Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Steering and Splitting

CHICAGO -- The AFL-CIO has, as I write, completed just the first day of its four-day convention, but the drama of the event has already run its course. The split -- foreseeable but not easily explicable -- has happened. The rest is footnotes, some of them terribly grim. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters have left, noisily -- indeed, at the most heavily covered press conference anyone in the labor press corps could recall. Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, speaking without notes, was energized and articulate beyond all expectation, as if the thought of building a new institution, perhaps even some successor to the CIO with which his father long had battled, touched some long-suppressed labor-leader gene. It was Hoffa, more than SEIU President Andy Stern, who began to flesh out the new alliance that his union and Stern's, and several more, are soon to form. Apparently, at least in these early planning stages, the alliance will have organizers and...

Disunion Nears

Unless someone pulls a last-minute rabbit out of an eleventh-hour hat, the biennial convention of the AFL-CIO, which begins on Monday in Chicago, will be radically smaller than originally planned. As things now stand, the four dissident unions that have raised the specter of disaffiliation from the labor federation will announce over the weekend that they won't be attending the convention. The soon-to-be-MIA unions constitute about 30 percent of the federation's membership. They include three of the AFL-CIO's four largest affiliates -- the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and UNITE HERE, which represents clothing and hotel workers. For months the leaders of these unions have been meeting with AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and some of his supporters in an attempt to iron out their differences. But the discussions, says UNITE HERE President Bruce Raynor, "have yielded no agreement. There are still sharply...

California's Master Builder

California Rising: The Life and Times of Pat Brown by Ethan Rarick ( University of California Press, 501 pages, $29.95 ) On the rainy January morning in 1959 when Pat Brown took the oath as governor of California, he delivered an inaugural address that today would stun listeners as breathtakingly bold, if not suicidal. Seven times in the first eight paragraphs, notes Ethan Rarick in this engaging and important biography of California's greatest governor, Brown used the words “liberal” or “liberalism.” Brown committed himself to a vast range of progressive policies: banning racial discrimination in employment, limiting consumer-credit charges, expanding publicly funded medical care for the poor, establishing a state minimum wage, improving public schools, doing something about that smog that had settled over much of the state, setting up a state office of research and development, and even enabling workers to have portable pensions. It was an expansive agenda, but “liberalism” still...

Classic Rove

Now Karl Rove has become "fair game." That was the term that the president's consigliere applied to Valerie Plame, according to Newsweek , in a conversation with MSNBC's Chris Matthews immediately after the publication of Robert D. Novak's column that identified Plame as a CIA operative. And, of course, Plame was fair game: Her identity was a tool to discredit, however obliquely, the report from her husband, Joe Wilson, that the administration's claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger was a bunch of hooey. Rove's lawyer now admits that, in attempting to warn Time 's Matt Cooper off the Wilson story, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife, though not by name. Attention is now focused on whether this violated the law that forbids revealing the identity of our undercover intelligence agents. But it's also worth pondering the quintessential Rovishness of his conversation with Cooper, as reported in Newsweek . Bringing up Plame, after all, did nothing to discredit...

Exporting American Values

In this week when we commemorate the first proclamation of American ideals to the wider world, we should pause to contemplate which of our ideals are taking root today. Consider, for instance, the very self-interested testimony of Fu Chengyu, the chief executive of CNOOC Ltd., the oil company owned by the Chinese government, which is currently endeavoring to buy Unocal Corp. "The Chinese people and government are learning from the U.S.," Fu told the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "We are adopting the free-trade system very quickly. . . . We are using U.S. bankers, advisors, exactly meeting the processes of U.S. market requirements" for mergers and acquisitions. On Monday China's foreign ministry warned U.S. politicians to "stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries." Now, there's a statement of American values for our time. And we may even forgive the Chinese just a bit if they are confused over which values we Americans take seriously...

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