Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tell Pres. Obama: PVT Manning deserves clemency!
Private Manning Support Network

Tell President Obama: Private Manning deserves clemency!

Please sign the White House petition now (Having trouble? See below!)
manning August 26, 2013, By attorney David Coombs and the Private Manning Support Network (formerly the Bradley Manning Support Network). Clarification on PVT Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's request regarding her gender and name. With your continued support, our network will continue its advocacy efforts in support our heroic WikiLeaks whistle-blower. Note: The image above is PVT Manning's current favorite photo of herself. Read more...
Last week American democracy took a tragic step back, when a military court was allowed to sentence heroic Army whistleblower PVT Manning to 35 years in prison. As we wrote in our joint statement with Amnesty International, “The prosecution of Bradley Manning starkly contrasts to the US government’s repeated failure to deliver justice for serious human rights violations committed during counter-terror operations of the past decade.”
As PVT Manning files a formal request for pardon, now is the time for supporters to call on President Obama to improve his record by granting PVT Manning's request. Only a massive outpouring of public support will convince the Administration that PVT Manning deserves clemency.

Please follow the directions below to sign our petition now, and tell President Obama: “To reduce this blight on the US human rights record… grant Manning clemency for time served, protect whistleblowers, and provide accountability for crimes like those Manning exposed.”

This is the first of many actions our Support Network will organize to promote clemency for PVT Manning. It is also the most important action you can take right now. So please sign and share widely!
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U.S. Navy veteran speaks out:
To my fellow sailors:
Refuse your orders to attack Syria!
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The author is a former Second Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy from 2007-20012 and served on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS The Sullivans. He is a March Forward! organizer in Los Angeles and is working to build anti-war actions locally.

To my fellow sailors, shipmates and service members on active duty,
Second Class Petty Officer Ernesto Fuentes
Many of you are now in the Mediterranean Sea near Syria to be used to carry out strikes against the country. 91 percent of the American public opposes these strikes. The Obama administration has failed to produce the “evidence” it says would justify them.

Do not be fooled into yet another war based on lies in the Middle East. The events that came to pass in Iraq and Afghanistan go to show that "defending freedom and democracy around the world," as the Sailor's Creed so wrongfully suggests is just a scheme to defend the interests of the rich at our expense. Syria—which is the only remaining country in the Arab World that is independent of Wall Street—is a huge prize for the oil and defense industries. But the billionaires who will profit don’t send their own children. They send us.

What we learned from the Iraq war in particular is that the U.S. government will fabricate intelligence, lies to our faces, and create a false story about “protecting civilians” to cover-up their true motives.

Don't be a part of a war machine that kills innocent lives and separates entire families. Tomahawks and MK 45 rounds kill indiscriminately.

Do not be fooled into yet another endless watch, duty day, sleepless night and deployment in support of a corrupt system that constantly puts you in harm’s way. I ask you, is it really worth it?

I enlisted on July 20th, 2007 right out of high school in the hopes that I could peruse an education and travel the world through the Navy. The longer I was in, the more I realized that the community I was exposed to in the Navy was so far removed from the everyday lives of American civilians. Military spending always goes up. I was surrounded by billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, while schools have to fundraise for supplies and scholarships, whole cities were going bankrupt, and students struggled to pay their loans. I realized then that the system in place had left me no choice but to join the military. It was an illusion of choice when the reality is that more and more of us join to escape economic hardship. Then we are used to carry out missile strikes against other struggling people just like us all over the globe. It is a cycle that continues to fuel the war machine.

To me, patriotism is doing what you think is right for your country, not blindly following its government. It means that when we receive orders from corrupt high-ranking officers to launch strikes against Syria, against the will of the American people and against the will of the Syrian people, that it is our duty to refuse to carry them out.
Getting out of the military was the best decision I ever made, because the military tried to make me into a tool of oppression for other people around the world—but failed.

If I were at sea now, ordered to carry out this new war, I would refuse. You can too. Disobey the bogus orders to launch a new war. Refuse deployments and reenlistments. Come home to your families and fight the real battle that has been waged by the government against its own people in the form of unemployment, poor education, high interest rates for college students, police brutality and the erosion of our civil liberties.

Second Class Petty Officer,

Ernesto Fuentes
USN, 2007-2012

March Forward! is dedicated to building the anti-war movement among veterans and active-duty service members. Click here to make an urgently-neeeded donation to help us with out organizing and outreach efforts against the Syria war.
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No War On Syria

Call To Resist

By: George Capaccio

I read the news today and almost cried when I discovered that Linda Rondstadt has Parkinson’s disease and as a result, has lost her ability to sing. The site I was on included a photo of Ms. Rondstadt as a young woman caressing a song into a microphone and wearing an off-the-shoulder dress. Her beauty, her youth, her Mexican lineage are all there in that compelling image from decades past. And as I reached back to the late sixties when she was performing with the Stone Poneys and I was a college senior facing the draft and the end of my well-insulated life, I couldn’t help but think of all that we have lost since then—not only the well-known list of gifted performers who left us much too early in their lives and careers but those intangible, immaterial gifts many of my generation believed would carry us forward into a radically different sort of life—one in which our common humanity and our fellowship with all living things would be the center around which the world would revolve.

Regrettably, this has not come to pass, though the dream remains, and there are many among us, old, young and in between, who continue to believe a revolution in our values remains the only goal worth struggling for. Then I turned the digital page and came to a Syrian father holding in his arms the lifeless body of his child, apparently killed from poison gas. And he is weeping for his loss and all that he and his family will never recover because the promise was not fulfilled, the dream was deferred, and the mountain top from which Dr. Martin Luther King returned recedes in the distance, shrouded over by a noxious, lethal cloud threatening to descend upon Mother Earth and all of her children. It is the cloud of ignorance, the cloud of vanity, the cloud of hubris, the cloud of deceit, and its effect is leaving us spiritually impoverished, mentally dwarfed, and half-crazy with fear and an obsessive worship of violence as the way to bring forth peace.

Now we have those dogs of war once again baying for blood in the halls of Parliament and Congress and from the hollow trumpets of our media, telling us we must hit Syria with the life-saving benediction of our bombs and missiles. And once again the US is the alpha dog, the leader of the pack, stationing destroyers in the Mediterranean, issuing threats, cobbling together a “coalition of the willing,” another name for a band of cutthroat, neocolonial pirates posing once again as lovers of humanity and saviors of the poor, the oppressed, the godforsaken “wretched of the Earth.” A glance at the historical record of these self-ordained peacemakers should be enough to make anyone weep with shame for the suffering they have inflicted, the lies they have told, the horror upon horror they have visited upon the innocent in their quest for hegemony over Heaven and Earth.

Obama and his compadres in Europe and elsewhere would have us belief their sole concern is to protect the people of Syria and punish the Syrian government for having used chemical weapons “against its own people,” though as of this writing there is no conclusive evidence to indict either side in the conflict. But the absence of such evidence will likely not stop them from carrying out their plan to bomb the hell out of Syria, dump the government, and put in its place a collection of stooges drawn from the Syrian opposition.

I cringe when I consider the audacity of these sanctimonious hypocrites drawing their red lines and proclaiming the right and the responsibility to intervene in Syria when their own voluminous rap sheets reveal the extent of their complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Secretary of State John Kerry, for example, along with his predecessor Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden voted in favor of the Congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They voted for the resolution despite ample evidence that Iraq no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction and despite the fact that an invasion of a sovereign country constituted a direct violation of the UN Charter. No matter, when it came time to vote, our illustrious Secretary of State stood tall with his fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle and said yes to a war of aggression whose tragic consequences continue to eviscerate Iraq.

Recently, I phoned a family in Baghdad—a family I have known for 15 years and whom I met during my first visit to Iraq as an anti-sanctions activist. Though I have not seen this family since 2003, a few months before the invasion, we have kept in touch through regular phone calls. The head of the family is a single mother with 2 grown children and 3 still in school. During my most recent call, I spoke with her daughter “Zahra,” a young woman who was only 7 the last time we were together. Over the years, we have become quite close. Next week she will return to school after having the summer off. We talked about the situation in Baghdad—the daily shootings and bombings, the constant shortages of electricity and clean water, the rising prices for food and clothing.

“Baghdad is no good,” Zahra said. “Too dangerous. Always I am afraid when I go out. But I have no choice. This is my life. The life of all Iraqi people.”

Zahra’s mother is unable to find work and must depend on handouts from relatives and the generosity of local merchants in order to feed her family and keep a roof over their heads. She and her children have no choice but to live their lives under the constant threat of death from car bombs or suicide bombers. Certainly in this respect, their circumstances compare to those of families in Yemen and Pakistan where drones—Obama’s weapon of choice—continue to terrorize and, on far too many occasions, obliterate innocent civilians.

Car bombs, suicide bombers, oppressive poverty—these are only a small sample of the horrors that have resulted from our invasion of Iraq. Our military’s use of depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and other toxic munitions during the invasion and subsequent 8-year occupation have contributed, if not caused, an alarming increase in birth defects among Iraqi infants, particularly those born in the cities of Basra and Falluja where US forces conducted major offensives against the Iraqi resistance.

The apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria is a crime against humanity. But so too is the use of toxic munitions by the United States and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Antiwar activists who have visited Iraq in recent years and interviewed Iraqi doctors report seeing “babies born with parts of their skulls missing, various tumors, missing genitalia, limbs and eyes, severe brain damage, unusual rates of paralyzing spina bifida. . . “ (

The men and women who either voted for, authorized, or master-minded the invasion of Iraq (and before that, Afghanistan) have shown no remorse for their decisions and no compassion for their victims. Yet now some of these very same people want to do it all over again—this time to the people of Syria—as though the only lesson learned from our ongoing interference in the Middle East is that there is no such thing as too much bloodshed, particularly if its their blood and not ours.

What is the difference between a Syrian father cradling the lifeless body of his son, a victim of some dreadful neurotoxin, and a mother in Iraq delivering a horribly deformed baby? On what scale does one measure the suffering of either parent? Are the perpetrators behind the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria crueler and more deserving of condemnation than the officers who oversaw the destruction of Falluja or a village in Afghanistan? And what of the countless families in Yemen and Pakistan struggling to identify the charred and scattered remains of their loved ones, killed by a US drone? Isn’t their pain just as great, their loss just as devastating?

Given the complicity of the US government in waging proxy wars and war of aggression over the past 60 odd years and directly or indirectly causing the deaths of millions of people, what is our responsibility, as patriotic citizens, now when the US is once more preparing to attack a Middle Eastern country, with or without UN authorization?

Remaining silent is not an option; we must reclaim our voice and speak out against our own country’s latest preparation for war.

About the author: George Capaccio is a professional writer and storyteller. His book of poems ‘While the Light Still Trembles’ took first prize in the University of Arkansas Peace Writing Contest. From 1997-2003, Capaccio made 9 trips to Iraq with various peace and humanitarian organizations concerned with the devastating impact of sanctions. Much of his writing reflects his long-standing concern for the struggle of the Iraqi people to survive sanctions, war and occupation. He continues to assist families in Baghdad through the Iraq Family Relief Fund, an effort he began in 1998.Click here to visit his website.

***Out In The 1950s Crime Noir Night- Robert Mitchum Watch Out For Berserk Femmes Fatales, Will You- Angel Face- A Film Review

DVD Review

Angel Face, starring Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, directed by Otto Preminger, RKO Pictures, 1952

Some guys never learn, never learn to leave well enough alone, and stay away, far away from femmes fatales that have that slightly mad look in their eyes and lust in their hearts, as here in the Otto Preminger-directed crime noir, Angel Face, with Robert Mitchum. See, it is not like Brother Robert hadn’t been down that road before and had all the trouble he could handle and then some with femme fatale Jane Greer in Out Of The Past. Ms. Greer “took him for a ride” six ways to Sunday in that one. But you know when a guy gets heated up by a dame, well, let's just leave it at you know, okay. Needless to say Brother Robert is set to get “taken for a ride” six ways to Sunday here too, although the femme fatale here is a little younger, and maybe has better manners. Maybe. But that all goes for naught when the heat rises. Yes, we know, we know.

The plot here takes a little something from James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. The “fair damsel” (played by a young dark-eyed, dark-haired piano-playing Jean Simmons who, before seeing this film I might have taken a run at her myself, in my dreams anyway. But see I know how to take a lesson), after she gets her hooks into Mitchum, furthers her plot to get rid of her dear stepmother so she can have her father to herself (take that anyway you want but you do not have to be a Freudian to know that she is seriously hung up on her novelist father, a probable cause for some of her youthful, ah, monomania). But unlike the femme in Postman she just “forgets” to tell him he is part of the plan.

Of course when the foul deed is done (the old "wire cut on the steering wheel of the car and off the cliff you go, dearie" gag that has been around, well, been around since femmes figured out automobiles aren’t just for driving) the pair are the obvious suspects. But with some razzle-dazzle legal work, including marriage to evoke the jury’s sympathy, they get off. (Yeah, I know on that one too. But those were more romantic times than ours, I guess. I want the name and e-mail of that lawyer, by the way, just in case.) Of course what guy in his right mind is going to stick around and see, well, what is in store for him and his lovely bride after the court battles are over? Like I said though, this is Robert Mitchum, the guy who can’t learn a lesson.

Note: Naturally with a hunky guy like Robert Mitchum, he of the broad shoulders to fend off the world’s troubles, or at least any woman’s troubles, those smoldering eyes, and that glib world-wary cigarette and whiskey manner, the ladies will surely be flocking to his door. And not just femmes fatales. In this film, as in Out Of The Past, there is the “good” girl waiting in wings. And Mitchum tries, tries like hell, to stay in that orbit but when those maddened eyes and ruby red lips call that speak to some dark adventure, well, what’s a man to do?


The death of Haywood was not unexpected. The declining health
of the old fighter was known to his friends for a long time. On each
visit to Moscow in recent years we noted the progressive weakening
of his physical powers and learned of the repeated attacks of the
fatal disease which finally brought him down. Our anxious inquiries
during the past month, occasioned by the newspaper reports of his
illness, only brought the response that his recovery this time could
not be expected. Nevertheless we could not abandon the hope that his
fighting spirit and his will to live would pull him through again, and
the news that death had triumphed in the unequal struggle brought
a shock of grief.

The death of Haywood is a double blow to those who were at once his comrades in the fight and his personal friends, for his character was such as to invest personal relations with an extra-ordinary dignity and importance. His great significance for the American and world labor movement was also fully appreciated, I think, both by our party and by the Communist International, in the ranks of which he ended his career, a soldier to the last.

An outstanding personality and leader of the pre-war revolutionary labor movement in America, and also a member and leader of the modern communist movement which grew up on its foundation, Bill Haywood represented a connecting link which helped to establish continuity between the old movement and the new. Growing out of the soil of America, or better, hewn out of its rocks, he first entered the labor movement as a pioneer unionist of the formative days of the Western Federation of Miners 30 years ago. From that starting point he bent his course toward the conscious class struggle and marched consistently on that path to the end of his life. He died a Communist and a soldier of the Communist International.

It is a great fortune for our party that he finished his memoirs and that they are soon to be published. They constitute a record of the class struggle and of the labor movement in America of priceless value for the present generation of labor militants. The career of Haywood is bound up with the stormy events which have marked the course of working-class development in America for 30 years and out of which the basic nucleus of the modern movement has come.

He grew up in the hardship and struggle of the mining camps ofthe West. Gifted with the careless physical courage of a giant and an eloquence of speech, Bill soon became a recognized leader of the metal miners. He developed with them through epic struggles toward a militancy of action combined with a socialistic understanding, even in that early day, which soon placed the Western Federation of Miners, which Haywood said "was born in a Bull Pen," in the vanguard of the American labor movement.

It was the merger of these industrial proletarian militants of the West with the socialist political elements represented by Debs and De Leon, which brought about the formation of the I.W.W. in 1905. The fame and outstanding prominence of Haywood as a labor leader even in that day is illustrated by the fact that he was chosen chairman of the historic First Convention of the I.W.W. in 1905.

The brief, simple speech he delivered there, as recorded in the stenographic minutes of the convention, stands out in many respects as a charter of labor of that day. His plea for the principle of the class struggle, for industrial unionism, for special emphasis on the unskilled workers, for solidarity of black and white workers, and for a revolutionary goal of the labor struggle, anticipated many established principles of the modern revolutionary labor movement.

The attempt to railroad him to the gallows on framed-up murder charges in 1906 was thwarted by the colossal protest movement of the workers who saw in this frame-up against him a tribute to his talent and power as a labor leader, and to his incorruptibility. His name became a battle cry of the socialist and labor movement and he emerged from the trial a national and international figure.

He rose magnificently to the new demands placed upon him by this position and soon became recognized far and wide as the authentic voice of the proletarian militants of America. The schemes of the reformist leaders of the Socialist Party to use his great name and popularity as a shield for them were frustrated by the bold and resolute course he pursued. Through the maze of intrigue and machinations of the reformist imposters in the Socialist Party, he shouldered his way with the doctrine of class struggle and the tactics of militant action.

The proletarian and revolutionary elements gathered around him and formed the powerful "left wing" of the party which made its bid for power in the convention of 1912. The "Reds" were defeated there, and the party took a decisive step along the pathway which led to its present position of reformist bankruptcy and open betrayal. The subsequent expulsion of Haywood from the National Executive Committee was at once a proof of the opportunist degeneration of the party and of his own revolutionary integrity.

Haywood's syndicalism was the outcome of his reaction against the reformist policies and parliamentary cretinism of the middle-class leaders of the Socialist Party—Hillquit, Berger and Company. But syndicalism, which in its final analysis, is "the twin brother of reformism", as Lenin has characterized it, was only a transient theory in Haywood's career. He passed beyond it and thus escaped that degeneration and sterility which overtook the syndicalist movement throughout the world during and after the war. The World War and the Russian Revolution did not pass by Haywood unnoticed, as they passed by many leaders of the I.W.W. who had encased themselves in a shell of dogma to shut out the realities of life.

These world-shaking events, combined with the hounding and dragooning of the I.W.W. by the United States government—the "political state" which syndicalism wanted to "ignore"—wrought a profound change in the outlook of Bill Haywood. He emerged from Leavenworth Penitentiary in 1919 in a receptive and studious mood. He was already 50 years old, but he conquered the mental rigidity which afflicts so many at that age. He began, slowly and painfully, to assimilate the new and universal lessons of the war and the Russian Revolution.

First taking his stand with that group in the I.W.W. which favored adherence to the Red International of Labor Unions, he gradually developed his thought further and finally came to the point where he proclaimed himself a communist and a disciple of Lenin. He became a member of the Communist Party of America before his departure for Russia. There he was transferred to the Russian Communist Party and, in recognition of his lifetime of revolutionary work, he was given the status of "an old party member"—the highest honor anyone can enjoy in the land of workers' triumph.

As everyone knows, Haywood in his time had been a prisoner in many jails and, like all men who have smelt iron, he was keenly sensitive to the interests of revolutionaries who suffer this crucifixion. He attached the utmost importance to the work of labor defense and was one of the founders of the I.L.D. He contributed many ideas to its formation and remained an enthusiastic supporter right up to his death. What is very probably his last message to the workers of America, written just before he was stricken the last time, is contained in a letter which is being published in the June number of the Labor Defender now on the press.

As a leader of the workers in open struggle Haywood was a fighter, the like of which is all too seldom seen. He loved the laboring masses and was remarkably free from all prejudices of craft or race or nationality. In battle with the class enemies of the workers he was a raging lion, relentless and irreconcilable. His field was the open fight, and in mass strikes his powers unfolded and multiplied themselves. Endowed with a giant's physique and an absolute disregard of personal hazards, he pulled the striking workers to him as to a magnet and imparted to them his own courage and spirit.

I remember especially his arrival at Akron during the great rubber-workers' strike of 1913, when 10,000 strikers met him at the station and marched behind him to the Hall. His speech that morning has always stood out in my mind as a model of working-class oratory. With his commanding presence and his great mellow voice he held the vast crowd in his power from the moment that he rose to speak. He had that gift, all too rare, of using only the necessary words and of compressing his thoughts into short, epigrammatic sentences. He clarified his points with homely illustrations and pungent witticisms which rocked the audience with understanding laughter. He poured out sarcasm, ridicule and denunciation upon the employers and their pretensions, and made the workers feel with him that they, the workers, were the important and necessary people. He closed, as he always did, on a note of hope and struggle, with a picture of the final victory of the workers. Every word from beginning to end, simple, clear and effective. That is Haywood, the proletarian orator, as I remember him.

There was another side to Bill Haywood which was an essential side of his character, revealed to those who knew him well as personal friends. He had a warmth of personality that drew men to him like a bonfire on a winter's day. His considerateness and indulgence toward his friends, and his generous impulsiveness in human relations, were just as much a part of Bill Haywood as his iron will and intransigence in battle.

"Bill's room", in the Lux Hotel at Moscow, was always the central gathering place for the English-speaking delegates. Bill was "good company". He liked to have people around him, and visitors came to his room in a steady stream; many went to pour out their troubles, certain of a sympathetic hearing and a word of wise advice.

The American ruling class hounded Haywood with the most vindictive hatred. They could not tolerate the idea that he, an American of old revolutionary stock, a talented organizer and eloquent speaker, should be on the side of the exploited masses, a champion of the doubly persecuted foreigners and Negroes. With a 20-year prison sentence hanging over him he was compelled to leave America in the closing years of his life and to seek refuge in workers' Russia. He died there in the Kremlin, the capitol of his and our socialist fatherland with the red flag of his class floating triumphantly overhead.

Capitalist America made him an outlaw and he died expatriated from his native land. But in the ranks of the militant workers of America, who owe so much to his example, he remains a citizen of the first rank. He represented in his rugged personality all that was best of the pre-war socialist and labor movement, and by his adhesion to communism he helped to transmit that inheritance to us. His memory will remain a blazing torch of inspiration for the workers of America in the great struggles which lie before them.

His life was a credit and an honor to our class and to our movement. Those who pick up the battle flag which has fallen from his lifeless hands will do well to emulate the bigness and vision, the courage and the devotion which were characteristics of our beloved comrade and friend, Bill Haywood.
***Big Bill Haywood-Working Class Warrior

Book Review

Big Bill Haywood, Melvyn Dubofsky, Manchester University Press, Manchester England, 1987

If you are sitting around today wondering, as I occasionally do, what a modern day radical labor leader should look like then one need go no further than to observe the career, warts and all, of the legendary Bill Haywood. To previous generations of radicals that name would draw an automatic response. Today’s radicals, and others interested in social solutions to the pressing problems that have been bestowed on us by the continuation of the capitalist mode of production, may not be familiar with the man and his program for working class power. Professor Dubofsky’s little biographical sketch is thus just the cure for those who need a primer on this hero of the working class.

The good professor goes into some detail, despite limited accessablity, about Haywood’s early life out in the Western United States in the late 19th century. Those hard scrabble experiences made a huge imprint on the young Haywood as he tramped from mining camp to mining camp and tried to make ends mean, any way he could. Haywood, moreover, is the perfect example of the fact that working class political consciousness is not innate but gained through the hard experiences of life under the capitalist system. Thus, Haywood moved from itinerant miner to become a leading member of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and moved leftward along the political spectrum along the way. Not a small part in that was due to his trial on trumped up charges in Idaho for murder as part of a labor crack down against the WFM by the mine owners and their political allies there.

As virtually all working class militants did at the turn of the 20th century, Big Bill became involved with the early American socialist movement and followed the lead of the sainted Eugene V. Debs. As part of the ferment of labor agitation during this period the organization that Haywood is most closely associated with was formed-The Industrial Workers of the World (hereafter IWW, also known as Wobblies). This organization- part union, part political party- was the most radical expression (far more radical than the rather tepid socialist organizations) of the American labor movement in the period before World War I.

The bulk of Professor Dubofsky’s book centers, as it should, on Haywood’s exploits as a leader of the IWW. Big Bill’s ups and downs mirrored the ups and downs of the organization. The professor goes into the various labor fights that Haywood led highlighted by the great 1912 Lawrence strike (of bread and roses fame), the various free speech fights but also the draconian Wilsonian policy toward the IWW after America declared war in 1917. That governmental policy essentially crushed the IWW as a mass working class organization. Moreover, as a leader Haywood personally felt the full wrath of the capitalist government. Facing extended jail time Haywood eventually fled to the young Soviet republic where he died in lonely exile in 1928.

The professor adequately tackles the problem of the political and moral consequences of that escape to Russia for the IWW and to his still imprisoned comrades so I will not address it here. However, there are two points noted by Dubofsky that warrant comment. First, he notes that Big Bill was a first rate organizer in both the WFM and the IWW. Those of us who are Marxists sometimes tend to place more emphasis of the fact that labor leaders need to be “tribunes of the people” that we sometimes neglect the important “trade union secretary” part of the formula. Haywood seems to have had it all. Secondly, Haywood’s and the IWW’s experience with government repression during World War I, repeated in the “Red Scare” experience of the 1950’s against Communists and then later against the Black Panthers in the 1960’s should be etched into the brain of every militant today. When the deal goes down the capitalists and their hangers-on will do anything to keep their system. Anything. That said, read this Haywood primer. It is an important contribution to the study of American labor history.
Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By- "Joe HIll"- Don't Mourn, Organize!

A "YouTube" film clip of Paul Robeson performing "Joe Hill"

In this series, presented under the headline “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist, although hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here.

Joe Hill Lyrics-A. Robinson

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"

"In Salt Lake City, Joe," says I,
Him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill,
it's there you'll find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
No Limit-Take Three  


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

He, Roy Bluff, then could have had his pick of whatever woman caught his fancy, caught his eye, or caught his momentary fashion interest. Reason: Roy Bluff, a guy who had scrabbled and scrambled hard for a long time finally hit his stride, finally got the big pay-off for all those lonely half-filled rooms, all those small make-shift café stages, all those dank church basements replete with intermission homemade baked goods sold to help defray coffeehouse expenses, all those play louder than the drunks at midnight, when his brand of hip-folk-rock became a craze around the turn of this century. Got his big ass break when Dave Beck, the big recording producer for Ducca Records, happened to need a midnight drink, maybe two,  and heard him at the El Segundo Café in Long Beach and gave him a shot.

Of course being a record contract singer anything, a concert artist anything women started giving him their keys, or whatever else they had to offer back then, in order to say they had been with the rising music star Roy Bluff for one night (maybe two but Roy was moving fast, fast as fast as a man could to catch the rising wave). By the way Roy’s  real name was Ronald Smith, but the performance stage, musical performance, ah, concert artist stage, and maybe the whole world, was filled to the brim with Smiths just then and so one night earlier in his career, one night after a drunken fight brought on by some loudmouth cursing his music in a Memphis bar, the Be-Bop Club over off Beale, he “christened” himself with that manly name despite losing that fight, losing it badly to a smaller wiry man, So it wasn’t that he was agile, handsome or beautiful, if a man can be beautiful in this wicked old world, as much as that he had a certain serious jut-jawed look borne from out in the prairies, a kind of cowboy look, that appealed to women, lots of women. Yes, on that basis he had run through the alphabet with such catches, blondes, brunettes, red-heads, especially a couple of wild sisters, college students, young professionals, slender, not so slender, yeah, the whole alphabet to fill his dance card and share booze, dope and whatever was at hand, sometimes, as to be expected, getting out of hand. Hell, he liked it, loved it for the while he was on edge city.   

Until she came along. Until she, Laura Perkins she, to give her a name, although he called her “sweet angel,” called her sweet angel when he was having one of his better moments, had gotten under his skin, gotten the best of him. And wherever the winds would take them, or not take them, she would always get under his skin, that was just the way it was almost from the first, and he accepted that sometimes with a sly grin and sometimes with daggers in his eyes.

Right then, right that pre-performance moment as he prepared his play-list in his head, he was in a sly grin mood and so, as he set himself up for the day’s work, actually night’s work since he was giving a concert later that evening, he was going through the maybes. The maybes being a little game that he, previously nothing but a love‘em and leave ‘em guy, played with himself trying to figure out just how, and the ways, that she, one Laura Perkins, got under his skin. And so the maybes it was.

The first maybe was that Laura was not judgmental, not in a public sense anyway, and not in any way that would let him know that she was. She had given him a lot of rope, had accepted his excuses, his frailties, and his rages against the night (although she tried like hell to temper them). Roy laughed to himself as he thought about the circumstances under which they had met and he knew deep down that, publicly or privately, that judgmental was just not the way she was built.

Christ, as Roy thought back to that first night, he had just got into one of the ten thousand beefs that he got into when he was drinking back then. He was working his first major tour, major in those days being working steady and working in small concert halls and large ballrooms throughout the country (no more dank basements and crowded cafes, not for Ducca recording artist Roy Bluff). Some customer at the famous Hi-Lo Club in Yonkers who didn’t like his song selections told him about it, told him loudly. Roy, having been drinking (and smoking a little reefer) all day, responded with a brawl, getting, as usual the worst of it, when Laura walked in with a girlfriend. Laura did not really know who Roy was but her girlfriend, Patty Lyons, dear Patty, had heard his first album and was crazy to see him in person and so she had persuaded Laura to tag along.  

She gave Roy a look, a look that said yeah I might take ride with that cowboy (laugh, cowboy from Portland up in Maine, Maine born and bred), an instant attraction look, and Roy, bloodied and all, gave one back, ditto on the attraction look. Later, just before he started his second set he asked the waitress what Laura was drinking, he then had a drink sent to her table, and she had refused it, saying that if he wanted to buy her a drink then he had better bring it to the table himself.

Yeah, yeah that was the start. After he had finished the set he did bring that drink over. She never asked him about the fight, about the cause of it, or even about how his wounds were feeling but rather stuff about his profession and the ordinary data of a first meeting. All he knew now was as close as he had come a few times afterward that was the last time he fought anybody for any reason, fought physically anyway.

Maybe it was that at the beginning, not the beginning beginning, not that first night when after his set was finished he brought that drink over to her table (and to be sociable one for her girlfriend too) but after he had gotten used to her, had been to bed with her and she had said one night out of the blue, that he was her man (she had put it more elegantly than that but that was what she meant) and that she would pack her suitcase if she was ever untrue to him. Funny, he was still then grabbing whatever caught his eye before she said that, and what guy who was starting to get a little positive reputation in the music business wouldn’t grab what was grab-worthy. But after that he too silently and almost unconsciously took what they later called the “suitcase” pledge although he never told her that, never took her he took the pledge, it just kind of happened.

Maybe it was that Laura would refuse the little trinkets that men give women, hell, she wouldn’t even accept roses on her birthday. She only wanted a quiet moment alone with him away from the helter-skelter of his public life. One night when he and she had been smoking a little dope and she was “mellow” and ready to shed a little of her private thoughts she had told him about a man, an older man (older then being twenty-five she being eighteen at the time, but more that she was unworldly or really not ready to accept the wicked old world on harsher terms and so malleable) who had lavished her with gifts, money, some jewelry (later found to be some reject stuff) only to confess one night that he was married and as part of that package had beaten her up as he walked out the door after she had called the whole thing off. She said if what they had wasn’t good enough without trinkets then they were doomed anyway and she would not want reminders of that failure around.

Maybe it was as they grew closer, as they got a sense of each other without hollering and as his star started rising in the business after his first big album hits, that she tried to protect him from the jugglers and the clowns (her words), the grafters, grifters, drifters and con men (his words) who congregate around money as long as it is around. Better, she protected him against the night crawler critics and up- town intellectuals who gathered around him as they saw him as their evocation of the new wordsmith messiah and who were constantly waiting, maybe praying too if such types prayed, for him to branch out beyond the perimeters that they, yes, they had set for his work, for his words. Waiting to say “sell-out.”

Maybe it was the soothing feeling he got when after raging against the blizzard monster night of the early years, those bleak years right after the turn of the new century, on stage, in his written down words, after hours in some forsaken hotel room town, nameless, nameless except its commonality with every other hotel room, east or west, she softly spoke and made sense of all the things that he raged against, the damn wars, the damn economy, hell, even his own struggling attempts to break-out of the music business mold and bring out stuff on his own label.

Maybe it was the tough years, the years when he was still drinking high hard sweet dreams whiskey by the gallon, still smoking way to much reefer (and whatever else was available, everybody wanted to lay stuff from their own personal stash on him, some good, some bad, very bad) when she took more than her fair share of abuse, mental not physical, although one night, a night not long before he finally crashed big time and had to be hospitalized, he almost did so out of some hubristic rage, she waved him off when he tried to explain himself. She said “let by-gones be by-gones” and that ended the discussion.

And maybe, just maybe, it was that out in the awestruck thundering night, out in the hurling windstorms of human existence, out in the slashing muck-filled rains, out, he, didn’t know what out in, but out, she was, she just was…

*Folk Music For Aging Children- The Music Of Judy Collins And Friends

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013    

A "YouTube" film clip of Judy Collin perfroming Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon".

CD Review

Wildflower Festival, Judy Collins, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, Arlo Guthrie, Wildflower Records, 2003

Okay, just when you thought there could not possibly be any more country folk, urban folk, suburban folk, folk rock, rock folk, semi-folk, or quasi-folk music from the folk revival of the early 1960 to review here I am again reviewing some of the stars of that time-in their dotage. Well, maybe not dotage, but we are all, including Judy Collins, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, and Arlo Guthrie, getting a little long in the tooth, and no one can dispute that hard fact. The real question is whether the artists in this compilation still have it, at least for those of us in that dwindling, graying, arthritic, prescription-needing folk audience that fills the small church basement “coffee houses” on this planet. And they do. Still have it, I mean.

That said, this little Wildflower Festival setting in 2003 provided Judy and her guests with a chance to show their stuff, new and old. Now, for those who have heard Judy Collins sing back in the day the question is why she did not challenge Joan Baez for the “queen” of folk title. She had the voice, the style, and the looks (ya, that WAS important, even then) to do so. I have been running a “Not Joan Baez” series and will deal with that question there at some other time but her work here is pretty good, especially her well-known cover of Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon”. Eric Andersen, who I have already looked at in a “Not Bob Dylan” series hold forth on his “Blue River”. Tom Rush, ditto, on “The Remember Song”. Finally, Arlo, whom I have covered in relation to his father’s, Woody Guthrie, music “steals” the show here with his storytelling, notably the kid’s story, “Mooses Came Walking”.

Someday Soon
Ian Tyson

There's a young man that I know whose age is twenty-one
Comes from down in southern Colorado
Just out of the service, he's lookin' for his fun
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

My parents can not stand him 'cause he rides the rodeo
My father says that he will leave me cryin'
I would follow him right down the roughest road I know
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

But when he comes to call, my pa ain't got a good word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old Blue Northern, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

When he comes to call, my pa ain't got a word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old blue northern, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon
Someday soon, goin' with him
© 1991
*Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part Two- The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Eric Von Schmidt

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013    

Click on title to link to YouTube's film clip of Eric Von Schmidt performing "Joshua's Gone Barbados".

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001

Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD. Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc Two: Dave Van Ronk on “He Was A Friend Of Mine” and You’se A Viper”, The Chad Mitchell Trio on “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”, Hedy West on “500 Miles”, Ian &Sylvia on “Four Strong Winds”, Tom Paxton on “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound”, Peter, Paul And Mary on “Blowin’ In The Wind”, Bob Dylan on “Boots Of Spanish Leather”, Jesse Colin Young on “Four In The Morning”, Joan Baez on “There But For Fortune”, Judy Roderick on “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”, Bonnie Dobson on “Morning Dew”, Buffy Sainte-Marie on “Cod’ine” and Eric Von Schmidt on “ Joshua Gone Barbados”.

Eric Von Schmidt on “Joshua Gone Barbados”. As a good historical materialism of the Marxist tradition I am very wedded to the idea that ideas, movements and the like do not just spring forth in pristine nature but are conditioned by a whole series of prior events. Figuring out the important ones that drive history has been a life-long occupation. What has required less time is the knowledge that certain folk personalities like Dave Van Ronk (and the members of New Lost City Ramblers) were waiting in Greenwich Village when the young aspiring folkies were heading to Mecca.

There were other “hot” folk spots as well, with their own local town-greeters. In the case of Cambridge by the banks of the old Charles River and adjacent to that citadel of folk wisdom, Harvard University, that task was done by, among others, Eric Von Schmidt. Bob Dylan makes reference to Eric in one of his early albums. How about that for cache? I have written elsewhere about Eric’s role I only need to note here that there are two other songs that could have been included here: his cover of “When That Great Ship When Down” (about the Titanic, naturally); and, his own “Light Rain” are good examples of the kind of energy that was around in those days.


Sunday, March 11, 2007
Joshua Gone Barbados. Eric Gone, Too.(v2)


Eric von Schmidt, a painter and folksinger, died February 2, 2007 in Connecticut. Bob Dylan wrote of him that “He could sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire, he can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise". But why should that be of interest to people in St. Vincent? Because his most recorded and most famous song, "Joshua Gone Barbados", is about an incident that happened near Georgetown:

"Joshua Gone Barbados".

"Cane standing in the fields getting old and red
Lot of misery in Georgetown, three men lying dead
And Joshua, head of the government, he say strike for better pay
Cane cutters are striking, Joshua gone away.

Chorus: Joshua gone Barbados, staying in a big hotel
People on St. Vincent they got many sad tales to tell.

Sugar mill owner told the strikers, I don't need you to cut my cane
Bring in another bunch of fellows, strike be all in vain.
Get a bunch of tough fellows, bring 'em from Sion Hill
Bring 'em in a bus to Georgetown, know somebody get killed.

And Sonny Child the overseer, I swear he's an ignorant man
Walking through the canefield, pistol in his hand
But Joshua gone Barbados, just like he don't know
People on the Island, they got no place to go.

Police giving protection, new fellows cutting the cane
Strikers can't do nothing, strike be all in vain
And Sonny Child he curse the strikers, wave his pistol 'round
They're beating Sonny with a cutlass, beat him to the ground.

Chorus 2:There's a lot of misery in Georgetown,
you can hear the women bawl
Joshua gone Barbados, he don't care at all.

Cane standing in the fields getting old and red
Sonny Child in the hospital, pistol on his bed
I wish I could go to England, Trinidad or Curacao
People on the Island they got no place to go.
Once More Into The Time Capsule, Part Three- The New York Folk Revival Scene in the Early 1960’s-Tom Rush

In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013    

A YouTube's film clip of Tom Rush performing Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game"

CD Review

Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Revival Boom, 1950-1970, various artists, 3CD set, Rhino Records, 2001

Except for the reference to the origins of the talent brought to the city the same comments apply for this CD.Rather than repeat information that is readily available in the booklet and on the discs I’ll finish up here with some recommendations of songs that I believe that you should be sure to listen to:

Disc Three: Phil Ochs on “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, Richard &Mimi Farina on “Pack Up Your Sorrows”, John Hammond on “Drop Down Mama”, Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band on “Rag Mama”, John Denver on “Bells Of Rhymney”, Gordon Lightfoot on "Early Morning Rain”, Eric Andersen on “Thirsty Boots”, Tim Hardin on “Reason To Believe”, Richie Havens on “Just Like A Woman”, Judy Collins on “Suzanne”, Tim Buckley on “Once I Was”, Tom Rush on “The Circle Game”, Taj Mahal on “Candy Man”, Loudon Wainwright III on “School Days”and Arlo Guthrie on “The Motorcycle Song”

Tom Rush on “The Circle Game”. Joni Mitchell wrote it. Tom Rush sings it. That is enough for me. Except I think we have to expand the number of verses to cover later times (after 20)...and to keep slowing those circles down. Please!

"Circle Game"-Joni Mitchell

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when youre older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and dawn
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we con only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it wont be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and dawn
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur
Coming true
Therell be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
*Songs For Aging Children- The Songs of Tom Rush- An Encore
In Honor Of The 50th Anniversary (Plus) Of The Folk/Rock/Blues Artist Tom Rush At The Rockport Music Center (Massachusetts ) On August 30 & 31 2013    

A YouTube film clip of a more mature Tom Rush performing Joni Mitchell's Urge For Going.

CD Review

The Very Best Of Tom Rush: No Regrets, Tom Rush, Sony, 1999

If I were to ask someone, in the year 2010 as I have done in previous years, to name a male folk singer from the 1960’s I would assume that if I were to get an answer to that question that the name would be Bob Dylan. And that would be a good and appropriate choice. One can endlessly dispute whether or not Dylan was (or wanted to be) the voice of the Generation of ’68 but in terms of longevity and productivity he fits the bill as a known quality. However, there were a slew of other male folk singers who tried to find their niche in the folk milieu and who, like Dylan, today continue to produce work and to perform. The artist under review, Tom Rush, is one such singer/songwriter.

The following is a question that I have been posing in reviewing the work of a number of male folk singers from the 1960’s and it is certainly an appropriate question to ask of Tom Rush as well. I do not know if Tom Rush, like his contemporary Bob Dylan, started out wanting to be the king of the hill among male folk singers but he certainly had some things going for him. A decent acoustic guitar but a very interesting (and strong baritone) voice to fit the lyrics of love, hope, and longing that he was singing about at the time. This was period when he was covering other artists, particularly Joni Mitchell, so it is not clear to me that he had that same Dylan drive by then (1968).

As for the songs themselves I mentioned that he covered Joni Mitchell in this period. That is represented here by a very nice version of Urge For Going that captures the wintry, got to get out of here, imaginary that Joni was trying to evoke about things back in her Canadian home. And the timelessness and great lyrical sense of No Regrets, as the Generation of ’68 sees another generational cycle starting, is apparent now if it was not then. The covers of fellow Cambridge folk scene fixture Eric Von Scmidt on Joshua Gone Barbados and Galveston Flood are well done. As is the cover of Bukka White’s Panama Limited (although you really have to see or hear old Bukka flailing away on his old beat up National guitar to get the real thing. Unfortunately it is not on YouTube). Finally a more recent very mellow River Song (1999) to round out the tracks. This is the classic Tom Rush play list. Get It.

Urge For Going Lyrics
Joni Mitchell Lyrics

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row
I get the urge for going but I never seem to go

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had me a man in summertime
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell on the ground, and
Bully winds came around, pushed them face down in the snow
He got the urge for going
And I had to let him go

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
Summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying, all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping and a-racing on before the snow
They've got the urge for going, and they've got the wings so they can go

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I'll ply the fire with kindling now, I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
I'll lock the vagrant winter out and bolt my wandering in
I'd like to call back summertime and have her stay for just another month or so
But she's got the urge for going and I guess she'll have to go

She gets the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown
And all her empire's falling down