Thursday, March 17, 2011

a RoUsInG sPeEcH tO tHe PeOpLe'S pArTy!

On March 12, 2011, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was the keynote speaker for a gathering of Wisconsin Progressives in Madison, WI. He gave one of the most rousing and fully accurate political speeches I have ever heard! He addressed every single aspect of what I believe a People's Party faction in Congress should be all about.

Those who are mistakenly on the right of the political spectrum may accuse Kucinich of demagoguery, but this was no disingenuous speech designed to merely sell books or garner votes for a personal political campaign. Rather, this was a heartfelt, impassioned speech before a large audience I haven't seen the likes of in a long, long time. It was a speech of common sense and which appealed to our spirit of fairness. It was remarkable!

I would strongly encourage you to go to, key in Kucinich Rallies Wisconsin, and then sit back and enjoy 16 minutes of pure, unadulterated progressive pleasure. It is absolutely phenomenal!

I owe another remarkable person, 85 year old progressive DARLENE over at Darlene's Hodgepodge ( a huge debt of gratitude for turning me on to this.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

BaN aLl MoNoPoLiStIc CoRpOrAtIoNs InStEaD!

A corporate CEO, a teabagger, and a unionized public employee are sitting around a table. A plate with a dozen cookies has been placed before the CEO. He takes 11 of the cookies, and then says to the teabagger, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

This ingeneous fable is a perfect illustration of the American economic system today. Big corporations have experienced gains in worker productivity as a result of, and despite, freezing wages, conducting layoffs, and reducing workers' hours. REAL unemployment (not the "official" government statistic, but those who are still without a job) is still unbearably high. Meanwhile, CEO salaries and benefit packages continue to skyrocket. Outsourcing of American jobs continues. Union membership in the private sector is at an all-time low, as repeated union busting attempts over the past 30 years have been largely successful. The corporation and its kingpin, the CEO, rule the roost. They have devoured the Republican Party whole, and have succeeded in neutralizing and making impotent the once formidable (former) party of the workers and the poor, the Democratic Party. Now they wish to make their victory all but complete by doing away with public sector unions. They know if they are successful in this attempt, the few remaining private sector unions will also disappear. It is a disgraceful and indefensible action being undertaken in this so-called "land of the free," where the only freedom in the marketplace belongs to those who set the wages, not to those who actually produce wealth through their labor.

The corporatists and their willing parrots in the reactionary Republican Party are trying to turn non-union employees against union employees. They circulate wild and crazy rumors about how union employees make vastly more than non-union employees for the same type of work (in most cases they DON'T); how union employees' benefits dwarf those of non-union workers and are paid for by taxpayers (although most union pensions and medical insurance are either fully or partly worker-funded); and how closed-shop companies are costing jobs overall (a baldfaced lie). Their strategy is simple: divide the workers, and then conquer them. Whip up public opinion against unions (especially public-sector ones), and remain safe and untouched and able to further increase revenues and profits while both groups of workers fight among themselves. It is a dishonest and cynical ploy. It is a tactic these plutocrats and their far-right parrots are attempting to institutionalize. It must therefore be resisted to the bitter end by all who aren't members of the upper 2% of the income scale!

Scott Walker and John Kasich, the extreme far-right Republican governers of, respectively, Wisconsin and Ohio, have tried to destroy the effectiveness of public-sector unions by stripping them of their ability to collectively bargain. They have proceeded with this radical agenda even though nationwide polls indicate that, by a landslide margin, most voters disagree completely with their approach. Being ideologues who detest unions, they have nonetheless gone straight ahead with their plan.

Both claim it is the only way to reduce their state's budget deficit. But that is a deliberate lie, and they know it. Keep in mind: Neither the Wisconsin NOR the Ohio public sector unions have a history or pattern of strikes, walkouts, or other disruptions. This is just a conspiracy devised at the last Republican Governors Association meeting to directly attack these workers, done completely without provocation. And these sneaky, dishonest two governors do not mention that prior to their action, both states granted huge tax cuts to corporations (Ohio even completely did away with their corporate income tax)! BOTH MEN MUST THEREFORE BE RECALLED AND THROWN FROM OFFICE AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE MOMENT FOR THIS ARROGANT, DEFIANT, AND DISHONEST ACTION!

Corporate taxes have steadily decreased as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product, as the chart below clearly shows. Yet corporations still send out swarms of lobbyists to get Congress to lower their taxes even further! It defies logic, and such behavior can only be filed under the heading of GREED. For, along with tremendous gains in productivity per worker over the past 20 years, corporations have caused an actual REDUCTION in the number and pay scales of American workers' jobs. That's right: rather than take their tax decreases and apply them to the creation of new, better-paying AMERICAN jobs, corporations have either sat on their savings, or, worse yet, exported American jobs overseas. Even worse, much of the taxes bthey used to pay have been moved steadily from them over to personal income taxes over the years!
The thoroughly bought-out Republican Party in the House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to defeat a Democratic bill which would have ended our $36 BILLION federal subsidy to the nation's top 5 oil companies, who together have netted $1 TRILLION in profit over the past decade! That should give you an idea of the REAL Republican feeling on cutting our nation's deficit!

To further show how greedy corporate America has become, not only has their average rate of taxation declined steadily, but they have also taken to using creative ways to present themselves so as to incur even less taxation! Designation as a sub-S corporation provides for an even larger tax savings, as the steady rise in companies doing so is shown in the chart below.
To put this in proper perspective, I am presenting below two graphs which I obtained from TomCat's post of March 3, which appeared on his marvelous blog (Left click on each graph to make it larger and more readable). They show exactly how corporate America has robbed YOU over the past decades, and what the current table of income levels reveals. It is DISGUSTING!
It is an unfairly reckless act for Govs. Walker and Kasich to effectively be balancing their state budgets on the backs of middle class and poor workers, and an added insult to bar public unions tfrom bargaining collectively for better pay and working conditions. These are not the actions of men who truly believe in a free market. Rather, these are puppets of the plutocracy this country has become. They aren't public servants; they are servants of an evil, greedy oligarchy which wishes to push all wealth upward into the hands of a select few. For if these clowns really did believe in a free market, rather than ban collective bargaining among public employees, they would heed my call to BAN ALL MONOPOLISTIC CORPORATIONS INSTEAD!


In closing, I say to the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives:

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich; NOW WHERE ARE THE JOBS WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO RESULT? You've regained control of the House of Representatives; NOW WHERE ARE THE JOBS WHICH WERE SUPPOSED TO RESULT? You've been Speaker of the House for over 2 months. You have done nothing to create new jobs and have instead wasted all your time on social issues. NOW, WHERE THE HELL ARE THE JOBS YOU SAID WOULD BE CREATED WHEN THE REPUBLICANS GAINED CONTROL, MR. BOEHNER?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

JIM DANDY, (1942-2010), R. I. P.

James Brian Everts (aka "Diamond Jim Dandy")Feb. 24, 1942-Oct. 20, 2010

To my dismay, I found out last week that I had lost my boyhood idol, a radio DJ who used to broadcast from the now-defunct Twin Cities radio station WDGY, AM 1130. I am saddened that I didn't have the chance to speak with him one last time, or to thank him one last time for the countless hours of enjoyment his show provided for me from winter 1966-spring 1968, and again briefly in the spring of 1969. So I'll just have to do so here in this memorial post I dedicate in his honor.

During the 1960s, WDGY (or "Weegee" as we locals referred to it) was THE most listened to, most popular radio station. It was a powerful 50,000 watt directional station, and it vied for no.1 with WCCO-AM as the most popular station in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market. Whereas 'CCO was mostly a talk/sports/easwy listening format, WDGY played all the current pop-rock top 40 hits of the day, and was an absolute staple among pre-teens to young adults of the day (circa 1964-1973 or so). FM radio was still in its infancy at that time and a suitable rock station didn't emerge here until about 1969 or so, so our main choice was always WDGY. And the king of Weegee was Jim Dandy.

Diamond Jim Dandy was a true radio personality, not your tired, safe radio DJ of today. He was very lively, fast talking, and slightly irreverent. He didn't have what you would call a deep or resonant radio voice, but he held his listeners quite well. His M-Sat 7 PM-12 midnight slot outdrew rival 'CCO constantly. Back in those days, it was customary for most stations to play two or at most three selections and then run several commercials. Not Jim Dandy, though: sometime in 1966, he began to calls for "a six pack." He mentioned that if 6 people would call him and DARE him to play six records in a row without a commercial break, not only would he play the records continuously, he would even mention the callers' names and cities on the air! He ended up doing this several times a night, and each time he'd have all of us scrambling to get our names on the air. I can remember dialing on our old rotary phone over and over, until I finally got through without a busy signal, and most nights I succeeded. As a matter of fact, it got to the point where I would say, "Jim, I'd like to dare ya for a six-pack" and he would say "OK, Jack, you're in. How ya doin' tonight?" I was tickled pink that he recognized my voice, so, naturally, I just kept on calling nearly every night. It got to the point where I swear I was one of three or four callers who most often got his name read on the air. (I remember my fellow "rivals" at the time as being a Bruce Ness of Minneapolis and a Diane Eid of Richfield - funny how, 42+ years later, I can still remember that). As time went on, sometimes he would ask for dares for a 12-pack, something that was truly unheard of in AM radio of the time. That, of course, was 12 records played in a row with 12 listeners' names being read on the air. He also asked for people to call in to dedicate songs to their particular girl or boy friend of the moment, and I did that quite a few times too.

Saturday, July 15, 1967, is a date I'll always remember. My uncle had previously provided me with two good box seat tickets for the Minnesota Twins-Kansas City Athletics baseball game. I asked Jim Dandy if he'd like to go with me to the game, and he accepted. So he came by that day and picked me up in his flashy 1965 Chevy convertible, and away we went! The Twins didn't play particularly well that day and K.C. really stunk, so we eked out a 3-2 win. Jim asked me if I would like to visit him at the radio station in a week or so, and I said "YES!" very enthusiastically. So about a week and a half later my mom drove me out to the station (I was only 13 at the time) and in I went, all wide-eyed with wonderment! He took me into the broadcast booth where later that night he'd be broadcating from, mentioning that we must be very quiet so as not to disturb Scott Burton, who preceded him in the rotation. We crept in quietly and I was all eyes! Later he took me into the basement, where they stored past hit records and did production. Their collection of 45 rpm records was incredible.

Jim Dandy left the station the following May and didn't return until a brief stint the following year. Then, all of a sudden, he was gone without an explanation. I took me nearly 40 years, but I finally tracked him down through an email address I saw somewhere. I wrote him about much of what you see here and asked if he remembered me. I didn't hear back for quite some time. But finally, one day, I got a phone call. I didn't recognize the voice on the other end. It was hoarser and gruffer than I remembered. But then the caller idebtified himself as JIM DANDY! I damn near dropped the phone! He mentioned that he was in Minneapolis, and asked if I'd like to join him for a drink. "You're on!" I hurriedly replied. So we met for SEVERAL drinks and had a wonderful time reminiscing about 1960s radio and WDGY in particular.

This was the actual broadcast booth my pal Jim Dandy used to broadcast from, although this picture dates from 1970, a year after he had left the station for good.

I asked him what had brought him back to town, and he told me he had always liked and remembered his stay in Minneapolis fondly, and that he wanted to retire here. I was delighted to have him back in my life after so many years, but I was concerned about his health. He was very heavy set, smoked like a chimney, and his voice had gotten noticeably deeper and hoarser. We decided to keep in touch, and he did call me from time to time, and I him. One day, he called and told me he was now in a nursing home. He had fallen and couldn't get up and was taken to the hospital by paramedics with a severely bruised arm. I visited him at the nursing home in the spring of 2009. That was the last time I saw him alive. I called him and wished him a happy birthday last year, and we talked one time after that. I had been preoccupied with my own mother's poor health most of last spring, and she died at the end of May. 5 months later, my buddy Jim Dandy died too. I don't know a cause of death, but I would almost bet it was lung cancer or emphysema...

Jim Dandy was the type of guy who never held back and said whatever was on his mind. For some reason, he never cared that much for British sixties singer Petula Clark. To give you an idea of his irreverence, he once said of her, "she had more fingerprints on her than the front door of Duff's" (a popular Twin Cities lounge of that era). I laughed like hell.

Thank you, Jim Dandy, for the thousands of hours of enjoyment you provided a young teenage boy back in those glory days of 1960s radio. I will NEVER forget you!

For an aircheck of what Jim Dandy actually sounded like, go to Scroll down until you see 5/25/68 Diamond Jim Dandy, and click on it. It's not one of his better airchecks, but it does give you some idea of how he sounded. Regrettably, this is not hyperlinked.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RePuBlIcAnS dEcLaRe ClAsS wArFaRe!


Republicans declared war on all American workers this past week. Rather, the oligarchical oil billionaire Koch brothers, using the Republican party as a vehicle, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a bribed dupe, have launched an attack on the Wisconsin public workers union. The bill which that moronic Walker is trying to pass would strip these workers of all collective bargaining rights. The criminal Koch brothers donated (I mean, bought) Walker with a $43,000 donation to his recent election bid. No sooner had he been inaugurated than he almost immediately passed a $14o MILLION tax cut for business. It created a budget shortfall which he is using as an excuse to attack these workers.

From Mother Jones:

"Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado..."

Right wing zealots like the Koch Brothers have accused those of the left advocating a fairer, more progressive tax system as engaging in "class warfare." Well, the pot shouldn't call the kettle black, because this move to eradicate public sector unions is UNDENIABLY an act of class warfare against workers! With the Supreme Court's despicable Citizens United ruling, all sorts of shadowy front groups have sprung up. Each contributes heavily to Republican office seekers' campaigns.


Once public sector unions are gone, private sector will be next. Pretty soon everyone who still has a job will be rolled down to a pay scale of only $3 per hour.

I'd hate to see it happen, but maybe, since the Koch brothers initiated this all-out war on workers, some will feel it IS time for the poor, hungry, and unemployed to pick up their guns and head to the streets. A word to the wise, Koch brothers: you had best begin looking over your shoulder to see who's walking behind you... this could turn REAL ugly FAST! And YOU'LL be the ones to blame!