How Richmond Progressive Alliance Broke Chevron’s Stranglehold over Local Politics

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Book review by Ryan Haney, first published by Talking Union.

Steve Early’s Refinery Town is a compelling read on multiple levels. It paints an interesting portrait of Richmond, CA (pop. 110,000), a Bay Area city that is home to a massive Chevron refinery. It also works as a journalistic deep dive into contemporary municipal politics, with a cast of reformers and establishment actors clashing over approaches to problems in a city wracked by disinvestment, toxic waste, corruption, and crime.

In November 2016, the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) won a majority on the City Council, overcoming massive campaign funding for their opponents by Chevron. Continue reading

Bernie Sanders’ Book Offers Roadmap

Reblogged from Talking Union. Written by Steve Early and Rand Wilson.

Bernie Sanders’ segue from presidential candidate to barnstorming author was seamless. In between the Democratic National Convention in July and hitting the stump this fall to boost Hillary Clinton’s stock in battleground states, Sanders cranked out a 450-page book, which hit bookstores November 15. The author was not far behind, with sold-out appearances from Boston to San Francisco.

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Jill Stein’s $3 Million Post-Election Scampaign

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Jill Stein blew $3.5 million failing to even come close to winning 5% of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election — as predicted — but she has a new scampaign: election integrity. In a few days, she raised over $3 million for vote recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan fueled by baseless rumors that Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in these states had something to do with hacking. Continue reading

How Socialists Saved Milwaukee

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By Lisa Kaiser

Local historian John Gurda is slated to give the second annual Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture tonight on Milwaukee’s Socialist legacy. But he spoke with the Shepherd last week about his thoughts on how the Socialists saved Milwaukee. Here are some of his observations:

Shepherd: What was going on in Milwaukee when the Socialists emerged?

Gurda: They began to run candidates for office in 1898. That was the first year that David Rose was in office [as mayor]. Milwaukee was thoroughly corrupt. It was as bad as Chicago on a bad day. Everything was for sale, which was not atypical. That was the pattern in American politics back in what was called the Gilded Age. Milwaukee was also very heavily industrialized. This was a working-class town. More than half of the male working population would have been engaged in manufacturing of some sort. It was a visibly dirtier city than it is today with coal smoke and just incredible pollution in the rivers. It was also very compact and congested. When you look at the older part of town today there are a lot of open spaces, there has been renewal or removal of some kind. That was not true then. It was cheek by jowl.

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Deplorables? Obama Voters Elected Trump

Hillary Clinton’s surprise defeat in the 2016 presidential election at the hands of Donald Trump has led to much weeping and gnashing of teeth among liberals and progressives alike. Arguments that 60 million Trump voters are deplorables — irredeemable racists, misogynists, pussy-grabbing Muslim-hating fascist bigots — are really a back-handed way of saying two things:

  1. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment that anointed her — over the vigorous objections of Bernie Sanders’ insurgency — are blameless for this unparalleled historic defeat. (Nevermind the fact that Bill Clinton encouraged Trump to run.)
  2. There is no conceivable way Sanders could have won the election if had been the Democratic Party’s nominee. After all, if Hillary Clinton was too ‘left-wing’ for the general electorate, surely Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Such arguments ignore the mountain of evidence that it was Barack Obama voters who elected Trump. Just look at these maps.

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Reforms Amid Austerity: SYRIZA’s Self-Assessment

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June 2016 Political Theses of SYRIZA’s Central Committee for the Second Congress held on October 13-16. (Hyperlinks added by this blog.)

A. REVIEW

1. SYRIZA’s Victorious Advance – Unification at the First Congress, Preparation to Assume Responsibility for Government

The starting point of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) great advance dates back to the late 1980s, when the first signs of a general political crisis and the crisis of the bourgeois party system appeared. This happened when the Greek Socialist Party (PASOK) started being fully controlled by the state, placing the state’s imperatives and rationale, as well as the particular vested interests it was involved with, at the core of its existence, gradually acceding to the rising neoliberalism and abandoning the political representation of those afflicted by the inequalities perpetually produced by capitalism. New Democracy (ND) emerged as the pure champion of neoliberalism and, thanks to PASOK’s shift and the now apparent corruption, managed to have two short, but equally scandalous, terms in government. Continue reading

4 Takeaways from SYRIZA’s Second Congress

By Dimitris Rapidis. First published by Blog Active.eu. Hyperlinks added by this blog.

Between October 13-16, the governing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party held its second congress in Athens. There were many debates and fruitful discussions but above all else the congress addressed some major issues that define the party’s new vision and political scope.

epa04833806 (FILE) A file picture dated 10 February 2015 shows then Greek Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos speaking during a parliament session in Athens, Greece. According to widespread news reports, Tsakalotos was on 06 July 2015 named successor of Yanis Varoufakis as Greek Finance Minister. EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI

1. Euclid Tsakalotos Comes in First in the Central Committee Ballot

The Greek Minister of Finance achieved to get the first place among the contenders for the party’s Central Committee. This is an historic achievement, considering also that he is the one managing negotiations with the creditors and implementing the bailout program. Leading one of the influential political trends in SYRIZA, the Group of 53+, mostly critical to the bailout deal, Tsakalotos combines efficiency in negotiations — considering the balances of power with and among the creditors — and a constant effort to open the debate over the political vision of the party and the Left in Greece and Europe. While he is not clamoring for any leading position in the party nor is he promoting himself, Tsakalotos turns out to be extremely popular in the party. He can definitely build on that, empowering his position abroad and building the bridge connecting policy-making and daily management of policy consequences. Continue reading