Lamar W. Hankins :
How is Trump illegitimate?

Let me count the ways…

Is this man legitimate? Photo by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons.

By Lamar W. Hankins | The Rag Blog | January 25, 2017

Since Rep. John Lewis challenged President Trump’s legitimacy, the mainstream media has stumbled over itself to declare Lewis wrong, saying that it is beyond equivocation that Trump is the legitimate president. While this is true in the most narrow constitutional sense of the term (he received a majority of the electoral college votes), Trump can be seen as illegitimate in several other ways.

Voter suppression. I remember the poll tax in Texas, a system aimed at poor blacks and Hispanics in an effort to keep them from voting by charging them to do so. This worked well both before and after it was adopted as a part of the Texas Constitution in 1902. The poll tax was usually the equivalent of one or two days of a poor person’s earnings.
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Philip L. Russell :
2016: Another bad year for Mexico’s Peña Nieto

His presidency has been marked by corruption, social inequality, and broken promises.

Caricature of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
by DonkeyHotey/ Flickr.

By Philip L. Russell | The Rag Blog | January 18, 2017

Philip Russell will join Thorne Dreyer on the syndicated Rag Radio program, Friday, January 20, 2017, to discuss this article and the Peña Nieto presidency. The show first airs on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin and is streamed live here.

Philip Russell writes about Mexico for The Rag Blog. This is the third in his series about the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto.

December 1, 2015, marked the half-way point of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. At that time his approval rating stood at 39 percent — the lowest such rating for any Mexican president this century. As reported in the paper Reforma, during the following year his approval rating sunk to 24 percent as a result of his failure to address chronic problems as well as new aggravations.

According to the government’s own statistical agency, known by its acronym as INEGI, the Mexican public considers insecurity and criminality to be their country’s gravest problem. Peña Nieto, rather than making a dent in the social and economic problems which lead young people to join drug gangs, has continued his predecessor’s failed policy of combating trafficking by taking out kingpins.
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Harry Targ :
Foreign policy: The elephant in the room

An undercurrent in the 2016 election was growing opposition to an activist United States economic/political/military role in the world.

Elephant in the room. Photo by Sam Hood, March 24, 1939. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales.

By Harry Targ | The Rag Blog | January 11, 2017

An empire in decline

United States global hegemony is coming to an end. The United States was the country that collaborated with the Soviet Union to defeat fascism in Europe and with Great Britain to crush Japanese militarism in Asia in 1945. The Soviet Union, the first Socialist state, suffered 27 million dead in the war to defeat the Nazis. Great Britain, the last great imperial power, was near the end of its global reach because of war and the rise of anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa.

As the beneficiary of war-driven industrial growth and the development of a military-industrial complex unparalleled in world history, the United States was in a position in 1945 to construct a post-war international political and economic order based on huge banks and corporations. The United States created the international financial and trading system, imposed the dollar as the global currency, built military alliances to challenge the Socialist Bloc, and used its massive military might and capacity for economic penetration to infiltrate, subvert, and dominate most of the economic and political regimes across the globe.
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Allen Young :
My trip to the Rag Reunion

Tapping my ‘nest egg,’ I traveled from rural Massachusetts to trendy Austin… and into the past.

Rag Reunion group shot, High Road on Dawson, Austin, Texas, Oct. 16, 2016. Alan Young, in khaki shorts, is seated in front row, next to last on right. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

By Allen Young | The Rag Blog | January 11, 2017

Allen Young, our dear friend and colleague from the good old days, came all the way from rural Massachusetts to attend the 50th anniversary Rag Reunion and Public Celebration, a highly successful series of events that took place at multiple Austin venues from October 13-16, 2016. The Rag was an iconic underground newspaper, published in Austin from 1966-1977. A few of us from The Rag also worked with Allen at Liberation News Service (LNS) in New York. At the reunion, Allen Young led a panel on “The Underground Press and the Post-Stonewall Gay Movement.” We asked him to write something about his trip.

Prodded a bit by Rag Funnel Thorne Dreyer, who left Texas briefly in the late 1960s to become my colleague at Liberation News Service (LNS) in New York City, I decided to spend a few hundred dollars of my paltry “nest egg” on a trip from my woodland home in Royalston, Massachusetts (pop. 1,200), to Austin for the 50th anniversary Rag Reunion and Public Celebration.

The last time I was in Austin was 1969 for a quarterly national meeting of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I had no memory of that event, but I definitely had memories of The Rag. In recent years, I’ve been following The Rag Blog and have been aware of the radio show, too.
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Thorne Dreyer :
RAG RADIO PODCASTS | Dr. Neal Evans & Dr. Cecilia Colomé; Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree & Richard Croxdale; Pedro Gatos; Ed Ward; Bob ‘Daddy-O’ Wade & Jason Mellard; Jonathan Tilove & Glenn Smith

We search for extraterrestrials, ‘Celebrate The Rag’ at BookPeople, remember Fidel Castro, visit with a monumental sculptor, and discuss the ‘Resistible Rise of Donald J. Trump.’

Renowned astronomer Dr. Neal Evans and Austin astronomer Dr. Cecilia Colomé search for extraterrestrial life on Rag Radio. Photo by Roger Baker / The Rag Blog.

Interviews by Thorne Dreyer | The Rag Blog | January 10, 2017

The following podcasts are from recent Rag Radio shows with host Thorne Dreyer. The syndicated Rag Radio program, produced in the studios of Austin’s cooperatively-run KOOP-FM, has an international audience and has become an influential platform for interviews with leading figures in politics, current events, literature, and cutting-edge culture.

‘Celebrating The Rag’ Editors Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree & Richard Croxdale speak at BookPeople

Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale, editors of the new book Celebrating The Rag: Austin’s Iconic Underground Newspaper, spoke, led a public discussion, and signed books at Austin’s Book People, January 5, 2017. The show was broadcast the next day on Rag Radio. Also appearing were artist Kerry Awn and photographer Alan Pogue. BookPeople is the largest independent bookstore in Texas. Celebrating The Rag tells the story of The Rag, the legendary underground newspaper published in Austin from 1966-1977.

Read the full show description and download the podcast of our Jan. 6, 2017 Rag Radio show with Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale, here — or listen to it here:

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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘A Place to Call Home’ is good, soapy Aussie drama series

Upper-class matriarch has prejudices that create conflict for her whole family in small-town ‘50s Oz.

Marta Dusseldorp stars in A Place to Call Home.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

A Place to Call Home (2013-2016) is a smart though soapy Australian television drama set in rural New South Wales after the Second World War. It follows nurse Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), who has returned to Australia after 20 years abroad and ends up clashing with wealthy matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazlehurst) and becomes dramatically enmeshed with her family and neighbors.
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Ed Felien :
Rethinking our revolution: A proposal for a
rural strategy

Tuition-free education, universal healthcare, and legalized pot are pieces of the puzzle.

2016 presidential election by county. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Ed Felien | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — What happened?

Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She almost lost Minnesota.


When people were interviewed they said she and the Democratic Party were not speaking to them. Trump talked to the people who were hurting from lack of jobs and from small town economic collapse. He spoke their language. He lied to them. But he was reaching them, and the Democratic Party was sadly out of touch with their reality.
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James McEnteer :
Why Ecuador is choosing to sabotage its
top universities

Above all, it is a move by Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to consolidate his power.

President Rafael Correa, November 15, 2012. Image from Cancillería del Ecuador / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

QUITO, Ecuador — On December 13, Ecuador’s National Assembly passed a law compromising the independence of its public universities. The mandate, in this small country, where everything is personal, is aimed specifically at the two institutions of higher learning that offer only post-graduate degrees: Andina University and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, aka FLACSO.

The new law relieves those universities of critical financial decisions, ceding that power to the National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Instead of university faculty and administrators choosing how best to deploy funds for research and allocate student aid, those decisions will be left to ministry bureaucrats.
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Margaret Randall :
VERSE | Two poems

Nezahualcoyotl, the poet-king of Texcoco. Photo by Kurt Bauschardt /
Flickr / Creative Commons.


Have we moved beyond word time, beyond the poet’s terrain
where words describe events or pull us into new orbits
of wonder and release?

Words: those beautiful evocations strung together to
birth ideas, whispered as comfort, sung as praise,
perhaps even change the world.

The Divine Word has long since fallen into disrepute.
Words of judges and advertisers fail miserably,
bully promises groveling at our feet.
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Ed Felien :
Putin’s puppet and the really big deal

All Trump has to do is help the Russians build their pipeline through Afghanistan.

Putin carried Trump across the finish line; now it’s Donald’s turn. Art by DonkeyHotey / Flickr.

By Ed Felien | The Rag Blog | December 20, 2016

It’s the biggest deal he’s ever done.

If he gets this done, he’s the richest, most powerful man in the whole world.

It’s worth a trillion dollars.

And it wipes out the billion dollars he owes the Russian Oligarchs and Gazprom for bailing him out of his casino bankruptcies.
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Henry Mecredy :
Camaro: Successful, but a waste

What possible need was there for another car
like the Mustang?

1967 Chevy Camaro. Photo by Bull-Doser / Public Domain.

By Henry Mecredy | The Rag Blog | December 20, 2016

This is Henry Mecredy’s second Rag Blog article about design, function, and the social good in automotive engineering. Also see Mecredy’s March 24, 2016 article, “The Edsel Tragedy.”

In the mid-Sixties a huge innovation took place in automotive history: The Ford Mustang was introduced. Technically little more than a Falcon, the Mustang with its long hood and sporty appearance found a ready market.

Assuming briefly that the human creativity and effort expended on the Mustang project had a valid and important result; that it satisfied transportation needs as well as artistic and emotional desires for the millions who bought and still buy its various iterations and configurations, what is to be made of the Camaro, the second “pony car” and essentially a Mustang clone?
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Reginald Perrin’ novel spawned two pungent, witty UK series

Leonard Rossiter shines in 1976-79 original gem and Martin Clunes is brilliant in 2009-2010’s update.

The black comedy of the Reggie Perin series.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | December 13, 2016

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

David Nobbs wrote a funny, satiric novel originally titled The Death of Reginald Perrin in which a depressed, unsatisfied sales executive fantasizes about his secretary, hates his oppressive boss and idiotic yes-man subordinates, writes insulting letters to customers, and fakes his own suicide. Then things get strange.
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