Friday, November 06, 2009

Helen Keller - Why I became an IWW

An Interview, written by Barbara Bindley, New York Tribune, January 15, 1916

I asked that Miss Keller relate the steps by which she turned into the uncompromising radical she now faces the world as Helen Keller, not the sweet sentimentalist of women's magazine days.

"I was religious to start with" she began in enthusiastic acquienscence to my request. "I had thought blindness a misfortune."

"Then I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness.

"Then I read HG Wells' Old Worlds for New, summaries of Karl Marx's philosophy and his manifestoes. It seemed as if I had been asleep and waked to a new world - a world different from the world I had lived in.

"For a time I was depressed" - her voice saddened in reminiscence- "but little by little my confidence came back and I realized that the wonder is not that conditions are so bad, but that society has advanced so far in spite of them. And now I am in the fight to change things. I may be a dreamer, but dreamers are necessary to make facts!" Her voice almost shrilled in its triumph, and her hand found and clutched my knee in vibrant emphasis.

"And you feel happier than in the beautiful make-believe world you had dreamed?" I questioned.

"Yes," she answered with firm finality in the voice which stumbles a little. "Reality, even when it is sad is better than illusions." (This from a woman for whom it would seem all earthly things are but that.) "Illusions are at the mercy of any winds that blow. Real happiness must come from within, from a fixed purpose and faith in one's fellow men - and of that I have more t+han I ever had."

"And all this had to come after you left college? Did you get none of this knowledge of life at college?"

"NO!" - an emphatic triumphant, almost terrifying denial - "college isn't the place to go for any ideas."

"I thought I was going to college to be educated," she resumed as she composed herself, and laughing more lightly, " I am an example of the education dealt out to present generations, It's a deadlock. Schools seem to love the dead past and live in it."

"But you know, don't you," I pleaded through Mrs. Macy and for her, "that the intentions of your tachers were for the best."

"But they amounted to nothing," she countered. "They did not teach me about things as they are today, or about the vital problems of the people. They taught me Greek drama and Roman history, the celebrated the achievements of war, rather than those of the heroes of peace. For instance, there were a dozen chapters on war where there were a few paragraphs about the inventors, and it is this overemphasis on the cruelties of life that breeds the wrong ideal. Education taught me that it was a finer thing to be a Napoleon than to create a new potato."

"It is my nature to fight as soon as I see wrongs to be made right. So after I read Wells and Marx and learned what I did, I joined a Socialist branch. I made up my mind to do something. And the best thing seemed to be to join a fighting party and help their propaganda. That was four years ago. I have become an industrialist since."

An industrialis?" I asked, surprised out of composure. "You don't mean an IWW - a syndicalist?"

"I became an IWW because I found out the Socialist party was too slow. It is sinking into the political bog. It is almost, if not quite, impossible for the party to keep its revolutionary character so long as it occupies a place under the government and seeks office under it. The government does not stand for the interests the Socialist party is supposed to represent."

"Socialism, however is a step in the right direction," she conceded to her dissenting hearers.

"The true task is to unite and organize all workers on an economic basis, and it is the workers themselves who must secure freedom for themselves, who must grow strong." Miss Keller continued. "Nothing can be gained by political action. That is why I became an IWW."

"What particular incident led you to become an IWW" I interrupted.

"The Lawrence strike. Why? Because I discovered that the true idea of the IWW is not only to better conditions, to get them for all people, but to get them at once."

"What are you committed to - education or revolution?"

"Revolution." She answered decisively. "We can't have education without revolution. We have tried peace education for 1900 years and it has failed. Let us try revolution and see what it will do now."

"I am not for peace at all hazards. I regret this war, but I never regretted the blood of the thousands spilled during the French Revolution. And the workers are learning how to stand alone. They are learning a lesson they will apply to their own good out in the trenches. Generals testify to the splendid initiative the workers in the trenches take. If they can do that for their masters you can be sure they will do that for themselves when they have taken matters into their own hands."

"Don't forget the workers are getting their discipline in the trenches," Miss Keller continued. "They are acquiring the will to combat."

"My cause will emerge from the trenches stronger than it ever was. Under the obvious battle waging there, there is an invisible battle for the freedom of man."

Again the advisability of printing all this here set forth. And this finally from the patience-exhausted, gentle little woman:

"I don't give a damn about semi-radicals!"

Gradually, through the talk, Helen Keller's whole being had taken on a glow, and it was in keeping with the exalted look on her face and the glory in her sightless blue eyes that she told me:

"I feel like Joan of Arc at times. My whole becomes uplifted. I, too, hear voices that say 'Come', and I will follow, no matter what the cost, no matter what the trials I am placed under. Jail, poverty, calumny - they matter not. "Truly He has said, woe unto you that permits the least of mine to suffer."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Healthcare Reform Is Happening

The House vote on HR 3962 is scheduled to take place this Saturday at 6:00 PM. Floor discussion is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 2:00 PM. The following organizations is the current list of endorsers and following the list is the AFL CIO email action alert:

Endorsers of HR 3296 - Affordable Health Care for America Act

Advocates for Youth
Alliance for Children and Families
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
American Art Therapy Association
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Physicians
American College of Surgeons
American Counseling Association
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Medical Student Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Nurses Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
American Psychoanalytic Association
American Psychotherapy Association
American Public Health Association
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Arc of the United States
Association for the Advancement of Psychology
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Association of American Medical Colleges
Black Youth Vote
California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB)
Campus Progress
Center for Clinical Social Work/ABE
Center for Community Change
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Child Welfare League of America
Choice USA
Clinical Social Work Association
Clinical Social Work Guild 49, OPEIU
Consumers Union
Corporation for Supportive Housing
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Doctors for America
Easter Seals
Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action
Families USA
Family Voices
Federation of American Hospitals
Forward Montana
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Generational Alliance
Health Access California
Health Care for America NOW
Health Care for America NOW - Southern Oregon Coalition
Main Street Alliance
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Assembly on School-Based Health Care
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders-ANAD
National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
National Association of Mental Health Planning and Advisory Councils
National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
National Breast Cancer Coalition
National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association (NEA)
National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
National Foundation for Mental Health
National Patient Advocate Foundation
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Rock the Vote
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Small Business Majority
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, a Division of AFSP
Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc,
United Cerebral Palsy
United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
United Neighborhood Centers of America
United Spinal Association
U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)
U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce
Virginia Organizing Project
Voto Latino
Washington Community Action Network
Witness Justice
Young Democrats of America
Young Invincibles
18 in '08

Health Care
Can’t Wait

We need your help TODAY. Call your representative in Washington in support of the House’s historic health care reform bill. Tell your representative that health care reform can’t wait and that you support H.R. 3962.

Call Now

Dear Patricia,

We have exciting news. Within days, the U.S. House will vote on H.R. 3962—the Affordable Health Care for America Act—a historic health care reform bill that includes a public health insurance option, guarantees that employers pay their fare share and doesn’t tax our benefits.

Many of us have been fighting for real health care reform for our entire lives, and this vote is going to be very close. If you've never called your representative before, now is the time. If you've called before, we need you to call again. Tell your representative the time for reform is now: Support H.R. 3962.

Click here to call your representative in Washington in support of H.R. 3962.

The House bill covers 96 percent of Americans, is entirely paid for, reduces the deficit and lets families keep the health care they have instead of facing cuts in benefits and higher costs.

When you call, you will be joining tens of thousands of activists in a nationwide action for real health care reform. Together, we’re going to barrage Congress with calls in support of health care reform that works for America’s working families by:

* Including a strong public health insurance option to break the stranglehold of insurance companies and bring down costs
* NOT taxing our health care plans.
* Guaranteeing that employers pay their fair share.

Call your representative in Washington today in support of H.R. 3962.

We’ve been fighting for years to ensure that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care.. We are so close, but we’re not there yet. The insurance companies and their lobbyists aren’t even close to giving up.

As a matter of fact, insurance companies are spending more money than ever on lobbying against reform. Just last quarter, the 13 largest insurers and the health insurance industry trade association spent more than $8 million lobbying Congress.1

Your representative needs to hear from you. Call today.

In solidarity,

Marc Laitin
AFL-CIO Online Mobilization Coordinator

P.S. Called before? Call again. No matter what you've done. Call now. Winning health care reform is going to take a relentless effort by all of us. Call today.

1 Campaign Money.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for Working Families e-Activist Network.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Racial disparity: All active ethics probes focus on black lawmakers John Bresnahan John Bresnahan Tue Nov 3, 4:54 am ET The House ethics committee i

Racial disparity: All active ethics probes focus on black lawmakers
John Bresnahan John Bresnahan Tue Nov 3, 4:54 am ET

The House ethics committee is currently investigating seven African-American lawmakers — more than 15 percent of the total in the House. And an eighth black member, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), would be under investigation if the Justice Department hadn’t asked the committee to stand down.

Not a single white lawmaker is currently the subject of a full-scale ethics committee probe.

The ethics committee declined to respond to questions about the racial disparity, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are wary of talking about it on the record. But privately, some black members are outraged — and see in the numbers a worrisome trend in the actions of ethics watchdogs on and off Capitol Hill.

“Is there concern whether someone is trying to set up [Congressional Black Caucus] members? Yeah, there is,” a black House Democrat said. “It looks as if there is somebody out there who understands what the rules [are] and sends names to the ethics committee with the goal of going after the [CBC].”

African-American politicians have long complained that they’re treated unfairly when ethical issues arise. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are still fuming over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to oust then-Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) from the House Ways and Means Committee in 2006, and some have argued that race plays a role in the ongoing efforts to remove Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) from his chairmanship of that committee.

Last week’s actions by the House ethics committee are sure to add fuel to the fire.

The committee — which has one African-American lawmaker, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), among its 10 members — on Thursday considered three referrals from the recently formed Office of Congressional Ethics. It dismissed a case against Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who is white, but agreed to open full-blown investigations of California Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson, both of whom are black.

The committee was already investigating five other African-Americans. Rangel is the subject of two different probes, one involving a host of issues he has put before the committee and another involving allegations that corporate funds may have been used improperly to pay for members’ trips to the Caribbean in 2007-08. Reps. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.) and Del. Donna Christensen (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) are also included in the second of those investigations.

A document leaked to The Washington Post last week showed that nearly three dozen lawmakers have come under scrutiny this year by either the House ethics committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog created in 2008 at the insistence of Pelosi. While the list contained a substantial number of white lawmakers, the ethics committee has not yet launched formal investigative subcommittees with respect to any of them — as it has with the seven African-American members.

The OCE has also been a particular target of ire for the Congressional Black Caucus. Black lawmakers, including CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), met with OCE officials earlier this year to raise their concerns. Spokesmen for Lee and the OCE both declined to comment.

A number of CBC members opposed the resolution establishing the OCE, arguing that it was the wrong response to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which helped Democrats seize control of the House in 2006.

Setting up the OCE “was a mistake,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told The Hill newspaper recently. “Congress has a long and rich history of overreacting to a crisis.”

Cleaver, though, now finds himself part of the four-member subcommittee that will investigate Waters, who voted against the OCE. Waters is being probed over her intervention with the Treasury Department on behalf of a minority-owned bank in which her husband served on the board and owned at least $250,000 in stock.

While she has flatly denied engaging in any unethical or improper behavior in her dealings with OneUnited, Waters was described by colleagues and Democratic aides as “livid” over the ethics committee’s decision to investigate her.

“She was hopping mad,” a Democratic lawmaker said of Waters. “She feels this is a complete miscarriage of justice.”

Another CBC member said black lawmakers are “easy targets” for ethics watchdog groups because they have less money — both personally and in their campaign accounts — to defend themselves than do their white colleagues. Campaign funds can be used to pay members’ legal bills.

“A lot of that has to do with outside watchdog groups like [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] that have to have a level of success to justify OCE,” the CBC member said. The good-government groups were strong backers of the OCE’s creation.

But these same groups won’t go after Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), this lawmaker claimed, “because she has plenty of money to defend herself,” and the outside groups don’t want to take a risk. The Democrat said the ethics committee would be going up against Harman’s lawyers and “going up against” the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee if they push the OCE to pressure the ethics committee to act.

Harman was allegedly recorded on a 2005 federal wiretap discussing with an Israeli operative her bid to become Intelligence Committee chairwoman. Harman has denied any wrongdoing, but an attempt by the ethics committee to get a transcript of the taped call was rebuffed by the Justice Department.

What especially galled black lawmakers was that the ethics committee voted to move forward with the Waters and Richardson probes following the OCE referrals, while Graves — who OCE also thought should be investigated by the ethics committee — saw his case dismissed.

Even worse, the ethics committee issued a 541-page document explaining why it wouldn’t look into allegations that Graves invited a witness to testify before the Small Business Committee — on which he sits — without revealing his financial ties to that witness.

“It is kind of crazy,” said an aide to one senior black Democrat. “How can it be that the ethics committee only investigates African-Americans? It doesn’t make sense.”

White lawmakers have certainly been the subject of ethics committee investigations before. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was admonished by the committee for his dealings with corporate lobbyists, while ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was the target of an investigation over his dealings with teenage male House pages in late 2006. Foley resigned after the sex scandal was revealed.

And the document leaked to the Post last week shows that a number of white lawmakers — including senior House Appropriations Committee members John Murtha (D-Pa.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) — have drawn the attention of the committee and the OCE.

The two congressional ethics watchdogs are looking into these members’ ties to the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that won tens of millions of dollars in earmarks from members of the Appropriations Committee. The lawmakers who arranged for the earmarks received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from PMA’s lobbying clients.

But it seems unlikely that the PMA case will become the subject of a full-blown ethics committee investigation. The Justice Department is also looking into the PMA allegations; the FBI raided PMA’s office last year, and Visclosky and his former chief of staff have been served with document subpoenas. And under ethics committee rules, the panel cannot conduct an investigation of any member or staffer already being probed by a law enforcement agency.

The nation’s only black senator, Roland Burris of Illinois, is currently under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. It’s not clear whether that committee is currently investigating any white members, although Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) is likely to be in its sights if the Justice Department doesn’t pre-empt a committee investigation.

Jonathan Allen contributed to this story.

CCDS Members mailing list

CCDS website:

CCDS welcomes and encourages the full participation of our members in
this list serve. It is intended for discussion of issues of concern to
our organization and its members, for building our community, for
respectfully expressing our different points of view, all in keeping
with our commitment to building a democratic and socialist society. To
those ends, free and honest discussion of issues and ideas is
encouraged. However, personal attacks on named individuals, carrying on
old vendettas, excessive posts and, especially, statements that are
racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semitic and/or anti-working class are not

Repeated failure to respect those principles of discussion
may result in exclusion from the list.
Please respect each other and our organization.

Any member of the list who objects to a posting on the list or the
behavior of a particular member should send email describing his or her
concerns to