With the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire coming up next Friday the Progressive Jewish Alliance has put together some materials that commemorate this tragic event and invites you to discover your own connection to a dark chapter in our country’s history. A very familiar Jewish perspective says “Those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it.” In light of the recent attempt to strip the American worker of the protections of Union membership, collective bargaining rights, etc., the timeline, history, poetry and writings of the survivors seem particularly timely.
Month: March 2011
The Few, The Voters
Local elections are generally poorly attended. It’s been difficult to get people to understand just how local politics affects their lives. This Letter To The Editor appeared in today’s Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times and it states the case beautifully:
I would like to thank the 82.41% of registered voters of the great city of Los Angeles for having such trust and confidence in the 11.59% of us who voted in Tuesday’s election.
Half of the City Council, half of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and half of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees were picked. Voters also weighed a bunch of ballot measures that will decide where some of our tax money will go.
Yes, less than 12% of us decided how the city will be run for the next few years.
Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, Los Angeles
It’s very simple. As long as we still have a democracy, get out and vote. It’s the way our voices are heard.
A Chink in the Wall: Los Angeles Ballot Measure H Passes!
In the face of the massive, ongoing power-grab by the right-wing conservatives in the service of their corporate masters there has been little to cheer about in recent months. Item by item we have seen our constitutional protections threatened, our rights degraded and our societal safeguards pulled out from under our feet.
Underlying so much of these losses is the fact that our politicians are almost completely bought and paid for by corporations looking to curry favor from elected officials. And in the face of such large amounts of money, most politicians lose any shred of integrity they may have had and think only of how they will win re-election when their current term is up. By accepting large corporate campaign donations the elected official feels obligated to make political and legislative decisions that favor their corporate donors – usually at the expense of the middle class, the working poor, seniors, the mentally ill and other vulnerable groups, not to mention the environment.
BUT! We finally have some good news as a result of the passage of Ballot Measure H which passed in yesterday’s Los Angeles election. Measure H is the first step in changing the way elections are held in the state of California. Establishing public funding for political campaigns is the only way we will ever get our democracy out of the clutches of big money and level the playing field so that qualified candidates can run for office without having to seek out or accept corporate or private donations. When elections are publicly funded the elected officials will not be beholden to any donor. They will be able to do the job they were elected to do without corporate influence and without spending – as they do now – almost 30% of their day fund-raising for their next election rather than doing the people’s business.
Public funding for campaigns exists now in 7 states and it works! Read on for a statement from the California Clean Money Campaign:
Voters Resoundingly Say “YES” to Fair Elections in Los Angeles!
Last night, Los Angeles residents sent a message to leaders across the state and across the country: It’s time to end corporate and big money special interest control of our political system.
By an overwhelming 3-1 margin, 75% of Los Angeles residents voted “YES!” on Measure H, the Los Angeles Clean Money, Fair Elections measure.
The immediate ramification of Measure H is that bidders on large city contracts will no longer be allowed to make campaign contributions to elected officials who decide who wins – some of the most potentially corruptive campaign contributions one could imagine.
But the most important result of Measure H is lifting the maximum balance in the City’s public financing campaign trust fund. This will eventually allow L.A. to move to full, Clean Money, Fair Elections public funding of campaigns, so that candidates don’t take big money from any special interest donors and are accountable only to the voters. And believe us, when the time is right, we’ll be asking you all to help demand that it does!
This victory has statewide and national implications. As Nick Nyhart, President of the national Public Campaign said:
“There should be no doubt about it – this is a victory that will boost the fortunes of money and politics reform far beyond LA.”
A View From Elsewhere: Perception, Sarcasm and Other Matters
My last post titled “Are You Sick Of Highly Paid Teachers?” generated quite a bit of buzz. At last count 122 comments on Newsvine.com [http://tinyurl.com/hue99jl]
Although clearly labeled satire there were those who took the piece at face value and went to great lengths to argue with what they thought the article was saying. Others expended a lot of energy talking about the “privileges” of being a teacher (short hours, 3 months a year off, etc. ) and asserted that teachers need to step up and shoulder their fair share.
Without re-hashing the conversation (you can read all the comments and my replies on my Newsvine page by using the link above) let me just say that, when read as intended, what is offered is a sarcastic title with a Stephen-Colbert-style text that actually DEFENDS teachers and shows what nonsense it is to think that teachers aren’t already shouldering more than their fair share for far less than they ought to be paid.
Sarcasm: Stating exactly the opposite of what you mean.
Satire: Using humor to show that a point of view or behavior is foolish.
Just recently I’ve seen a number of examples of sarcasm and satire that got interpreted by the viewer as though they were serious statements and a truly surprising misperception of a song lyric that really threw me for a loop.
The focus here is accepting that sometimes the world looks so completely different to the person standing next to you as to be unrecognizable.
The song in question was written by my good friend, singer/songwriter John M. The title of the song is “My Mother In Me” and is, to most listeners, an ode to his mother listing the many ways John’s mother contributed to what is good and right in his life.
“She taught me how to walk in the light and live by the golden rule
And sometimes how to stand and fight. My momma didn’t raise no fool.
What you see is what you get and if you like what you see
Look a little closer – That’s my Mother in Me.”
Someone took great offense to the song hearing – I know not what or why – that it was an insult to mothers. (??!?)
(By the way, it’s a great song. Click on over to John’s web site and give it a listen.)
It seems a great many people these days are looking at what they want to see rather than what is actually in front of them. Others project from within themselves something that isn’t there. Still others, I am told, have a physical brain configuration that makes them incapable of perceiving satire and sarcasm.
How do you talk to someone who is convinced of a reality that your senses and the best evidence available tells you doesn’t exist? Our perceptions are a result of the long chain of choices we’ve made up to this point in our lives. To change how you see something requires that you back-track and reassess previously held beliefs. (Education, by the way, is a big part of how we’ve come to hold our current beliefs. If you have the ability to think critically and analyze your reality rather than just react to it thank a teacher.)
There is an old Jewish saying that goes like this:
“If one man tells you you are a horse ignore him. If two men tell you you are a horse think about it. If three men tell you you are a horse – buy a saddle.”