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Can I get one autographed by Paul Sereno? For the person who has everything: a California company is selling fossilized dinosaur dung at $11.95 a poop.

Why Daley will win, according to Salim Muwakkil in In These Times (October 31): "Few black leaders in this city are willing to contest the argument that an African-American candidate must be fielded. Black nationalism [as opposed to Harold Washington's coalition-building] is the flavor of the times....Structural economic changes have shrunk the economic pie for all Americans and increased the competition for scarcer resources. And because of the demonizing of affirmative action policies, that competition is often framed in racial terms....The absence of a viable, race-transcendent ideology is also feeding the growth of nationalist politics. With the discrediting of Marxism--along with its various offshoots within the African diaspora--and the widespread disenchantment with the interracial ideals that inspired the civil rights movement, race-based ideologies are the only ones left standing."

And the worst part is the armed Wal-Mart guards who force people to shop there against their will. Andrew Friedman in the Chicago-based The Neighborhood Works (October/November): "Recent studies [show] that superstores trade good employment for minimum wage jobs, engage in predatory pricing, destroy local economies, and congest traffic."

"Five years after the Chicago crisis of 1966, the old Post Office Department was reorganized as the United States Postal Service, a federally owned 'corporation' over which Congress and the President had oversight but no direct control," writes Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker (October 24). "The Chicago postal crisis of 1994 shows the results of this policy. The inhabitants of large cities are now, more than ever, second-class citizens. It's poignant to see an old congressman like Sidney Yates, who came to Washington with Truman, shake his head with nostalgia for the days of patronage. The Postmaster Generalship used to be the plum awarded to the national chairman of the President's party, and until 1971 all big-city postmasters were political appointees. If your mail service was bad, you could talk to your ward boss and get action. By the early nineties, as Yates discovered, you could talk to the Postmaster General himself and get nothing. With fifteen thousand employees, the Chicago post office was still a political power base, handing out applications for jobs the way precinct captains once handed out pounds of bacon; but it served no master except itself. The same reorganization that protected postmasters from political harassment, and allowed craft employees to aspire to high postal office, now effectively isolated a city post office from its constituents."

"Let us not indirectly address [racial conflict] or avoid the discussion by hiding under an effort to create a 'Marshall Plan for the Cities,'" writes Wilson Riles Jr. in Poverty & Race (September/October). "That Plan is needed and may be more politically palatable than reparations [for slavery and subsequent discrimination]. However, if what was stolen from African-Americans is not directly spoken of in the Plan, a likely result would include propelling low-income African-Americans out of the urban core. Cities would be successfully rehabilitated, but the conditions of the African-American community would not change. It has happened before."

Why is the ACLU fighting for free speech against the left as well as the right? asks John McGinnis in Commentary (October). Even liberals like U. of C.'s Cass Sunstein (Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech) are advocating a "New Deal for Speech" rather than an unregulated free market of talk and print. McGinnis's answer to the question is simple: "Up until the late 1970's, liberals and leftists alike were confident that the tools of social science and the broad dissemination of its findings could be employed, by means of massive government intervention, to transform society in a progressive direction." Now they're not so sure and "have begun to oppose a free market in ideas for the same reason that inefficient, failing companies favor government regulation of their product market: they fear competition and hope to retard it."

Looks like a hard hat, but it's only paper. Labor unions have not punished members of Congress who voted "wrong" on NAFTA, reports Jonathan Tasini in Capital Eye (October 15). "In fact, in some cases, money flowing from labor PACs to those members who supported NAFTA increased in the period after the vote on November 17, 1993....Dan Rostenkowski['s] labor PAC money more than doubled after the vote."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.


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