[COMM-ORG] May Day, my new book, what's up with Occupy, , Meyerson on Eric Schneiderman, Moyers on Alan West and Joe McCarthy

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Tue May 1 07:53:16 CDT 2012

from: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>

Friends and Colleagues:

Unlike the rest of the world's democracies, the United States doesn't use
the metric system, doesn't require employers to provide workers with paid
vacations, hasn't abolished the death penalty, and doesn't celebrate May
Day as an official national holiday. As I describe in my article, "Activists
Breathe New Life Into May Day" 
in *The Nation* this week,  outside the US, May 1 is international workers'
day, observed with speeches, rallies, and demonstrations. Ironically, this
celebration of working-class solidarity originated in the US labor movement
in the United States and soon spread around the world, but it never earned
official recognition in this country. Since 2006, however, American unions
and immigrant rights activists have resurrected May 1 as a day of protest.
And this year, in the wake of Occupy Wall Street and the rebirth of a
national movement for social justice, a wide spectrum of activist groups
will be out in the streets to give voice to the growing crusade for
democracy and equality.

You can learn more about the link between progressive movements from the
past and present in my new book, *The 100 Greatest Americans of the
20thCentury: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.
*It will be published by Nation Books in June, but you can order it now, at
a discount, from
other book-sellers.  The book now has its own Facebook
page <http://www.facebook.com/100greatestamericans> (which I'm still
learning to maneuver).  Please connect and spread the word about the book.
In an article in today's *Huffington Post*, "99% Spring Has Sprung:
Shareholder Actions Underway Across the
Mary Bottari <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-bottari> of the Center for
Media and Democracy catalogs some of the actions that Occupy groups,
unions, and community organizing groups have planned for May Day as part of
ongoing campaigns to challenge corporate America.  Last week, for example,
activists disrupted the annual Wells Fargo Bank shareholder meeting in San
Francisco, demanding that the giant company put a stop to foreclosures and
write down the principle on mortgages for "underwater" homeowners, as
described in this article in the *Los Angeles
*.  Activists will continue similar protests over the next few weeks as
part of an overall strategy that organizer Stephen Lerner explains in this
article, "Horizontal Meets Vertical: Occupy Meets the
in The *Nation's* April 2 issue.  Organizer George Goehl, executive
director of National People's Action <http://www.npa-us.org/>, explains t=
overall strategy in this excellent 6-minute
Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC.  Goehl has helped revitalize NPA, a national
network of community organizing groups. In its early days in the 1970s,
under the leadership of the legendary organizer Gale Cincotta, NPA led the
struggle against banks' racist lending practices, called redlining, and
catalyzed a movement that led to enactment of the Community Reinvestment
Act in 1977.   NPA fell on hard times for a while but is now making a major
comeback with the experience Goehl at the helm.

On the surface, Harold Meyerson's article in the new issue of the *American
Prospect*,  "The Man the Banks Feared
Most" <http://prospect.org/article/man-banks-fear-most>,
is a profile of Eric Schneiderman, the feisty New York State attorney
general who faced down the banks, his fellow attorneys general, and the
Obama administration to forge a strong settlement with six major banks to
renegotiate mortgages for homeowners that they ripped off. But the article
also documents the influence of the Occupy movement and the unions and
community groups that kept the heat on the banks, Congress, and the Obama
administration, stopping them from agreeing to a lukewarm settlement.
*I encourage you to read this op-ed, *Let's Just Say It: The Republicans
are the 
* **by Thomas Mann* and Norman Ornstein that appeared in the *Washington
Post.*  Mann and Ornstein are both middle-of-the-road political analysts
(at the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute,
respectively).  "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for
more than 40 years," they write, "and never have we seen them this
dysfunctional." They attribute most of that dysfunction to the Republicans'
dramatic turn to the right and they criticize the media for its faux
even-handedness in blaming both parties for the current condition.  They
point out, for example, that no Republican leader has yet to criticize Rep.
Alan West, the lunatic from Florida, for charging in a speech on April 10
that "78 to 81" Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party.
The mainstream media reported West's outrageous statement and then, in
classic "he said/she said" style, found some Democrats and pundits to
challenge West's statement.  This is exactly how the media handled
Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s, when he charged -- with
no evidence whatsoever -- that the Democratic Party, the State Department,
the Army, and the Eisenhower administration were filled with Commies.
  Eventually, legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow bravely exposed
McCarthy's tactics, triggering a series of events that led to McCarthy's
downfall.  On his PBS television show on Friday, Bill Moyers -- our
modern-day Murrow -- takes on Congressman West, the spinelessness of the
Republican leadership who let West get away with this outrageous (and
outdated) Red-baiting, and the failure of the mainstream media to expose
it. Watch Moyer's segment

If you think West's statement was outlandish, read on.  Donald Cohen, my
colleague on the Cry Wolf Project <http://crywolfproject.org/>, was digging
through the testimony from the 1937 debate over the Fair Labor Standards
Act, the federal law that established the minimum wage, and found this
claim that government price controls were the cause of the decline of the
Roman Empire.  Guy Harrington of the National Publishers Association
testifying on June 11, 1937 at  a Joint Committee Congressional Hearing
between the Senate Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee
on Labor, said:

*"It would seem that many people are not willing in these time to heed the
object lessons of the past.  In principle, there is nothing new in the
measure before us.  What is herein stipulated has been tried many times and
failed. Rome, 2,000 years ago, fell because the government began fixing the
prices of services and commodities.  there is nothing new in the
participation of government in industry.  We, however, know what has always
happened when governments have tried to superintend the industry of private
persons. the final result has always been distress, misery and despair." *

After Harrington's testimony, Committee Chairman, William Connery (D-MA)
asks him the following questions. It's pretty funny, but also sobering when
you realize that this isn't very different from the ideas currently being
pushed today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their political servants
like Republican Congressmembers Darrell Issa and Paul Ryan.

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Peter Dreier
Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics
Chair, Urban & Environmental Policy Department
Occidental College
1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: (323) 259-2913
FAX: (323) 259-2734
Website: http://employees.oxy.edu/dreier

Next book:  The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social
Justice Hall of
*(Nation Books) - coming out in June 2012*

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great
moral crises maintain their neutrality" - Dante

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