Britons Strike as Government Extends Austerity Measures – NYTimes.com. Public sector workers on Wednesday began Britain’s biggest strike in a generation to protest austerity measures, a day after the British government said that it was falling behind with its deficit-reduction plan and that the measures would drag on for two more years.
Any issue that has these two in agreement ought to make us think twice.
Senator Rand Paul:
“It’s not enough just to be alleged to be a terrorist. That’s part of what due process is – deciding, are you a terrorist? I think it’s important that we not allow U.S. citizens to be taken.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein:
“Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge. We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.”
What are they talking about? There are provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that will require that the U.S. military dispose with anyone who is suspected of terrorism, without regard to where they are, or who they are.
Let’s be clear about this. Under this law, if it passes, United States citizens, arrested within our own borders, could be imprisoned indefinitely without trial for the mere suspicion of having terrorist sympathies.
“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”
– Dorothy Parker
This brings you best wishes on Thanksgiving with a couple of favorite old radio segments from The Internet Archive.
From a 1951 CBS Radio Broadcast of Life With Luigi, it’s Luigi’s Thanksgiving Dinner for America. Also, from Armed Forces Radio Service, it’s the 1944 Thanksgiving special on Command Performance.
Life With Luigi starred J. Carrol Naish as “the little immigrant” Luigi Basco. Each episode was framed as a letter from his new home in Chicago back to his mama in Italy. The program aired on CBS Radio in the late 40s and early 50s until the move to television in 1952. In this episode, Luigi makes plans to invite all of America to his house for the Thanksgiving celebration. Originally broadcast on November 22, 1949, click here for the MP3.
The episode of Command Performance was broadcast to U.S. troops serving in WW II during Thanksgiving of 1944. Lionel Barrymore hosts, Dinah Shore sings and there’s a Baby Snooks sketch with Fanny Brice. The program also features the orchestra of Percy Faith. Click here for that MP3 download.
Also, as we enjoy the comfort of our homes, the company of our families and a festive meal this holiday, let’s not forget those who are unable to do so. I would encourage donations to the USO and to Catholic Charities.
God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving!
From the 2008 Magic Tour, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are joined by Tom Morello for a song in the tradition of Woody Guthrie.
I believe it’s fitting to contemplate as we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The highway is alive tonight….”
History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Remembering JFK on the 48th Anniversary of his Passing
Rest In Peace
The IWW and the Fight for Democracy
I love my job. Every day I get to do interesting and creative things. I work on teams with really smart people. For the most part we are self-directed in our work, and I have almost complete discretion over my own daily activities. I’m well compensated for my efforts. The pay and benefits are good, the health care plan is excellent (especially by today’s standards) and the 401(k) match is generous. By any measure, this current employment situation is the most satisfying of my forty years in the workforce. I cannot think of a single thing that I would change if I could.
So Friday evening I joined the union.
Please allow me to explain. I don’t expect to change things at my company. As I said, there’s really nothing that I’d like to see change there. I have no grievances. In fact, every day I’m thankful for the opportunity to work in such an open and pleasant environment. I didn’t apply for membership in the Industrial Workers of the World to change my workplace. I joined to change the world.
The IWW was formed in June of 1905 at the meeting of the Industrial Congress in Chicago. Unlike the trade unions, which participate in structures that often allow one set of workers to be pitted against another, the “Wobblies” (as they are often called) practice solidarity unionism – the idea that workers in all sorts of jobs, in all industries, throughout all the world, share a common cause, and that they should work together towards its ultimate achievement in ONE BIG UNION.
The Wobblies have had a sometimes troubled history because of their insistence on staying true to that philosophy. There were schisms (on both the left and the right) in the early years, with the group that remained always holding firm to the ideals of democracy and solidarity above all else. There was also much persecution of the IWW at the hands of business interests and vigilantes, and suppression at the hands of the government. For six years (from March 1947 to April 1953) the union was on the Attorney General’s list of “subversive organizations.” Wobblies were denied federal employment and access to participation in many government programs. Throughout the years, members have been beaten, imprisoned, deported and murdered for having the audacity to work for a more just, free and democratic world.
For me, the decision to join the Wobblies was a simple matter of taking a stand. I am 54 years old and I have never held a union card. I have been active in party politics, but, frankly, have seen precious little positive effect on our society from that. I do small things as an individual to help others and to “make the world a better place,” but I have come to believe that individual acts are not enough to mitigate the crises that we face. Our world’s environment is in ruins. Our world’s economy is at the precipice. Violence and war and oppression and injustice are considered to be regrettable but unavoidable facts of life.
When I look for the causes of each of these problems, I find one thing always at the root: unfettered capitalism.
Perhaps you don’t see that. If not, let’s leave that discussion for another day. In any case, that is the conclusion I have drawn after much observation, study, contemplation and consideration.
That being the case, when I look for possible solutions, I find only one: organize with others to work for fundamental change. When I look for those with whom I might organize, I find any number of groups with clean hearts and valid strategies, but only a handful with the depth of commitment and vision that I seek. The Industrial Workers of the World became an obvious choice. Not only did it stand the test of reason, it just felt right.
Admittedly, for those looking at the situation through the predominant lenses of our culture, this choice may seem an odd and impractical one. The IWW is small, with maybe ten thousand or so members worldwide. It is an organization that calls for dramatic changes at the very core of our economic structures that are, perhaps to most, unthinkable. It is an organization that has, in some ways, made its objectives more difficult to achieve (over the short term, at least) by dogged insistence on democracy in practice, not just in theory.
Can a relatively small, idealistic group of people with a seemingly impossible goal really make a difference?
Let us recall the oft-quoted words of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Whether or not the stated goals of the IWW will ever be brought to fruition, I cannot say. I can say that for more than a hundred years, they have been creating practical working models of the world that I would like to see, and they have been ever on the right side of the great moral questions of our age. I have no doubt that standing with them means standing for increased democracy, freedom and justice in our land and our world. I can think of nothing that is of more consequence at this moment in history. I can think of no better legacy that I could choose to leave to my children. I can think of no other purpose that I would prefer to define my life.
That is why I joined the Wobblies.
At Mass on this, The Feast of Christ the King, we were reminded once again of the standard by which Christians are to be judged.
Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
From the Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 25, Verses 34-46 (Douay-Rheims Version)
Yesterday I watched in dumbstruck awe as tens of thousands gathered in New York City and throughout our nation for a day of action, commencing with a demonstration in the financial district and culminating in a nice little stroll by more than 30,000 across the Brooklyn Bridge (and other bridges around the country).
The significance of these events has still not quite set in. It is clear that this movement is not going away. Other than that, the moment is simply too large for me to grasp.
Remember those images from the Arab Spring? Tens of thousands rose up against military dictatorships and toppled them by their mere refusal to be obedient any longer.
As nearly as I can reckon, this is like that.
Full Coverage From OccupyWallSt.org: November 17: Historic Day of Action for the 99%.
NYPD Swarming Liberty Square in Bloody Assault. [OccupyWallSt.org] – It is unsettling in the extreme to watch paramilitary style assaults on peaceful protestors via livestream. Many arrests and injuries today…