are of actual radio programs and I can't say how podcasts extends their reach, because I don't know. I listen to quite a few Pacifica Radio podcasts, a few that are internet only, and a couple from radio station WFMU, just outside of New York City in New Jersey. The host of one of those, who hosts her own show that is podcast but also goes out over the airwaves, and is a producer at a podcast that only goes out over the internet, is immersed in a world of podcasts. Many of her references are from other podcasts.

Still, it's difficult to imagine many people slowing down long enough to listen to an entire podcast. We seem to need the visual stimulation TV provides to make us sit down and stop. I don't listen to podcasts, or books, except when I'm driving.

Livestreaming

Occupy was being livestreamed as it happened, especially the nighttime meetings in Zucotti Park and the protests they held during the day. Many mainstream events are now live streamed, as was Nick Wallenda's recent tight rope walk between skyscrapers in Chicago and the Europeans' comet landing. I think this indicates that many people rely on their smart phones for most of their media intake now.

Amateur journalists can now livestream things over the internet seemingly easily. Somehow they upload video they're taking with their cell phones straight to the internet. Web sites that host livesreams seem to be run along the order of youtube. I've looked in on a few livestreamed demonstrations now. "Dream activists," children born as US citizens to illegal immigrants, began livestreaming their actions outside immigration and ICE detention centers about a year ago, and the general movement of young Chicano activists seems to have adopted livestreaming as a technique, as have the young Natives involved in actions both in the US and Canada trying to stop the Keystone Pipeline and tar sands oil extraction generally.

I followed a link to a site that was supposed to be livestreaming protests in Ferguson, MO, which have begun even before the much anticipated grand jury verdict is released about the charges that a white police officer murdered a young black man. The livestream, from a young videographer with the moniker Revolitionary_Z, who appears to be associated with the Free Thought Project, one of the main copwatch groups, was off at the time and instead he had a slide show playing that, to me, gives some insight into where young Leftist radicals are coming from now, a subject I've been thinking about since Jim Baca mentioned young people and the future of politics at his Only In New Mexico blog yesterday.

Some screen shots of Revolutionary_Z's slide show:




















Add caption




This is apparently Revolutionary_Z

.



Note: If you have some time and are willing to wade through a few esoteric references to current philosophical movements, Socialist author Sharon Smith has written an article for Socialist Worker that makes the argument that only class struggle can unite the various and splintered groups and interests that people are trying to organize around. The article contains the gist of the Marxist viewpoint of class struggle and why you keep hearing language like "class struggle," which many on the Left dismiss as "boilerplate Stalinism" or with some other derogatory term and have relegated to the past.

Only as a class of workers do we have the power to confront Capitalism by shutting down the economy. We can march and carry signs about gay rights, women's rights, all kinds of rights, and while this kind of advocacy helps educate people to various kinds of oppression, it only keeps us divided in the long run. Socialism is inherently non sexist, non racist, against any form of oppression. Only it can take away the power of Capitalism to oppress.




Friday, November 21, 2014

Net Neutrality

I.e., ensuring the Internet continues as an independent news outlet and forum for resistance, instead of being sold off to the highest bidder as FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, a former cable company lobbyist and venture Capitalist, has been trying to do, seems more likely now, according to this blog post at AcronymTV. But after the president made his important statement recently in support of Net Neutrality, the Obama-appointed Wheeler delayed a final FCC decision on Net Neutrality so he can regroup his corporate allies.

After his statement, Obama distanced himself from the controversy by asserting that the FCC is an independent agency and he has no control over it. But he does have the authority to fire Tom Wheeler and replace him as chair with one of the less corporation friendly commissioners, AcronymTV says.


"Good" Jobs

Contrary to conventional wisdom, and to what I thought, manufacturing jobs pay less than many other kinds of jobs now. Most start at less than $10 an hour. The weakening of unions is no doubt one reason. The increasing use of temporary workers, "temps", is another, a union-commissioned study that focuses on the auto industry shows.

Temporary workers, supplied by "staffing" or "temp" agencies, are heavily used in the auto parts factories that supply the components assembled at auto plants into cars and pickups, and are increasingly being used at auto company assembly plants, especially in the South where state and local overnments have given companies huge concessions to locate, often requiring them to pay no taxes whatsoever. Temps make on average 29 percent less than a regular employee and have no benefits (workman's comp, unemployment insurance, sick days, etc) and of course no retirement of any type.

Governments' not holding employers who are given sweetheart deals accountable for coming through with the good jobs promised is a big part of the problem, the study shows.


New Mexico's legislature a couple years back voted to lower corporate income taxes. The idea was that other states had lowered theirs, so to attract jobs we must also. This scenario is sometimes called the "race to the bottom."

New Mexico is also putting a lot of money and effort into business incubator programs, such as a much ballyhooed "public-private partnership" at the University of New Mexico. These incubator programs essentially consist of giving our tax dollars away to help companies get started. But there's nothing requiring the companies to provide decent paying jobs or from hiring "temp" workers, and as we've learned the hard way, to prevent a business that gets started this way from moving out of the state once it's become profitable.

As I've railed about before, in this UNM program we're funding research that can then be patented, i.e. privatized. No other professors can learn from it or teach it to their students. If it's not shared, it can't be built upon or inspire new research. It basically puts an end to the process that has advanced civilization for centuries. The only ones who will benefit now are the stockholders of the companies we'll help get started.

The same goes for private space flight.









Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In An Octopus's Garden In The Shade

Someone put this chart on Twitter from a NY Times article back in March:






It's from Thomas Piketty's book Capital In The 21st Century, which was a strong piling planted in the swirl of news and information, still visible but getting smaller as the great Collective Unconscious chugs upstream. I often repeat the fact that wealth and income inequality are back at 1920s Gilded Age levels, so what caught my attention in the chart is that's it's worse than in 1913, which Piketty shows to be the peak of the "Gilded Age."

Sgt Pepper

A couple weeks ago while getting loaded on Chappell Street (or Chappel Street depending on the street sign) I looked up the Wikipedia article about the Beatles transformative 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. It's a very thorough article and tells a great story of the album's conception and recording, its influence and even has some high level analysis of the music, which is higher than what I can understand. Their next album was Magical Mystery Tour and the next, Abbey Road, included the song Octopus's Garden (the only song written by Ringo Starr they ever recorded), a lyric from which I used as the title to this post.




When I just now went to look up that Wikipedia article and started to type in the name in my search box, as soon as I typed in "Sgt", the complete name of the album came up first on the list of possible suggestions, which is an indication of something's presence on the web. Same with "Magical". First item.

When I type in "Frank" my first name, it comes up with Frankie Valli. That surprised me. Frank Sinatra was down at number 3. He's a chunk of driftwood almost to the sea.


Buddy Greco, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra at Lake Tahoe

This is supposed to be one of the last photos of Marilyn Monroe, taken the weekend before she died. There are several other pictures taken that day here.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

NY Times On Democrats And The Working Class

Note: Katrina vandenHeuvel, editor of The Nation magazine, longtime mouthpiece of the Democratic Party's left wing, tweeted out this article from Friday's New York Times about whether Democrats should be a party of the working class or something else. I say "something else." Some of the people who've turned the party into what I refer to as 'Republicans who are liberal on social issues', a Wall Street friendly, free trade friendly, Reaganomics friendly party that's willing to cut social spending including Social Security and Medicare, and who want the party to keep going down that road, are quoted here, but aren't very clear about what they mean. Out of political considerations they don't want to admit what they've done, for one thing, but it's not even clear they know what they mean, as when centrist Democrat Kenneth Baer says "...the future of the coalition is among growing parts of the electorate which are neither white nor working class.” Which is an odd statement to make. It sounds like he wants to abandon the working class and cater to Wall Street and maybe well to do feminists and gays, but he still somehow expects these "neither white" voters, by which he means Latinos and Blacks, to just automatically vote Democratic.

Of course this is one article in a wide ranging debate about the Democratic Party and the nation's political system, and the discussion here is limited to political insiders, but the fact that these people are talking on the record to the New York Times about it is an acknowledgment that there's an actual debate going on over the "soul" of the party, or at least that there should be. Incidentally, the term "working class" isn't defined here. When I use it I mean the 99 percent. Us. The masses in the Marxist sense. Many people still divide the working class into the "middle class" and some undefined group of "other" people, although since at least Occupy the term is being used more in its traditional sense, partly because Occupy made people realize how much income inequality there is in this country -- that his, they raised class consciousness -- and partly because the so called middle class is disappearing as more people lose good jobs and have to take crappy ones, which has its own way of raising ones class consciousness.

The links are from the original article.

After Losses, Liberal and Centrist Democrats Square Off on Strategy

.
WASHINGTON — The Democrats’ widespread losses last week have revived a debate inside the party about its fundamental identity, a long-running feud between center and left that has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of a disastrous election and in a time of deeply felt economic anxiety.

The discussion is taking place in postelection meetings, conference calls and dueling memos from liberals and moderates. But it will soon grow louder, shaping the actions of congressional Democrats in President Obama’s final two years and, more notably, defining the party’s presidential primaries in 2016.

“The debate will ultimately play out in a battle for the soul of the Clinton campaign,” said Matt Bennett, a senior official at Third Way, the centrist political group.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, should she run, will face tension between the business-friendly wing of the party, which was ascendant in the economic boom during her husband’s administration, and the populism of Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, which has gained currency of late.

“I want her to run on a raising-wages agenda and not cater to Wall Street, but to everyday people,” Richard L. Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said of his expectations for Mrs. Clinton.

Straddling the two blocs could prove difficult. Progressives have been emboldened to criticize party leaders since the Republican rout, particularly given the lack of a coherent Democratic message to address the problem of stagnant wages.

Sifting through returns showing that lower-income voters either supported Republicans or did not vote, liberals argue that without a more robust message about economic fairness, the party will continue to suffer among working-class voters, particularly in the South and Midwest.

Mr. Obama’s wide popularity among activists and his attempt to transcend the traditional moderate-versus-liberal divide have largely papered over Democratic divisions on economic policy for the last six years. The party was also brought together by the passage of the health care law. But with Mr. Obama’s popularity flagging and the economic recovery largely benefiting the affluent, Democrats are clashing anew.

Unlike in the 1980s, when heavy losses prompted moderates to plead with the party to move away from liberal interest groups and toward the middle, it is now progressives who are the most outspoken.

“Too many Democrats are too close to Wall Street,” said Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio. “Too many Democrats support trade agreements that outsource jobs, and too many Democrats are too willing to cut Social Security — and that’s why we lose elections.”

Mr. Brown said he had talked to over 60 Ohio Democratic leaders and activists since they were trounced in every statewide election. “The message I heard from all of them was: The Democratic Party should fight for the little guy,” he said.

To help provide a bridge to liberals, Senate Democrats on Thursday named Ms. Warren as part of their leadership.

While in sync on the substance of cultural issues, some of the populists believe that Democrats placed too much emphasis on such matters and not enough on economic fairness, depressing voter turnout.
“Gay marriage, abortion and birth control are important,” said Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “But people join our organization for their livelihood, and that’s what our people vote on: their economic self-interest.”

Labor is having its own struggles, with Republican-controlled states moving to limit union power. Democrats lost crucial races in part because of their candidates’ struggles in traditional union enclaves like eastern Iowa, suburban Detroit and parts of Wisconsin.

For example, in losing to the Republican they perhaps most wanted to beat, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, unions saw their members’ turnout slip. After making up 32 percent of all voters in the 2012 recall attempt against Mr. Walker, union households made up just 21 percent of the Wisconsin electorate last week.

Part of that drop was a result of Mr. Walker’s pushing through changes to collective bargaining laws that reduced the state’s union membership. But some labor leaders were upset that Mary Burke, the Democratic challenger, would not commit to undoing those changes.

Steve Rosenthal, a longtime Democratic strategist with ties to labor, said progressive organizations and unions should become more engaged in primaries and push candidates to stand for their agenda, as the right does with Republican candidates.

“I think it’s critical for folks on the left to do more of the same,” Mr. Rosenthal said.
Progressives pointed to three Democrats who ran as populists as models for success: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Senator-elect Gary Peters of Michigan.

Mr. Merkley, who focused on the loss of well-paying jobs, the cost of college tuition and opposition to trade deals that he said sent jobs overseas, won by 19 percentage points. While Democrats nationally lost whites without a college degree by 30 percentage points, Mr. Merkley narrowly carried that bloc.

“We didn’t lose them here in Oregon because we talked about what they care about,” Mr. Merkley said.

But some center-left Democrats said that those races were exceptions, and that the party should give up on winning a majority of such voters.

“Slowly and steadily since 1968, culture has trumped economics with voting and the white working class,” said Kenneth S. Baer, a former Obama administration official who has written a book on modern liberalism. “It’s become the great white whale for a ship full of Democratic strategists. 

Obama proved that while we cannot get wiped out with that demographic, the future of the coalition is among growing parts of the electorate which are neither white nor working class.”

But not all agree — centrists say the party did not win enough moderate and middle-class voters — and that captures the party’s broader debate about its agenda.

“We talk about policies helping the middle class, but the ones we promote the most are ones that don’t speak to the middle class, like raising the minimum wage,” said Al From, who founded the moderate Democratic Leadership Council in the 1980s to counter the party’s move to the left.

Many liberals believe that the disconnect between the politics of the party’s grass roots and the message coming from Democratic administrations has left blue-collar voters unenthused. “We do not have to struggle for an agenda that connects with working-class voters,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut. “We have an agenda that does that, but it does not get vocalized at the top.”

Yet many say that simply pushing for an increase in the minimum wage is inadequate. Liberals want tougher restrictions on banks, more generous federal student loan aid, enhanced collective bargaining rights and a reassessment of the country’s trade policy.

Mr. Obama has made it clear that he intends to work with congressional Republicans to push for fewer restrictions on trade. Some union leaders said they planned to fight those efforts and would be looking for an ally in Mrs. Clinton.

“The next six months, we’re going to be relentless on trade,” vowed Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America. “I hope she comes to our side on this fight. The president is not starting out there.”








Saturday, November 15, 2014

Screen 1

 


 I've been playing around with my little free image editing program HeliosPaint, which runs in Java so can be used on a Mac -- not sure what all that means but it does what my old favorite editing program did that came on my first computer, a Windows machine in the late 1990s I guess it was, a big Dell that ran on coal. Heliospaint has never run exactly perfectly on any of my Apple laptops but the glitches were of the type where the program's display was a little off and didn't really affect the image you were editing. When I went to download HeliosPaint for the new laptop I just bought I found it to be a new and slightly improved version. It has fewer of of the display glitches but it has trouble loading the original image or adding images. It takes awhile to do it and then it loads several of them on top of each other so you have to work around that by using the top image and erasing the parts of the others that are showing.

Coincidentally, I made this image using a photo that I think I got from the Albuquerque Journal, of people protesting the state's plan to dam up the pristine Gila River in southwest New Mexico. The coincidence is that Jim Baca wrote about the project today at his Only In New Mexico blog. I hadn't understood what it was all about until now, only that some people who seemed to be in the environmentalist camp opposed it. I didn't know who the other side was.

That's the problem with the Journal. It skews the news to protect people it likes -- the police administration, the Republican mayor, Republicans in general, polluters -- in this case the Republican governor Susanna Martinez, who wants to dam up the river so a few farmers can irrigate with it, but I'd seen nothing about the governor's role in it in the stories I'd read about it in the Journal. The stories I'd read made it seem that it was just something that was happening, as if the project had appeared on someone's desk and was being moved along by faceless bureaucrats and was probably something that couldn't be stopped. Because government.




Everything Sucks On This End

I should know not to brag on the blog.

The minute I even mentioned lower fuel prices were saving me some money they skyrocketed. In a blog post last weekend I mentioned lower fuel prices, even put up a picture showing pump prices then and now, and in the next two days almost the whole last 18 weeks of decline evaporated. I'm looking at fuel receipts: Sunday night, still at the low point, $3.59 per gallon. Monday night $3.65. Tuesday night $3.69. By Wednesday I was afraid to start the truck up.

That's reservation prices, too. I'd mentioned that even the big chains, which for months had somehow managed to resist lowering their prices, had finally come down. Pilot, TA and Loves had inched down into the $3.70s. They jacked theirs up even more. I saw $4.01 credit price as I drove by a truck stop in Milan. Every time I approach a truck stop now I start shuddering.

Then on Wednesday when the European space ship landed on the comet I bragged about streaming two live broadcasts at once on my Century Link. Sure enough, I came home the next morning and Century Link was dead. No signal at all.

Sure, it was back on when I woke up that afternoon, but I'm not fooled. I know what's going on.

So that's it. You won't hear any more good news from here.

If there ever is any, which I seriously doubt.