Writing on the Train

Posted on March 17, 2014 by

More than thirty years ago, Amtrak paid for my train fare and sleeper in return for a travel story. This week, the rail passenger service rolls out a promotion which will select 24 writers for an “Amtrak Residency.”   A December New Yorker story about writing on trains created a social media buzz which Amtrak has [...]

Continue Reading

Begging the Bosses

Posted on March 7, 2014 by

In promoting his plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, President Obama hits the right notes: Working full-time shouldn’t mean living in poverty A higher minimum wage pumps money into the economy, stimulates consumption and lifts the overall standard of living For companies, paying employees more is the right thing to [...]

Continue Reading

Internet Withdrawal

Posted on March 2, 2014 by

Customers waiting in line at the bank or post office pass the time these days tickling their smart-phones.  A good way, I suppose, to cope with impatience, prevent anxiety and feel productive.  There’s probably less “small talk” – chitchat among strangers – than there used to be.  And maybe that’s too bad. When I’m stuck [...]

Continue Reading

Tom Bradley’s Los Angeles

Posted on February 15, 2014 by

With its dominant anti-union business class, racist and brutal police force and bigoted and provincial mayor, Los Angeles was a backwater city through the early 1970s. Its transition to a world-class, cosmopolitan, diverse and liberal metropolitan region began 40 years ago with the election of Tom Bradley, an African-American former LAPD officer who built an [...]

Continue Reading

Tea Party Populists

Posted on February 6, 2014 by

End corporate welfare.  Oppose candidates in the pocket of big business.  Don’t let the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tell you how to vote. Sounds like a message from the American Left. But look again.  It’s the radical populist wing of the tea party. Watch – if you can – this talk by tea party honcho [...]

Continue Reading

Oh Henry!

Posted on February 1, 2014 by

What Henry Waxman figured out Was how to have a lot of clout Raising funds from Westside Jews The question was how best to use A seat in Congress all his own Though many there were better known He understood right off the bat How influence took more than that With friend and colleague Howard [...]

Continue Reading

Expo Dreams

Posted on January 25, 2014 by

A few blocks northeast of the last stop of the Expo Line in Santa Monica is the bustling Broadway corridor: clusters of new apartment houses which conform to the “pedestrian-friendly” template in this progressive, coastal city. Where street-level restaurants, retail shops and professional offices create an atmosphere of neighborhood activity and “human-scale” commerce. Walk there [...]

Continue Reading

Our Side, Their Side

Posted on January 19, 2014 by

Chris Christie may be a scoundrel but he’s a talented and appealing politician who could have won national office.  So naturally I’m relieved that he’s enmeshed in a colossal scandal. For a day or two I could watch the wall-to-wall MSNBC coverage with new details exposed in each segment and interviews with the key players [...]

Continue Reading

Northridge Earthquake Anniversary

Posted on December 31, 2013 by

“Northridge 20” – a UCLA symposium marking the 20th anniversary of the January 17, 1994 earthquake – will draw experts from the Structural Engineers Association of  Southern California, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Western States Seismic Policy Council, the California Earthquake Authority, the Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council, and more. Expect detailed [...]

Continue Reading

Ten Headlines I Would Like to See in 2014

Posted on December 18, 2013 by

At the risk of seeming ridiculously naïve (but just for fun), I again offer my new-year wish-list… 1) Francis Tackles Big Business             Pope Blames Corporations for World-Wide Wealth Gap   2) Gay Rights Goes South             Red States Ready for Marriage Equality   3) Middle East Peace             Common Ground for Israelis and Palestinians [...]

Continue Reading

Clinton vs. Warren?

Posted on November 28, 2013 by

I prefer Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton but I’m not willing to risk the election on a Warren candidacy. In the primaries, Clinton will try to convince democrats that she has a lock on the electoral map and, as president, will use her political skills and guile to beat up republicans.  Implicit in her message [...]

Continue Reading

Obamacare: Mismanagement or Worse?

Posted on November 15, 2013 by

I’ve been arguing for years that we have to stand by Barack Obama even when we’re uncomfortable with his policies and disappointed by his performance. Because no modern president has ever faced such a vile and hateful opposition; and that the republicans would happily burn down this country to see Obama fail. But for the [...]

Continue Reading

De Blasio vs. Garcetti

Posted on November 8, 2013 by

I’m glad New York City elected a progressive democrat. When David Dinkins lost 20 years ago, who knew we’d see five terms of Manhattan-centric Giuliani / Bloomberg and the near total neglect of the working-class “outer boroughs.” Bill de Blasio is generating enormous attention as the city’s new left wing populist mayor.  He out-positioned his [...]

Continue Reading

KCRW Underwriter Promotes “Union Avoidance”

Posted on November 6, 2013 by

During NPR’s Morning Edition, broadcast on Southern California’s public radio station KCRW, is an underwriter spot for “Labor Lawyers” Fisher & Phillips. Turns out Fisher & Phillips represents employers and it’s not a benign management firm. Here’s Fisher & Phillips describing on its website how it helped a manufacturing plant during a labor dispute with [...]

Continue Reading

The 2012 Election Anniversary

Posted on November 3, 2013 by

Sure we hoped for more from Barack Obama’s re-election, especially after all the talk about republicans learning their lesson. Our main goal, of course, was to keep Romney out of the white house.  We felt relief – even euphoria – but soon recognized that the second term would echo the first. To console ourselves, we [...]

Continue Reading

Comparing Obama to Carter

Posted on October 27, 2013 by

The Obamacare rollout fiasco, NSA spying on our allies’ leaders, and the nearly-bungled Syria showdown have many democrats shaking our heads. We know this president has an unyielding and strident opposition, but these are mostly unforced errors. Is there something about this white house and administration which doesn’t have the chops to perform at the [...]

Continue Reading