Big Deal

This is a big deal whose ripples will be felt in workplaces and organizing drives at Amazon and far beyond. Will it have the same impact as the Wagner Act? We’ll see. I have always belieived that a shift in the political-legal terrain is an indispensible condition of any mass breakthrough in union organizing. Somewhere in this we have to thank Biden and the NLRB.

John Madden

As a young man, me and my friends would hang out in bars – my two favorites The Monkey Farm in Deep River CT and the Beer Barrel in Portland ME – on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening in the fall. There we would drink much too much beer and watch NFL football. But what made it special was the presence and voice of John Madden, first as coach of the “lunch pail/outlaw” Oakland Raiders and then as football commentator. Madden, who could make the complex play or scheme simple, was larger than life. What other football analyst and “Merry Prankster” rode his own bus back and forth across the country to cover and call games. Madden died yesterday at the age of 85 and today much of the sports world grieves. He was the “genuine article.”

Syndicalist spirit?

On the left – not across the board – there has always been a syndicalist spirit so I have to wonder if the current strike surge will provide fresh ammunition for such a tendency. Let’s hope not!

Christmas as a young boy

Even when I was an altar boy – head altar boy no less – Catholic mass wasn’t one of my go to activities. But Christmas Day mass, as a young boy and in small town in Maine fell into a different category. To begin with, the joy of the day, felt in my home, school, and neighborhood, was no stranger to mass that day. The birth of a child in modest circumstances and in a far off land gave the occasion a magical, wondrous feeling. What is more on this day I wasn’t simply seated in a pew with other churchgoers, but next to my mother (I wasn’t yet an altar boy, too young) who I adored and she was the organist and played, alongside a choir, in a loft like space high above everybody else. In the early part of the mass music was sung in in Latin – beautiful nevertheless – filled every space in this small church, but then gave way to familiar carols near the end of the mass that everybody sang and that captured the transcendent spirit of of the holiday. Finally, immediately after the priest brought the mass to a close with the ancient salutation, “Dominus vobiscum,” (The Lord be with you) the participants, young and old, relatives and friends, would gather at the foot of the church’s steps overlooking the Kennebec River and exchange Christmas greetings.

Hollow claims and deadly results

If anything has shown the hollow claims of neoliberalism, it’s Covid. In its rapid spread across the planet, this deadly virus revealed in spectacular fashion what three decades of neoliberalism has wrought: the absence of a social and caring infrastructure, the poverty of wages of essential workers, the deadly and yawining gaps in our health care system, the racialized and gendered structure of social relations and life, the glaring differences in coping strategies between those at the top and bottom of the income structure, unnecessary deaths on an unimaginable scale, and much more. It’s time for its burial!

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