Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Role of Politicians

This is what happens when you have a viable left wing challenger to the Democrats (Newsome won a close race to a Green lefty)! This is what city politicians should be doing, raising the wages of service sector workers! Hotels and other service jobs can't move to Mexico.

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom warned hotel operators that if they don't end their lockout by Tuesday afternoon, he will join workers on the picket line, call for a boycott of the 14 hotels involved and urge other mayors to play hardball with the properties' corporate owners.
Newsom, who previously had sought to appear neutral in the work stoppage that started with a limited strike Sept. 29, said Monday that if the lockout goes beyond a second week, he wouldn't hesitate to come to the aid of room cleaners, cooks, bellmen and other workers.
"If the lockout does not end, the hotels know where I am going to position myself, not as an advocate, but as an exceedingly strong advocate for the people out there on the lines, in the rain, through the holidays, who are the pawns in this," Newsom said.
The mayor gave the group that represents the hotels until Tuesday afternoon to respond to his request for a 90-day cooling off period that would allow the locked-out workers to return to their jobs while talks are continuing.
If the answer is no, he said he would "do everything in my power to see to it that the city and county of San Francisco does not do business with those hotels" for the more than three years remaining in his term.
The hotels could also expect less than four-star service when it comes to getting streets cleaned, potholes fixed and graffiti removed, he said.
The union called a two-week strike at four downtown hotels Sept. 29; it was have to ended Oct. 13. But operators of 10 other hotels responded with a lockout that later extended to the four hotels initially affected by the strike.
"The hotels now have gotten their two weeks in after the two-week strike," the mayor said. "Fair is fair. As far as I'm concerned, you're even. Now let's all grow up and get back to work."
A spokeswoman for the hotel operators — the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group — said the group plans to respond to Newsom by the deadline but would not say whether they planned to call off the lockout.
"We recognize how serious the mayor is about this issue and we're considering his request," said Barbara French, the group's spokeswoman. "The interest of the hotels is to reach agreement and to reach an agreement that addresses the issues and provides what they think is the most secure avenue for a solution."
Contract talks between the two sides broke down last month over wages, employee health care costs and the main sticking point — the length of the new contract. The employers are seeking a five-year contract, but to gain leverage against the corporations that own and run many major hotels, the union wants a two-year contract that expires in 2006, when its counterparts in New York, Chicago, Boston and other major cities will renegotiate their labor pacts.
The 14 hotels account for about a quarter of San Francisco's 32,500 hotel rooms, and include such luxurious properties as the Westin St. Francis, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins and the Fairmont.
"They will have sent a message that San Francisco is dispensable as a city and its employees can be used as pawns," Newsom said. "That's not what this city stands for. You chose the wrong city to take that action."

The Hallowed Team?

My brother asks:

Correlation? or Causation?

Claim: The outcome of Washington Redskins football games has correctly
predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1936.

Status: True.


The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor.
In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last
home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White
When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

This election year, that deciding game takes place on Sunday, October 31 ...
vs. Green Bay.

Go Pack!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Once again critics of Israel are under attack for spurious charges of anti-semitism because of their outspoken views on Israel and US foreign policy. The charge of anti-semitim has become increasingly yielded by defenders of Zionism to silence its critics. Read below and act!

Dear Friends,
A colleague, Joseph Massad, is currently the target of a intensive campaign directed at Columbia University. The campaign wants to force the University, among other things, to fire Prof. Massad for his "anti-Israel" views, and to eliminate the Edward Said Chair held by Prof. Rashid Khalidi, who recently published a book, Resurrecting Empire. The New York Sun summed up the aims of this campaign in an editorial, the last paragraph of which says:
"The way to begin correcting the situation would be with a grand gesture. A Columbia honorary degree for Prime Minister Sharon would be one way to do it. So would firing Mr. Massad, or giving back the money from the United Arab Emirates, or disciplining Mr. Khalidi for the errors in his book. Then Columbia could set about hiring some teachers who display genuine critical judgment."

The weapon of choice in this campaign is an underground documentary produced by a right wing organization, the David Project, interviewing students who complain of anti-Israel bias on campus and accusing faculty, especially Prof. Massad, of anti-Semitism. This video is being shown behind closed doors to key administrators at Columbia and to various organizations and politicians. It is not open to the public (thus far) and none of the charges have been substantiated. Indeed, similar charges were found baseless last year by an investigative committee appointed by the President of Columbia. Nevertheless, New York mayoral hopeful, Congressman Weiner, has written a letter to the President of Columbia urging that Prof. Massad be fired.

I do not expect this campaign to end any time soon. I have seen similar ones on several campuses now and they persist despite the fact that exhaustive investigations by university administrators do not substantiate such complaints. You may recall similar charges at Berkeley, such as the long front page story this past summer in the East Bay Express based on interviews with select pro-Israel activists who accuse UC Berkeley of being a bastion of anti-Semitism. There is no shortage of targets nor an end to charges, no matter how discredited. At this point in time, Columbia seems to be in the front lines. Do what you can to defend academic freedom.

Provost Alan Brinkley's E-mail is
Vice-president Nick Dirks's E-mail is
President Lee Bollinger's E-mail is

Beshara Doumani
University of California
Dept. of History
3229 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, Ca 94720-2550
510 643-3147 (office)
510 643-5323 (fax)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Milwaukee Film Fest

One of my favorites, Wong Kar Wai (Fallen Angels, Chunking Express, Happy Together), is being featured at the Oriental. Check out the entire schedule here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


The only word that came to mind when I heard the Cheney's complaining about John Kerry's reference to the Cheney's LESBIAN daughter. Why didn't they mention it after the Vice-Presidential debate? Here's a good article on Lynn Cheney's hypocrisy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kerry Pulling Ahead? Are the Masses Asses?

Great commentary on today's electoral vote map. Did you know that Kerry supports vouchers and Bush opposes tax cuts for the rich? Well, about 25% of Tenneseeans do!

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Lot More Sophisticated Than TASS

Tom Tommorow on how information is interpreted in the US media. Spot on.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Limits of US Politics

Every year I do the Political Compass exercise with my students. The students consistently are baffled by the limited nature of the political spectrum in our country. Me too! Go to the political compass and "take the test." The evil of lessers is right.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


These comments on the debates are well reasoned and pretty much the way I saw them in the sense of style and tactics.

Missle Defense

Jonathan Schell on the Nuclear Missle Defense that isn't.


The debates are over. My main comments would be, WHY ARE BUSH AND FOX AND COMPANY SO ANGRY? The are in power! I think this is their appeal. Most white guys are mad in general because of their loss in status in the workplace. Religious folks are mad because they are damned for eternity. And Sean Hannity is mad because his high school football coach took him out of the game sophomore year. It's amazing how their anger is not an issue! I think this is a major reason for the gender gap.

I'm not voting for Kerry, I'm voting for Cobb/Green, but I must say the debates could have made the difference.

Take a look at the electoral map. There has been some movement in key states for Kerry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


As you probably noticed the red and the lack has been on the fritz! Well, EVERYTHING was lost and I did not save it in another document. I am very pained by this turn of events. You would be surprised how much time went into, favorite movies or favorite books.
Well, lesson learned!

Thursday, October 07, 2004



Is There an Islamic Problem?

A new book on Islam and the West. It's a political question that Edward Said answered regularly. Link to the Edward Said Archive.


An analysis of the Vice-Presidential debate when it comes to foreign policy. A point by point rebuttal.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Naomi Klein Answers Hitchens et. al.

Naomi Klein defends her arguments about al-Sadr and his involvement in the Iraqi elections.

The VP Debate

Just a measure of the dismal state of historical memory and the limits of the Dempublicans. Cheney brought up El Salvadoor in the debate last night. He likened the FMLN (leftist liberation movement who have now given up the armed struggle and are a social democratic political party) to the Islamist car bombers in Iraq. One group's model is the 7th century the others the 20th or better, one wants to ban music and kite flying the other drink cuba libre's and dance salsa all night long, one wants a theocratic dictatorship run by beards the other wants a democratic socialism internationally.

Edwards would never have gone near this question because he agrees with Cheney. They both oppose social democracy and any trick or rhetorical device to discredit the left they will both use.