From the LA Times Book Review: Mark Rudd is the guy from the Weather Underground who is not Bill Ayers. Both were leaders of the group that worked for the violent overthrow of the United States government in the 1970s, but while Ayers remains unapologetic, Rudd is full of regrets.
Rudd is not Bill Ayers in other ways: Sarah Palin did not accuse Barack Obama of palling around with him, nor has he been featured on the New York Times op-ed page or interviewed on “Fresh Air With Terry Gross.” Instead, he has lived in obscurity, as a community college math teacher in New Mexico, since the government dropped charges against him in 1977.
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“We have presidential elections as a substitute for serious democratic politics” — that’s what Andrew Bacevich says. He’s been writing and teaching history and international relations at Boston University, after spending 23 years in the army and retiring as a colonel.
What would serious democratic politics look like? First of all, Bacevich says, we need a real debate about the idea of a global war on terror. Then we need a debate on what he calls our “empire of consumption.”
Wed. June 18: I’m preempted on KPFK today for the fund drive . . . . but there is more stuff to read, at TheNation.com: my new piece “Warriors for Zion–in California”:
Columbia and Barnard aren’t the only campuses where right-wing Zionists have fought bitter campaigns in the name of defending Israel and Jewish students. The unlikely site of the latest battle, as intense and angry as anything in Manhattan, is the University of California, Irvine (UCI). I should know–I teach there.
While the campaigns at Columbia and Barnard failed to persuade those schools to deny tenure or otherwise penalize faculty members the right-wing Zionists found objectionable, at UCI the professor who occupies the chair in Jewish history, Daniel Schroeter, has decided to leave after being condemned for failing to support the right-wing Jews’ campaign. Thus that campaign has had its first big success–but instead of getting rid of a Palestinian professor, they’ve gotten rid of a Jewish one. . . . continued at TheNation.com
Wed. June 11: I’m preempted on KPFK today for the fund drive . . . . but there is more stuff to read, at TheNation.com: my review of The Shifting Grounds of Race by Scott Kurashige:
From 1920 to 1960, Los Angeles was the whitest and most Protestant city in the United States, and the American city with the smallest proportion of immigrants–just 8 percent in 1960. By the end of the twentieth century, it was a multiracial place: 3.7 million residents, with 30 percent white, 10 percent black, 10 percent Asian and almost half Latino. During “the white years” in LA history, you might think Asian immigrant groups and black migrants from the South lived in separate worlds. The truth is more complicated: sometimes they were pitted against each other, sometimes they fought–and sometimes they joined forces in left-wing campaigns for jobs, housing and political power. Those competitions and alliances are the subject of Scott Kurashige’s fascinating and important new book, The Shifting Grounds of Race.
J. Edgar Hoover was FBI director for forty-eight years, and he was also an author–a bestselling author. His Masters of Deceit, published in 1958 by Henry Holt, spent thirty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold more than 250,000 copies. In paperback it sold more than 2 million. But dealing with the director presented unique challenges for Holt. . . . . . continued at TheNation.com
Born in Oxford, raised in California, a resident of Japan, Pico Iyer has captured his itinerant life with books and essays that document his journeys to Nepal, Cuba, and most recently, Tibet. His new book is The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Jon Wiener: There are six million Tibetans. But you write in your new book that Tibet today is slipping ever closer to extinction. Those are chilling words.
Pico Iyer: I wish they were overstated words, but theyre not. The Tibet autonomous region is more and more a Chinese province. Lhasa is now 65 percent Han Chinese, so Tibetans are a minority in their own country. The Chinese are practicing what the Dalai Lama has called demographic aggressiontrying to wipe out Tibetan culture through force of numbers. Two years ago they set up that high speed train, which allows 6,000 more Han Chinese to come to Tibet every day. I first saw Lhasa in 1985 just when it opened up to the world. It was still a classic Tibetan settlementtwo story traditional whitewashed buildings, and the Potala Palace, the great residence of the Dalai Lama. If you go there now, sadly, its like an eastern Las Vegashuge shopping malls, blue-glassed department stores, high rise buildings. From most parts of Lhasa you cant even see the Potala Palace.
After writing novels located primarily in the Bronx and New Jersey, New York-native Richard Price has written a new novel, Lush Life, that captures the vivacity of life and language in Manhattans Lower East Side. Dissents Jon Wiener (The Weatherman Temptation, spring 2007) interviewed him this month.
Jon Wiener: Lush Life involves several worlds that exist side by side on the Lower East Side todaytell us about them.
Richard Price: Right now it seems like the place belongs to young, white middle-class kids in their twenties. Its become their Montparnasse. But theres also a big housing project population. There are tenements that havent been caught up in the real estate rehabbing game, and they are filled with Hispanics and Chinese and old hippies. There are the orthodox Jews, who are in a world unto themselves down there. And there is this huge population of Fujianese immigrants, some of whom are undocumented. All these people are occupying the same sidewalks and not really aware of each others existence.
J.W.: What did you learn about the Fujianese immigrants?
R.P.: Theyve got it really tough. Historically, the Lower East Side had the highest population density in the world circa 1900. Forget Calcutta. And that was mostly Eastern European Jews. But the Fujianese are living just like that, cheek and jowl, while in the next building are yuppies with a floor-thru that cost two million bucks. The burden that these guys have, that nobody before them had down there, is that they have to pay somebody to smuggle them into the country. So the minute they step off the boat they are $70,000 in the hole to the snakehead who got them over. On top of everything else, working seven days a week, theyve got to pay off a mammoth debt.
The mainstream media ask Obama why he doesn’t wear a flag pin, but they aren’t asking McCain why he doesn’t release his medical records. McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president, had surgery for melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, eight years ago — the scar is still prominent on his face. He has promised several times to release the records, but each release has been postponed.
It makes you wonder: is there something in McCain’s medical records that he doesn’t want you to know?
The McCain campaign’s explanation: his doctors are too busy. “The reason for the delay is because they want to gather all his doctors for a press conference to answer reporters’ questions,” CNN reported, “and May is the soonest that can be done.” Three doctors are expected to answer questions, according to theArizona Republic.
You’d think that it wouldn’t be that hard to get three doctors together to say that the Republican candidate for president was in good health.
Obama’s attendance at that speech is news today, of course, because of the Jewish vote. The Times made that clear when it quoted Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who expressed “concern” about Obama’s “presence at an Arab American event with a Said.”
Said, who was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University before his death in 2003, is identified by Times reporter Peter Wallsten as “a leading intellectual in the Palestinian movement.” It would be more accurate to call him “a Palestinian and a leading American intellectual.” The author of more than a dozen books, his 1978 book “Orientalism” became the founding work of the new field of cultural studies, and is now assigned at hundreds of colleges and universities and has been translated into more than 30 languages.
When New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd wrote recently that George Bush has “turned into Gene Kelly,” she set off a firestorm of protest from fans of the late dancer, director and choreographer.
Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, declared that “If Gene were in a grave, he would have turned over in it.”
In a letter to the Times, she wrote that “when Gene was compared to the grace and agility of Jack Dempsey, Wayne Gretzky and Willie Mays, he was delighted. But to be linked with a clunker — particularly one he would consider inept and demoralizing — would have sent him reeling.”
Dowd’s column, “Soft Shoe in Hard Times,” asked “why the president is in such a fine mood” – at a time when “the dollar’s crumpling, the recession’s thundering, the Dow’s bungee-jumping and the world’s disapproving.” Nevertheless, she noted, Bush “has turned into Gene Kelly, tap dancing and singing in a one-man review called ‘The Most Happy Fella.'”
Kelly’s widow contrasted her late husband’s achievements with those of the president. Kelly, she wrote, “graduated with a degree in economics from Pitt,” and, unlike the president, was “a most civilized man. He spoke multiple languages; wrote poetry; studied history; understood the projections of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes. He did the Sunday Times crossword in ink.”