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August 2011, Week 1

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Tidbits - August 1, 2011

* Re: Debt Deal (Thane Doss) 
* Re: Why Progressives Need a Big Idea (Andrew Dinkelaker) 
* The Harvest/La Cosecha (Beth Portello) 
* We Are Wisconsin HQ destroyed in fire (1864 House) 
* A Concert Celebrating the Life & Music of Matthew Jones - Sept. 17 - New York 
* A reader question re: debt and Supreme Court ruling (Peter J.
  Nickitas)

==========

* Re: Debt Deal

How utterly pathetic. Obama's basically committing to
extending the Bush tax cuts as long as defense spending
is reduced by troop drawdowns and domestic
discretionary spending gets slashed. The Republicans
get their tax cut and their domestic spending cuts, and
all they have to give up is the desire to expand the
war in Afghanistan for a couple of years.

If the country continues on the road to make itself as
wealth-friendly as the Cayman Islands, someday in the
near- future, it will be able to boast of an economy
the same size as that of the Cayman Islands!

Thane Doss, Tokyo

==========

* Re: Why Progressives Need a Big Idea

Eugene Robinson's article "Why Progressives Need a Big
Idea" is not only a bad analysis but one that
intentionally misdirects.  Here we have a call by
Robinson to progressives to do something without giving
any reference to the work of the Congressional
Progressive Caucus (CBC) and their idea of the People's
Budget (see:
http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70&
sectiontree=5,70 ) much less any other progressive
group out there with alternative ideas.  Instead, what
you get is Robinson equating the mainstream democratic
party (Obama and company) with being progressive which
ironically is exactly what the likes of Fox News does
all the time.  I would say that Robinson's opinion only
reinforces a narrative that is effectively silencing
any hope that progressive ideas from people who
actually believe in them will ever reach the national
stage and be part of the debate on capitol hill.

Robinson's equation of "Progressives = Democratic
Party" intentionally ignores the track record of the
ruling democratic party that is in many ways actually
the opposite of being progressive.  Obama and the
leaders of the democratic party, time and again, when
given a choice of building solidarity with the largest
caucus (the CBC with over 80 members) in their own
party or moving towards the republican camp will choose
to dismiss the CBC in favor of a "compromise" towards
the right.

If you need some examples of this dynamic take a look
at the renewal of the Bush tax cuts and the patriot
act, the health care reform debate that severely
limited if not prohibited discussions on the public
option, international policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and
now Libya that continues to increase our military
involvement overseas, and the continued existence of
Guantanamo and other facilities that undermine
upholding international and constitutional rights.  In
fact, Obama on repeated occasions has gone out of his
way to chastise the progressive movement for taking a
position contrary to him on the above issues.

Progressives already have big ideas.  I would propose
that as a journalist you take a look at those
individuals who actually identify themselves as being
"progressive" and report on what big ideas they are
advocating.  In fact, I would call upon you as a member
of the media to create a space where these ideas can be
aired at least as much as the ideas of the Tea Party. 
Don't get frustrated when you find that difficult to do
because you will at least discover that it's not about
finding the right bumper sticker slogan but about
advocating that progressives who have been doing
exactly what you are calling for be allowed to be part
of the national debate.  Perhaps your current opinion
of "Why Progressives Need a Big Idea" would be revised
to "Why Progressives' Big Ideas Don't See the Light of
Day and What We Can Do About It".

In solidarity,

Andrew Dinkelaker UE Eastern Region President

==========

* The Harvest/La Cosecha

[I know you already ran an aggregate of film reviews
but we'd be grateful if you shined a light on this
important film opening tonight in NYC and running into
next week followed by a Los Angeles opening. Beth
Portello Cinema Libre Studio]

by Kalvin Henely Slant Magazine July 29, 2011
http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-harvest-la
-cosecha/5655

The Harvest/La Cosecha is another entry in the
fast-growing agri-doc genre that seeks to upend naive
ideas of where your food comes from. The focus here is
the dismaying fact that in America some hundreds of
thousands of child migrant workers pick your produce,
and it's legal. The film follows a handful of teenage
workers and their families as they move around the
country to find new chemical-doused fields to sweat and
toil in for below-minimum wages. The fact that these
children start working so early and for so much time
over so many distances makes them less available to
focus on school and unable to keep friends, a vicious
cycle that traps them, like their parents, into migrant
labor for life.

This reminded me of the time I worked the night shift
at a prior job and would encounter the janitor and his
two sons around 10 or 11 at night as they cleaned up
the office. One of the janitor's sons was 12 and had
the job of emptying each cubicle's trashcan. They
didn't finish until around midnight, and afterward the
sons were rewarded with McDonalds soft serve, bringing
them well past a decent hour on a school night. It was
usually an awkward encounter because I had many of the
issues on my mind that the film addresses, but there
was really nothing I could say about it, even though,
whether the janitor knew it or not, his life was surely
suffering from his forced moonlighting. It's a subject
that doesn't get brought up enough and that's largely
invisible to most Americans, and for that The
Harvest/La Cosecha can be applauded.

This isn't so much a document of a certain group of
people's lives, but a political tool, Democratic
through-and-through. The documentary is an open
advertisement: There's a link at the end credits for
the film's website and a number to text to "help change
lives of child migrant workers," and its production
company, Shine Global, promises to give the film's
profits to other nonprofits that will help the children
featured in the film. If issues of child labor stir
you, then this movie can point you in the direction of
doing something about it. Unlike The Grapes of Wrath,
however, it doesn't provide technically masterful and
emotionally powerful drama on the subject.

The people featured in the film are portrayed in their
ragged and natural surroundings, unlike the
comparatively more vibrant War/Dance, in which poor
Africans are seen through the striking, kaleidoscopic
colors of exoticism and unnaturally speak neatly
organized dialogue - captivating the eye and ear, but
sure signs of false construction by the filmmakers. If
War/Dance was simply out for an Oscar, The Harvest/La
Cosecha really wants to see the passage of the CARE
Act, which would raise the legal age of child-farm
workers from 12 to 14. That sounds more honorable.

==========

* We Are Wisconsin HQ destroyed in fire

by 1864 House DailyKos.com July 31, 2011
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/30/1000880/-We-
Are-Wisconsin-HQ-destroyed-in-fire

The We Are Wisconsin headquarters in La Crosse,
Wisconsin, was totally destroyed in a fire that started
at 9:30 a.m. today and is still burning. There were
staff in the building when the fire started, but all
were evacuated and are safe. At this time, there is no
indication of the cause of the fire.

An article in the La Crosse Tribune has photos showing
the extent of the fire that spread to adjoining
buildings.
http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_b5828580-
bacf-11e0-a78e-001cc4c002e0.html

State Representative Jennifer Shilling, who is running
against Republican Senator Dan Kapanke in one of the
state's recall elections, is going to need assistance
following this fire. The recall election is less than
two weeks away and this is going to seriously impact
her get-out-the-vote effort.
http://www.jennifershilling.com/home

If there is any additional news on the cause, I will
update.

Update: Help We Are Wisconsin rebuild at Act Blue.
https://secure.actblue.com/page/werwisconsin?refcode=
website

Update As requested, here is the Act Blue link to
donate to Jennifer: Act Blue - Jennifer Shilling
https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/26950

Updates from this morning's La Crosse Tribune:

The La Crosse headquarters for We Are Wisconsin, a
left- leaning political action committee, was a total
loss, said group spokesman Kelly Steele.

Staffers were in the office when the fire broke out and
escaped safely, he said. It's too early for Steele to
say how the group will function without a local
headquarters with just 10 days left before the recall
election between Democratic challenger Rep. Jennifer
Shilling and Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke.

Around the corner, Shilling's campaign staff was forced
to evacuate their Fifth Avenue headquarters, which
shares part of a wall with the destroyed building and
which lost power Saturday. Shilling released a written
statement praising firefighters and emergency workers
for securing the area and allowing the staff to get out
safely.

It will likely take days before investigators can
determine a cause. Baker said vagrants have recently
been spotted sleeping in the area, but fire inspector
Helfrich said he has not ruled anything out.

While the rear building showed the greatest damage
initially, that  doesn't mean the fire began there, he
said. That may have been a result of the  way that
structure burned and collapsed.

The investigation will require interviewing all
tenants, owners and  firefighters as well as sifting
through piles of rubble

==========

* A Concert Celebrating the Life & Music of Matthew
Jones [Matt Jones - Sept, 17, 1936 - March 30, 2011]

Fifty or Sixty Years Down the Line

Saturday, September 17, 2011 People's Voice Cafe The
Community Church of New York 40 East 35 Street (between
Madison & Park)

8:00 PM (Doors Open at 7:30 PM) Tributes by: Avon
Rollins & Errol Maitland

Performances by: Marshall Jones, Wazir Peacock, Bill
Perlman, Kim & Reggie Harris, Magpie

A project of the Cultural Center for Social Change For
more information contact Susie Erenrich,
[log in to unmask]

Suggested donation $15 - $18, more if you choose, less
if you can't, no one is turned away!

www.peoplesvoicecafe.org

==========

* reader question re: debt and Supreme Court ruling

What is the unanimous 1935 opinion of Chief Justice
Hughes?

I found a 5-4 1935 decision by the Chief, /Perry v.
U.S.

Peter J. Nickitas Minneapolis

==========

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