An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
How Far Right?
Take a second to look over at Wampum for documentation on just how far the right wants to go--a stripping down of our government, and a regressive social agenda determined to take us back centuries. It seems the right's
real goal is rolling back the last 40 years of the Women's Right movement, ending no-fault divorce, and defunding international family planning. (All of it, not just anything abortion related, but preventative population control as well.) They also believe that generous pension benefits, Social Security and daycare facilities have led to the breakdown of the intergenerational family, as seniors are no longer dependent on the goodwill of their grown children, and can't be exploited as child caregivers.
The real question this raises, then, is if the obvious things like so-called gay marriage and partial birth abortions can be used as wedge issues, might this deeper agenda of the right be practical down the road?
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Kinsey reminds us of the boundaries society draws for us, and how we internalize them deeply without even really questioning. It asks us to both remember a time not so long ago when we were even more ignorant than today about our nature, and pushes us to wonder at the inhibitions and societal controls that keep us from exploring who we are today.
Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, and the rest of the cast generally turn in strong, convincing performances that are human and yet more willing to question and explore than many of us are. Timothy Hutton is hard to buy as a young researcher, but he and Chris O'Donnell play only minor roles, leaving plenty of time for Peter Sarsgaard's excellent work as Kinsey's assistant who helps him see where the research leads.
The folks who cast this movie have a real eye for irony. Anyone who remembers Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture show will find it more than a bit amusing to see him playing the prude professor admonishing his students and anyone else who will listen to abstain from sex and to avoid sex for anything other than procreation in marriage. I know he's done a lot over the years, but I still have a certain image of him!
Well done; entertaining; thought provoking; and worth seeing.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Building a Movement
Many of local unions are weak and disorganized, and they refuse to work together effectively.
While there are some great unions doing inspiring organizing and other work in Maryland and elsewhere, others have weak or lazy leaders, poor organization, passive memberships, and a clear lack of focus on building strength or winning victories. The most important first step in creating a movement that can change our society is building locals that have strength. This means not only merging together to build coherence and size, but pushing real democracy and internal activism while removing barriers to new leadership, so that those who are not willing to lead will get out of the way of those who are.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Good for Whom?
Last night's Frontline "Is Wal-Mart Good for America" on PBS was a pretty good dissection of the way the retail and jobs are going. The case against is best summed up by:
If people were only consumers, buying things at lower prices would be just
good. But people also are workers who need to earn a decent standard of living,"
says economist Larry Michel of the Economic Policy Institute. "The dynamics that
create lower prices at Wal-Mart and other places are also undercutting the
ability of many, many workers to earn decent wages and benefits and have a
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Where are you going to?
Having Frosh in the race for attorney general raises a lot of political
intrigue. He is a noted environmentalist who would be portrayed as a consumer
advocate, differing from law-and-order candidates like Ivey and Gansler.
There are certainly rumblings for change in the legislature in Maryland, no more so than in southern Montgomery County. While the Post predicts new efforts at diversifying the legislature, challenges for longterm incumbents seem likely from a variety of quarters.
Predictions for who will take Ike Leggett's place at the helm of the Maryland Democratic Party in its important effort to unseat Gov. Ehrlich abound. Today even Roll Call has its share of predictions, but with no attribution. This writer cannot help but hope that the lessons of 2000--that trying to be all things to all Marylanders means that the party will be nothing to many--have been learned. And what about Leggett for Montgomery County Executive?
In Maryland, Democratic Chairman Isiah Leggett has resigned. Four
Montgomery County businessmen have been mentioned as his possible replacement:
Gary Gensler, a former Treasury Department official during the Clinton
administration and treasurer of the state party; Nathan Landow, a developer who
is a former state party chairman and a major national Democratic donor; Terry
Lierman, a former lobbyist and 2000 Congressional candidate who was finance
chairman of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign; and R. Scott Pastrick,
president and CEO of BKSH & Associates, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm,
and former treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.