GUEST STAR NO. 5:
Next up on
, our guest blog featuring monthly stints by some of America’s top political bloggers, is
, best known as the architect of
‘s 2004 Internet strategy. A visiting assistant professor of election law at Duke University, she is the former national director of the Sunlight Foundation and a researcher at the Center for Investigative Journalism in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Zephyr also co-founded the Fair Trial Initiative, a North Carolina nonprofit dedicated to training young lawyers to be capital defense attorneys. An international expert on the use of the Internet in political campaigns, she has been featured on NPR, PBS, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
PORTS FOR PEACE:
Annual business activity associated with the twenty-nine strategically vital West Coast ports that run from San Diego to Anacortes, Washington, and drive the US-Asia shipping network accounts for more than 10 percent of US GDP. When contract negotiations idled the ports for more than a week in October 2002, losses ran to $1 billion daily until President Bush invoked the first Taft-Hartley injunction since 1971 to force the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
back to work.
So it was with some measure of satisfaction that 10,000 ILWU members staged the broadest labor action to date against Bush’s Iraq War, shutting down all West Coast ports for the daytime shift on May 1. The ILWU’s long history of radicalism stretches back to founder
, leader of the 1934 San Francisco general strike, and includes outspoken opposition to US wars from Korea to Iraq. The May Day walkout, said the ILWU’s
, was a chance for port workers to “send a message to the folks in Washington that seem deaf to the overwhelming majority of Americans that want an end to the war.” The action drew support from dozens of labor and peace groups–including in Iraq, where a statement signed by thirty-seven Iraqi labor leaders demanded an immediate withdrawal of US troops and expressed solidarity with workers around the world who “organised strikes and demonstrations to end the occupation.” MAX FRASER
As that eminent psephologist Roger Miller observed, “England swings like a pendulum do.” So the Labour Party’s humiliating defeat in local elections on May 1, finishing in third place behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, was easy for the government to dismiss. In 2004, weighed down by the widely detested figure of
and his support for the war, Labour set a record low for its share of the vote in local elections and still went on to win re-election in 2005. “There is no crisis,” says Geoff Hoon, the government’s chief whip.
, who lost his bid for a third term as London’s mayor, would disagree. Still, insofar as the word “crisis” conveys a sense of urgency, Hoon may be right. “Chronic” would be a better way to describe Labour’s condition. Consider the scale of the disaster: the Conservatives won 44 percent of the overall vote: enough, if they can repeat it in the next election, to form a government. The Tories won council seats in places like Wigan, Bury and Sunderland–the northern heart of Labour’s heartland.