kcsb, Santa Barbara's campus/community free radio voice, is now in its annual membership/fundraising mode. It's been at 91.9 on the dial for nearly 40 years, broadcasting 24/7. it's programming is as diverse, free wheeling and non-corporate as anything you'll hear anywhere in the US. And virtually all of the work is done by scores of student and community volunteers. KCSB needs community financial support to supplement the budget it gets from UCSB students.
I've been doing my weekly show, Culture of Protest, at KCSB for more than 27 years. If you've never tuned in, I hope you will (and you can get it streaming on line at www.kcsb.org at 6 PM PST Thursdays). As usual, I'm hoping you'll make a contribution and I'm offering cd's of several of the most requested recent culture of protest programs as thanks. You can make a pledge by sending me an email at rflacks@igc. org. providing your name, address, phone and donation amount. The basic membership levels are $25 for UCSB students and $50 for non-students. For a basic pledge, you can request one of the following:
THE POLITICS OF THE WIZARD OF OZ (a 2 hr broadcast featuring the work of Yip Harburg, blacklisted lyricist for the Wizard of Oz movie, Finian's Rainbow, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime)
ANI DIFRANCO (Our exclusive interview with Ani, and a selection of her songs)
SONGS FOR HARD TIMES I (songs from the thirties and today about bankers, foreclosures, depression and hard times in general)
SONGS FOR HARD TIMES II (and more of the above)
LABOR DAY 2009 (songs about workers and their movement, including a musical remembrance of the SF general strike 75 years ago)
You can have 2 of the above for a $75 donation, 4 for $100. Please include your name, address, phone, pledge request. Or call me when Culture of Protest is on the air: 6-7 pm PST Thursday 11/4 and 11/11 (I'll be pitching twice during the fund drive). Thanks!!!!!
Last week, I was particularly proud to be part of the UCSB community. On Wednesday the 14th, hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated in an 8 hour teach in on the financial crisis. The turnout itself made me proud, and so did the fact (pretty unprecedented in my 40 years here) that the event was organized with the active work of faculty, undergraduates, graduate students and the labor unions representing various sectors of the staff. That kind of cooperation is hard to achieve.
The event itself was rich with challenging ideas and disturbing claims. Speakers were invited who had some expert knowledge and/or leadership role on a state level; these were joined by a number of eloquent student speakers in a series of panels and breakout sessions.
Those attending shared a sense of fear and anger about the crisis in California and at the university. The crisis is not simply due to the great recession. The state of the national economy has greatly exacerbated the state's budgetary disaster, but that disaster has even more disturbing roots. And higher education disaster is even greater. Consider, as a way of illustrating this, that since 2002, state spending on prisons has increased by more than 85%, while spending on higher education has been cut by 20%.
The California fiscal crisis is a consequence of a long series of ballot initiatives that, on the one hand, have restricted the ability of state and local government to raise revenues for basic services, while at the same time locking in large chunks of the state budget for particular interests. The state legislature must achieve a 2/3 vote to approve a budget and to increase taxes; similar super majorities are required in localities to approve new taxes. A minority of the legislature and the public controls the financing of the public sector. And that Republican minority has been united to oppose any tax increases; Republican politicians who question that dogma are typically targeted for defeat.
At the same time, political competence at the state level has been decimated by term limits for legislators and the governor, and by a remarkably feckless Democratic Party legislative leadership. Those running the Democrats in Sacramento are fine human beings, but appear to have no will for bold imitative and no strategy for progressive reform. They seem persuaded that the ‘public' will not tolerate tax increases. Meanwhile, Gov Schwarzenegger has done a magnificent job of wasting all the political capital he initially had, backing a variety of failed schemes that would have done little to solve the fiscal crisis but much to further enrich the rich. The latest of these is the brilliant proposal by a commission Arnold appointed headed by Gerald Parsky, that would flatten the state income tax ( and provide huge tax breaks for millionaires) coupled to a new state consumption tax that would increase taxes for low and middle income people. It is truly alarming that a bunch of wealthy guys appointed to come up with proposals aimed at resolving the fiscal crisis can think of nothing other than ways to get themselves and their friends even richer.
Parsky was recently a UC regent, and some of those wealthy friends are still on the board, especially Richard Blum (husband of Diane Feinstein) who is an embodiment of the burden ordinary citizens have to carry when billionaires assume a role in public decision making. Mr. Blum was the prime mover in appointing Mark Yudof to the UC presidency. Pres. Yudof gives every appearance of being quite willing to run the university in accordance with the fiscal stringencies expected by the wealthy and the Republicans. He takes for granted that the ‘public' doesn't want to pay for ‘education' and so the university must both cut back and find non-public ways of financing itself. Last week, the UCSB faculty legislature passed a resolution censuring Yudof; the notorious interview he gave to the NY Times was severely criticized in a letter signed by all the faculty senate chairs in the UC system. Yudof said in that interview that people below him in the hierarchy don't listen to him. The UCSB teach in was suffused with a sense that quite the reverse was true.
The leadership vacuum is scary. All my political life I've assumed that the power elite included some people who were actually interested in the health of the system rather than simply their own aggrandizement. Indeed, the massive investment in the University of California in the postwar period was prime evidence of this. Gov Pat Brown and Pres. Clark Kerr thought in those days they could count on financial and political support from the corporate sector since the benefits to the California economy from having a world class public university system were so evident. Pat Brown's golden era was a time when state government and private corporations collaborated to develop the state's infrastructure and that meant a flourishing public sector. The public be damned seems now to be the dominant corporate principle.
If there's any good news, it's the stirrings beginning at the University. Staff unions and many faculty staged a walkout on September 24. The UCSB teach-in was one of several similar events around the state. Yesterday, a major initiative was announced in a press release coming from Berkeley:
"As part of a campaign to restore California's support of the country's premiere public university system, a coalition of student and faculty has organized a historic public discussion, entitled "The Crisis Of The Public University", to be held Monday, October 26 at 4pm in Pauley Ballroom on the Berkeley campus.
Topping the agenda are two proposals to spur re-investment in public higher education: an oil severance tax bill authored by State Assembly majority leader Alberto Torrico that will be a structured benefit for higher education (AB 656), and "The California Democracy Act," a one-sentence 2010 ballot initiative, authored by Berkeley Linguistics professor George Lakoff, that would return state budget decisions to simple majority rule.
The unprecedented forum -- which will be free and open to the public -- will feature Torrico and Lakoff; State Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley); Phil Ting, San Francisco City Assessor-Recorder; City and Regional Planning professor Ananya Roy; Stan Glantz, UCSF Professor of Medicine; Jayna Brown, UC Riverside Professor of Ethnic Studies; and Ariel Boone, Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) senator.
"Never before have students, faculty, and legislators come together to propose solutions for budget reform. Never before have stakes been higher, with some pundits declaring California 'a failed state'. Draconian cuts to higher education are undermining the University of California's standing as the world's leading public university and threatening to close off access to working and middle class students," says Richard Walker, Director of the Center for California Studies and a member of SAVE the University, a faculty group sponsoring this event.
The October 26 forum comes on the heels of a UC systemwide walkout on September 24 that saw 5000 protestors fill UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza. Robby Cohen, the biographer of Mario Savio, compared that rally to the days of the Free Speech Movement (The Daily Californian, October 6, 2009). Since the walkout, the Solidarity Alliance -- a student, faculty, and staff union coalition that organized the rally -- has been organizing toward a set of protests of the 32% fee hike currently on the UC Regents' agenda.
Discussion at the October 26 forum will include, in addition to Torrico's oil-severance tax and Lakoff's California Democracy Act, San Francisco Assessor Ting's proposals to repeal parts of Proposition 13; UC budget expert Stan Glantz's analysis of UC financial management; and student and faculty assessments of the impact of higher UC fees on Californians.
The October 26 event, expected to draw 1000 people, will kick off a week campus events on the state and university budget crisis. At a previous "teach-in" on September 23, organizers had to turn away 500 students eager to hear what they could do to fight the cuts to their campus. The forum is sponsored by SAVE the University, CalSERVE Coalition, Bridges Multicultural Resource Center, Solidarity Alliance, Berkeley Faculty Association, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities.
"This event will put UC Berkeley at the center of an emerging grassroots movement to defend public education from top to bottom," says Isaac Miller, CalSERVE organizer and a student leader against the budget cuts. "When world-renowned professors stand together with kindergarten teachers, UC students with Richmond School district students, anything is possible. We can make our public education system a model to the world again. But for that to happen, the state's budgeting process needs to change, and fast."
There are two powerful policy ideas mentioned above: an oil severance tax (we are the only oil producing state that doesn't tax oil as it comes from the ground) that would be earmarked for higher education funding (as Texas does with its oil revenues).
The Lakoff initiative (which the famed linguist discussed at length at the UCSB teach-in) would end minority control of the state budget. The initiative is very simple. Here's the whole text: "All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote." A serious campaign to put this on the ballot is now underway. You can find out all about it at: http://www.camajorityrule.com/
If we can't expect initiative at the top, we can take it at the grassroots.
Tags: University of California, taxes, Yudof, Lakoff
I'm getting more and more worried about the healthcare reform. Politically, Obama has to have a bill passed. For some reason, the Baucus bill is the center of media attention; allegedly this is the foundation for what the final bill will look like. The progressive reform coalition has been stressing the public option as the line in the sand, and that's not in the Baucus version. Less attention has been focused on the fact that the Baucus bill falls far short of universal health care. So by 10 years from now this measure will enable coverage for 94% of the population. The percentage sounds pretty good-until you pause to realize that 20 million people won't be covered...even ten years from now. Indeed, most of the bill's provisions won't go into effect for another four years.
I have been hoping that the US would have universal healthcare before I die. The year I was born was when healthcare was chopped out of social security; the plan was to introduce it later so that old age insurance could get passed. In 1948, at age 10, we debated ‘socialized medicine' in my sixth grade class. It was a hot topic sixty years ago. About 20 years later, LBJ achieved Medicare-and again the notion was that this would provide the wedge for universality soon. Then came the Clinton debacle-more than 15 years ago. Now we face the prospect of a healthcare ‘reform' that will postpone universality again.
Not only is the Baucus bill not universal; it isn't clear that it will lower health costs for average citizens. Will the subsidies it provides enable the uninsured to afford insurance? We haven't been told.
Baucus wants to pay for subsidies largely by taxing ‘cadillac' insurance plans. In short, his bill wants to reduce the quality of health care for large numbers of unionized workers by encouraging the insurance companies to lower premiums. In fact, the big reform the Baucus crowd is after is to hold down the social cost of healthcare. The total cost of the reform package is pegged at 900 billion over the next decade. Achieving that estimate seems to be the primary obsession of the Baucusians and the Obama administration. A trillion, they seem to have decided, would sound too big for the ‘public'.
We're told that LBJ absolutely refused to allow long-term cost estimates when Medicare was being considered in congress. Any long-term cost estimate, he realized, would sound like too much. Medicare was designed to provide every senior citizen with adequate medical coverage. Baucus care is not about adequate coverage for all.
The house bills have gotten almost no attention, but they embody the progressive position in the current struggle. That's largely because of the tough stand taken by the progressive caucus and its allies who have vowed to vote against a bill that lacks the public option and related measures.
There are three big stages coming up as we move toward a conclusion of the struggle. The Baucus bill has to be mashed up with the Senate health committee's version. Today's LA Timesreports that the chair of that committee, Chris Dodd, has bought into the Baucus goal of limiting total costs. He's claiming to be Teddy Kennedy's heir on this issue. Somehow one imagines however that Teddy at this point would be demanding that the goal ought to be health care for all, rather than cost containment. Of course Senator Dodd is a practiced representative of the insurance industry, so his perspective may be a bit different. Anyway, a bill will be mashed up, and then the big media drama about how the 60 votes for cloture will be achieved will be played out. We'll be praying for those votes for a bill that is going to be hard to stomach. Indeed, a number of those who will vote for cloture won't vote for the final bill, but will hold it hostage so it will be as weak as possible.
If the House manages to pass a reasonably progressive bill, with a public option that actually might work as an alternative to for-profit insurance, and with subsidies that might actually help people afford insurance, and with the hope of universal coverage, a truly monumental drama might then ensue. It's at that point that the chance for a progressive breakthrough might be possible.
As far as I can tell, that outcome absolutely depends on the HCAN coalition--the national force for progressive reform. I can't see how the breakthrough can happen without strong mobilization at the grassroots. Not just getting folks to keep emailing congress persons, but visible movement in the streets. The targeting of insurance company offices a few weeks ago may have had some effect. The public option was said to be dead by the mainstream media -but that turned out to quite wrong----and its possible that the demonstrations helped strengthen the progressive caucus. There's clearly been a shift even in senate rhetoric toward the ‘public option (though what it will consist of is very murky).
Too many on the left are wringing their hands at the failures of Obama to lead progressive reform. The late night TV jokes are all about his failures to deliver. But all the experienced organizers in the unions and the citizen action groups know very well that the president will only be able to lead in the right direction if he can respond to movement that demands that direction. What I'm fearing is that the progressive leadership is buying the argument that any bill is better than none, that the ‘perfect can't be the enemy of the good', that we should pass something -anything-now and fight again another day. We may however end up with a health reform that the people will experience as a flop. They will be forced to buy insurance, but their costs will still go up and their coverage down. That scenario will end the progressive movement. And the acceptance of weak compromise without a real fight will have a really demoralizing effect on the all of us who have swallowed the stupidity of abandoning ‘single payer' in the hope of at least something of value. I hope our leaders in Washington -in the government and in the national organizations are giving deep thought to such concerns.
I don't about you but I'm increasingly irritated with the sheer laziness of media commentators. The Nobel peace prize controversy is an excellent case in point. Scott Simon's commentary on NPR Saturday typifies what I'm referring to. He lists a number of martyrs and heroes who haven't gotten the prize. He ended his piece:
"The president said yesterday: I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize. He deserves to be taken at his word."
The laziness here is the assumption that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee somehow lost sight of the purpose of the prize and must not have known what they were doing. Surely the journalist's first task is to read and understand the statements made by the committee and their expressed intent. That intent was to support and reinforce Obama's stated global policy perspective. They defined their purpose in this year to use the prize as a lever in propelling change. It seems possible that Scott Simon and others are in fact opposed to that change (since he, on the air, announced after 9/11 that he was no longer a Quaker pacifist; careful listeners have worried that he has become something of a neocon). It would be more honest to reveal that than to claim that the award was undeserved or that the Nobel, committee has somehow lost its bearings.
I think there was an additional motive in making this award. It isn't simply that Obama is the anti-Bush (as so many have said). It is that the world sees him as the target of hysterical and scary attack within the US. Perhaps the Nobel committee wanted to lend weight on the other side.
We are told that the prize decision was made early last week. So it may well be that the committee actually wanted to influence Obama's decision making re Afghanistan. In the realm of realpolitik, such an aim is horrendous-trying to tie the hands of the super power commander in chief so he will be reluctant to escalate a war. In the realm of human hope, however, perhaps the Nobel folks deserve thanks
At 6 pm (PST) CULTURE OF PROTEST welcomes Ani Difranco for an interview and of course a selection of her songs. Ani's fusion of musicianship, political awareness and stunning poetry captured me 20 years when the then teenager came of the road for performances at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Saturday night she performs here at the Lobero and my show tonight of coures is aimed t whetting your appetite. And we'll give away a pair of tickets during the hour. We'll also pay tribute to Mercedes Sosa, the great voice of Latin America who died this past week at age 74. A full hour devoted to Sosa comes next week.
This year, Santa Barbara's holding an historic election: an election conducted entirely by mail. Ballots are going out today; we'll have till election day to return them. Whether this process will improve voter participation remains to be seen. But the election outcome will depend a lot on which segments of the community take part.
This is most true for the B initiative. This would set height limits on new buildings in Santa Barbara: a 40 foot limit in the heart of the city, and 45 foot limit in other non-residential areas. Santa Barbarans adopted a height limit of 60 feet in the 1960s, because of a real threat of high rise development. The current campaign for a lower height limit was launched after two bulky buildings (each about 50 feet high) went up on Chapala St. More than 11000 signed the initiative petition, after a drive that alleged that dozens of new high rise buildings were in the pipeline. Many signers undoubtedly felt disgust at the 2 new Chapala buildings (though the initiative campaign was sparked by two planning commissioners who had voted to approve these projects). These Chapala buildings were designed to mix street level stores, luxury condos and as much as 30% affordable housing units.
The Measure B campaign was immediately opposed by a coalition of architects, environmentalists and affordable housing advocates. This group sought, initially, to get the city council to propose a height limit ordinance that would contain room for exemptions for projects that included a certain number of affordable units, or that were designed to meet crucial community needs. A council-originated initiative would have had the added benefit of being subjected to an environmental impact review. The leaders of the citizen initiative rejected this alternative, and B went on the ballot without an EIR.
B proponents claim they are trying to ‘save Santa Barbara'. They refer constantly to the ‘small town feel' of the city that's threatened by high rise buildings. They claim to be heirs to the local tradition of opposing growth and of preserving the beauty of the place. I've been brooding about these claims for months.
The ‘small town feel' argument annoys me no end. It's a most unusual small town that has a $55 million performing arts center, a full time symphony, an opera company, and world class arts and music institutions. I know of no other ‘small town' that can boast a major research university, and serves as corporate headquarters to a number of national firms. We're home to a large medical complex. Sheila Lodge, a major supporter of B, worked hard, as mayor, for the creation of Paseo Neuvo-a large regional shopping center (with buildings at about 50 feet.). There's no question that Santa Barbara has a unique, precious quality as a community and as a region that needs to be protected and nurtured. But it is not a ‘small town'.
My wife, Mickey Flacks, is a leading voice opposing B. Her opposition comes from her role as a very active advocate for protecting and expanding the availability of affordable housing in our area. She's a member of the county housing commission that develops housing for low-income people, and in addition, tirelessly advocates for projects that can increase the availability of ‘workforce' housing-housing affordable for young teachers, cops, firefighters, doctors, nurses, professors. When we started to get involved in the local political scene 35 years ago, Mickey became a leader in anti-growth politics, actively participating in campaigns to set growth limits in the city, and to elect candidates committed to these. She has credentials as an anti-growther that are comparable to those of any in the pro-B camp. And in recent years she has led efforts to get rules passed in the city that would prevent the replacement of relatively affordable housing with high-end condos.
The anti-growth politics of the 70s were successful in achieving major policy change. The most effective change would have been to limit the growth of job producing enterprise, since it is job opportunities that are the primary magnet for new people. But it's very difficult in a ‘free enterprise' society to limit economic activity. The anti-growth success was to downzone the city so that its housing supply would not accommodate more than 85000 people, and to place a limit on new water hookups in the Goleta area. Some efforts to limit growth inducing commercial development were also successful. But one of the main consequences of the anti-growth politics for our region was to limit the housing supply while overall employment continued to rise. Everyone knows that one result has been an astonishing inflation in housing prices. Another has been an enormous increase in the number of people who work in the south coast but commute daily from the south and the north.
The Measure B proponents refuse to come to grips with the following reality: Santa Barbara's population has declined, not grown in the last decade. On the other hand, there are now 25-30,000 people commuting to the city every day. Commuting by car at this level is terrible for air quality and traffic-and of course contradicts the goal of lowering our carbon impact and oil dependence. Mass commuting is bad for our civic life. It means that thousands of people who work here are not able to participate fully in our community. These tend to be young people, middle class people, people with young families. Meanwhile, we seem to be headed toward becoming a city composed of a retired class of comfort and wealth, and a service class of poor people. And... the commuters include large numbers who we depend on in the very emergency situations that might block entry via the very narrow highway portals that now exist.
The city and the region need to plan for the future taking account of these urgent realities. A new planning paradigm is emerging here and around the country. Some call it ‘smart growth'. Many of us here call it "HOT"-planning that integrates housing needs, preserves agriculture and other open space, and promotes alternatives to auto use. (Housing, Open space, Transportation). The city of Santa Barbara planning staff right now is intensely involved in a general plan update that appears to be grounded in such a paradigm. At the heart of it is the idea of enhancing the supply of affordable housing close to where people work, close to public transportation and to shopping. Planning that takes cars off the roads, encourages walking, and cycling, and discourages sprawl. The proposed height limit would prevent effective mixed use development in line with these goals. So say virtually all the architects in town. But no one that I've come across is thinking about high rise development either. Remember that we have in place an ordinance that restricts buildings to 4 stories.
Another reality not faced by Measure B proponents: Market based housing cannot, in a town like this, be made affordable for working and middle class people. The new general plan will contain provision for rental housing that is ‘affordable by design'-i.e. rental units that are small in size and so relatively affordable for middle income single people, couples, maybe some small families. It's amazing what's been accomplished in Santa Barbara by our local housing authority in putting together the financing to create astonishingly beautiful and creative housing developments for the poor, and homeless, disabled people. Butpublic housing subsidy is available nowadays only for such low income oriented projects.
Some workforce housing is being developed by major employers. Cottage Hospital's development (opposed by some very vocal folks in the neighborhood) at the St. Francis site is one important example. UCSB has been providing faculty and staff housing on campus, and has an ambitious plan for several thousand such units over the next couple of decades. A new project by Hillside House for housing for its residents, staff and also open to the community for rental and purchase is now coming up for public review. But mixed use development, in which commercial uses and market priced units subsidize affordable units in the same project is a necessary tool, though it is this type of development that risks being oversized or having negative impacts. Ideally, we should stop any more development of luxury housing in the south coast, and try to see that all new housing is affordable for those who work here. Maybe that's a goal that both proponents and opponents of Measure B can eventually come together for. But Measure B seems to move us away from such a coherent vision.
WONDERING ABOUT MOTIVES
I have come to doubt the motives as well as the good sense of those who have spent their energy on Measure B. First of all, some of them are quietly willing to admit that what they don't like about the Chapala buildings is their overall design and bulk (and therefore height isn't really what's wrong with them). If that's the case, they should be focusing energy on ensuring that the tools for appropriate design are built into the planning process. Similarly, if they don't like mixed use development downtown, they should be working hard to get affordable housing opportunities in the Goleta Valley, where worthy projects along that line have been dying because NIMBY activists have paralyzed the planning process. In Goleta the watchword isn't ‘small town feel', it's ‘low density'. When I was in college, everyone was criticizing the suburban lifestyle, on all kinds of aesthetic, cultural and social grounds. Suddenly, in Goleta and lots of other places in the US, suburbia is being defended by some as an ideal that must be protected. These voices stand against the increasingly popular and environmentally, socially and economically smarter planning that combines clustered housing and open space, and sees the benefit for public transportation, community feeling and diversity in somewhat higher density development. Measure B advocates could be helping overcome NIMBYism in the Goleta Valley, so that affordable housing could be intelligently distributed across the south coast. , But these folks seem to think that the city of Santa Barbara is a little enclave that has no relation to the wider region-when only regional planning can actually save us.
One of the sorrier spectacles has been the role of the League of Women Voters in all this. We've come to depend on the LWV to uphold the rational, the true and the beautiful, and usually they do. In this case, though, the local League made up its mind that B should be supported, and have simply refused to let opposing viewpoints be aired at their meetings and forums. Have they seriously considered the arguments of the opponents about effective planning, sustainability, etc.? Have they wondered why the Community Environmental Council, PUEBLO, SBCAN and similar groups oppose it? Have they pondered the position on smart growth taken by groups like the Sierra Club? Have they even let their members be aware of the issues raised by these organizations?
Something's happening here and I have some idea about what it is. I'm 71 years old and my wife is 69. We are bona fide ‘senior citizens'. We've lived here for 40 years. A lot of people our age and older who've lived here for decades are in a very privileged position.. Our houses have grown enormously in value. We pay almost no property tax. We want to spend the rest of our lives in this beautiful and peaceful enclave. Mickey and I live downtown and we enjoy the bustle of the city. Our neighborhood is pretty high density-lots of apartments and granny type units. We like walking downtown, walks that take us through beautiful parks but also on State St. where the number of street people steadily grows as the unemployment rate climbs. I suspect that a lot of the Measure B supporters don't like downtown much. They seem to think that crime is a big problem there. They don't like buses (too citified), panhandlers, teenagers of diverse ethnicity. Some might fear that their property values will be threatened if more affordable housing comes in.
It's the older homeowners who vote much more regularly than young people, renters, workers-especially in obscure city elections. Now, as an elder myself, I don't want to stereotype the seniors. Some of them are my best friends. Many who are annoyed with change are probably of more than one mind about the stuff they whine about.But the whining gets on my nerves.
Take the matter of bulb-outs. Our house is a corner house on a busy intersection which is now bulb-outed. I can see that if you're driving down a street and suddenly encounter an unexpected bulge or roundabout in your way, you might be irritated. But...in the 15 years we lived on this corner before the bulb-out, we observed a collision (or near collision) every single week. Since the bulbing, at most there's been an occasional brake squeal. I believe that city accident reports will verify that the traffic calming has worked to improve safety. Yet there are candidates for city office who seem passionately to believe that the city government needs to be overhauled because of these devices.
The Measure B supporters, most of whom are probably Democrats and relatively liberal, also aren't facing the fact that their cause is being exploited by, and helps feed, an effort by local Republicans to find ‘wedge' issues they can ride to office in non-partisan local races. The GOP is in very sorry shape, but it appears that some smart local rightwing activists have figured out a way to rebuild. It's a strategy that the Christian Coalition/ Moral Majority used back in the seventies: run in local non-partisan elections, and try to exploit issues that a significant number of local people might be concerned with. And this time around, they seem to be able to count on the News-Press to push their line.
So we have the spectacle of Francisco, Self and Hotchkiss running as if they were going to rein in developers, while being the beneficiaries of the largest campaign contribution ever made by a developer in our local political history. ‘Crime' is a perennial Republican wedge issue; bashing public employees is both perennial and timely given the fiscal crisis. But the new wrinkle, which Francisco successfully exploited to get onto the city council, is for the Republicans to claim the mantle of ‘anti-growth'. Today's mail came with a crude hit piece paid for by Randall Van Wolfswinkel, but, we can be sure, not actually written by him, that certainly will raise the temperature of the campaign but also has some of the frothy nuttiness that has become the GOP national style. One would hope that Sheila Lodge, the League of Women voters, and other worthy supporters of Measure B might disassociate themselves from this stuff. One would hope that they'd consider that after the election we mght want to live together and might need to find common ground if the town is in fact to be preserved-a task that will be made more difficult if they continue to lend themselves to the GOP project.
There's certainly a good chance to defeat Measure B and to prevent a Republican takeover. That chance depends on the participation of the more than half of the city that can't easily afford to live here because of the cost of housing.It can happpen if younger voters who would like to stay, but who tend not to vote in off year elections, fill out the ballot and send it in. And, it depends on the realization by many who are inclined to vote for height limits, that the passage of Measure B will embolden the largely marginalized local rightwing-whereas the participatory planning process that the city provides is a far better avenue for expressing and protecting the values they care about.
This month marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of 'The Wizard of Oz'. It's a movie that has in innumerable ways penetrated the consciousness of tens of millions (especially in the 50 years since it first became a holiday staple on network tv).
Little known: The Wizard of Oz (both as book and as film) is filled with rather subversive political reference and relevance. Frank Baum (author of the original Oz books) was a populist, and his mother was a staunch feminist. The plot line can be read as an allegory about the populist movement's efforts to link farmers and workers against the gold standard. The film translated the tale to the great depression, the New Deal and FDR. The humbuggery of the Wizard, in both book and movie, is a strong critique of politicians and our tendency to expect them to provide solutions, when, all the while, we have answers within ourselves.
The prime author of the film was the lyricist E Y Harburg. Yip Harburg was a very politically conscious writer with a talent for light verse that rivalled his role model W. S. Gilbert. His politics led to his blacklisting in Hollywood in the 50s. His great Broadway stage success was Finian's Rainbow. That show is about to open in a Broadway revival, fifty years after its last Broadway appearance.
This week on Culture of Protest I'll have a 2 hour block. We'll air two special documentaries about the political/social meanings of the Wizard of Oz and Over the Rainbow (its signature song). We'll hear some of the socially significant songs from Finian's Rainbow and a documentary about another of Yips' classics: Brother Can you Spare a Dime. That anthem of the great depression remains unfortunately pertinent...
This is all on Thursday, October 1 6-8 pm (PST) at KCSB 91.9 fm. It streams at www.kcsb.org.
Tags: Wizard of Oz, e. y. harburg, great depression
UC faculty are buzzing about an interview Pres. Mark Yudof gave to Deborah Solomon of the NY Times Magazine yesterday. Ms Solomon is skilled at giving celebrity interviewees the chance to make pungent comments that are sometimes insightful, and sometimes embarrassing. Pres. Yudof chose the latter approach. After claiming that the fiscal crisis of the university is because 'the shine is off education', there was the following exchange:
Already professors on all 10 U.C. campuses are taking required "furloughs," to use a buzzword. Let me tell you why we used it. The faculty said "furlough" sounds more temporary than "salary cut," and being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening. I listen to them. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27fob-q4-t.html?_r=2
The 'cemetery' analogy is, shall we say, inept (but scholars have quickly found via Google that Yudof loves to use this when talking about being a university administrator). But faculty are reading his remarks about the furloughs as a strong indication that he expects the salary cuts to be permanent.
Pres. Yudof was the preferred candidate, one surmises, of several very powerful and headstrong corporate Regents, including billionaire Richard Blum (spouse of Sen. Feinstein) and Gerald Parsky (who as we've noted here favors a flat income tax and other ways for the rich to exempt themselves from taxation.) Both of these guys were former chairs of the Regents. So it may well be that Pres. Yudof thinks his job description involves the further privatization and downsizing of the once great University.
Last Thursday thousands of faculty, staff and students throughout the state inaugurated what might well turn out to be a full scale movement to challenge that agenda. Yudof's interview was well-timed to increase that mobilization. But as I said in a previous post, such a movement needs to reach out beyond the university to all those affected by the state fiscal crisis.
On October 14, there will be a teach in at UCSB, organized by a group of staff, faculty and students. Speakers will include Prof. George L akoff, the Berkeley linguistics prof who has been a leader in the emerging movement, Stan Glantz, another system-wide faculty leader , Lonnie Hancock, legislative leader in favor of major political reform, Lennie Goldberg, the leading state expert on progressive tax alternatives, and Ruth Gilmore, who will trace the way the prison system now serves as a major obstacle to progressive policy. They'll be joined by staff union and student leaders. There will be major panels in Campbell Hall, and ample room for smaller group discussion.
For more information on the emerging movement in general and the teach in per se:
This week on my radio show, we'll be listening to Mary Travers; voice. She died last week after a long bout with leukemia at age 72. Back in the sixties, folkies like me were a bit disdainful of Peter Paul and Mary who took traditional songs and the new songs of protest and made them commercial The Weaves and Pete Seeger had been blacklisted; PPM took their repertory and popularized it. And they were the ones who made Bob Dylan's anthems world famous. We much preferred his raw and original voice to what we thought was there bland arrangements. And in person the trio seemed almost puppet like in their scripted performances.
Hearing the work today opens up a different view. First of all, they were musically far more complex and interesting than one might have thought back then. And it's clear that the great songs of protest that they made big hits would not have been as widely known and cherished. If you want to be reminded of their work (and also hear some terrific recent performances by Mary and the trio) tune in Thursday at 6 pm pacific time. For locals it's at 91.9 FM. You can get it streaming at www.kcsb.org. And I have found work that Mary did when she was at Elizabeth Irwin High School, as a member of a group called the Song Swappers. You'll hear her teen age voice belting out a classic labor hymn.
Tags: mary travers, peter paul and mary, folk songs
Thursday (9/24) is first day of class at UCSB. Returning students will be paying a good deal more this year--and getting a lot less. Many classes have been canceled because of budgetary shortfalls. Faculty and staff furloughs will reduce services and the number of class days per quarter. The first day of class is always a bit chaotic as students shop for classes and try to crash stuffed lecture rooms. This week will be much worse because of the cuts...and because a number of faculty will be observing a "walkout". Staff and faculty unions throughout the state are walking out on September 24. Some of the campuses have been open for weeks already, so their walkouts may well be widespread and well organized. At UCSB, at least some faculty will be using the first day to support the state wide action in one way or another. And it seems that student groups across the state will also be marking the day to protest the declining value and rising costs of their education.
The main public event at UCSB is a rally at the Arbor, scheduled to start at 11:30. If you know of other happenings please comment below. The 9-24 protests focus on what organizers are calling 'mismanagement' of the crisis by Pres. Yudof. There's dispute about whether the UC administration could use pots of money not allocated for instruction to offset the huge cuts the state budget has inflicted. There's widespread shock over the proposal, now being pondered by the Regents, to increase student tuition again during the current year. Faculty and staff 'furloughs' for next year are now on the table (these mean thousands of dollars of lost pay to each employee).
Personally, I think its clear that the crisis is not simply internal to the UC system, All of us at the university need to be thinking and acting in concert with everyone else in the state whose salaries are being cut, jobs being threatened and essential services being slashed. And we need to work for solutions that can help make California move in a new direction.
Another UCSB action aimed at doing just that is a teach-in planned for October 14--and educational happening open to community as well as campus folks. I'll be telling more about this soon.
It's crucial to start a big debate on the tax structure of California. I want to make a point that has been bugging me for years: For decades the University of California provided essentially a free education. Beneficiaries of this were many members of the business and political elite of this state. Yet many of these have resisted tax reforms that would help maintain affordable access to the UC system for the new generation. A good case in point is the just issued report by a thing called the Commission on the 21st Century headed by Gerald Parsky. This body , created by the gov. and Karen Bass, assembly speaker, is loaded with corporate leaders. They were charged with proposing a tax reform for the state (but the problem they were asked to solve was the alleged 'volatility' (unpredictability) of state revenue. They just released a report that provides for a virtually flat income tax (that would cut taxes for millionaires by 100 grand, and cut taxes for middle class folks by $4 (I'm not kidding). They propose a new business tax to be levied on all goods and services in the state to replace lost revenue from the income tax cut they want. They also advocate drilling in the coastal waters as a revenue generator. What they haven't proposed is an oil 'severance' tax (something all other oil producing states require). they propose no reform of prop 13 despite the enormous inequities that its current provisions are producing.
It's time to start talking about the tax structure. And its time for UC alumni to think about the debt they owe to the current and future generations of students struggling to pay for an education they got for virtually nothing.
First of all: some report having trouble registering here so they can make comments. You do need to know that 'STATE ST." is the correct answer to the question about Santa Barbara's main street. Scroll down and you'll find complete instructions on how to register.
My post yesterday aimed at getting health care supporters to see that the time is more than ripe for getting out in the streets to support real reform. A crucial moment will come when the house ( as expected) passes a bill that embodies a strong public option--and the senate doesn't. I think many of us would trek to Washington to rally around a bill that's reasonably progressive. But meanwhile, there are signs of grassroots organizing that may have potential. The big coalition supporting the administration healthcare reform is HCAN. Tomorrow in many cities, they plan what may be some good theater. If you know when and if Santa Barbara will be site for such protests (they are planned in waves over the next few weeks) let us know!
Nearly 200 "Big Insurance: Sick of It" Protests Happening Nationwide on Tuesday
Health Care for America Now Partners to Protest Insurance Companies; Demand They Stop Denying Care
Washington, DC - On Tuesday September 22, 2009, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) partners will hold a "Big Insurance: Sick Of It" day of action nationwide to highlight private health insurance industry abuses and call for reform that guarantees good, affordable health care and includes the choice of a strong national public health insurance option.
MoveOn.org Political Action is leading more than 100 events across the country. Other Health Care for America Now coalition partners are spearheading an additional 80 events, including 30 organized by SEIU. Three flagship events will be taking place outside major insurance company headquarters in Minneapolis (United HealthCare), Indianapolis (WellPoint), and Philadelphia (Cigna). Wendell Potter - the former Cigna executive who has been speaking out against the insurance industry - will be attending the event in Philadelphia.
Two other large-scale actions will take place in Hartford, CT - the insurance capital of the nation - and in Milwaukee, WI where WellPoint CEO Angela Braly is delivering the keynote speech at Marquette University's annual Business Leaders Forum luncheon.
As the health care reform debate rages on in Washington, the protests will highlight how Americans are suffering every day because of the profit-driven policies of the health insurance industry. People wronged by insurers will share their personal stories, and in some instances, protesters will read the stories of those who are no longer with us due to insurance company abuses.
Every liberal and progressive blogger is advising the president about strategies for change--except for those who are busy voicing their disappointment and disillusionment with him.
The strongest criticisms are about the many compromises built into the president's policies: the weakness of the financial regulation he's proposing, the refusal to support single payer health-care reform (and the seeming backing away from the 'government option'), the escalation of the Afghanistan war, the many compromises with the CIA on 'torture' issues, the failure to support gay rights, etc. Many progressive writers may grant the need for compromise and gradualism, but are upset when Obama seems to prefer accommodation and avoids aggressive confrontation with those who are against him. 'He needs to show how tough he is if he expects to prevail', is a very popular refrain.
The left critiques are valid and necessary but they run the risk of demoralizing progressive constituencies, and of feeding the cynicism now being exploited by right wing demagogues. Instead of constructing Obama as just another politician who betrays his promises and serves the powers that be, we might think about other ways of interpreting his actions that leave room for hope.
For me the central question is this: how do you make change possible when major centers of power resist it, when political structures are set up to defeat it, when the public at large is divided and cynical about reform. Leave aside the added problems that the majority of white people in the country voted against you, and that a portion of that constituency questions your legitimacy.
Let's spell this out with a bit of simplifying shorthand about the power relations Obama has to deal with: The health-care reform Obama wants threatens the insurance and pharmaceutical complex. The climate change/energy plans he wants threaten the energy industry. The military-industrial complex and the national security apparatus are interested in preserving the imperial presidency and its war making propensities. The financial complex wants government bailout but not regulation. Talking about these 'complexes' simplifies the important divisions within these sectors, but the basic point for me is that every morning the president has to take these kinds of forces into account. ON top of which is the structure of the senate--the filibuster rule, the power of conservative Democrats representing large stretches of land with almost no people living on it.
FDR and LBJ were presidents who were able to win major reform despite these sorts of big obstacles. I'm one of a legion of left-oriented historians and sociologists who believe that what made the New Deal and the Great Society reforms possible was the rising up from below of movements demanding the change, not primarily the political skills of Roosevelt and Johnson. The labor movement of the 30s and the civil rights movement of the 60s found levers of power themselves. It wasn't simply the numbers who 'marched', it was that they tore the social fabric that was sustaining the status quo. You can get a sense of that power by reading a book like Piven and Cloward's Poor People's Movements, which spells out in some detail the ways these movements were able to win some gains because of their disruptive political, social and cultural activity.
We haven't had a president till now who was so schooled in that reading of history. The best way to understand Obama, I think, is to refer to something Michelle Obama said in the early days of the campaign. She said at some point that Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.
Here's Barack Obama speaking to the AFL-CIO Pittsburgh convention last week:
These are the reforms I'm proposing. These are the reforms labor has been championing. These are the reforms the American people need. These are reforms I intend to sign into law: quality, affordable health insurance; a world-class education; good jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced; a strong labor movement. That's how we'll lift up hardworking families. That's how we'll grow our middle class. That's how we'll put opportunity within reach in the United States of America. (Applause.)
The battle for opportunity has always been fought in places like Pittsburgh, places like Pennsylvania. It was here that Pittsburgh railroad workers rose up in a great strike. It was here that Homestead steelworkers took on Pinkerton guards at Carnegie mills. (Applause.) It was here that something happened in a town called Aliquippa.
It was a tough place for workers in the 1930s -- "a benevolent dictatorship," said the local steel boss. Labor had no rights. The foreman's whim ruled the day. And the company hired workers from different lands and different races -- the better to keep them divided, it was thought at the time.
But despite threats and harassment, despite seeing organizers fired and driven out of town, these steelworkers came together -- Serb and Croat, Italian and Pole, and Irish, and Greek, and kin of Alabama slaves and sons of Pennsylvania coal miners. And they took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, securing the right to organize up and down the Ohio River Valley and all across America. (Applause.)
And I know that if America can come together like Aliquippa and rise above barriers of faith and race, and region, and party -- then we will not only make life better for steelworkers like Steve in Indiana, not only make life better for members of the AFL-CIO, but will make possible the dreams of middle-class families and make real the promise of the United States of America for everybody. (Applause.)
That's what we're fighting for. That's what this White House is committed to. That's what the AFL-CIO is committed to. (Applause.) And arm in arm, we are going to get this done.
That reference to the now obscure Aliquippa strike of 1937 intrigues me. As he suggests, it was a strike engaged in despite 20 years of efforts by Jones & Laughlin to segregate its work force by race and ethnicity. Yet 25000 workers struck and one of the most recalcitrant corporations in the land overnight agreed to bargain wit h their union and obey the federal labor laws.
I think the time is just about ripe for a new progressive movement in the streets. Health-care could be the first moment for such action. Am I wrong to imagine that hundreds of thousands might come to Washington to rally around a bill with a strong public insurance component, adequate subsidies, real regulation? Isn't it within the capacity of the labor movement, of Moveon, and even of Organize for America to convene such an action? Wouldn't it provide a needed answer to the pseudo populism that Glen Beck et al are stirring up? Instead of simply advising the President on strategy, can't we start making our own?
Tags: Obama, labor, social change strategy, progressive movement
Thursdays at 6 pacific time is when I have my weekly radio show on the campus station, KCSB (91.9fm). It's called CULTURE OF PROTEST. I've been doing this for 27 years. It's very much a music show, based on my collection of political, socially conscious recordings (in fact, doing this program has been a great excuse for buying stuff!) Each week we organize the hour around a theme. In the past few weeks for example, we've done programs on Hiroshima, the Woodstock anniversary, Labor day and Paul Robeson and the 60th anniversary of the Peekskill riots. For the last few months I've been trying to collect as many songs as I can that speak about 'hard times': songs from the 1930s (and before) and songs being released now in our current hard times--and there are quite a few artists of many genres consciously making such songs, many deliberately connecting with the great depression and the current situation. So this Thursday, we'll do one of a series of shows with this kind of material. There's something deeply evocative about hearing songs from decades ago that ring true in our time--songs that describe the experiences of those who are jobless or scared about that, songs about Wall Street, greedy bankers, songs about getting together to cope and to fight back. And I'll bet you'll find the new songs by artists known and unknown to be surprising and maybe inspiring.
I hope you'll tune in. We stream on line at www.kcsb.org, at 6-7 pm PST. And I've just started to post the play list (a day or so after the show airs) at http://kcsb.radioactivity.fm (click on the date of the program your interested in getting a play list for).
If you've any suggestions for 'hard times' songs use the comment space below!
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Nowadays, conventional wisdom has it that government policy is determined to a great extent by the vast lobbying efforts of special interests. Wealth translates to political power by use of campaign contributions, and all manner of methods, from subtle briberies to simulations of public opinion--all in aid of the profit oriented interests of particular firms or corporate sectors. But when old Karl Marx set out to define the role of the government in a capitalist society, he described the state as "the executive committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie". The government's primary function was, in his view, to oversee the system as a whole, and, implicitly, to subordinate narrow interests which conflicted with the overall 'class' interest of capitalists. And despite many differences among them, 20th century radical analysts of power (like C. Wright Mills, or new left historians, or Bill Domhoff) have all believed that there was a center of power in the corporate elite that concerned itself with governing the society, not simply to maximize short term profit, but to try to ensure the long term viability of capitalism itself.
So FDR and the New Deal promulgated reforms that many business leaders hated, but that were designed to save capitalism in the midst of the great depression. The New Dealers believed that on the one hand they were averting revolution by allowing, for the first time in US history, regulated labor unions to form and strike and by providing a safety net for millions of jobless and impoverished workers. The New Deal created a government-corporate partnership that promoted economic growth and industrial peace. When I was in college in the 50s and 60s, we learned that this partnership was now accepted by the corporate elite and by the GOP--and that it was proof that socialism was no longer relevant--that capitalism could reform itself.
Healthcare has become the most obvious area where such reform is necessary in our time. Healthcare costs are unsustainable for the corporations that provide insurance for their employees, and for the government programs providing care for those without employer based insurance. The reasons for these skyrocketing costs are many, but fundamental is the control of healthcare by profit oriented insurance, drug and hospital corporations, and the cost burdens that result from the millions of uninsured.
The optimal solution to this crisis would be to move toward a 'single payer' medicare for everyone, financed by a combination of employer contributions and payroll taxes. The burden of costs would be reduced for employers, a steady revenue stream would finance a healthcare budget aimed at efficiency and cost control, all those uninsured would be covered automatically, preventive medicine would be readily available, and all manner of institutional setups for delivering medicine could be encouraged--while enabling more patients choice of their own doctors than most can now get.
President Obama has acknowledged all the above, having said that if we were starting from scratch single payer would be the way to go. He and other liberal healthcare reformers 'took single payer off the table' at the start of the process, arguing that most Americans wanted to keep the insurance they have and would resist radical change. But this flies in the face of numerous polls, done over several decades that indicate that the majority of Americans would support universal government financed healthcare. Here's a more convincing reason for erasing single payer: to try to achieve it means to end the private insurance industry as we know it. So here's a principle for analyzing corporate power in a capitalist society: Government is most unlikely to institute a reform--even if the 'system' would be best served by it--if the reform deeply threatens a major corporate sector. Capitalist reform seems to require major compromise with the profit interests of corporations affected. We will shortly see this played out in the effort to reform the energy industry.
The compromise the liberal health reform leadership has agreed on involves these elements: everyone will be required to be insured, all employers who are able to will be required to ensure their employees, those who can't get employer based insurance will be able to get subsidies to buy insurance from a choice of companies, including a non-profit publicly owned one (while existing government programs (medicaid, medicare, veterans) will be expanded to enable low income people to be covered. All insurance companies would be tightly regulated so that they would no longer cherry pick customers, and would not discriminate against sick people.
Barack Obama seems to have thought that this version would win the backing of the corporate power elite, since it provides reasonable hope of containing costs, and making the health system rational. While cleverly claiming to support reform, however, the health insurance and pharma companies have invested in an enormous campaign to prevent any reform that would reduce their profits. Indeed, they seem to have achieved an astonishing success in the senate--the legislation emerging there promises to create a captive market for these companies, with no significant public competition, and a set of regulations that may, like much government regulation, be readily diluted. So here's a second principle for understanding corporate power: any corporate sector that has the means to control policy to its own advantage is likely to try to do so, even if this undermines reforms that the system as a whole requires.
Is there any hope for some semblance of decent reform? I think this lies in the kind of bill that the House seems ready to pass. And it's imperative that the House do this (which means that it's imperative that progressive congress members, including our own Lois Capps, stand firm in their resolve not to accept a bill without a real government option.) If the senate adopts the pro-corporate bill that is now shaping up, there will then come an opportunity for something real--a massive mobilization in favor of the house bill (and maybe having a million folks come to DC to overshadow the weird lunatic caravan that recently showed up there). The new deal history tells us that massive grassroots action must happen if corporate power is to be overcome. And that action requires something real to rally for.
Dick Flacks here...sociology professor emeritus at UCSB. Budget cuts mean that I can't continue my annual course on political sociology. Maybe a blog will be a space for me to continue to ruminate and pontificate. And maybe (as a veteran teacher on these matters) I can offer some ways of thinking about what's happening nationally and locally that will be useful, as we struggle to make sense of the tortured complexities of these times.
I've been a leftwing activist for more than 50 years. What we've been struggling for all these years is full democracy--to increase the opportunities for people to have real voice in the decisions that affect them. Step by step over these years we've made some gain...but it is a long march, and one that never ends. The big barrier to democracy in our society is the concentrated power of corporations. At the same time, democracy is undermined by the felt powerlessness of people in their daily lives--the persistent belief that our problems are only our own personal concern. It's a strong cultural theme--such individualism--constantlly reinforced by mass media and everyday circumstance. But the current big crisis of the economy maybe makes it more possible for more people to understand that we've got to have social reform and economic reform. So my writing here is aimed at helping us figure out what to think and act on that so that we can hope for new democratic possibilities. WE'll be talking about the local and the national.
The blog name comes from an old labor union hymn:
Step by step the longest march can be won. Many stones can form an arch...singly none. And by union what we will can be accomplished still. Drops of water turn a mill, singly none, singly none.
For 27 years I've had a weekly radio show on KCSB (91.9 fm. www.kcsb.org) It's called the Culture of Protest. It's comes from my fascination with music and social movements. I collect 'political' and 'protest' music and that's what we play each week (Thursdays 6-7 pm). So sometimes here we'll share and talk about that.
I'm worried about one thing about the blogosphere. And that's the way that some people use the blog comment space for anonymous nastiness. I'm sick of the kind of political blather that assaults the motives of others, and sees dark conspiracy behind every thing one doesn't like. This kind of stuff is helping to poison the political atmosphere. So I'm going to strive for a civil tone to whatever interaction may happen on this blogsite.