Friday, June 29, 2012

Obama Advisor Axelrod's Vocera/CURE/Hospital Industry Connection?

In his 2010 book The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter noted that the wife of White House’s Senior Advisor to President Obama, former Chicago media/campaign consultant David Axelrod, “Susan, cofounded CURE, a nonprofit devoted to research on epilepsy.”

Coincidentally, less than 7 weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court declared an “Obamacare” reform bill constitutional, a board member of the Illinois Hospital Association and the for-profit Vocera health care industry firm, University of Chicago Medical Center President Sharon O’Keefe, became a member of the board of Susan Axelrod’s CURE [Citizens United For Research in Epilepsy] health care industry-related organization. Although CURE claims to be a “non-profit” organization, the total revenue collected by CURE in 2010 ($4,687,949) apparently exceeded CURE’s total expenses ($2,501,390) by $2,186,559.

Jonathan Alter’s The Promise: President Obama, Year One also indicated how the “Obamacare” reform bill (that requires individuals to purchase costly, sub-standard health insurance coverage policies from for-profit insurance corporations and will likely provide increased profits for drug companies and for-profit health care industry firms) came to be:

The [Obama health care reform] plan called for…winning support—or at least neutrality—from the insurance and drug industries (compensated by the award of 30 million new customers)…Obama…said the goal was `comprehensive health care reform by the end of the year.’…He warned `liberal bleeding hearts’ not to get…ambitious about universal coverage…Everything…([except] a single-payer plan, which he had ruled out in 2008…) was on the table…Jeffrey Kindler, the CEO of Pfizer, the drug giant, happens to be a Democrat…The industry would pay for the media to build public support for the plan…On May 11 [2009]…Obama met in the Roosevelt Room with industry…representatives…

“…The White House began cutting its own deals…Obama agreed to speak to the AMA convention—the first president to do so in a quarter century—and open the door to malpractice reform…in exchange for doctors’ not actively opposing him…

“All the claims of no quid pro quo couldn’t obscure the major deal cut in the Roosevelt Room in July [2009] between Rahm Emanuel and Billy Tauzin…representing the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, better known as PhRMA…The Drug industry…stood to gain billions from the legislation…

“On one level the loud public option debate was good for the overall prospects of the bill because it distracted media attention from…the mandates forcing individuals…to buy insurance…Rahm…told anyone who would listen that a public ooption wasn’t necessary…Rahm…thought he could satisfy the base by having Obama lash out rhetorically at insurance companies, but it wasn’t enough. Liberals wanted to see the president fighting for them…

“…Congressman Bart Stupak’s amendment…prevented abortions funded even by private insurers. Women’s groups called passage of the Stupak Amendment the worst setback for the pro-choice movement in a generation…It was more restrictive than the Hyde Amendment which barred any use of federal money for abortions (although 17 states allowed their Medicaid programs to fund it)…Stupak settled for an executive order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding for abortions…”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Michael Gold's 1930 `Proletarian Realism' `New Masses' Editorial: An Excerpt

In an article that appeared in the September 1930 issue of New Masses magazine, U.S. working-class writer and literary critic Mike Gold wrote the following:

“…The intellectuals sneer at the idea of a proletarian literature. They will acknowledge the possibility of nationalist cultures; but they have not reached the understanding that the national idea is dying, and that the class ideologies are alone real in the world today.

“I believe I was the first writer in America to herald the advent of a world proletarian literature as a concomitant to the rise of the world proletariat. This was in an article published in the Liberator in 1921, called ` Towards Proletarian Art.’ Mine was a rather mystic and intuitive approach; nothing had yet been published in English on this theme; the idea was not yet in the air, as it is today; I was feeling my way…

“Thousands of books and articles on the theories of proletarian literature have been published in…Russia, in Germany, Japan, China, France, England, and other countries. There is not a language in the world today in which a vigorous bold youth is not experimenting with the materials of proletarian literature. It is a world phenomenon;; and it grows, changes, criticizes itself, expands without the blessing of all the official mandarins and play-actor iconoclasts and psalm-singing Humanists of the moribund bourgeois culture. It does not need them any longer; it will soon boot them into their final resting places in the museum.

“No, the bourgeois intellectuals tell us, there can be no such thing as a proletarian literature. We answer briefly: There is…

“We have only one magazine in America, the New Masses, dedicated to proletarian literature. And there is no publishing house of standing and intelligent direction to help clarify the issues. Nearest is the International Publishers perhaps, but this house devotes itself solely to a rather academic approach to economics and makes little attempt to influence either the popular mind or our intellectuals. It is as stodgy and unenterprising…as the Yale University Press, and similar organizations.

“If there were a live publishing house here, such as the Cenit of Madrid, for instance, it could issue a series of translations of proletarian novels, poetry, criticism that might astound some of our intellectuals…

“For proletarian literature is a living thing. It is not based on a set of fixed dogmas…

“In proletarian literature, there are several laws which seem to be demonstrable. One of them is that all culture is the reflection of a specific class society. Another is, that bourgeois culture is in process of decay, just as bourgeois society is in a swift decline.

“The class that will inherit the world will be the proletariat, and every indication points inevitably to the law that this proletarian society will, like its predecessors, create its own culture.

“…Proletarian literature will reflect the struggle of the workers in their fight for the world. It portrays the life of the workers…with a clear revolutionary point…

“My belief is that a new form is evolving, which one might name `Proletarian Realism.’ Here are some of its elements, as I see them:

“…Proletarian realism deals with the real conflicts of men and women who work for a living…Proletarian realism is never pointless. It does not believe in literature for its own sake, but in literature that is useful, has a social function. Every major writer has always done this in the past; but is necessary to fight the battle constantly, for there are more intellectuals than ever who are trying to make literature a plaything…

“As few words as possible. We are not interested in the verbal acrobats—this is only another form for bourgeois idleness. The Workers live too close to reality to care about these literary show-offs, these verbalist heroes…

“Away with all lies about human nature…Everyone is a mixture of motives; we do not have to lie about our hero in order to win our case…No straining or melodrama…”

(New Masses, September, 1930)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Michael Gold's 1929 `Go Left, Young Writers!' New Masses' Essay: An Excerpt

In an article that appeared in the January 1929 issue of New Masses magazine, U.S. working-class writer and literary critic Mike Gold wrote the following:

“Literature is one of the products of a civilization like steel or textiles. It is not a child of eternity, but of time. It is always the mirror of its age. It is not any more mystic in its origin than a ham sandwich…

“There is…a left wing, led…in literature by the New Masses

“…The great mass of America is not `prosperous’ and it is not being represented in the current politics of literature…

“By default, the liberals have presented us writers and revolutionists of the left wing with a monopoly on the basic American mass. We have a wonderful virgin field to explore; titanic opportunities for creative work.

“Let us be large, heroic and self-confident at our task.

“The best and newest thing a young writer can now do in America…is to go leftward. If he gets tangled up in the other thing he will make some money, maybe, but he will lose everything else. Neither the Saturday Evening Post or The Nation can any longer nourish the free heroic soul. Try it and see…

“The old Masses was a more brilliant but a more upper class affair. The New Masses is working in a different field. It goes after a kind of flesh and blood reality, however crude, instead of the smooth perfect thing that is found in books.

“The America of the working class is practically undiscovered. It is like a lost continent. Bits of it come above the surface in our literature occasionally and everyone is amazed…The young writer can find all the…material he needs working as a wage slave around the cities and prairies of America.

“In the past eight months the New Masses has been slowly finding its path toward the goal of a proletarian literature in America…”

(New Masses, January, 1929)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spaniards Protest Against Banks & Bailout in Madrid

Michael Gold's 1928 Reflections On Upton Sinclair

In an article that appeared in the November 1928 issue of New Masses magazine, U.S. working-class writer and literary critic Mike Gold wrote the following about the early 20th century U.S. novelist and muckraker Upton Sinclair:

“Sinclair is a surprise to all who first meet him. One expects to meet a solemn bearded Tolstoy, but finds instead a brisk American youth who is quite a star at the game of tennis…

“He is never relaxed…He works. His whole life has been narrowed down to a stiletto point; he is a writing machine. Nothing else matters...He keeps his body in a chair twelve to sixteen hours a day and writes novels, plays, articles, manifestoes, for the Social Revolution. I wish I were like that.

“Every literary youth just out of Harvard…has written at least one superior article…pointing out the stylistic shortcomings of Upton Sinclair…

“Upton has faults….I do not object to what is called his sentimentality….

"Upton has written 40 books about poverty, the class struggle, the revolution. And everyone of them is written with passion, observation, and a smooth beautiful skill that reminds one of Defoe, of Dickens, of Tolstoy, all the giants of fiction whose pens flowed with large, easy grandeur…

“…He is the best known American writer in the world today. American writers marvel at this, but the answer is easy. Upton, with all his faults, has one virtue; he knows there is a class struggle in America, and writes about it. Europe and Asia read him to learn about the America that counts, the workers’ America, not the America of murder trials, boudoirs, and snappy stories.

“Yes, bourgeois critics say Upton Sinclair is not sophisticated…But it all comes down to this; they don’t like him because he takes the social revolution seriously.

“They can understand dead revolutions, and dead revolutionary writers. They can `place’ the revolutionary writings of Walt Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson, they can overlook the lack of style and `behavioristic’ psychology in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“But Upton has written a long string of novels, some good, some bad, in each of which one finds the same faults, and the same virtue and necessity and revolutionary usefulness of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“He is our only pioneer writer since Whitman. He is the bard of industrial America.

“…Upton, with his social passion and muckraking, is out of fashion with the American `intelligentsia.’ I think he feels this. He has really been neglected in America and faintly sneered at for twenty-five years. He has felt it. But he writes every day. He persists. He is one of few giants among a scramble of lapdogs. He works on. His very persistence in America is an act of faith, and a form of genius.

“George Sterling told me Jack London did not really die of natural causes, but killed himself with an overdose of morphine tablets…He had been defeated by the American environment. He was a success, and had to earn $40,000 [in early 20th-century money] every year writing Hearst slop. This money was needed for a show ranch, a string of saddle horses, and other means of impressing weekend parties of Babbitts. Jack got to hate himself and his false bourgeois life; then he tried to hate and forget his splendid proletarian youth. He drank like a fish and tried to drown his revolutionary emotions, his real self. Result: suicide…

“But Upton Sinclair will never dream of such a thing; he is too busy. He is too useful…

“...I have never understood Upton Sinclair’s politics. [But] I will repeat, despite everything, he is our great American pioneer in revolutionary fiction, he is, to my mind, the most important writer in America.”

(New Masses, November 1928)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Male Chauvinism In The Patriarchal Democratic Obama Administration's White House?

During the first term of the Democratic Obama Administration, some women White House staff members apparently felt that the Obama White House was being run in a male chauvinist way. As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter noted, for example, in his 2010 book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One:

"...Jarett loyalists, especially women and minorities, continued to feel that Rahm was insensitive, which was hardly the first time he faced that charge. They complained that they had trouble breaking into `the boys club' that had also largely run things during the [2008] campaign, when Obama first showed he was most comfortable with a tight circle of male advisors...Women and minorities felt the same subtle social exclusion that they often perceived in the workplace: that they were there to `fill a role' rather than for their true talents. They...found it ironic to be confronting a boys club in the Obama White House..."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Alternative Media/Left Gatekeeper Censorship In 2002: Sponsored By CIA's Ford Foundation?--Part 1

“`From the Vault’ is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting…”—from a 6/15/12 update posted on Pacifica Radio’s “From the Vault” show website.

(Note: The following historical article about the hidden financial history of the U.S. alternative media and its historical left gatekeepers was written in 2002. So in 2012, some of the left gatekeepers mentioned in this 2002 historical article may have moved on to other positions within the U.S. alternative media/left subculture or mainstream U.S. media or academic world during the last 10 years.)

“The mass-circulation weekly TEMPO accused Ford of having once played, at the urging of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a covert role in Indonesian political affairs by consciously supporting the work of individuals who were deemed to be sympathetic to the anti-communist aims of American foreign policy.”

Chronicle of Philanthropy, 12/13/01

“The Ford Foundation's history of collaboration and interlock with the CIA in pursuit of U.S. world hegemony is now a well-documented fact...The Ford Foundation has in some ways refined their style of collaboration with Washington's attempt to produce world cultural domination, but retained the substance of that policy...The ties between the top officials of the Ford Foundation and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing.”

—James Petras in "The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police" on 12/15/2001

The multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation's historic relationship to the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] is rarely mentioned on Pacifica's DEMOCRACY NOW / Deep Dish TV show, on FAIR's COUNTERSPIN show, on the WORKING ASSETS RADIO show, on The Nation Institute's RADIO NATION show, on David Barsamian's ALTERNATIVE RADIO show or in the pages of PROGRESSIVE, MOTHER JONES and Z magazine. One reason may be because the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations subsidize the Establishment Left's alternative media gatekeepers / censors.


Take Pacifica / DEMOCRACY NOW, an alternative radio network with annual revenues of $10 million in 2000, whose National Program Director was paid $63,000 in that year. In the early 1950s--when the CIA was using the Ford Foundation to help fund a non-communist "parallel left" as a liberal Establishment alternative to an independent, anti-Establishment revolutionary left--the Pacifica Foundation was given a $150,000 grant in 1951 by the Ford Foundation's Fund for Education. According to James Ledbetter's book Made Possible By..., "the Fund's first chief was Alexander Fraser, the president of the Shell Oil Company."

Besides subsidizing the Pacifica Foundation in the early 1950s, the Ford Foundation also spent a lot of money subsidizing many other noncommercial radio or television stations in the United States. According to Ledbetter's Made Possible By..., between 1951 and 1976, the Ford Foundation "spent nearly $300 million on noncommercial radio and television."

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pacifica relied primarily on listener-sponsor contributions to fund the operations of its radio stations. And in the early 1970s, Pacifica also began to accept funds from the U.S. Establishment's Corporation for Public Broadcasting [CPB], according to Rogue State author William Blum--who worked as a KPFA staffperson in the late 1970s. But in the early 1990s, some Pacifica administrators decided to again seek grants from the Ford Foundation and other Establishment foundations. As former Pacifica Development Director Dick Bunce wrote in the appendix to the "A Strategy for National Programming" document which was prepared for the Pacifica National Board in September 1992, entitled "Appendix Foundation Grantseeking National Programming Assumptions for Foundation Fundraising":

"The national foundation grantseeking arena has changed enough in recent years to make activity in this arena potentially worthwhile--for organizations prepared to be players and partners in the same field as NPR, APR, maybe some others...The foundation funding of interest is in gifts of $100,000 or more a year, for several years...Three of America's six largest foundations (Ford, MacArthur, Pew) have begun to fund public broadcasting, public radio in particular, and evidently intend to continue doing so. Pacifica requested meetings with each of these foundations earlier this year and was treated seriously enough in subsequent meetings to give us some hope of securing funding possibly from all three. A `Report Sheet' on this work is included in Appendix 3.

"Beyond these three foundations there are no others among the country's 100 largest which have made substantial grants to public broadcasting. So the second tier of foundation prospects look substantially different from the first tier requiring more work on our part to open doors, establish `standing' and find a workable `fit.'

"There are nonetheless a number of interesting prospects--in some cases only because of particular people who are currently involved, or because of formal criteria which we could try to fit. The second tier list includes several from the top 100--Rockefeller, Irvine, Surdna, George Gund--Nathan Cummings--and a number of smaller foundations, but still capable of 6 figure grants: Aaron Diamond, Revson, Rockefeller Family & Associates, New World, Winston Foundation for World Peace.

"Once we drop to the $35,000 to $75,000 grant range, the list enlarges, but these take as long to cultivate as the bigger ones, so it makes sense to start from the top.

"Foundation fundraising at this level has extraordinary payoffs--but it takes senior staff time, not `grantwriting' but in communicating. It is therefore expensive, and not successfully done as an afterthought to everything else in the day. It also requires `venture capital visits' to the foundations to open doors and conversations that lead to partnerships.

"In initiating three top level contacts in April, May and June, and attempting to capitalize on the opportunities apparent to us, we have already been stretched beyond our capacity to really interface effectively with these funders--although admittedly much of the problem to date has been due to the fact that we don't yet have a clear business plan for national programming.

"Foundation grantmaking will most likely proceed as short-term funding. Funders will want to `fund projects, not operations.' We should presume that we can succeed in raising serious money to launch or establish new programs, etc. but not to sustain them beyond start-up. The standard of self-sufficiency will be required for many proposals we submit, and our own planning will be most successful if we relate to this funding source accordingly.

"Short-Run Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program

"Seek Development Committee leadership in planning for Foundation grantseeking.

"Pursue 3 `anchor' grants to acquire funding beginning in FY'93 from the Big 3 foundations we've already begun to work with.

"Long-Range Strategies for Developing a Foundation Grantseeking Program

"Initiate an informal `feasibility inquiry' of foundation support for Pacifica's objectives by requesting visits with the dozen top prospects to shape proposals and establish relationships...

"Foundation Grants Summary: Late this spring we began our first efforts in national foundation grantseeking on behalf of national programming. We have a good chance of securing six figure grants in the coming fiscal year from any or all of the 3 foundations we're working with, but our approach is still dependent upon our own organizational progress toward a business plan that we are committed to following through on.

"The second tier of foundation prospects is more challenging, and will require increased staff resoucres, a modest feasability inquiry and active planning with the Board Development Committee."

By 1995, billionaire speculator George Soros' Open Society Institute had given the Pacifica Foundation a $40,000 grant. And in 1996, the Carnegie Corporation of New York gave Pacifica a $25,000 grant to launch its DEMOCRACY NOW show. In 1997 came a $13,000 grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund to Pacifica to provide support for DEMOCRACY NOW. And in 1998 came a $25,000 grant to Pacifica from the Public Welfare Foundation "to report on hate crimes and related issues as part of its `DEMOCRACY NOW!" public-affairs radio program and an additional $10,000 grant to support DEMOCRACY NOW from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. That same year the Ford Foundation gave a $75,000 grant to Pacifica "toward marketing consultancy, promotional campaign and program development activities for radio program, DEMOCRACY NOW." In 1998 and 1999, two grants, totalling $22,500, were also given to Pacifica by the Boehm Foundation, to support its DEMOCRACY NOW show.

In early 2002, an additional Ford Foundation grant of $75,000 was given to Deep Dish TV "for the television news series, DEMOCRACY NOW, to continue incorporating the aftermath of the September 11th attack into future broadcasts." Besides being presently subsidized by the Ford Foundation to air Pacifica's DEMOCRACY NOW show, Deep Dish TV, with an annual income of $158,000 in 2000, was also subsidized by the MacArthur Foundation in the 1990s. Between 1993 and 1998, $190,000 in grants were given to Deep Dish TV by the MacArthur Foundation. And one of the members of Deep Dish TV's board of directors in recent years has apparently been a WBAI staffperson named Mario Murillo.

Another Ford Foundation grant of $200,000 was given in April 2002 to the Astraea Foundation, whose former board finance committee chairperson, Leslie Cagan, is presently the chairperson of Pacifica's national board. Three other grants have been given to the Astraea Foundation by the Ford Foundation since 2000: two grants, totalling $75,000, in 2000; and a $200,000 grant in 2001 "for general support and subgrants to community-based organizations addressing social, political and economic justice, especially those focused on lesbians and other sexual minorities." The former finance committee chairperson of the Ford Foundation-sponsored Astraea Foundation recently signed a $2 million "golden handshake / sweetheart contract" with the Ford Foundation-sponsored, soon-to-be-privatized DEMOCRACY NOW producer (who has apparently been receiving a $90,000/year salary from Pacifica in recent years for her alternative journalism work).

(end of part 1 of 2002-written historical article)

Michael Gold On Ernest Hemingway: Excerpts from 1928 `New Masses' article

In an article that appeared in the March 1928 issue of New Masses magazine, U.S. working-class writer and literary critic Mike Gold wrote the following about the early 20th century U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway (who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound nearly 51 years ago in July 1961):

“…Fashion is as whimsical as a butterfly, neurotic as a race horse with hives, crazy as the New York weather.

“What causes the cycles of fashion? The average `literary critic’ can’t tell you; the world is all accident to him. He is as incompetent as the average university `economist’ who describes perfectly the cycles of economic expansion and depression, but knows…little of their basic laws…

“Ernest Hemingway is the newest young writer to leap into fashion among American intellectuals. He deserves recognition; he is powerful, original, would be noticed anywhere, and at any time. He has a technical control of his material as sure as a locomotive engineer’s. He sees and feels certain things for himself, for 1928.

“Hemingway became a best seller with his novel The Sun Also Rises. He had already published a volume of short stories, and a satirical novel. Neither was very popular. Hemingway was considered a member of a cult. The advance guard of American writing, most of whom live in Paris, looked upon Hemingway as one of their bannermen. He expressed their mood of irony, lazy despair, and old-world sophistication.

“Suddenly this esoteric mood became popular. Thousands of simpler male and female Americans, not privileged to indulge in café’ irony and pity in Paris, but rising to alarm clocks in New York and Chicago, discovered and liked Hemingway. Why? His novel was an upper-class affair, concerned with the amours and drinking bouts of Americans with incomes who rot in European cafés; self-pitying exiles and talkers…Why did the hard-working Babbitt Americans accept…the gilded sorrows in Hemingway?

“It was no accident.

“…America is the land where the businessman is the national hero. A big section of the middle-class youth, however, hates in its heart the rapacities, the meanness, the dollarmanias of business.

“American business simply cannot satisfy the mind and the heart. A thousand voices rise every day to testify against it…The war was a profound shock to all the youth…And now they can sense the next war, and they have no illusions about the past or present, and they have no hopes for the imperialist future.

“Mencken, Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, all the bourgeois modern American writers, whom do they write for? Not for workingmen, and not for the bankers of Wall Street. They write for, and they express the soul of, the harried white-collar class.

“I know a hundred…haggard, witty, hard-drinking woman-chasing advertising men, press agents, dentists, doctors, engineers, technical men, lawyers, office executives. They go to work every morning and plough their weary brains eight hours a day in the fiercest scramble for a living the world has ever known…

“Hemingway offers the daydreams of a man. Liquor, sex and sport are his three chief themes, as they are in the consciousness of the American white-collar slave today…

“The young American `liberal’ writes advertising copy meekly all day, then at night dreams of Hemingway’s irresponsible Europe, where everyone talks literature, drinks fine liqueurs, swaggers with a cane, sleeps with beautiful and witty British aristocrats, is well informed in the mysteries of bullfighting, has a mysterious income from home.
“That is why Hemingway is suddenly popular. He has become the sentimental storyteller to a whole group of tired, sad, impotent young Americans, most of whom must work in offices every day--`white collar slaves.’…

“Ten years ago Hemingway could not have written in this mood; he would not have felt the mood , and no one else would have understood him, in this mood. His mood is that of the betrayed young idealist.

“There is no humanity in Hemingway, as there is in Dreiser, Stephen Crane, Upton Sinclair, Carl Sandburg, all the men of the earlier decade. He is heartless as a tabloid. He describes the same material as do tabloids, and his sole boast is his aloofness, last refuge of a scoundrel. What one discerns in him as in those younger writers close to his mood, is an enormous self-pity….

“…Hemingway…has led American writing back to the divine simplicities of the prosaic; he has made a great technical contribution.

“The revolutionary writers of the future will be grateful to him; they will imitate his style. But they will have different things to say. A new wave of social struggle is moving on the ocean of American life. Unemployment is here; hints of a financial depression; the big conservative unions are breaking up; another world war is being announced by Admirals and Generals.

Babbitt was one of the evidences of the desperation and pessimism of the middle-class idealists during the Judas decade, Hemingway was another sign…Upton Sinclair is coming back in popularity in his own land. There is surely something brewing. Hemingway is not the herald of a new way of feeling, but the last voice of a decade of despair.”
(New Masses, March 1928)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Democratic Obama Administration Failed To Reduce U.S. Jobless Rate To Below 4 Percent

In his 2010 book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter indicated one reason why the Democratic Obama Administration failed to reduce the official U.S. unemployment rate below 4 percent during its four years in office:

"His advisors rejected WPA-style direct government hiring...Government jobs would have atttacked unemployment immediately. (In 1934, FDR and his relief administrator, Harry Hopkins, created 4 million jobs in two months.)...The failure to think more boldly about creating jobs would haunt the administration...

"...The Obama advisors figured that as long as unemployment stayed under 10 percent...they could slide through..."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Michael Gold On John Reed: Excerpts from 1927 `New Masses' article

In an article that appeared in the November 1927 issue of New Masses magazine, U.S. working-class writer and literary critic Mike Gold wrote the following about the early 20th century U.S. writer and journalist John Reed (whose life was dramatized, somewhat, in Warren Beatty’s early 1980s Hollywood movie, Reds):

John Reed was a cowboy out of the west, six feet high, steady eyes, boyish face; a brave, gay, open-handed young giant; you meet thousands of him on the road, in lumber camps, on the ranges, the mines.

“I used to see Jack Reed swimming at Provincetown with George Cram Cook, that other Socialist and great-hearted adventurer now dead too. I went out a mile with them in a catboat, and they raced back through a choppy sea, arm over arm, shouting bawdy taunts at each other, whooping with delight. Then we all went to Jack’s house and ate a big jolly supper.

“He loved every kind of physical and mental life; the world flowed through him freely…And Jack wrote the most vivid book on the Bolshevik Revolution that has yet appeared in any language. After ten years it is as sound and fresh as at first. It was written white-hot, almost at the scene of the event. It is the greatest piece of reporting in history. It is a deathless book that sells by the million.

“The Revolution is the romance of tens of millions of men and women in the world today. This is something many American intellectuals never understand about Jack Reed. If he had remained romantic about the underworld, or about meaningless adventure-wandering, or about women or poem-making, they would have continued admiring him. But Jack Reed fell in love with the Revolution, and gave it all his generous heart’s blood. This the pale, rootless intellectuals could never understand. When he died they said he had wasted his life. It is they who lead wasted, futile lives in their meek offices, academic sanctums, and bootleg parlors.

“Jack Reed lived the fullest and grandest life of any young man in our America…

“He burst into American writing like a young genius. Everyone followed his work eagerly, waiting for the inevitable masterpiece. At the outbreak of war Jack Reed was the best paid and most brilliant war correspondent in America. He had written some of the best short stories. Everyone waited for the masterpiece…

“Jack Reed’s life was not wasted; he did write his masterpiece, Ten Days That Shook The World. But the `intellectuals’ haven’t yet recognized this.

“The role of the intellectual in the revolutionary labor movement has always been a debating point. In the I.W.W. the fellow-workers would tar and feather (almost) any intellectual appeared among them. The word `intellectual’ became a synonym for the word `bastard,’ and in the American Communist movement there is some of this feeling.

“It is part of the American hard-boiled tradition, shared by revolutionists here who believe it is unproletarian and unmanly to write a play, or study politics, or discuss the arts. Mr. Babbitt feels the same way.

“This tradition is dying in the American revolutionary movement. Jack Reed was one of the `intellectuals’ who helped destroy the prejudice. He identified himself so completely with the working class; he undertook every danger for the revolution; he forgot his Harvard education, his genius, his popularity, his gifted body and mind so completely that no one else remembered them any more; there was no gap between Jack Reed and the workers any longer.

“…He was on trial during the war for sedition. He rose in the courtroom, hitched up his pants, looked the Judge squarely in the eye, and testified boldly and frankly, like a revolutionist.

“It is a difficult career being an active revolutionist, It takes all one’s nerves, energy and character. It is almost as difficult to be a pioneer revolutionary writer. Jack Reed, in his short life, managed to combine both careers…

“…I am sure that the best elements of Jack Reed’s spirit will be preserved in any revolutionary writers who will appear in this country. They will have the bigness to be humane. They will laugh, but they will not sneer. Jack Reed was a fierce enemy to capitalism, but in all his books you will never find a sneer at humanity. And this is difficult to refrain from, too…

“…Jack Reed went through the Paterson strike, and the Lawrence strike, and the Bayonne strike, and understood their significance. And he understood the economic basis of the World War, and refused to be a tool of J.P. Morgan, like Walter Lippman and many other wise men who knew so much about Bergson, and so little about the inevitable treaty at Versailles.

“And he had read and thought enough to grasp the full political and economic significance of the Bolshevik Revolution for the world…
“…He had loved the Revolution when she was a haggard outlaw fighting for life against the ravening pack of capitalist nations.

“He had lived with the revolution in famine, in civil war, in chaos…He had seen hundreds of frozen corpses of Red Guards piled high in a railroad station and had worked himself to the bone for this Revolution. He wandered through typhus areas, he had been bitten by a louse, and died…

“And what he had died for was the real thing…Walter Lippman’s war to end war did not end war, but was the prelude to a more rapacious capitalistic imperialism and a greater imperialist war….”

(New Masses, November 1927)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Black Male Worker Unemployment Rate Jumps To 14.2 Percent In May 2012

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Black male workers over 20 years-of-age in the United States increased from 13.6 to 14.2 percent between April and May 2012; while the “not seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Latino male workers over 20 years-of-age increased from 8.6 to 9.6 percent during the same period, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In addition, the “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latino youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age also increased from 26.1 to 30.4 percent between April and May 2012; while the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 36.5 percent in May 2012.

Between April and May 2012, the total number of officially unemployed Black male workers over 20 years-of-age in the United States increased by 71,000 (from 1,108,000 to 1,179,000), according to the “seasonally adjusted” data; while the total number of unemployed Latino male workers over 20 years-of-age in the U.S. labor force increased by 153,000 (from 1,138,000 to 1,291,000) during the same period, according to the “not seasonally adjusted” data. In addition, the total number of jobless Latino youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age increased by 63,000 (from 285,000 to 348,000) between April and May 2012, according to the “not seasonally adjusted” data.

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black female workers over 20 years-of-age also increased from 10.8 to 11.4 percent between April and May 2012; and the total number of unemployed Black female workers over 20 years-of-age increased by 43,000 (from 1,019,000 to 1,062,000) during that same period. The official unemployment rate for all Black workers in the United States (male, female and youth) also increased from 13 to 13.6 percent between April and May 2012; while the official jobless rate for white youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 22 percent in May 2012.

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all male workers over 16 years-of-age in the United States (Black, Latino, Asian-American and white) increased from 8.2 to 8.4 percent between April and May 2012; while the official jobless rate for all female workers over 16 years-of-age was still 7.9 percent in May 2012. In addition, the “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latina female workers over 20 years-of-age was still 9.2 percent in May 2012; while the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for all workers in the United States increased from 8.1 to 8.2 percent between April and May 2012. During the same period, the total number of officially unemployed U.S. workers also increased from 12,500,000 to 12,720,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ June 1, 2012 press release:

“…The unemployment rates for…whites (7.4 percent)…showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in May (not seasonally adjusted)…

“The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose from 5.1 to 5.4 million in May. These individuals accounted for 42.8 percent of the unemployed…

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) edged up to 8.1 million over the month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job…

“In May, 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up from 2.2 million a year earlier…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

“Among the marginally attached, there were 830,000 discouraged workers in May…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“Construction employment declined by 28,000 in May, with job losses occurring in special trade contractors (-18,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (-11,000)…In May, job losses in accounting and bookkeeping services (-14,000) and in services to buildings and dwellings (-14,000) were offset by small gains elsewhere…

“The change in total nonfarm payroll employment…for April was revised [downward] from +115,000 to +77,000…”