March 18, 2017: Love, Henry Wallace, and Cowboy Bebop

Okay three, two, one, let’s jam…



Henry A. Wallace“,

Wallace was a strong supporter of New Deal liberalism, and softer policies towards the Soviet Union. His public feuds with other officials and unpopularity with party bosses in major cities caused significant controversy during his time as Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the midst of World War II, and resulted in Democrats dropping him from the ticket in the 1944 election in favor of Senator Harry S Truman. In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace left the Democratic Party to run unsuccessfully as the nominee of the Progressive Party against Truman, Republican Thomas E. Dewey, and States’ Rights Democrat Strom Thurmond. He won 2.4% of the popular vote and no electoral votes, and finished fourth.

The 124

Henry Wallace, America’s Forgotten Visionary“, Peter Dreier, Truthout

One of the great “What if?” questions of the 20th century is how America would have been different if Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman had succeeded Franklin Roosevelt in the White House.

Untold History: The Rise and Fall of a Progressive Vice-President of the USA“, Paul Jay interviewing Peter Kuznick, The Real News Network

Weekly Roundup

What if Instead of Leaning In, Women in Tech Just Left?“, Rachel Siemens, Man Repeller

Tech and start-up culture is as notorious for its workforce skewing white and male as it is for craft beers and the consideration of in-office ping pong as a legitimate part of a benefits package (one might even make the leap to say that the former is the reason for the latter). With the current graduation rate at 20% for female engineers, this leaves the few women who enter the tech industry to experience everything from isolation to objectification in what is ostensibly a nerd-flavored boys’ club.

But what if there was another option? What if women just left?

Cambodia Outraged as US Demands Repayment of ‘Blood-Stained’ War Debt“, Nika Knight, Common Dreams

you can’t make this stuff up…

Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen.

 “Years of federal scrutiny lead to Caterpillar HQ raid“, Ally Marotti, Chicago Tribune

Authorities from three agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, arrived before 11 a.m. at the headquarters and two nearby facilities. Initially only confirming the raid, Caterpillar later in the day acknowledged it was tied to the same issue that has dogged the company for eight years: its use of a parts subsidiary based in Switzerland and tax-saving practices that sparked a Senate investigation, shareholder lawsuits and a $1 billion penalty.

Confronting Academia’s Ties to Slavery“, Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times

Harvard had been “directly complicit” in slavery, Ms. Faust acknowledged, before moving to a more present-minded statement of purpose.

“Only by coming to terms with history,” she said, “can we free ourselves to create a more just world.”

The gathering, which featured a keynote address by the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, drew an overflow crowd of about 500, including researchers from more than 30 campuses.

 This Week in the Executive: Antisemitism

Exclusive: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka as Sworn Member“, Lili Bayer and Larry Cohler-Esses, Forward

Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II, leaders of the organization have told the Forward.

Discrimination and Hate Crimes

Salem man arrested in suspected hate crime attack on Middle Eastern restaurant“, Samantha Matsumoto, The Oregonian

A Salem man is charged with assault and intimidation after he allegedly attacked an employee at a Middle Eastern restaurant with a pipe Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Texas Senate passes bill curbing bathroom access based on ‘biological sex’“, Lauren McGaughy, The Dallas Morning News

Republicans and one Democrat, you say?

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate has officially passed the so-called bathroom bill, a controversial measure that has divided lawmakers and caused an uproar in the LGBT community.

After more than 4 1/2 hours of debate Tuesday, the bill was given preliminary approval by a vote of 21-10, mostly along party lines. One Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, broke with his party and voted in favor of the bill.

 Immigration and Deportation

Army Veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan is fighting deportation to Mexico after he was arrested for delivering two pounds of cocaine“, Cheyenne Roundtree, Daily Mail

  • Miguel Perez, Jr. is facing deportation despite his permanent resident status
  • He served in Afghanistan for the Army and lived in the U.S. since he was eight
  • The 38-year-old was convicted of a non-violent drug charge in Chicago in 2010
  • Perez thought he earned citizenship status since he served in the military
  • His parents, who are U.S. citizens, are fighting his deportation back to Mexico

Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws“, Kristine Phillips, The Washington Post

The lawsuit, filed in 2014 against one of the largest private prison companies in the country, reached class-action status this week after a federal judge’s ruling. That means the case could involve as many as 60,000 immigrants who have been detained.

Thousands of undocumented immigrants said they were forced to work for $1 a day or less“, Circa News

A lawsuit claiming immigrants detained by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement were forced into slave labor, originally filed in 2014, reached class-action status earlier this week.

Trump has opened his arms to immigrants, but only if they’re white Canadians“, Robert Fisk, The Independent

Faced with an avalanche of tourist cancellations from Canada and Europe now that the Trump regime is settling into a racist border policy, congressmen are desperately hoping that the Promoting Tourism to Enhance our Economy Act will help to keep the cash flowing into America – because it aims to let Canadians of 55 and over who own or rent property in the US stay there for an extra two months a year. The 55-year old lower age limit for property owners or renters suggests to you that wealthy white Canadians might be the tourists which Republicans (and Democrats, one should add) have in mind.

And you’d be right.

Poverty and Class Warfare

6 in 10 Americans don’t have $500 in savings“, Kathryn Vasel, CNNMoney

Only 41% of adults reported having enough in their savings account to cover a surprise bill of this magnitude. A little more than 20% said they would put it on a credit card, the report said, while 20% would cut their spending and 11% would turn to friends and family for financial assistance.

Amid Humanitarian Funding Gap, 20 Million People across Africa, Yemen at risk of Starvation, Emergency Relief Chief Warns Security Council”, United Nations

Twenty million people across four countries faced starvation and famine if the international community did not act quickly, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned the Security Council today, expressing alarm at the funding gap to meet the needs in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria.


Israel imposes ‘apartheid regime’ on Palestinians: U.N. report“, Reuters

A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders remains one of America’s most popular politicians“, Philip Bump, The Washington Post

 A fascinating new survey from Fox News asked Americans their opinions of a number of political leaders and politically relevant organizations. No elected official included in the survey had a larger net favorability — overall favorable views minus unfavorable ones — than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), continuing Sanders’s strong showing in such polls.

Somewhat surprisingly, the second-highest net favorability was held by Planned Parenthood.

5 Remarkable Moments from Bernie Sanders’ Town Hall in the Heart of Coal Country“, Alexandra Rosenmann, Alternet

Chris Hayes is sometimes insufferable, but. . .

Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted a panel discussion in McDowell County, West Virginia, Monday night on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes.” And as he did in his Kenosha, Wisconsin talk earlier this year, Sanders succeeded where so many Democrats failed this past election cycle—by connecting with red-state voters.

Unknown Minstrel — Week 2
by Dan Suhre

Recently I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about labor movements and the history of labor unions in the United States. What little exposure I’ve had to labor history mostly came from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”, a text I’ve wanted to go back to for a while.

Interestingly enough, many of the places close to where I grew up in northern Idaho, Montana, and Washington State, were battlegrounds for organized labor in the early 20th century, and yet little to no time in my high school history classes was devoted to the subject.

So this week I wanted to highlight Utah Phillips, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a self-identifying anarchist (not some liberal-darling, city-slicker folkie mind you). Listen to Utah’s memorial to early twentieth century songwriter and labor activist Joe Hill.

In 1930 Alfred Hayes wrote a song about Joe Hill that would later be covered by Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and many others. The song itself is beautiful to listen to, but I like hearing Utah’s soft-spoken tribute from a fellow Wobbly (member of the IWW).

It’s striking to me the brutality with which the government and powerful interests conspired to silence and kill many labor heroes. One doesn’t often think about the United States as having a violent and bloody labor history, but the reality tells a different story. Now that the heroic Standing Rock struggle has awoken a new will to fight the powerful interests of the state, it’s important to look back at our rich history of rabble-rousers and the songs they inspired.

al-Baqia (The Rest)

The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships“, Krista Tippet interviews Alain de Botton, On Being

Botton: I think that a functioning society requires two things that, again, just don’t sound very normal, but they require love and politeness. And by “love” I mean a capacity to enter imaginatively into the minds of people with whom you don’t immediately agree, and to look for the more charitable explanations for behavior which doesn’t appeal to you and which could seem plain wrong, not just to chuck them immediately in prison or to hold them up in front of a law court. . .

. . . The other thing, of course, is politeness, which is an attempt not necessarily to say everything, to understand that there is a role for private feelings, which if they were to emerge, would do damage to everyone concerned. But we’ve got this culture of kind of self-disclosure. And as I say, it spills out into politics as well. The same dynamic goes on of, like, “If I’m not telling you exactly what I think, then I may develop a twitch or an illness from not expunging my feelings.” To which I would say, “No, you’re not. You’re preserving the peace and the good nature of the republic, and it’s absolutely what you should be doing.”

Cowboy Bebop – The Meaning of Nothing“, Channel Criswell

I was surfing movie reviews on youtube, which is a new post-FB pastime of mine, and I came across this interesting analysis of the characters in Cowboy Bebop. The video maybe runs a little long, but his analysis hits on the lyrical quality that can be found in episodic story-telling in general and the powerful “existential drift” told over the course of this series in particular.

This show is important to me. I first encountered it by accident when I was 14. I fell asleep on the couch watching Cartoon Network and when I woke up, there was this show that immediately made me uncomfortable because of how adult the animation was. I knew right away that this wasn’t normal programming. I was further unnerved when the commercial break revealed I was watching something called ‘adult swim’. I briefly worried that I had stumbled into some twisted pornographic late night realm. Nonetheless, I finished the episode, which intrigued me and captured my imagination. Unfortunately, my family was on a month-long trial of digital cable which ended that week and I didn’t resume watching until three years later when I bought the series on bootleg DVD.

I’ve watched Cowboy Bebop in its entirety 3-5 times in the last decade or so. It’s just that good. Not only is Spike “Whatever happens, happens” Spiegel  the Platonic form of cool, there’s also brilliant animation, characters, music,  action, a jaw-dropping series finale, and the potent saudade that the show evokes. There’s a sequence towards the end  — the one with the eggs for those of you ‘in the know’ — that begins reconciling the character arcs and hinting that it’s time to say goodbye. I think it’s one of the most moving sequences in television. Love this show and watching this review has cued yet another need to re-watch the series.


Still on a break! I’ve fallen off the nations of the week wagon for two weeks and am just now climbing back on, but now I have to catch up. Should be adding 10-15 countries again in 1-2 weeks.

See you space cowboy…

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