[COMM-ORG] Blame the NRA; Schools Names for Radicals; Today's "Deportees"; Conservative Class Warfare; Beating the Banks; Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hayden

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Aug 6 09:37:45 CDT 2012

From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>

Blame the NRA; Schools Names for Radicals; Today's "Deportees";
Conservative Class Warfare; Beating the Banks; Bruce Springsteen and Tom

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

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**Dear Friends and Colleagues,***

*An occasional message from Peter Dreier ***

*Yes, Blame the NRA: * NRA leader Wayne LaPierre didn't pull the trigger,
but he has the blood of the Aurora, Colorado shooting victims on his hands.
I explain why in this July 25 Truth-out article, “Yes, Blame the NRA for
the Movie Theater Shootings in
Andy Borowitz has a poignant and hilarious send-up of the NRA’s delusional
defenses in his article “The NRA Proposes a Sweeping Ban on Movies”
the New Yorker.

*A Saul Alinsky Elementary School?: * Can you imagine sending your children
or grandchildren to an elementary school named for Saul Alinsky, the
radical community organizer. What about a Gloria Steinem Middle School? Or
a Pete Seeger High? Seem far-fetched? You'd be surprised by all the
radicals and progressives whose names adorn public schools, as I report in
this article, “How We Honor America’s Radicals and
the July 24 Huffington Post.

*Woody’s “Deportees” Today: *Woody Guthrie wrote his haunting song
"Deportee" in 1948 after reading a New York Times article that identified
the victims of an airplane crash simply as "deportees" without names.
Tuesday’s New York Times did the same thing, identifying the 14 dead
victims of a truck crash in Texas as “illegal immigrants.” I wrote about
this striking parallel in the Huffington Post “64 Years Later, Dead
Undocumented Immigrants Are Still Nameless in the New York
Workers in America’s food system – from migrant farm workers to waitresses
and waiters -- are the nation’s most exploited people. Sally Kohn has a
great article in Salon, “Do Foodies Care About Workers?”
food lovers are serious about bettering the world, she says, they should
pay more attention to the people who serve them.

*Time to RAISE the Minimum Wage: * Farm workers and waitresses/waiters are
not covered by the federal minimum wage. They should be. A strike by
janitors in 
now spread to six other cities. They are demanding an increase in
poverty-level wages. The minimum wage should be increased so that no
full-time workers earns below the poverty level, as Mary Kay Henry
(president of SEIU) and Christine Owens (head of the National Employment
Law Project) point out in “Hardworking Americans should not be living in
poverty.” The federal minimum wage in 1968 would be almost $9.22 an hour
in today's dollars. Instead, it is now $7.25. As Dean Baker points out in
this Huffington Post
at that rate a full-time year-round worker would have gross pay of less
than $15,000 a year. This is less than half of what the average Fortune 500
CEO makes in a day. The minimum wage hasn’t been increased in three years,
while CEOs and the 1% have been getting huge raises and bonuses. Even so,
business groups persist in warning that raising the minimum wage is a bad

*The Other NRA: * One of the business lobby groups that always opposes
raising the minimum wage is the National Restaurant Association (the other
NRA, and almost as dangerous). In 1960, it argued against raising the wage
from $1 to $1.25. They argued that it wasn’t needed because restaurant
employees already had great benefits! Back then, George Lesauvage,
chairman of the NRA’s Government Affairs Committee, said: “Wages, of
course, in the restaurant industry are low for several reasons. One of the
most important is the fringe benefits that a restaurant worker gets in the
form of free meals which in terms of value to the employee are most
significant. Another fringe would be free uniforms.” Amazing!

*Those Terrible “Job Killers”: *Corporate lobby groups insist on warning,
without any solid evidence, that the minimum wage is a “job killer.” They
are Crying 
just as they are when they argue that other government regulations that
protect workers, consumers, and the environment are bad for the economy.

- For example, a
last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities delivers a
devastating blow to Republican claims that allowing tax
expire on the top two marginal tax rates will harm job creation.
- Romney wants to get rid of another so-called “job killer” -- the
Dodd-Frank banking regulations and particularly the new consumer protection
agency. But this
the Los Angeles Times, about the agency’s efforts to protect consumers
from credit-card rip-offs, shows why we need it.
- The Republicans even label regulations to protect children from
disease as “job killers.” But what about the children who will suffer 1.4
million additional asthma attacks if the GOP succeeds in blocking new
protections, as the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards points out in
this fact

*Beating the Bank Lobby: *Progressive activists in California scored a
major victory over the state’s bank, business, and real estate lobby. My
July 20 op-ed in the LA Daily-News, “Well Organized People Can Beat
Well-Funded Interests,”
how grassroots community, consumer, and labor activists beat Big Business
to win the Homeowner Bill of Rights. A
the July 19 New York Times, reported the following: “Josephine
76, was temporarily evicted from her house in San Francisco for two weeks.
Protesters from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
staged a sit-in at Bank of America, and eventually Ms. Tolbert was able to
renegotiate her loan. ‘At my age, I don’t know what I would have done,’
she said. ‘But let me tell you, it was a fight.’” ACCE’s sit-in at the Bank
of America is the kind of direct action we need to force the banks to
change their predatory practices. Kudos to ACCE, National Peoples Action,
and other groups leading the movement to challenge Wall Street.

*Your iPhone is made in a Chinese sweatshop: *Apple promised to clean up
the Chinese sweatshops that make its products. Mother Jones magazine
hasn't done so. The Apple sweatshop may not be far from the
that make Walmart's toys and that produced the uniforms that will be worn
this week by the US Olympic team. My friend Bob Ross had a great
the Los Angeles Times about the controversy over the US Olympic team
uniforms being made in China, and what we can do to fix the problem.

*Speaking of Sports... * Bob Creamer, a founding writer for Sports
Illustrated, the author of many books (including great bios of Babe Ruth
and Casey Stengel), and one of the great sportwriters in modern history,
died Wednesday night. I was lucky to know him, through my friendship with
his son, Jim, a buddy from my Boston days. Bob was not only a graceful
writer but a gracious person, a generous individual, and a wonderful
story-teller with a big heart and a contagious sense of humor. There will
be many obituaries and remembrances of Bob in the coming days, weeks, and
months. This
provides just a glimpse of this wonderful man. Like Bob, Dave Zirin is a
sportswriter who loves sports but is able to see them in their broader
context. Zirin’s blog and books are required reading for sports fans with a
political edge. His recent
The Nation about the NCAA’s punishment of Penn State for its child
cover-up, is the best thing written on the topic.

*How Conservatives View “Class Warfare”: * The right-wing magazine Human
Events published an interesting
President Obama of engaging in class warfare. The article
identifies and summarizes the key elements of Obama’s radicalism, including
“attack capitalism," "tax the rich," "demonize the corporations," "unleash
the unions," and "spread the wealth around." These ideas have a long and
proud tradition in the United States, as I recount in my new book, The 100
Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of
Nation Books just published.

*The Real Class Warfare: * In this new Gilded Age, the richest one-tenth of
one percent are engaged in a real class war that involves hijacking our
democracy with outrageous campaign contributions (made worse by the
Citizens United Decision), reducing taxes for the very rich, slashing
funding for basic government services for the poor and middle class
(including public universities and public schools), bashing unions, and
surpressing voting among young people, minorities, and others. In
California, several cities have already declared bankruptcy and others are
on the brink. In this new
the Los Angeles Times, Harold Meyerson points out that, contrary to
business and conservative rhetoric about bloated public salaries and
pensions, greedy public employees and their unions are not the cause of
this urban fiscal crisis. In his latest Washington Post
Harold considers what might happen if Romney wins a narrow victory due to
the GOP’s efforts at suppressing voter-turnout among likely Democratic
voters. In this
The Progressive, Senator Bernie Sanders identifies the 26
billionaires who have donated more than $61 million to super PACs and are
trying to buy this election. But assuming that, despite being outspent,
Obama wins, Drew Westin, in this fantastic
the New York Times, offers some good advice on what activists should
starting next January, to clean up the current legalized bribery system we
call “campaign finance.”

*Ode to Bruce Springsteen: *An otherwise insightful
the British newspaper, the Guardian, calls Springsteen the last of the
protest singers. Not true. Bruce is part of a great tradition of
troubadors for justice, including Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Florence Reece,
Pete Seeger, Guy Carawan, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Utah Phillips,
Bernice Johnson Reagon, Holly Near, Gil Scott-Heron, John McCutcheon, Steve
Earle, Ani Difranco, Tom Morello, and many others. He may be the most
commercially successful, but is he certainly NOT the last of the protest
singers. Don't miss this great profile of
David Remnick in the current issue of the New Yorker. I also discuss
Springsteen, Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan, and Baez in my book.

*Tom Hayden at 72: * The Washington Post recently published an interesting
Tom Hayden, who provides insightful political and personal lessons.
But the headline, which identified Tom as a "1960s radical, " is terrible.
Tom (like many others) has been a radical in EVERY decade since the 1960s.
As an activist, writer, and elected official, he’s never lost his
commitment to fundamental change and grassroots movement-building.

*Progressive All-Stars: * On Monday, Huffington Post published my article
– with an accompanying slide show -- "The Greatest Americans of the 20th
on some of the people I write about in my book. The article triggered more
than 500 comments that reflect an interesting diversity of viewpoints,
including quite a few attacks on my list. Jack Rothman, a retired UCLA
professor and a veteran activist, wrote a generous
my book in Huffington Post.

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