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The Campaign for America's Future, a broad coalition organized to revitalize a progressive agenda for the US, is staging a national conference in Washington, DC this week from June 4-6. The idea is to kick off a nationwide progressive movement, which can effectively take on the reactionary politicians now running Washington and America into the ground.

There'll be workshops, panels, seminars and informal sharing of information and resources vital to jump-starting effective opposition to the out-of-control right-wingers currently dominating all three branches of government.

Most of the Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination--Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, Carol Mosley Braun and John Edwards--will be on hand to try to convince the assemblage that they deserve progressive support in their quest to unseat George W. Bush in the White House.

It was conceived as the beginning of a conversation about how to raise issues of social and economic justice through music, journalism, literature, TV, theatre and film.

The venue was Jimmy's Uptown--a hip Harlem restaurant/jazz club at 130th and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. Organized by the Center for Community Change, a New York-based group dedicated to empowering low income communities, yesterday's afternoon gathering brought together actors/activists Danny Glover, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, former congressman Ron Dellums, pollster Celinda Lake, writer Nelson George (Hip-Hop Nation), hip-hop artist Boots Riley, screenwriter James Kearns (John Q ), film producer Lee Daniels (Monster's Ball), and about a dozen other writers, journalists, musicians and cultural activists.

Glover, speaking first because he had to leave early for rehearsal, reminded people how Dellums, when in office, had helped reframe the language around apartheid, giving people a sense that their voice and vision mattered. "We need to change the language," Glover said, "and create one which excites people, one which makes people feel we're speaking to them."

It is one thing when the talk-show bullies who shamelessly smeared the last President, even as he attacked the training camps of Al Qaeda, now term it anti-American or even treasonous to dare cri

"Running for President? Health Care Better Be Your Priority" is the hard-to-miss slogan on a poster in the Des Moines, Iowa airport. Dreamt up by the Service Employees International Union, the largest health care workers' union in the nation, the billboard seems to be already having an impact on the Democratic presidential debate. Instead of squabbling over who is most electable, most of the contenders are competing over who can best address the nation's escalating health care crisis.

Now, it's true, as Robert Kuttner recently pointed out in the Boston Globe, that with a few exceptions, the health plans released by the democratic presidential contenders are inadequate to dealing with the crisis. "They leave the current system largely intact," Kuttner notes, "and use subsidies and tax credits to reduce the number of uninsured--as if the whole system were not broken." And he rightly argues, to have any chance in 2004, the Dems will "need something bolder to get real political traction from health insurance, let alone to solve the problem."

So it surprised me that he failed to mention Dennis Kucinich in his roundup of the candidates. Kucinich fully supports government-financed health care for all Americans, something Kuttner presumably favors. The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray also omitted Kucinich when he wrote that, "What's interesting about the Democratic proposals is that none of them, so far, endorse a government-run 'single-payer' health-care system--the solution on which most other developed countries have settled." Well, Kucinich's plan is just that, Mr. Murray.

A few weeks ago I argued that rightwing talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough could go out of business if they didn't have Bill and Hillary to kick around. As if to confirm my point, within thirty minutes of posting that item, a producer from the O'Reilly Factor called to book me on the show. (Topic: O'Reilly's bashing of Hillary!)

So this morning, when I noticed a tiny squib in The New York Times reporting on Bill Clinton's remark last night at Harvard's Kennedy School that Congress should modify the ammendment that barred him from seeking a third term, I wondered how long it would take for Hannity, O'Reilly and Scarborough to jump all over the story. Answer: by10:30 am, a producer from Hannity & Colmes was on the phone. "We're doing a segment about Clinton's speech last night," he said. "Hannity wants to get all over it."

I'm not a gambling woman, but I'd bet an awful lot that this troika of Clinton bashers will devote a large chunk of their programs tonight to this burning issue.

In 1900 Maurice Denis painted a large canvas titled Hommage à
Cézanne
, which shows the esteemed master next to one of his
paintings and surrounded by a crowd of admiring yo

As the bombs cease falling on Baghdad, and the world argues over an
American presence in Iraq, the publication of Diana Abu-Jaber's funny,
thoughtful second novel, Crescent, seems uncann

Near the end of Parallels and Paradoxes, a recent collection of
dialogues on music and society between the conductor and pianist Daniel
Barenboim, music director of the Chicago Symphony

During the harsh New York City winter of 1909-10, 20,000 garment workers
marched and picketed to win recognition of their union.

"That was a benefit shooting." So said a shaken Kenneth Koch to a
stunned audience seconds after a tall, scraggly man fired a pistol at
him on January 10, 1968.

For years it was one of those intriguing asterisk marks in many a great
writer's career--a book that might have been but wasn't.

Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own is a deft and
ambitious four-part biography interweaving the lives of Dorothy Day,
Thomas Merton, Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor, the mo

Somewhere, and it's not in this new Everyman's Library edition, James M.
Cain betrayed a state secret when he said that "a writer can only write
two hours a day." The truth in this observation

During the early years of the civil rights revolution, Theodore Bilbo,
the ferocious segregationist senator from Mississippi, published a book
titled Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongreli

In the deformed, malignant years of the Ayatollah and the mullahs, women
in Iran in the 1980s sometimes found subversive ways to mutiny against
the cruelties imposed on them by wrathful men.

Nothing deepens your cynicism quicker than the power of money in
American politics.

The radio went on in the middle of the night and there in my ear was the
voice of a young man.


A Joyous Song of Deliverance for Spring

THE DON'T-BLAME-US CROWD

With the Bush Administration continuing to fill the federal courts with
right-wing judges, liberals have turned with renewed vigor to a strategy
that not only allows them to defeat individual n

At long last, the military appears to be gearing up to try some of the
Guantánamo Bay prisoners.

With all the words laundered over the Jayson Blair affair, why is my
soul still disquieted? Why do I feel even further from the truth than on
the day the journalistic fraud was first revealed?