California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA


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Hector Tobar in the LA Times: “California is free, vibrant and diverse”

The estimable Hector Tobar in his column today (7/28) in the L.A. Times makes the case that for all its troubles, nostalgia is just nostalgia, and in many ways, California’s golden age is now.  To bolster his points, he interviews historian Kevin Starr, who points out to him that for all its troubles, California is a much more just place than it was when it seemed that government worked like a well-oiled machine.

Tobar and Starr focus on two monuments to California history, the now-nearly forgotten Ft. Moore Pioneer Memorial on Hill Street in downtown L.A., dedicated in 1957, and a more recent monument, to the 1847 Treaty of Cahuenga, at the Universal City Red Line subway stop.  About the latter monument, Tobar writes:

The brightly colored tile murals installed by Margaret Garcia inside the Universal City Metro Station are under the site of the signing of the 1847 Treaty of Cahuenga, which brought an end to the fighting in California.

A fraction of the size of the Ft. Moore memorial, they detail the exploits of the U.S. military men like John Charles Fremont, but also the courage of the Californio resistance leaders like Doña Bernarda Ruiz.

It was Ruiz who helped make the treaty possible, by writing a letter to Fremont proposing “to put an end to the war . . . upon such just and friendly terms of compromise as would make the peace acceptable and enduring.”

This newer monument may be buried under the Hollywood Freeway, but I think its message of compromise and diversity deserves to last a little longer.

To read the whole column, click here.


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Jon Rowe: Thank You, Sarah Palin

CSA steering committee member Jonathan Rowe has a new piece in Slate that wonders if Sarah Palin isn’t onto something with her opposition to cap-and-trade climate policy. “Let’s take her advice one step further,” Jon suggests.  “Put cap-and-trade aside—and consider another way to curb carbon emissions. The Alaska way.”

He continues:

We would start by repealing the federal income tax on individuals—most of them, at least. Alaska has no personal income tax at all. We could alter that a bit and keep the tax on, say, the richest 5 percent, for reasons I’ll explain later. We would keep the corporate income tax, however, and at a high rate, as Alaska does.

Second, we would increase federal spending per capita to roughly the level of Alaska, which is the highest in the nation. I haven’t done the math, but this would help pay for universal medical care—whatever plan Congress adopts.

The upside looks pretty good.

This dividend—plus the elimination of the income tax for most of us—would take at least some of the sting out of higher energy taxes. And you’d get the dividend whether or not you used a lot of fossil fuels. The less fuel you burned, in fact, the more you’d gain, because then your dividend check would be pure gravy, rather than just a kind of tax rebate. Drive a hybrid, or walk, or take the train, and the people in the SUVs would in effect be paying you to do so.

The result would be a climate dividend for citizens instead of a cap-and-trade system quickly gamed by Goldman Sachs.

Who knew Sarah Palin was such a visionary?


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Julia Stein at the LaborFest BookFair

CSA steering committee member Julia Stein will appear on two panels at the LaborFest BookFair, Sunday July 26 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco.  Here’s the scoop from the LaborFest website, which has all the program information.

1:00 PM Poets and Musicians
Poets Avotcja, Julia Stein, Alice Rogoff, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and others.

2:30 PM Panel Discussion

Women Organizers During the 1930s & 1940’s
With Elisabeth Martinez, Julia Stein, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and others.
Women workers during the depression and the 1930’s and 1940’s were battling for justice and survival. This panel will discuss who some of these women workers were and what they did to build the labor movement.


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L.A. Times reports on proposals to remake California government

In a front-page article today, the Los Angeles Times summarizes various movements in the wings to remake California’s government in the wake of the current fiscal crisis. From the article:

A bipartisan organization sponsored by several foundations is finalizing a menu of potential solutions. Those are expected to include a change in budgeting practices and a possible shift of state-run programs such as health, education and welfare to local governments that may enjoy more public trust.


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Newish Blog: The Edge of the American West

Eric Rauschway’s blog called “The Edge of the West” has some interesting content on the West and a smattering of other national politics and culture. It’s a very good one for western historians and seems to be getting a lot of traffic.–ed

About The Edge of the American West

* Ari Kelman, Kathy Olmsted, and Eric Rauchway teach history at a fine public university at the western edge of the American West.

* Scott Eric Kaufman earned a doctorate in English at a closely related fine public university in a similar location.

* Neddy Merrill teaches philosophy at an American liberal arts college.

* David H. Noon teaches history at a fine public university at one of the many edges in the American West.

* Dana McCourt is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at an American university.

* Vance Maverick holds a PhD in computer science and develops software at the westernmost edge of the American West.

* David Silbey teaches history at a small American university that is, technically, in an extremely eastern part of the American West.

Your guess is as good as ours, but this blog seems to be about history, philosophy, literature, and selected political and cultural observations with a strong bias toward yiddishkeit, WASPhood, the 1980s, Canadiana and, most of all, the Muppets.

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