Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Angelides for Governor!

American Prospect Online - ViewWeb
Phil Angelides looks like a nerd. Gangly and elongated, earnest in manner, liberal in politics, he is in almost every way the polar opposite of the current governor of California -- whom, Angelides announced yesterday, he is seeking to replace in next year's gubernatorial election...Emboldened by the Democrats' provisional success in warding off Bush's Social Security privatization proposal, Angelides intends to tap into California voters' historical commitment -- only sporadically in evidence in recent decades -- to public investment in schools, roads and the like, and their willingness to finance those investments with progressive taxation...If he can persuade state voters to agree with him, next year's election could tell a story in which Arnold never intended to appear: Revenge of the Nerds.

I went to a breakfast for Democratic Party faithful last week at which Angelides appeared--and he was good. The ritual display of wife and daughters, who seemed nice enough, wasn't particularly impressive and his attempts at homeletic passion were unconvincing, but his message was clear and correct.

The gubinatorial election in California, he said, was not about potholes or public utilities. It was a referendum on ideology--it put the question to California voters, and to the American public, whether they supported the current administration's social Darwinist policies. Republicans promoted the doctrine that pumping more money in at the top, through tax-breaks for the richest Americans, would trickle down and make everyone better off--in fact the gap between rich and poor was widening, services aimed at enabling the poor to better themselves were being starved and the state was going deeper into debt. California was the richest state in the richest nation on earth and could afford to provide real opportunities and a decent life for all. It didn't have to be like this.

Will he say this if, and when, he's nominated and speaking to the general public rather than the party faithful? Or will he display his daughters and pictures of his Greek immigrant grandparents and leave it at that?

At our last family table talk Paul argued that there was a conspiracy to make Americans stupid. Politicians by and large certainly think we're stupid, and act on the assumption that we can't follow even the simplest arguments or understand what is in our interests. So far it looks as if they've been right--but that is in large part because until recently Democrats haven't had the guts to explain why the conservative agenda was not in our interests--how taxes fund public services we depend on, how cuts to funding in education raise tuition and restrict access to state colleges, how benefits to corporations percolate up rather than trickling down.

I hope Angelides gets the nomination and had the guts to say to the public what he said at the breakfast last week in addition to displaying his wife and daughters and showing pictures of his Greek immigrant grandparents. This isn't to say that I wasn't taken by the Greek connection: last year, at the Democratic State Convention his party had the best Greek food. Xairete!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

If you want to quote me...

It's always flattering when people pick up pieces from The Enlightenment Project and post them elsewhere on the web. But I would appreciate it if, in doing that, you post them anonymously or under my initials, as I do on this blog--or else ask permission.

I operate this blog anonymously because the pieces I write, often controversial and polemical if not flat out nasty, are my views as an individual and should not be taken as reflecting either the views of my employer or my commitments as a member of my profession.

So I hope that, in the interests of avoiding confusion, if you pick up any pieces from The Enlightenment Project you either post them anonymously or ask permission to use my name.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Put your money where your mouth is

Hotel Labor Advisor

Conference season is here and I, like most other members of my tribe, go academic meetings at convention hotels to mouthe--to present papers, eat, drink and talk.

This year it turns out that the convention hotel for my professional society's conference is involved in a labor dispute. With the convention two weeks away it's too late to move the meetings but many of us are doing what we can to see to it that the hotel doesn't benefit from our business any more than necessary. I'll be canceling my reservation and moving to a "safe" hotel nearby.

The hotel workers' union maintains a list of hotels that are safe from labor disputes here. I wish I'd found out about this sooner!

This site is a good resource of you're on board with unrepentant liberalism and I urge you to check it out if you're looking for a hotel or making plans for a meeting.