Sunday Reads, and little bald gold men.

It is Sunday and we are open for business…so grab your coffee, or cafe con leche, and let’s get this bus rolling.  We finally heard our President mention Gaddafi by name,  Obama and Secretary Clinton have finally said Gaddafi must step down. Boston Boomer put up a post about it last night.

Here are a couple updated links below:

Live Blog – Libya Feb 27 | Al Jazeera Blogs

Libya Protests: Obama Says Muammar Gaddafi Must ‘Leave Now’

I found this Opinion on the AJE site, it is written by Mark Levine, a professor at UC Irvine. I think what drew me to this commentary is that he seems to say what won’t be said in our own MSM. Here are some exerts of the article, however I think it best for you to read the entire thing.

History’s shifting sands – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Although she likely did not intend it, when Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, warned Arab leaders in early January that they must “reform” lest their systems “sink in the sand” her words were as relevant in Washington as they were in Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo or Sanaa. But Americans – the people as much as their leaders – are so busy dismantling the social, political and economic foundations of their former greatness that they are unable to see how much they have become like the stereotype of the traditional Middle Eastern society that for so long was used to justify, alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) supporting authoritarian leaders or imposing foreign rule.

A well known Egyptian labour organiser, Kamal Abbas, made a video telling Americans from Tahrir that “we and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support”. It is a good thing, because it is clear Americans need all the support they can get. “I want you to know,” he continued, “that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.”

Aren’t such lines supposed to be uttered by American presidents instead of Egyptian union activists?


The problem clearly starts from the top and continues to the grass roots. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency on the slogan “Yes we can!” But whether caving in to Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on settlements, or standing by as Republicans wage a jihad on the working people of Wisconsin, the president has refused to stand up for principles that were once the bedrock of American democracy and foreign policy.

The American people are equally to blame, as increasingly, those without healthcare, job security or pensions seem intent on dragging down the lucky few unionised workers who still have them rather than engage in the hard work of demanding the same rights for themselves.

The top one per cent of Americans, who now earn more than the bottom 50 per cent of the country combined, could not have scripted it any better if they had tried. They have achieved a feat that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and their fellow cleptocrats could only envy (the poorest 20 per cent of the population in Tunisia and Egypt actually earn a larger share of national income than does their counterpart in the US).

The situation is so desperate that a well known singer and activist contacted me in Cairo to ask organisers of Tahrir to send words of support for union workers in Wisconsin. Yet “Madison is the new Tahrir” remains a dream with little hope of becoming reality, even as Cairenes take time out from their own revolution proudly to order pizza for their fellow protesters in Wisconsin.


Will Ibn Khaldun be proved right?

It now seems clear that hoping for the Obama administration to support real democracy in the Middle East is probably too much to ask, since it cannot even support full democracy and economic and social rights for the majority of people at home. More and more, the US feels not just increasingly “irrelevant” on the world stage, as many commentators have described its waning position in the Middle East, but like a giant ship heading for an iceberg while the passengers and crew argue about how to arrange the deck chairs.

Luckily, inspiration has arrived, albeit from what to a ‘Western’ eye seems like the unlikeliest of sources. The question is: Can the US have a Tahrir moment, or as the great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun would have predicted, has it entered the irreversible downward spiral that is the fate of all great civilizations once they lose the social purpose and solidarity that helped make them great in the first place?

It is still too early to say for sure, but as of today it seems that the reins of history have surely passed out of America’s hands.

Imagine, people in Egypt sending pizzas of support to those in Wisconsin, it tugs at my waning sense of idealism…On a side note, if you have never read Ibn Khaldun, please take a look at some of his writings.

The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun 1332-1406 For a complete copy of the text online see this site… An Introduction to History by Ibn Khaldun. A few passages for your consideration:

Chapter 1

HUMAN SOCIAL ORGANIZATION is something necessary. The philosophers expressed this fact by saying: “Man is `political’ by nature.”That is, he cannot do without the social organization…This is what civilization means…

When mankind has achieved social organization, as we have stated, and when civilization in the world has thus become a fact, people need someone to exercise a restraining influence and keep them apart, for aggressiveness and injustice are in the animal nature of man…

Chapter 3 Part 50 & 51

The truth one must know is that no religious or political propaganda can be successful, unless power and group feeling exist to support the religious and political aspirations and to defend them against those who reject them.

Human civilization requires political leadership for its organization.

We have mentioned before in more than one place that human social organization is something necessary. It is the thing that is meant by “the civilization” which we have been discussing. (People) in any social organization must have someone who exercises a restraining influence and rules them and to whom recourse may be had…Sometimes, (this rule is based) upon rational politics. People are obliged to submit to it in view of the reward they expect from the ruler after he has become acquainted with what is good for them.

Now, the afore-mentioned rational politics may be of two types. The first type of rational politics may concern itself with the (public) interest in general, and with the ruler’s interest in connection with the administration of his realm, in particular.

The second type (of rational politics) is the one concerned with the interest of the ruler and how he can maintain his rule through the forceful use of power. The general (public) interest is, here, secondary.

Speaking of Wisconsin, Wonk mentioned yesterday that WI was getting some support in the form of protest at the State Capital of all of the 50 states. Rallies in 50 states support Wisconsin protesters – and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals. “Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C. The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison. There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.

The latest from NYT: Protesters Rally for Unions in Wisconsin and Around Country –

Here is a link to FDL, where Dayen has some video taken at the Madison protest:  VIDEO: 100,000-Plus in Madison for Rally for Workers’ Rights | FDL News Desk

From New Deal 2.0, now you may have already seen this because it was published yesterday afternoon. Report from Wisconsin: This is What Democracy Looks Like » New Deal 2.0

A ground report from a historic movement to fight Scott Walker’s bill and reignite justice for the middle class.

JUSTICE — GOVERNMENT — LEGISLATION — LIBERTY. Choose the order in which to recite them. Those are themes of the four murals that adorn the Capitol Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin and surround the throngs of citizens who have gathered for many days now to protest and, we hope, block passage of the anti-labor, indeed, anti-democratic Budget Repair Bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker. It’s a bill that not only slashes public workers’ incomes, but also strips them/us of their/our democratic rights to bargain collectively.

The people braved a snow storm yesterday to stand up for what they believe is right. It looks like Walker is not budging,  let’s see what comes of all these protest. As the opinion piece above shows, there is a solidarity between these protesters in Wisconsin and the people of Egypt. How do you all think it will end? My inherit Italian pessimistic attitude tends to feel that these people will lose their rights to Collective Bargaining. A right that, as the NYT article says, has been theirs for over 50 years. I hope I am wrong.

From the Minx Missing Link File: Here is the connection to the Cuban Coffee picture above. My father’s side of the family came to the US from Cuba in the late 1890’s. I have mentioned them before, so you all know I like to toss in some interesting Cuban news every once in a while. So here is something that I would guess many of you missed. My WikiLeaked interview with Bush’s Cuban envoy | Stephen Wilkinson | Comment is free |

Your Easy Like Sunday Morning Links: Well, tonight is the Academy Awards. Oscar – The official 2011 site for the 83rd Academy Awards I know that everyone has their favorites, I just thought I would highlight a few that I think should have gotten one of those little gold bald men.

The first is Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese. Oh, what can I say about this film…and to think that Dances with Wolves was the winner that year…excuse me while I gag. (As a side note, I hated Titanic as well, but that is another post altogether.) Anyway, here is an example of Scorsese’s masterful technique, it is all one long shot, no cuts or edits. It is magnificent!This was the last film he shot using actual film, everything since has been digital recorded. Personally, I think this film was when Scorsese hit his peak. Everything since then has been okay, but nothing like this. Enjoy the entire shot, over three minutes long.

On to another performance that should have gotten its actor a little golden man. Richard Burton never received on of these statues, and he should have for his masterpiece, playing George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I actually got a chance to see and touch the plaque that Burton received for his nomination, one of my film professors had it hanging in his office. Anyway, here is a great scene…where George plays the game, “Get the Guest.”

Here is one for Cinematography…it is George Barnes for the 1944 film Jane Eyre. Barnes was able to exactly portray the Gothic feel of the novel, with his use of shadow and fog, at a time when films were shot on a sound stage. The imagery he produced was extraordinary…and utterly beautiful. All in black and white.

Did you catch a very young Elizabeth Taylor?

And one more, this screenplay should have gotten a nomination at least. However, we all know Hollywood does not like to joke about themselves. So I end my little game with this one. Steve Martin outdid himself when he wrote the screenplay for the film Bowfinger.  It is such a funny film, and has a very tight script.  Here is a Roger Ebert review of the movie, so take a look.

So, what are you watching/reading today? Comment section is below…Get to it!

20 Comments on “Sunday Reads, and little bald gold men.”

  1. Sima says:

    I’ve been catching up on reading here at Sky Dancing. I ended up reading tons about Frances Perkins and then RenarttheFox sent me some links about unions and the Depression. I ended up watching this about Ford and Detroit during the Depression:

    and then this one about unionization at Ford:

    Several things really struck me about these snippets (collected by a Professor Emeritus to add his teaching). One was how vitally important unions were in shaping the modern work environment. Most people don’t realize this, and I think they should. I think it should be taught in schools, hammered into brains. If we lose what they achieved it will all start again, the hardship, the starvation, the insecurity, the marches, the shootings, the riots. Can’t people see this?

    Another was more personal. In the second video one of the men talks about how before unionization they couldn’t go to the bathroom; they had to ask for permission and someone came and checked they they had actually ‘gone’ if they did get that permission. How frapping humiliating!

    And it reminded me of my very first job. I worked in the Silicon valley, testing integrated circuits (back in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s). Workers in the valley wouldn’t unionize because supposedly we ‘had it so good’ we didn’t have to. And yes, we got decent wages and benefits, until the recession hit. And I worked for a great company, one that was very worker oriented. The CEO had sworn to never lay off workers, ever. The bust of Silicon valley in the late 1990’s made him go back on his 30 year long promise. So he held a huge jobs fair for the laid off workers and got them employed elsewhere. I guess management has since changed and they aren’t that worker friendly anymore.

    Anyway, my manager told us testers that we weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom without permission. All the workers, but me, were Filipino women. I loved them, they rocked. The manager figured I was an obvious spy and so would pull me from my machine and send me to the bathroom to make sure the women were actually ‘going.’ And he wanted me to look to make sure. I lied to him constantly. Heh.

    I couldn’t believe that the same crap Ford managers were pulling against workers in the 1930’s was pulled against me and my friends 50 years later. I should note, the manager was fired soon after I left work there to go to college. When I returned during the summer of my first college year, the women in the test facility were all very happy under the new manager and stopped making long bathroom breaks. Maybe poor work is all about the managers most of the time, eh?

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Great comment Sima. You touched on a point which I think reflects one of the problems many in the country experience, ignorance. There is so much we can learn from history, yet people constantly dismiss it. (And I am not talking the rewriting of history that Glen Beck and his lot often expound on. Even though the acceptance of what Beck and others say proves my point as well, ignorant people taking what these guys say as fact cause they don’t know the real history behind it. )

      I am glad you posted your personal experience with your first job. It reminded me of my work experiences in bad management/job situations.

      What bothers me about all this, is Walker and his gang are trying to wipe out something that is beneficial to the people of his state. Collective Bargaining gives protections and assures the people they have a voice. I was under the impression that Governors are supposed to work for the benefit of the citizens of their states.

      Like the quote above from a 600 year old historian’s writings:

      The first type of rational politics may concern itself with the (public) interest in general, and with the ruler’s interest in connection with the administration of his realm, in particular.

      The second type (of rational politics) is the one concerned with the interest of the ruler and how he can maintain his rule through the forceful use of power. The general (public) interest is, here, secondary.

      Walker’s behavior is clearly an example of the second kind. You do not have to be labeled a “dictator” to act like one. So many of these GOP politicians seem to take on that role quite easily. Forcing their own ideas and agendas on the people they are supposed to represent. Ugh, it is disgusting.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I used to do temporary work when I was in my 20s. One job I had was for a detective agency. I was supposed to type reports on investigations. It turned out that the “investigations” involved the “detectives” pretending to work at low wage jobs in stores so they could spy on what the other low-wage employees where doing–for the store bosses.

      I quit the job and told them I thought what they were doing was completely immoral.

    • paper doll says:

      If we lose what they achieved it will all start again, the hardship, the starvation, the insecurity, the marches, the shootings, the riots. Can’t people see this?

      People think it will happen to others…the” losers” … and surely not to them! Look in the mirror one and all…to the upper crust, you are a ‘loser” You don’t have several hundred millions hidden in an off shore account do you? well there you are.

      As I always say people think the 5 day work week and the concept of a vacation just happened somehow

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    One thing I would like to discuss in the comments…I put that link up top to Cuba for another reason. These rulers/dictators/oppressors like Castro, Gaddafi, Mubarak, and Chavez, also illustrate a point about wealth and the attitudes toward the poor…what I am trying to say is that when a country that is poor without any resources that the US wants, we have a different foreign policy than when there is a huge supply of goods the US needs or wants from that “rich” country. (Rich in terms of resources like oil, natural gas, stuff like that.) I know this difference of attitude in Foreign Policy is not new, but it can also be seen in the treatment of our own people.

    I see the same thing going on with government officials here in the US. The poor and working class, like those countries without oil reserves, are being treated differently than those people who have the resources, money, that these politicians want. It has to stop, I just don’t know how or when the attitude will change.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    A couple new links on WI. What do you think it means when Haley Barbour calls Obama, the greatest politician in the history of the US?

    Wisconsin’s fight for the middle class | Clancy Sigal | Comment is free |

    This is more than a union dispute in Madison: what’s at stake is Big Money’s power to squeeze ordinary Americans yet more

    Walker shows no sign of conceding in Wis. battle – Meet the Press –

    Meet the Press host David Gregory played a video clip of President Obama as a candidate in 2007 promising an audience that “If American workers are being denied their rights to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.”

    Obama also said 10 days ago that Walker’s proposal seemed to him to be “an assault” on unions, but since then hasn’t commented on the controversy.

    Trumka sidestepped Gregory’s question about whether Obama was doing enough to support the unions in their struggle with Walker.

    “It’s important for middle class voters to know that the president is on their side, but this isn’t about President Obama” Trumka said.

    But Barbour said, “The president is one of the greatest politicians in the history of the United States and he’s quiet (on the Wisconsin controversy) because he understands that most Americans know that this (cutting government employee costs) has to be done.”

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Y’all be sure to read that first link above from the Guardian! From the link:

      Wisconsin is a make or break fight for labour. The citizen demonstrators camping out, in tents and on sleeping bags, in freezing Madison can expect almost no help from their natural ally, the national Democratic party, nor from President Obama. For years, the now-defunct “centrist” Democratic Leadership Council has been indistinguishable from the rightwing US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable.

      • Sima says:

        That was an excellent article. Thanks for posting it! I really do think this is a fight for the life of unions.

        If we lose, I wonder what they’ll call the new ‘unions’ in about, ohh, give it 50 or 60 years of utter misery until people rise up and fight again and the middle class is reborn. So stupid to have to do it all over again, and again, and again.

    • paper doll says:

      Great round up!Thanks!

      What do you think it means when Haley Barbour calls Obama, the greatest politician in the history of the US

      I think it means we have to start worrying Obama will be declared President for life in the interests of “stability “

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    Is Oman next? Factbox: Facts about Oman | Reuters

    Police and demonstrators demanding political reform clashed in Oman on Sunday, killing two people, and protesters set government buildings and cars ablaze, witnesses said.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Still catching up on Oman, as many tweets are not in English. Thanks…

    • dakinikat says:

      My research agenda is being impacted by all of this. These countries were supposed to enter a European union structure last year and they were going to create a shared currency. The upheaval will really impact all this. Hopefully as they change to democracy this will enhance the chance for success. Right now it’s changing all the circumstances.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    Well ad Maine to the list of states bringing laws against women to the mess:

    Abortion foes’ hopes raised in Maine

    And this from Virginia, Worry about women’s health? Get a vasectomy – Daily Press

    So a restrictive measure that for years hasn’t been able to get out of committee in the Democrat-controlled state Senate was sneaked Monday onto a bill that the Senate already passed.

    Then it was sent back, bypassing the committee and forcing a floor vote.

    Sneaky, but procedurally correct.

    And it could force about 17 of the 21 abortion clinics operating in Virginia to close because they can’t meet the same structural, staffing or safety standards as hospitals.

    Because clinics are not hospitals. A dental clinic, a plastic surgery center, etc., are not hospitals. First-trimester abortion clinics were rightly classified in the same category as these. And there was no problem with women’s health and safety.

    But that argument isn’t relevant, anyway, because this amendment isn’t about health and safety.

    “If anybody in this room thinks this debate is about women’s health, get a life,” Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said in Friday’s paper. “I don’t have the word ‘stupid’ written on my forehead.”

    There are times I’d argue with Saslaw about that last part, but not now, on this issue.

    Have women in Virginia been dying at these clinics at such a clip that we need such a law? Of course not.

    And how ironic that the same conservatives that hate regulations on business love regulations when it comes to women’s bodies.

    They love fetuses, but are stripping millions in funding from social welfare programs to keep babies healthy and safe once they’ve exited the birth canal.

  6. Woman Voter says:


    AJELive AJELive
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday the United States was reaching out to Libyan opposition

    Go Hillary GO!

  7. Woman Voter says:

    michaeljtotten Michael J. Totten
    Obama Is Following, Not Leading, the World on Libya:

    Also, have you guys caught McCain and Joe ‘Internet KillSwitch’ Lieberman saying we now should support these Democratic Revolutions? Oh, and no word from Palin on the matter???

  8. Outis says:

    Great post, I’m still catching up. And Yes! Goodfellas was an unrecognized masterpiece that has only grown over the years much like Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski. Thanks for sharing it. But I do have to point out that to my knowledge, Scorsese has never shot on digital. They may have been digitally finished, but he always originates on film. He’s a huge proponent of film and famously pushed Kodak to make better archival film stocks. He’s one of the last bigtime directors that still supports film–good on him. It’s a heartbreak for many of us that film is dying, as digital can still never be as beautiful, even with improvements because film is for lack of a better word alive and digital isn’t. Another triumph of profits over everything.

    And I agree, all his DiCaprio movies sorta suck. 🙂

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thanks Outis, I remember reading about him switching to digital when I was in college. I think it was during the time Gangs of New York was being filmed. But yeah, I know he is big on film preservation.

      I agree wholeheartedly about the use of film verses digital.

  9. Woman Voter says:

    Check out where it links to:

    waelabbas Wael Abbas
    الجيش يدعي أنهم بلطجية !!! أحه

    In recognition of the importance of view Egypt’s youth in the formation of global and regional politics, the Hillary Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State to conduct a dialogue with Egypt’s youth through the Internet and social networks have been chosen site TOM being the first and largest online portal used by the Egyptians, particularly young people to carry the page of this dialog historic.

    Wooo HOOO, they figured it out…WOWZA! YEA!