This story came to me from Lee Ballinger, a former steelworker in Ohio’s Warren-Youngstown area. In the early twentieth century, the Youngstown area boasted the largest concentration of steel-making facilities per capita, and per square mile, in the world. In time, the city’s fate turned. Between 1977 and 1982 alone, five major steel mills closed—thereafter, 50,000 jobs vanished. Lee’s was one of them.
I know what it’s like to depend upon coal to feed a family. Many years ago I worked at a steel mill in Ohio. My job was at the coke plant where West Virginia coal was turned into coking coal for the blast furnace. The top of the coke ovens was an area the size of a football field where monstrous machines funneled coal into the ovens. It was my job to put the heavy oven lids back on nice and tight. It was literally as hot as hell up there. It felt like walking barefoot on hot coals. The air we breathed was truly foul but to us it was the sweet smell of something like success. We called it the smell of money because it paid the bills. Continue reading
My two cents – through two stories of young black people in Cleveland – on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, now up on HuffPost.
This week we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that true equality included civil rights but also economic justice. In fact, his later writings and speeches on economic inequality and the free market are conveniently ignored by our media and education systems. He dreamt about America, after all, and criticisms of capitalism do not coincide well with the American Dream. But poverty and inequality remain the greatest demarcations of race in America today. In that vain, I am offering a snapshot of two black youths in Cleveland who embody the challenges facing blacks and lower income Americans off all colors. Read the rest at The Huffington Post!
I published a piece on the Huffington Post that offers a glimpse into the confusion and contradictions dogging our healthcare system and how we approach it.
Last month, Steven Brill published an article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” which directed national attention to our health care system in a more serious way than has been the case since the 2009 debates over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). It was a nuanced, comprehensive, and thoughtful account of a broken system. Yet unlike many political issues, health care is one that impacts all of us, all the time, whether or not politicians and pundits are addressing it. Every day, people live, suffer through, survive, and die in the health care system. Read the rest here!
My latest article, now up on the Huffington Post, discusses the impact of Ohio’s centrality in the national elections on our state’s political culture.
We hear it time and again, enviously, bitterly, admiringly, coaxingly. It may be our sole characteristic that induces jealousy among our compatriots. It entices the world’s most powerful men to court us. Observers from Beijing to Benghazi eye us intently; from New York to California they unabashedly ogle us. We are awash — maybe drowning — in the money of millionaires. Here in Ohio, our votes matter.
By November 7, we will have determined the course of the domestic and foreign policies of a global superpower. Very soon thereafter all will forget us, and then in four years wonder again why we are so fickle. In the meantime, we will be left to attend to our wounds. Maybe we will mend them, but probably they will fester. All that is certain is that no entity could be so torn and embattled without suffering critical damage. Read the rest here!
Some reflections on the final presidential debate of 2012 for Aslan.
During the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic president-and-candidate Barack Obama frequently found themselves in agreement on major foreign policy issues. Although the agreements were more apparent than in the past, thanks to the recent emergence of “Mitt the Moderate,” they could have been anticipated. When Michael Hudson and I wrote about the candidates’ stances on issues related to the Middle East, we found Mitt Romney’s stances to be vague, critical and bellicose, but largely indistinct in specifics. His philosophy may well be “speak ambiguously and carry a big stick.” Read the rest here!
In my latest piece on the Huffington Post, I talk about the early voting saga in Ohio with Ohioans themselves.
The battle over early voting in Ohio might, finally, be over. The crusader for limiting voters’ access to the polls, Secretary of State Jon Husted, took a fatal blow from the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday. They declined to hear his appeal of the decision of lower courts that favored keeping the polls open the weekend before the November 6 election. The unelected justices-for-life did democracy a favor. Read the rest here!
Please check out my latest article up at Aslan about divisions in American political culture. It is the first in a two part series.
Watching the first presidential debate last week, Americans may be forgiven for losing sight of the differences between the candidates in the details. Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama managed to agree both on broad themes and policy specifics. When asked about their understanding of the role of government, both heralded foremost our military and our education system. The military is usually the darling of the Republicans, education the sweetheart of the Democrats. But here they were, Romney declaring, “I love great schools!” (see this graphic for all of Romney’s loves), Obama touting his role as Commander-in-Chief, and both nodding in approval of the other across the split screen. Moreover, thanks to some significant backtracking on Romney’s part, they were also in agreement not just about funding for schools, but also about taxing the rich, the importance of regulations, and even healthcare mandates. Read the rest here!
My latest piece is now available for reading here. It is part of my just-launched column at Aslan Media!
As is often the case, Israel is dominating the discourse on US foreign policy. In the last week or so, there has been renewed debate about the viability of the “two-state solution” with the Palestinian Authority once again on the verge of financial collapse, the posting of bigoted ads in New York City subway stations equating Israel with civilized man and its resistors with savages, the almost monotonous warmongering over Iran, and the release of a surreptitiously taped video of Mitt Romney dismissing not only 47 percent of Americans but also the Palestinians, their leadership, and the peace process to boot. The annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly offered another chance for world leaders and their eager followers in the media to debate/discuss/dissect Israel in US foreign policy. I am personally staggered when an American president, with our men and money operating at war in another country, mentions Israel five times more than Afghanistan in his speech to the UN. Read the rest here!
In my latest article for Aslan Media, I’ve written about the brief shift of focus towards foreign policy and the subsequent return to domestic issues in the presidential campaigns. As I hope to show, the domestic focus is an ever-increasing trend among the American public.
When Michael C. Hudson and I began penning an article on the foreign policy implications for the Middle East under the next presidential administration, we wanted to underscore an issue neglected in a campaign season defined by the economy. Soon enough, our issue and region of choice were brought to the forefront by the shocking deaths of American diplomats in Libya and the rapid spread of small-scale but dramatic demonstrations outside US embassies throughout the Muslim world. It is an unfortunately sensational storyline. Featured are an anti-Semitic/Islamic fraudulent expat, a soft-core porn director, and a preacher of vitriol on the one hand, and opportunistic politicians maximizing the anti-Western sentiment of their (in some cases overly-militarized-thanks-to-the-West) followers. Add to that an exploitative Republican presidential candidate, significant Islamophobia, and a deleterious 24-hour news cycle, and we have a production nearly as distasteful as the film that started it all. Read the rest here!