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Viable Third Party Runs

There can be viable third party runs at the local, state, and federal levels. We need 300000 people giving 5 bucks a month to change the world. You can give here.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Meet Matt Yglesias: The New Prohibitionist

I have no doubt that there are silly conservatives, but I'm not sure if making an argument against prohibition is all that silly. I can see why you weren't all that thrilled with the last season of "The Wire". That black police chief had the right idea. If you're interested, you can watch the opposite approach on "The Shield" this season. I thought it was telling and instructive when one of the black suspects referred to it as "the occupation". One day Bajor will rise...(obscure ds9 reference...my trek fu is strong..)

Your argument against free and available heroin is the same argument that the prohibtionists gave to keep liquor off the shelves. It was a silly argument, unless you're trying to create a massive criminal underground. I've heard that it props up the economy you never know...It's a silly argument on a number of levels. One, if it's legal you could, in theory, make it less addictive and thereby less lethal. Two, I would much rather have an Amsterdam style drug decriminalization system than what we have now. Of course, as black officers have noticed in both the The Shield and in the Wire, there is a racial component to these policies. It's a lot easier to criminalize these activities when the suspects are black. Of course, if you like locking up black kids to undergird the Red State industrial-prison complex then your point seems sound. Lock em up, especially the black underclass...not good for the Democracy, though.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

AROUND THE INTERNETS: Star Wars Review, Tabletop Star, and Juan Cole on why Blogging is Better than MSM

Update on how Hellish life still is in Iraq at Democracy Now. Dahr Jamail was not embedded, and he says Iraq not as swell as corporate media says. I guess water is wet, too.

"In the 1930s the Spanish city of Guernica became a symbol of wanton murder and destruction. In the 1990s Grozny was cruelly flattened by the Russians; it still lies in ruins. This decade"s unforgettable monument to brutality and overkill is Falluja, a text-book case of how not to handle an insurgency, and a reminder that unpopular occupations will always degenerate into desperation and atrocity."

Don't Miss Juan Cole on why blogs are better than corporate media. You can study the propaganda model or Ben Bagdikian or Robert McChesney or just read this. Short version: It's a feature and not a fault that nobody can fire me or Drudge or Atrios. Maddy Ross can't fire me, but somebody can fire her. Who is the more powerful media person? I'm poor, yes. Won't be working for ACORN anytime, yes. But censored...Fuck You. And frankly, I think that's what a sick and corrupted American Democracy needs more of: Angry Truthtelling and unbought producers of news. Here's a snippet:

If we were mainstream media we would be wholly owned subsidiaries of General Electric, the Disney Corporation, Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch, Viacom and so on and so forth. Ninety percent of cable channels are owned by the same companies that own the big television networks.

It isn't a matter of journalism being a business. How good journalism is when practiced in the service of a business depends on the owner's philosophy and economic goals. Ted Turner writes,

"When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it. If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch. I had the power to make these budget decisions because they were my companies. I was an independent entrepreneur who controlled the majority of the votes and could run my company for the long term. Top managers in these huge media conglomerates run their companies for the short term. After we sold Turner Broadcasting to Time Warner, we came under such earnings pressure that we had to cut our promotion budget every year at CNN to make our numbers. Media mega-mergers inevitably lead to an overemphasis on short-term earnings."

If we were the mainstream media, we would be accountable to CEOs and editors and advertisers, all of whom have motives for suppressing some pieces of news and highlighting others. You might think to yourself that this is a diverse enough group that the story would still get through. But with media consolidation, fewer and fewer persons make the decisions.

I wet myself. Oh wait. There's more:

So, yes, Matt. There is a difference between these little dog and pony shows we post from our homes, with no editor, no CEO, no boss, and no resources beyond our personal experiences, talent and acumen. If Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo was published by mainstream media, would he still be allowed to say everything he now says? Would Tom Engelhardt be allowed to discuss the ways in which the Iraq quagmire suggests the limits of superpowerdom if he were working for the Big Six? If Bill Montgomery worked for The Weather Channel, would he be allowed to criticize Senator Rick Sanatarium for trying to keep Federal forecasters from "competing" with private weather forecasting companies? Would Riverbend be allowed to be so incisive if she worked for a big Iraqi computer firm? Remember the famous question, "Can blogging get you fired?"

And this difference, my friends, accounts for why bloggers get vilified. Journalists can be switched to another story, or fired, or their stories can be buried on page 36. We can't be fired. So if Martin Peretz doesn't like what we have to say, he will publish a hatchet job on us in The New Republic, seeking to make us taboo. If you can't shut people up, and you really don't want their voices heard, then all you can do is try to persuade others not to listen to them or give them a platform. The easiest way to do this is to falsely accuse them of racism or Communism some other character flaw unacceptable to polite society. Because of the distributed character of blogging "computing," however, such tactics are probably doomed to fail.

Related: Journalism Prof considers changing teaching methods. More related: Why kids don't read newspapers:

I hate almost everything about newspapers. I don't like the size of the paper. I don't like the way it makes everything black. I don't like that every page has to be jammed full of stuff. I don't like that the pages are not full color. I don't like that once I find something interesting, I can't do anything with it (like send it to a friend, or blog about it with a link, etc).

Clerks Director Kevin Smith wets himself after screening the next Star Wars film. I actually thought the last Star Wars movie was a very good film. Since I have cable, I judge a movie by whether I can watch 20 times and find something interesting about it. And Attack of the Clones just had a number of gorgeous looks and sounds. It was emotionally compelling on a visual level. It's also interesting seeing how Evil develops. I just wish you could adapt those visuals for, say, Bester's "The Stars My Destination" or my personal never to be finished project: A James Bond flick set in the future, possibly in the Ken Macleod universe, where different settlements have different ideologies.
Small scale room temperature fusion has been buzzing around the Internets. My God what would happen if you could scale that up? Off the grid at last...Locally, Unspace has some thoughts and a beautiful headline: "A Burning Star on Your Tabletop". More at WIRED.
Also at Wired, commentary on new stem cell guidelines.
New Neofiles is out. Features excellent interview with Ramez Naam. He also has an interview with Terry Grossman, who co-wrote Ray Kurzweils book on life extension. Related: Cory Doctorow interviews Ray Kurzweil.
I got this from boring stereotypical librul Doug Henwood: "Spread Magazine". I think it's about the sex industry. I'm listening to the episode now. The main story features evil news about Walmart, in the news recently for harassing a CMU student where they use, of course, the draconian DMCA.

Political Activiites from the Thomas Merton Center

Thursday, April 28: WILPF 90th Anniversary Celebration Fundraiser

Tonight, April 28 at 6pm, at the Friends' Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Ave., Womens' International League for Peace and Freedom 90th anniversary celebration fundraiser. Simple Soup and Bread supper, donation $10-20 sliding scale.

Dr. Regina Birchem, who currently serves as International President of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Geneva, Switzerland, will be the keynote speaker. She will discuss the history of WILPF, as well as international activities of the organization.

Peace Links, Code Pink and of course the Raging Grannies will help with the celebration.

Ann Harty will speak for Peace Links. She recently participated in the U.N. conference in New York, marking ten years after the landmark adoption of a platform aimed at global equality for women at the Beijing Forum on Women. Francine Porter will report on Code Pink activities, and Eva Havlicsek will talk about local WILPF branch activities. The Raging Grannies will add cheer and laughter with their songs.

For more info, contact 412-661-7149.

Thursday, April 28: Free screening of "Crane World (Mundo Grua)

Tonight, April 28 at 7pm at the Thomas Merton Center (5125 Penn Ave in Garfield), the Latin American and Caribbean Political Film Series presents “Crane World (Mundo GrĂșa).” A new variant Neo-realism, Trapero's multiple award-winning feature debut paints a portrait of working class life that is simultaneously gritty and poetic. The film follows the changing fortunes in the life of Rulo, an unemployed suburban man, who tries to earn a living as a crane operator. Rulo is a likeable, pot-bellied 50 year-old who had a brief taste of success as a young rock musician. Now, with both an elderly mother and a musician son to support, Rulo plunges into a hazardous and arduous work of heavy metal construction. Directed with an unusual combination of aesthetic freshness and emotional soundness Trapero's first film became a key work in the current resurgence of the Argentine cinema. --Cinema Tropical

In Spanish with English subtitles. For more info, contact: tinag@pitt.edu.

Friday, April 29: TMC Healthcare Campaign weekly Picket

On Friday, April 29 at noon, the TMC Healthcare Campaign will continue the weekly pickets at Sky Bank on the Northside at 600 E. Ohio Street as part of the ongoing struggle to bring justice to the Centre City Tower janitors fired after winning a union contract that included affordable healthcare and a living wage. Sky Bank is complicit in this injustice- they hold the mortgage to Centre City Tower, and they issued personal loans to the new cleaning company that came in and fired the nine union janitors, only to replace them with part-time positions with no healthcare benefits, and near minimum wages.

For more info, contact 412-361-3022 or myy7@hotmail.com.

Saturday, April 30: New South African Freedom Day

On Saturday, April 30 from 9am to 5pm is a full day of celebration of political freedom and commitment to economic liberation at the Bloomfield-Garfield Community Activity Center (113 N. Pacific Ave., off Penn Avenue). The theme is “Batho Pele: People First Before Private Profits” and “The Blasck of Ideas: From Pittsburgh to Johannesburgh.” Come and share education and information for all peoples’ empowerment.

Doors open at 8am for registration. The morning will feature discussions about trade between the U.S. and Africa, as well as issues of community development, public education, healthcare and housing, science and technology, and transit in South Africa and the connections to those same issues here in Pittsburgh. There will be a lunchtime keynote address. In the afternoon, workshops and a community forum will discuss topics such as African culture, performing arts, economics, and the politics of local and global apartheid.

The event is organized by the African Continental Community Programs of Pittsburgh, Afrikan Continental & Diaspora Leadership Institute and hosted by Azania Heritage International.

For more info, contact Lehlohonolo (Grace Anna Keller) at 412-361-3022 or Mongezi at amaazania@yahoo.com. Thank you in advance!

Saturday, April 30: Celebrate May Day, the International Workers Holiday!

and…Emily DeFerrari’s 20th year as a nurse-midwife, and…Mel Packer’s 60th year of life and rebellion…On Saturday, April 30 from 8pm to 1am (MayDay) at the Bulgarian-Macedonian Cultural Hall in Labor History Rich Homestead, PA. From the East End, turn right at the Homestead end of the Homestead Grays (Hi-Level) Bridge, turn left at the Y (3rd light), hall is on right. (Observe “NO PARKING-TOWING” Signs!)

There will be an open microphone. Bring your music makers, poetry, stories to share, jokes to tell, rebellious slogans and chants, flags to wave, songs to sing, FOOD TO SHARE, and your renewed commitment to the struggle for peace and justice. All ages welcome, CASH BAR ONLY (house rules).

If you’re old, (like us) we urge you to take a nap so you can still be with us at midnight as we walk to the Homestead Strikers Monument (4 blocks) to welcome MAYDAY and honor the strikers in a brief group sing-along.

For more info call Mel or Emily at 412.243.4545 or email us at melpacker@aol.com.

Sunday, May 1: Remembering Haymarket -- MayDay 2005

On Sunday, May 1 at 3pm at the Thomas Merton Center (5125 Penn Ave in Garfield) there will be a presentation and discussion on the events surrounding and involving the martyrdom of the Haymarket anarchists. Come for vegan snacks and historical narration and speeches about and by Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Sam Fielden, etc.

Come and learn about the struggle for the eight-hour day. Fall in love again with the radicals whose sacrifices are uncelebrated and suppressed by those who are still afraid of the ideas of those who were willing to fight and die for a freer society. Honor with us the history of resistance passed on to us by the Haymarket 7-not the history of oppression passed on to us by this capitalist, imperialist system.

Bring your sympathy, passion, and open minds. Come and remember how their sacrifice lives on in our resistance! Sponsered by your friendly, neighborhood. Bloomfield Free State anarchists.

For more info, contact: haymarket2005@yahoo.com.

Sunday, May 1: Physicians for Social Responsibility Film Fest Begins

As you may know, the annual Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) film series -- this year's theme is “Visions of War,” co-sponsored with the Pittsburgh Filmmakers and others, includes a number of film classics, which will be shown the first four Sunday's in May at the Regent Square Theater (1035 S. Braddock Ave. in Edgewood) starting at 7:30pm.

The perspectives of these films range from comedic-satiric to tragic and to optimistic. Discussants following the films include Marcia Landy, Bill Judson, Ted Hoover and Alberto Colombi.

May 1, 2005 Bananas, directed by Woody Allen

May 8, 2005 Paths of Glory, directed by Stanley Kubrick

May 15, 2005 Coming Home, directed by Hal Ashby

May 22, 2005 Grand Illusion, directed by Jean Renoir

Each pass costs $20. It provides admission of 4 individuals to any single film, or admission of a single individual to all 4 films, or any combination, for a total of 4 individual admissions. We hope that you may be interested in obtaining one or more series passes for these screenings. They provide substantial savings over purchase of admissions individually at the door ($7 each). You can purchase your series pass from the Thomas Merton Center at 5125 Penn Ave. in Garfield. Without the passes, you can still see the films and pay the regular admission price at the box office.

For more info about the film times and location, contact 412-681-5449. For more info about PSR or the series, contact 412-521-9043 or 724-339-4279.

Monday, May 2: Build Your Own Political Power

On Monday, May 2 at 8pm at St. Andrews Lutheran Church 304 Morewood Ave. (corner of Centre Ave.) will be the first session of the Build Your Own Political Power series - a series of seminars to discuss various tactics and techniques.

The “Build Your Own Personal Political Power” seminars will be led by Jonathan Robison. Jon is a long-time activist in politics, the peace movement, and the community. He has worked in over a hundred campaigns, going back to Gene McCarthy in ’68, and ran three times for Pittsburgh City Council. He is an attorney and vice-chairperson of the 4th Ward Democratic Committee in Oakland.

Jon Robison says: “Many people are active politically for various candidates and for causes such as peace, the environment, economic justice, lesbian and gay rights, reproductive rights, and civil liberties. Especially in the wake of the extreme right victory last year, there are many new people. People want to do politics effectively. If you are in it for the long haul want to increase your own personal political power so that they can better help their candidates and their causes. Building you own political power can help accomplish personal goals for you and your community, and also can be fun…

“We will discuss how you can use your involvement in the upcoming May 17 primary to increase your own political power. The session will NOT discuss and recruit you for any individual candidates. We assume that by May 2 you will already have a candidate in whom you are interested. We will discuss how you can help that candidate in ways that do the most for that candidate and also build your own political power. The session will be right after the MoveOn May meetup, which is at that church at 7. However, you are welcome regardless of whether you are associated with MoveOn, DFAPittsburgh, the Sierra Club, the Thomas Merton Center, or anyone or no one. There will be more sessions later. Possible topics include: the Democratic Party Structure, Duties and Responsibilities of Committee people, Circulating Nomination Petitions, Turnout - “Pulling” Voters, The Structure of a Winning Campaign, Electoral Politics and/or Direct Action?, Third Party or First?, Anarchism - the Third Thread in Progressive Politics Today, the Internet and Electoral Politics, Absentee Ballots/Provisional Ballots, and From Paper Ballots to Touch Screens. The seminars will be planned to be especially useful to new committee people and people considering running for the Democratic Committee next year. Please share any ideas for topics.

The sessions may be on a regular monthly basis, structured so that people can attend ones that interest them. Interested groups will be consulted on the schedule, and those at the May 2 seminar will be asked about dates and a place.

For more information or comments, contact Jon at 412-683-0237 or jonmary1@juno.com.

May 6: Access to Healthcare Conference: Issues and Solutions for Uninsured People

As part of the national "Cover the Uninsured Week", the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee will be holding an "Access to Healthcare" Conference. The event will take place on Friday, May 6 from 8:00 AM-2:00 PM at the United Steelworkers International headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The conference is for workers who lost health insurance and those who help them. We will review programs, problems and prospects for solutions.

Featured Speakers

*Bill George: President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

*Mike Veon: Democratic leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Topics

The day will include discussions about the following:

*getting affordable prescription drugs

*using the Health Coverage Tax Credit for pensioners and trade impacted workers

*adultBasic and Special Care insurance

*state legislative initiatives for single payer, prescriptions and other insurance options

*responding to threats to Medicaid

*Blues Surplus and Monitoring

*signing up for insurance and other healthcare

*how to help your members and clients get healthcare

Breakfast (7:15AM) and lunch will be provided. A limited number of seats are available. RSVP for this conference by replying by e-mail with your name and phone number to mvuc@msn.com or by calling us at 412-462-9962. MVUC address: 1800 West St. 3rd Floor, Homestead, PA 15120

May 7: New Person Awards!

Buy your ticket now! The New Person Awards is an annual event that serves to honor local activists with a commitment to peace and justice in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The theme for this year’s New Person Awards is Labor and Community Solidarity. In choosing this year’s theme, the Thomas Merton Center re-commits itself to the struggle for a living wage, healthcare for all, and fair bargaining rights for all workers. We do this by honoring ten individuals and organizations on the front lines in the fight for a just world, struggles that take place in the workplace, in local communities, right here in Pittsburgh. These awardees serve as shining examples and guides to lead us, inspiring us to join them to create a better world.

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2005

Time: 7:00 to 10:00 pm (includes celebration with entertainment, food and drink)

Place: Teamsters Temple, 4701 Butler Street (Lawrenceville)

Cost: $20 per ticket or $10 low-income

This years outstanding awardees are:

· Save Our Transit

· Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85

· Harriet Bryant, on behalf of locked out Centre City Tower janitors

· Rich Johnson, Service Employees International Union Local 3

· TMC Healthcare Campaign

· Charles McCollester, Pennsylvania Labor Center, IUP

· Ally Caldwell, HERE/UNITE Local 57

· Dan Kovalik, USWA attorney

· Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

· Mon Valley Unemployed Committee

Entertainment provided by Evan Greer and the Riot Folk Collective

To reserve a seat, call the Thomas Merton Center at 412-361-3022 or email jeremy@thomasmertoncenter.org.

Save the Date: June 24

Save June 24 for the PSO/Dionne Warwick concert at Heinz Hall. Buy your ticket online at the box office, and designate the Thomas Merton Center as the beneficiary - or sit with all of us in a block of reserved seats, by purchasing your ticket by phone or in person at the Merton Center. All proceeds from the sale of tickets - ALL- go to the Center. Tickets can also be purchased at http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?organ_val=2464&pid=5512949&coupon=rrr

Job Opening: TMC is Looking for a New Executive Director

“A Transition in Leadership,” From Pete Shell, Board President:

It is with both regret and understanding that I announce the amicable departure of Tim Vining as executive director of the Thomas Merton Center. Regret because we will miss this talented and dynamic leader; understanding because we’re aware of how tough the job can be for anybody.

Tim and the board are clear that this is a very friendly resignation for personal reasons. In fact, he will be helping us to find and train a replacement (this will be no easy task!). He will remain here at least until we find a new executive director, which we expect will be in September of this year.

Tim was only the second full-time executive director in the history of the Merton Center. Starting less than a month before September 11, 2001, he has helped to lead the Center through challenging times. His many contributions will be felt for years to come: the large growth in membership and projects; the increased public visibility of the Center; the motivated staff and volunteers; the improved financial situation; and the improved office and meeting space. Tim has also reminded us of the importance of respecting the diversity of groups and styles, and of allowing groups to independently organize without imposing a central command structure.

It’s healthy for both the individual and the organization to have a rotation of leadership every few years. It’s also a sign of the organization’s maturity that this transition is smooth. A search committee has been formed, consisting of board members, staff, and TMC cofounder Molly Rush. We will be looking both locally and nationally for candidates (job posting) and welcome members’ input as to what they feel is important for someone in this position.

Tim has set a good example of what a TMC Executive Director should be. Through his tireless work and endless energy, he has contributed mightily to the movement for peace and justice in the Pittsburgh area. We wish Tim and his partner Steve all the best and we’re sure that they’ll inspire, instigate and light up wherever they find themselves next.

For a complete job posting visit: www.thomasmertoncenter.org/jobposting.htm

Interested candidates are asked to submit a cover letter and resume by June 1, 2005 to:

Thomas Merton Center

5125 Penn Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

tim@thomasmertoncenter.org

412-361-3022 (phone)

412-361-0540 (fax)

www.thomasmertoncenter.org

Emailed submissions, in addition to a mailed hard copy, are preferred.

Job Opening: PA United to Protect Social Security Field Position

We are looking to hire a Western Pennsylvania Field Director for Pennsylvanians United to Protect Social Security. We need someone who can hit the ground running, work as part of a high energy team and coalition, and someone who needs regular check-ins but minimal supervision. The position could last from a few mos to maybe 6 or 7. And it is possible that this Field Director - if there is funding and s/he and Citizens for Consumer Justice are both happy with the work and relationships built throughout this short term campaign - could continue as a Western Pennsylvania Organizer with CCJ beyond this SS Campaign.

We need someone to begin almost immediately.

If you know of someone who has organizing experience, works well on their own; understands coalition building and is passionate about working family issues like Preserving and Strengthening Social Security, PLEASE pass to me their contact information and share mine with them.

Thanks for taking the time to think about who might fit our needs.

Lauren Townsend, Citizens for Consumer Justice

117 South 17th Street, Suite 311

Philadelphia, PA 19103

215-569-8220

Check out http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/calendar for more information on the above events and for a complete listing of other events this week/end.

Thomas Merton Center

5125 Penn Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

412-361-3022

412-361-0540 (fax)

info@thomasmertoncenter.org

www.thomasmertoncenter.org

Serving the peace and justice community since 1972

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Another Test Posting

This is just a test and only a test...

My Brilliant Career At ACORN


Speaking as a former employee of ACORN, I can tell you that there are many reasons ACORN doesnt work. ACORN has set itself up as the savior of the inner-city. They claim that they can organize the vote and get it out better than anyone else in America. They have virtually declared themselves to be the ghetto messiah. However, is this true?

Let us examine the facts. ACORN is headed by white leftists and until only a few years ago there where hardly any blacks at the helm, to take care of this PR problem ACORN put Maude Herd in as president. However, the presence of a black face at the top means very little. The driving agenda of ACORN comes from these white liberals and the formulation of their solutions to the problems of American cities comes from books and the classrooms, not personal experience.

Now, the white left certainly has its place in these matters, however what we see with ACORN are people, despite being with the organization for a long time, having very little familiarity with the culture and happenings of the ghetto. Therefore, if you don't know the community ( knowledge doesn't mean you have read a lot of studies), how can you possibly claim to have the solutions.

Furthermore, ACORN pays its workers a very low age. In some states it is right at the minimum wage, despite ACORN being the big campaigners for Living Wage ordinances. With low wages like these ACORN can only attract a select group of individuals. Those who really don't need the money, because they come from affluent backgrounds and those who don't have children. If ACORN truly wants to represent the communities it works in then it must employ people from those communities.

ACORN has also, because of its unfamiliarity with the ghetto, been continuously duped by slick ghetto politicians who everyone, except ACORN , have known to be corrupt. ACORN has made very little effort to reach out to many leaders in the black community, namely the 2.5 million member Muslim community. A fundamental change if ACORN is to succeed in the future.

...More at "Why ACORN Doesn't Work"

So, for you young people out there, you probably don't know the dos and don'ts of the good and/or bad interview. I've had my share of both during my plus two score span.

Here's a hint when the interview for the canvass director position turns bad: You end up telling Pittsburgh ACORN head Maryellen Hayden to, and I quote: "Get the fuck out of my face". I had worked several months before for ACORN back in 1997 and I was sort of disappointed by the experience--getting paid late and not seeing actual benefits for working poor people kind of does that to you.

This is after she told me, and this is from memory, that I was doing it just to get a "job", as if Maryellen's skills of making fun of my pronunciation were in high demand. That simply hasn't been the way that I've lived. I have spent a total of five years of my life knocking on doors for political causes, and I'm not counting the last six months that I worked for ACT. I worked my way through college canvassing. I worked for Citizen Action (pretty much like the army for progressives) (and note the racial diversity of management from that picture) which had a brutal $120 a night quota, for about a year in a half. And my field manager was intentionally trying to get me fired. (I was good.) I then ran a field canvass for three years in Evansville, Indiana, where we canvassed against NAFTA and high cable bills. I don't think I ever did it for the "Big Money", although the 15,000 a year I sniffed at is more than what the average, highly exploited ACORN worker makes.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, if you didn't know, kids, is kind of a fucked up place to work. Oh, they have wonderful goals and aspirations, just not for their workers. Let's put it this way: they were paying my rent in Washington DC and I was still starving from my $150 a week salary--which they would pay me late. Thanks fellas. But that's just personal negative experience.

Overall, ACORN makes a claim to be fighting the fight for poor people. But in the past, ACORN has refused to negotiate with unions, hired scabs to replace their striking workers, opposed a minimum wage hike for their own workers (used by right wing publications all the time to show the hypocrisy of the left...thanks fellas, again), will never give you a full weekend--gawd I used to hate that, and has earned its own Page of Contempt over at the IWW Website.

Curiously enough, Ms. Hayden inquired, in her particular parlance: "Whydja come down here if you thought it was a bad place to work?" probably scratching her noggin cartoon like and yearning to catch a fuckin' clue. Honestly, if I could run the canvass my way and pay the workers a decent wage, then why not give it a shot? Perhaps ACORN had gotten better. I was wrong.

(Aside: Funny story. Maryellen was telling me the story of how the last canvass failed and she asserted that the last canvass manager was kind of a heroin addict and that's why it failed, as opposed to the 54 hour weeks, the shortened lunch breaks and late paychecks. Yeah, heroin. Hokay. Of course, she still has her job because when you manage like that you keep your job at ACORN. Laffs were had by all. Still in the jesting mood hours later, I did ask what that guy's name was. She wrote back:

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 19:04:25 -0400
From: "Maryellen Hayden" Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book
Subject: Re: Who was that heroin addict
To: "Philip Shropshire"
I have no idea what you are talking about.
I guess you have some kind of problem.
sorry

Now, Maryellen, you public figure you, I remember the details. Just happened a day ago. Remember when you told me he was a great guy and then he didn't come in and then he didn't answer his cell anymore...you don't remember that? Because if you don't you're either a blatant liar or a deeply stupid woman. Alex, I'm going to go with "What is both?")

Actually, her plan sounds familiar. Sounds like the same very bad ACORN plan that I've seen before. Here's how one disgruntled former ACORN staffer described it:

A main difference between Marx's argument and the relations of ACORN is that bourgeois society exploits workers in order to increase the capital profit of the ruling class. But ACORN organizers are laboring to increase a profit which supposedly does not come in the form of capital in the hands of the rich, but social change in the hands of the poor. Does this mean that we are not being exploited?

The fact is that we are exploited for a different reason. We are being exploited in the name of the movement, and most likely for the accumulation of capital. [
Note: I was paid up to $8 an hour which amounted to $32 per night to knock on doors. I was expected to collect $120 per night. If I didn't I was considered to be doing poorly at my job. Few workers seldom ever raised $120 per night yet that was ACORN's unrealistic expectation of us as their workers.] A contradiction occurs in the organization in that it is fighting the wage and class gap by using the same motives and manipulations that corporations have been using for well over a hundred years. ACORN is an organization trying to change the plight of the poor in a capitalist society at the same time it contributes to the problem. The organization is tripping over itself as it perpetuates the injustices of the capitalist system.

By the way, Citizen Action, no angels them, pays about 52 percent up to quota, which I think is up to $130 night. Maryellen wanted to pay the workers a very not generous 40 percent. That's a wage that's guaranteed to keep you poor and probably lower than what the other two summer canvasses will pay (Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Project). How would you compete with those canvasses? You wouldn't. In fact, you would get the worst workers. In other words, if you don't know anything about canvassing then you would probably canvass for ACORN and take one of the worst deals ever...

Just for the record, and I tried to explain this to Maryellen, slowly, despite her bouts of traumatic memory loss regarding her former heroin addict employees, is that the field canvass simply sets the plate for a much more lucrative phone canvass. The Clean Water Action Project doesn't need the hassle of a field canvass anymore because the phone canvass is much more lucrative. But you have to pay the field canvassers a decent wage (at least 50 percent) and not work them six days a week. You might even consider giving them a four day week. Heroin...right.

So, in summation, if you're a plucky young progressive who wants to change the world one knock at a time, I would strongly recommend working for Clean Water, the Sierra Club or even the DAM phone canvass before you worked for ACORN--unless you want your disenchantment with the American Left to start early...and no I didn't get the position. Darn the luck. Or give me an email and I'll tell how to start your own canvass. It'll be tough, grueling work. But you'll give yourself a better deal than ACORN.

My Brilliant Career at ACORN

My Brilliant Career At ACORN


Speaking as a former employee of ACORN, I can tell you that there are many reasons ACORN doesnt work. ACORN has set itself up as the savior of the inner-city. They claim that they can organize the vote and get it out better than anyone else in America. They have virtually declared themselves to be the ghetto messiah. However, is this true?

Let us examine the facts. ACORN is headed by white leftists and until only a few years ago there where hardly any blacks at the helm, to take care of this PR problem ACORN put Maude Herd in as president. However, the presence of a black face at the top means very little. The driving agenda of ACORN comes from these white liberals and the formulation of their solutions to the problems of American cities comes from books and the classrooms, not personal experience.

Now, the white left certainly has its place in these matters, however what we see with ACORN are people, despite being with the organization for a long time, having very little familiarity with the culture and happenings of the ghetto. Therefore, if you don't know the community ( knowledge doesn't mean you have read a lot of studies), how can you possibly claim to have the solutions.

Furthermore, ACORN pays its workers a very low age. In some states it is right at the minimum wage, despite ACORN being the big campaigners for Living Wage ordinances. With low wages like these ACORN can only attract a select group of individuals. Those who really don't need the money, because they come from affluent backgrounds and those who don't have children. If ACORN truly wants to represent the communities it works in then it must employ people from those communities.

ACORN has also, because of its unfamiliarity with the ghetto, been continuously duped by slick ghetto politicians who everyone, except ACORN , have known to be corrupt. ACORN has made very little effort to reach out to many leaders in the black community, namely the 2.5 million member Muslim community. A fundamental change if ACORN is to succeed in the future.

...More at "Why ACORN Doesn't Work"

So, for you young people out there, you probably don't know the dos and don'ts of the good and/or bad interview. I've had my share of both during my plus two score span.

Here's a hint when the interview for the canvass director position turns bad: You end up telling Pittsburgh ACORN head Maryellen Hayden to, and I quote: "Get the fuck out of my face". I had worked several months before for ACORN back in 1997 and I was sort of disappointed by the experience--getting paid late and not seeing actual benefits for working poor people kind of does that to you.

This is after she told me, and this is from memory, that I was doing it just to get a "job", as if Maryellen's skills of making fun of my pronunciation were in high demand. That simply hasn't been the way that I've lived. I have spent a total of five years of my life knocking on doors for political causes, and I'm not counting the last six months that I worked for ACT. I worked my way through college canvassing. I worked for Citizen Action (pretty much like the army for progressives) (and note the racial diversity of management from that picture) which had a brutal $120 a night quota, for about a year in a half. And my field manager was intentionally trying to get me fired. (I was good.) I then ran a field canvass for three years in Evansville, Indiana, where we canvassed against NAFTA and high cable bills. I don't think I ever did it for the "Big Money", although the 15,000 a year I sniffed at is more than what the average, highly exploited ACORN worker makes.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, if you didn't know, kids, is kind of a fucked up place to work. Oh, they have wonderful goals and aspirations, just not for their workers. Let's put it this way: they were paying my rent in Washington DC and I was still starving from my $150 a week salary--which they would pay me late. Thanks fellas. But that's just personal negative experience.

Overall, ACORN makes a claim to be fighting the fight for poor people. But in the past, ACORN has refused to negotiate with unions, hired scabs to replace their striking workers, opposed a minimum wage hike for their own workers (used by right wing publications all the time to show the hypocrisy of the left...thanks fellas, again), will never give you a full weekend--gawd I used to hate that, and has earned its own Page of Contempt over at the IWW Website.

Curiously enough, Ms. Hayden inquired, in her particular parlance: "Whydja come down here if you thought it was a bad place to work?" probably scratching her noggin cartoon like and yearning to catch a fuckin' clue. Honestly, if I could run the canvass my way and pay the workers a decent wage, then why not give it a shot? Perhaps ACORN had gotten better. I was wrong.

(Aside: Funny story. Maryellen was telling me the story of how the last canvass failed and she asserted that the last canvass manager was kind of a heroin addict and that's why it failed, as opposed to the 54 hour weeks, the shortened lunch breaks and late paychecks. Yeah, heroin. Hokay. Of course, she still has her job because when you manage like that you keep your job at ACORN. Laffs were had by all. Still in the jesting mood hours later, I did ask what that guy's name was. She wrote back:

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 19:04:25 -0400
From: "Maryellen Hayden" Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book
Subject: Re: Who was that heroin addict
To: "Philip Shropshire"
I have no idea what you are talking about.
I guess you have some kind of problem.
sorry

Now, Maryellen, you public figure you, I remember the details. Just happened a day ago. Remember when you told me he was a great guy and then he didn't come in and then he didn't answer his cell anymore...you don't remember that? Because if you don't you're either a blatant liar or a deeply stupid woman. Alex, I'm going to go with "What is both?")

Actually, her plan sounds familiar. Sounds like the same very bad ACORN plan that I've seen before. Here's how one disgruntled former ACORN staffer described it:

A main difference between Marx's argument and the relations of ACORN is that bourgeois society exploits workers in order to increase the capital profit of the ruling class. But ACORN organizers are laboring to increase a profit which supposedly does not come in the form of capital in the hands of the rich, but social change in the hands of the poor. Does this mean that we are not being exploited?

The fact is that we are exploited for a different reason. We are being exploited in the name of the movement, and most likely for the accumulation of capital. [
Note: I was paid up to $8 an hour which amounted to $32 per night to knock on doors. I was expected to collect $120 per night. If I didn't I was considered to be doing poorly at my job. Few workers seldom ever raised $120 per night yet that was ACORN's unrealistic expectation of us as their workers.] A contradiction occurs in the organization in that it is fighting the wage and class gap by using the same motives and manipulations that corporations have been using for well over a hundred years. ACORN is an organization trying to change the plight of the poor in a capitalist society at the same time it contributes to the problem. The organization is tripping over itself as it perpetuates the injustices of the capitalist system.

By the way, Citizen Action, no angels them, pays about 52 percent up to quota, which I think is up to $130 night. Maryellen wanted to pay the workers a very not generous 40 percent. That's a wage that's guaranteed to keep you poor and probably lower than what the other two summer canvasses will pay (Sierra Club and Clean Water Action Project). How would you compete with those canvasses? You wouldn't. In fact, you would get the worst workers. In other words, if you don't know anything about canvassing then you would probably canvass for ACORN and take one of the worst deals ever...

Just for the record, and I tried to explain this to Maryellen, slowly, despite her bouts of traumatic memory loss regarding her former heroin addict employees, is that the field canvass simply sets the plate for a much more lucrative phone canvass. The Clean Water Action Project doesn't need the hassle of a field canvass anymore because the phone canvass is much more lucrative. But you have to pay the field canvassers a decent wage (at least 50 percent) and not work them six days a week. You might even consider giving them a four day week. Heroin...right.

So, in summation, if you're a plucky young progressive who wants to change the world one knock at a time, I would strongly recommend working for Clean Water, the Sierra Club or even the DAM phone canvass before you worked for ACORN--unless you want your disenchantment with the American Left to start early...and no I didn't get the position. Darn the luck. Or give me an email and I'll tell how to start your own canvass. It'll be tough, grueling work. But you'll give yourself a better deal than ACORN.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Around the Internets: Robert McChesney Interviews My Girlfriend Naomi Klein, 20 downloadable video concerts (you won't get sued) and other links


It's New Media Monday. On the right hand side of Three Rivers Online, you will see these new online video offerings:

Current TV
Google Video
Open Media
Participatory Culture

What this means, if you're sick of your high priced cable (and who isn't?) is that you're reaching a tipping point where what's on the net and video clipped is much more interesting than what's being offered on television. Democracy Now and Air America are great news shows. It's like Cspan for lefties. Online news is certainly much more informative. Here are some recent video and audio examples. Compare it to what you're getting from Comcast or Adelphia. I dares you:

Longish yet fascinating debate about the copyright featuring the Main Actors (RIAA attorneys vs. EFF attorneys)
Free Press Editor is mad and I mean Howard Beale Network mad in this video clip.
Of course, what about music? The video channels are just awful. Even when they play what you like (the Alternative on VH-1 Classic) their choices are awful. Well, let me introduce you to GrooveTV. There are about 20 concerts here (one hour each) and they're all free to download. Bad news: they really are jam bands. On the other hand, if you think Medeski Martin and Wood is a really really good band (and never heard of the Jaco Pastorius era Weather Report) then this is your Heaven. I've downloaded three concerts so far and they're all interesting (although no better than B minus), in case you're getting tired of hearing that Killers vid over and over again.
Here's a really beautiful acid jazz album that you can listen to for free and possibly rip if you have a ripper, even though that would be wrong. It's called Space Jazz. I highly recommend tracks 6, 8 and 9 or you can listen to the whole thing. The label even offers a number of stations.
I have no idea if Al Gore's new station will be any good. But I'm open minded. There was a recent initial meet up about it in California, and it was video blogged. Haven't had time to watch or listen because I've been studying these obscure jam bands.
Also, my girlfriend Naomi Klein (her husband doesn't suspect) is featured in this Robert McChesney radio interview. McChesney is probably the leading journalist in the United States who mines the Media Monopoly/Propaganda Model theory about the corporate press. And in related highbrow librul radio news--which you can determine by their opening themes as McChesney goes for Thelonius Monk and Henwood goes for the Kronos Quarter interspersed with trad classical--check out left economist's Doug Henwood's radio show where he interviews Tariq Ali.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Upcoming Peace and Justice Events (Announcment from the Thomas Merton Center)

I keep on getting these announcments from the Thomas Merton Center. So, I'll post them here at Mirror Universe, although not at the main site over at www.threeriversonline.com. I did offer to blog for them but they said no thanks. Perhaps its that atheist thing. Hey, it didn't stop me from working at Faith Tech for a year... Here's their weekend and beyond list of activist things to do.

Remember the Weekly Peace Vigils Every Saturday!

Noon: Alternative to Warfare Vigil. Unitarian Church, North Ave and Resaca (Northside)

Noon: Regent Square Peace Vigil. Corner of Forbes and Braddock (Regent Square)

1pm: Black Voices for Peace Anti-War Protest. Corner of Penn and Highland (East Liberty)

1pm: Beaver County Peace Links Weekly Saturday Peace Vigil. Beaver County Courthouse, 3rd Street (Beaver)

Monday, April 25: Encourage Specter to Protect Democracy

On Monday, April 25, at 4:15 pm in front of Senator Arlen Specter’s Pittsburgh Office Regional Enterprise Tower (old Alcoa Building - 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1450) join Planned Parenthood in encouraging Specter to stand firm against Republican pressure to railroad conservative judges into life-long appointments! Planned Parenthood and others concerned about preserving the democratic process will rally in front of Senator Arlen Specter’s office to encourage him to oppose using the “nuclear option.” Specter is said by many to be one of the most important votes on the “nuclear option” which the Republican leadership wants to employ to block senators’ ability to stop the most extreme Bush appointees from gaining life-long positions.

The "Nuclear Option" is a proposed change to Senatorial rules that would eliminate the possibility of a filibuster against judicial nominees or legislation. Without the filibuster, nothing stands in the way of the majority party from confirming judges who will roll back basic rights and protections that most Americans take for granted.

* If you have extra time, drop by Planned Parenthood’s downtown offices, 933 Liberty Ave. (at the intersection with Smithfield) at 3:00 p.m. on Monday to make signs. For more info, 412-434-8957 x 119 or efricke@ppwp.org.

Tuesday, April 26: Make Your Voice Heard for Quality and Accountability

Press Conference and Public Hearing on Right To Know/Provider Report Card Legislation on Tuesday, April 26th at 4pm at the United Way Building (1 Smithfield Street in Downtown Pittsburgh). To RSVP or for more information, please contact EJ at 412-828-5100 ext. 47.

Seven members of Allegheny County Council are leading the fight for quality and accountability in mental retardation services by sponsoring Right to Know/Provider Report Card legislation. The Provider Report Card will reveal important information on every MR provider agency; like top management salaries, the average wage and length of service of direct care workers, and incidents of abuse and neglect. Members of ADSA have been working hard to draw public attention to this legislation and the workforce crisis it begins to address. In response, the County’s MH/MR Advisory Board has scheduled a hearing to get public comment on the legislation. This is our opportunity to make the public and politicians aware of the problems we face everyday in the MR system.

For more information on the Right to Know Campaign and the Provider Report Card legislation, please visit www.disabilityservicesalliance.org

Thursday, April 28: Workers Memorial Day Observation

On Thursday, April 28 at noon in Market Square (downtown) there will be Workers Memorial Day which is an international day of remembrance to honor workers killed on the job and to focus on the struggle for improved workplace safety. The Allegheny County Labor Council Workers Memorial Day Committee will be joining hundreds of communities across the US and more than 29 countries worldwide to observe Workers Memorial Day in a ceremony held at noon, April 28th at Market Square in Pittsburgh, PA. The recent killing of 15 refinery workers and the injury of more than 100 in the BP oil refinery explosion in Texas, the drowning of 4 boatman in the tugboat accident on the Ohio River as well as the recent increase in serious accidents and deaths in the steel industry makes this year’s observation all the more meaningful, important and poignant.

Every year about 6000 people are killed at work and about 50, 000 die from occupational diseases caused by asbestos, pesticides, solvents and chemicals.

OSHA lacks the resources to protect the 100 million workers under its jurisdiction. OSHA’S current budget of $475 million amounts to about $4 per worker. Federal OSHA has only about 900 safety inspectors and can only inspect workplaces on average once every 100 years. The number of hours spent per OSHA inspection continues to decrease. The number of cases “downgraded” to less serious violations is rising. Penalties for serious violations remain low and are routinely reduced through a process called abatement. The average penalty for a serious violation is around $900. This downgrading combined with inadequate workers’ compensation laws make it impossible to hold negligent employers criminally and civilly liable. It is a MISDEMEANOR to kill a worker by willfully violating safety laws. The maximum sentence is 6 months in jail.

Workers Memorial Day 2005 is the day we rededicate ourselves to correcting these inadequacies. American workers need a strong workplace safety agency that puts workers first. Unsafe working conditions cannot be excused and dead workers cannot be an accepted cost of doing business.

For more info, contact Joe Delale at 412-456-6851 or jrd@uwac.org.

Sunday, May 1: Remembering Haymarket -- MayDay 2005

On Sunday, May 1 at 3pm at the Thomas Merton Center (5125 Penn Ave in Garfield) there will be a presentation and discussion on the events surrounding and involving the martyrdom of the Haymarket anarchists. Come for vegan snacks and historical narration and speeches about and by Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Sam Fielden, etc.

Come and learn about the struggle for the eight-hour day. Fall in love again with the radicals whose sacrifices are uncelebrated and suppressed by those who are still afraid of the ideas of those who were willing to fight and die for a freer society. Honor with us the history of resistance passed on to us by the Haymarket 7-not the history of oppression passed on to us by this capitalist, imperialist system.

Bring your sympathy, passion, and open minds. Come and remember how their sacrifice lives on in our resistance! Sponsered by your friendly, neighborhood. Bloomfield Free State anarchists.

For more info, contact: haymarket2005@yahoo.com.

Monday, May 2: Build Your Own Political Power

On Monday, May 2 at 8pm at St. Andrews Lutheran Church 304 Morewood Ave. (corner of Centre Ave.) will be the first session of the Build Your Own Political Power series - a series of seminars to discuss various tactics and techniques.

The “Build Your Own Personal Political Power” seminars will be led by Jonathan Robison. Jon is a long-time activist in politics, the peace movement, and the community. He has worked in over a hundred campaigns, going back to Gene McCarthy in ’68, and ran three times for Pittsburgh City Council. He is an attorney and vice-chairperson of the 4th Ward Democratic Committee in Oakland.

Jon Robison says: “Many people are active politically for various candidates and for causes such as peace, the environment, economic justice, lesbian and gay rights, reproductive rights, and civil liberties. Especially in the wake of the extreme right victory last year, there are many new people. People want to do politics effectively. If you are in it for the long haul want to increase your own personal political power so that they can better help their candidates and their causes. Building you own political power can help accomplish personal goals for you and your community, and also can be fun…

“We will discuss how you can use your involvement in the upcoming May 17 primary to increase your own political power. The session will NOT discuss and recruit you for any individual candidates. We assume that by May 2 you will already have a candidate in whom you are interested. We will discuss how you can help that candidate in ways that do the most for that candidate and also build your own political power. The session will be right after the MoveOn May meetup, which is at that church at 7. However, you are welcome regardless of whether you are associated with MoveOn, DFAPittsburgh, the Sierra Club, the Thomas Merton Center, or anyone or no one. There will be more sessions later. Possible topics include: the Democratic Party Structure, Duties and Responsibilities of Committee people, Circulating Nomination Petitions, Turnout - “Pulling” Voters, The Structure of a Winning Campaign, Electoral Politics and/or Direct Action?, Third Party or First?, Anarchism - the Third Thread in Progressive Politics Today, the Internet and Electoral Politics, Absentee Ballots/Provisional Ballots, and From Paper Ballots to Touch Screens. The seminars will be planned to be especially useful to new committee people and people considering running for the Democratic Committee next year. Please share any ideas for topics.

The sessions may be on a regular monthly basis, structured so that people can attend ones that interest them. Interested groups will be consulted on the schedule, and those at the May 2 seminar will be asked about dates and a place.

For more information or comments, contact Jon at 412-683-0237 or jonmary1@juno.com.

Check out http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/calendar for more information on the above events and for a complete listing of other events this week/end.

Thomas Merton Center

5125 Penn Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

412-361-3022
412-361-0540 (fax)

info@thomasmertoncenter.org

www.thomasmertoncenter.org

Serving the peace and justice community since 1972