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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

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America’s Long Hangover: How did Prohibition turn into a law-enforcement extravaganza?

from The Nation:

America’s Long Hangover
How did Prohibition turn into a law-enforcement extravaganza?

By Beverly Gage

In October 1931, union men in Newark, New Jersey, staged a major protest march. During the previous two years, the United States had tumbled into economic depression, with the unemployment rate rising as the stock market sank. Union jobs were especially devastated, leading to dozens of unemployment rallies and anti-eviction protests across the country. But the Newark men took no interest in that. Instead, with their ranks stretching for block after block, they held up signs proclaiming their top political priority: We Want Beer. What they cared about, ardently and urgently, was bringing an end to the disastrous national experiment known as Prohibition.

In The War on Alcohol, Harvard historian Lisa McGirr seeks to explain this political passion: Why, at the height of the Great Depression, did so many Americans care so much about beer? The answer requires a sober look at Prohibition not as a quaint episode of moral overreach, but as a near-impossible challenge of governance and one of the most fiercely fought political contests of its day. McGirr shifts our attention from gangsters and flappers to policemen and agency chiefs in order to explain the critical role of Prohibition in the creation of the modern American state. Histories of temperance often stop in 1919, with the unlikely passage of the 18th Amendment. McGirr picks up where those stories leave off, exploring the daunting political problems and personal casualties that came with trying to enforce this strange new law.

With her emphasis on the American “state,” McGirr steps into what has become one of the most fruitful, if sprawling, areas of inquiry in academic political history. Half a century ago, political historians tended to write about the so-called great men: presidents, statesmen, legislators, and the like. Today, prodded by sociologists such as Theda Skocpol, they more often explore the “state,” shorthand for what is described outside of academia as the “government.” The word “state” has always been an awkward fit in the US context; for most Americans, it conjures up images of Connecticut or California rather than the Social Security Administration. Historians have nonetheless embraced the term, producing a spate of recent books like Warfare State, The Straight State, The Rise of the Military Welfare State, and Debating the American State. As academic shorthand, the word signals a set of concerns beyond elections and lawmaking, focusing instead on the grand structures and dark corners of government administration.

McGirr makes two main contributions to this debate. First, she notes that many studies of the American state have focused on the peculiarities of the country’s social-welfare system, with its odd blend of private and public insurance. By that standard, the 1920s seem to be a period when nothing much happened; “Wobbly Warren” Har­ding and “Silent Cal” Coolidge kept the shop running (more or less), but without the big ideas of the Progressive Era or the New Deal. McGirr shifts the focus from social reform and welfare legislation to the police, prisons, and courts—areas in which the 1920s were a period of tremendous government experimentation, energy, and growth. .....................(more)


John Nichols: The Stop Trump Movement Is a Joke. Sad!

from The Nation:

The Stop Trump Movement Is a Joke. Sad!
Donald Trump wins five more states, and the people who are trying to stop him appear to be clueless.

By John Nichols

Republicans who imagine that there is still something happening with the Stop Trump movement would do well to consider these names:

• United States Ambassador to South Vietnam (and 1960 Republican vice-presidential nominee) Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.
• Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith
• Former Vice President Richard Nixon
• New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller
• Michigan Governor George Romney
• Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton

These were some of the prominent Republicans who, at different stages in the long 1964 primary process, were advanced by party elites as vehicles for a “Stop Goldwater” movement that sought to avert the nomination of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater at the party’s national convention in San Francisco.

The “Stop Goldwater” movement of 1964—like the Stop Trump movement of 2016—got an immense amount of media attention. And it scored some primary wins (for Lodge as a write-in candidate in New Hampshire and for Rockefeller in Oregon)—along with some credible second-place results (for Smith in Illinois and for Nixon as a write-in candidate in Nebraska), which were spun as hopeful signs.

But the “Stop Goldwater” movement never really had a proper focus—in the form of one clearly defined challenger to the unelectable front-runner—and it never really got traction. The senator from Arizona kept winning where it mattered. He secured the nomination with ease. And then, as predicted, he failed miserably in November. ...................(more)


Democracy Spring and the US Voting Matrix: How Much of the Electoral Process Is Illusory?

Democracy Spring and the US Voting Matrix: How Much of the Electoral Process Is Illusory?

Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:00
By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report

The parallel Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening mobilizations wrapped their week of sit-ins protesting the corrosive influence of money in politics and voter suppression at the US Capitol on Monday, tallying more than 1,400 arrests.

Launching with a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, the movement hosted rallies, speakers and teach-ins last week, along with lobbying members of Congress. The protests broke the record for the most nonviolent arrests at the Capitol in a single week, culminating Monday with arrests of leaders from the civil rights, labor and environmental movements.

NAACP president Cornell Brooks, Communication Workers of America president Chris Shelton and Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard were among those who helped lead the Democracy Awakening mobilization on Monday, which also aimed to pressure Republicans to confirm President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court.

"This is a moment where we are at a crisis point in our democracy. This is a moment where we enter the first presidential election in 50 years, a more than half-century, without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act," Brooks said during a press call before his arrest. "This is a moment where we have the votes of citizens suppressed and stolen before the election, and the votes of legislators bought and sold after the election."

The protests demonstrate the public's demand for deeper participation in the nation's electoral process during an election cycle that will be the most expensive in US history, and in which, for the first time in a presidential election year, 17 states have new voting restrictions in place. Those restrictions have already disenfranchised millions of people -- many of them in New York City, where Tuesday's bungled Primary Day sparked an investigation into the city's Board of Elections, after widespread reports that voters experienced problems in accessing polls or found that they were wrongly removed from voter rolls. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office reported 125,000 voters in Brooklyn were told they were not on the rolls Tuesday. ..........(more)


Tim DeChristopher with Chris Hedges: Coping with Reality (re: climate change)

Published on Apr 25, 2016

In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges interviews climate change activist Tim DeChristopher about the deadly failure of industrial world to confront the effects of climate change. The two discuss how climate change has, and continues to trigger social tension and injustice, and the necessary ethnical response on the part of humanity as a whole.

The Mainstream Media's Big Disconnect: Why They Don't Get Middle America

The Mainstream Media's Big Disconnect: Why They Don't Get Middle America

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:00
By Neal Gabler, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed

To their everlasting discredit, most of the MSM Big Feet, which is what the late journalist Richard Ben Cramer labeled the self-important, pontificating political reporters and pundits who dominate our press, got it all wrong about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

That is no small thing when you consider those two are the big stories this campaign season. It's like a weatherman missing a Category Five hurricane. Of course, if a weatherman had blown that call, he probably would be fired. With pundits, getting it wrong never seems to matter.

To their credit, a few of those Big Feet have fessed up to their errors. New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of the most contrite, admitted that he realized he had been living in a bubble and had to get out in the country a bit more -- "change the way I do my job," is how he put it -- to understand the American psyche.

Brooks is right that a huge disconnect exists between the people who report on our politics and the people who participate in them. My own sense is that by and large political journalists are a smug bunch, but they come by it naturally. If they seem to have contempt for us, it is because they really do have different experiences and inhabit a different world from the vast majority of their fellow Americans. The most powerful of them -- the ones you read, see and hear the most -- constitute an elite so far removed that it could only understand us through the most aggressive sympathetic imagination.

And that is not going to happen. ..............(more)


Oh well, so long to those Paris climate conference goals

Temperatures in 2016 Approach Limit Set at Paris Climate Conference

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 00:00
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

On April 22 (Earth Day), US Secretary of State John Kerry, with his granddaughter in his lap, signed the international commitment that is supposed to slow the pace of anthropogenic climate disruption.

The commitment, which was the result of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference last fall, was signed by more than 150 countries at the UN. Its aim was to limit global temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial baseline levels.

The problem is, three days before Kerry made his symbolic signature, NASA released data showing that the first three months of 2016 are already nearing the lower limit of the Paris talks' threshold, 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial baseline temperatures.

Already Too Late?

By July 2015, the planet, already having been warmed by 1 degree Celsius over preindustrial temperature levels, was already halfway to the politically agreed upon goal of aiming to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

The same week world leaders recently gathered at the UN in New York to sign the international climate commitment, Gavin Schmidt, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, announced that the average global temperature for this year will likely range from 1.1 degrees to just below 1.5 degrees Celsius. ...................(more)


TPP Truth

TTIP trade deal faces growing anger and opposition on both sides of the Atlantic

(EuroNews) Thousands took to the streets in Hanover over the weekend to demonstrate against the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal or TTIP.

The aim of the negotiations is to facilitate transatlantic trade by liberalising all parts of the economy, including manufacturing goods, investments, the service industry and agricultural goods.

Those protesting against the plan claim it is an attack against democracy and workers rights, adding TTIP is being created by and for big business not by the representatives of the people, namely politicians.

Those who back the new deal say they want to abolish the red tape that exists once goods have crossed borders such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. ..............(more)


Thomas Frank's sober assessment of the Clinton years and the current state of the Democratic Party

Published on Apr 21, 2016

Thomas Frank joins the Majority Report to discuss his new book, "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" with Sam Seder. It's a broad-sweeping, historical conversation that every liberal should be aware of.

Which riders matter?

from the Transport Politic blog:

Which riders matter?

In an article earlier this month, I described the Seattle region’s draft proposal to spend $50 billion over the next twenty-five years on a massive transit expansion program. In that article, I compared the cost of building and operating new transit projects with the expected number of riders each proposed line would carry, concluding that the region was choosing projects that were relatively ineffective from the perspective of maximizing their benefit-cost ratios.

What I didn’t delve into was the fact that that metric—like any metric—was founded on an assumption that not only biased my conclusions, but also which was impossible to avoid, even if altered to reflect a different premise.

What I assumed was that every potential rider for a transit line has equal worth. In the Seattle case, for example, I noted that the cost per expected rider of a light rail line from the Ballard neighborhood to downtown was far less than that of a light rail extension to Tacoma, so I concluded that the former project should be built first.

At face value, the idea that we should treat each transit rider equivalently in a comparative analysis may not seem particularly controversial. Doesn’t it make intuitive sense to prioritize transit projects that serve the most people for the lowest cost?


Here are three questions that every region should ask about transit riders, not only in reference to new projects, but also about how transit service is being provided today.

1. Do we want to serve people who are already riding transit, or do we want to attract new people onto transit? If the goal of transit investments is to (1) attract new riders onto the system, new investments should probably focus on areas of the region where transit service is currently poor but adequate demand exists for people to get on trains and buses. On the other hand, if the goal is to (2) improve the quality of life for existing transit riders—who can be depended on to actually take transit when the project is completed—new investments should probably emphasize areas of the region where existing lines are well-used but slow and unreliable. One example of a project that fulfills the latter goal is the Second Avenue Subway in New York City, which will attract relatively few new transit riders (most people in the area already use transit) but dramatically reduce commute times for them by replacing packed and slow buses. It is worth noting that even if more new people ride transit under the first scenario, the second scenario could actually produce more new trips as better transit in dense urban areas is more likely to produce off-peak, weekend, and non-commute trips. It’s also important to emphasize that if a goal of transit is to expand social equity, a focus on existing transit riders, rather than “choice” riders, is essential, since their needs are the greatest.



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