About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a native Kentuckian, a professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance journalist. He is a member of the American Federation of Teachers and the Kentucky Education Association/National Education Association. He is the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, which he describes as "a strictly non-partisan chronicle of our political past from Gov. Isaac Shelby to Gov. Ruby Laffoon."

Facebooking for social justice

Facebook pages aren’t just for social networking. They can promote social justice, too, according to Axel Caballero and Ofelia Yañez of Los Angeles. They’re battling anti-Latino “Tea Party racism and violence” on Cuéntame, their Facebook page. “Both Ofelia and I have seen with great sadness and frustration how Tea Partiers have unjustly and unfairly targeted the Latino community to further their political agenda,” Caballero wrote in an email from the Culver City, Calif.-based Brave New Foundation. Cuéntame is a project of the foundation, which uses media to promote “an open democratic society that encourages rigorous debate, opportunity and justice for all.” Cuéntame’s “latest campaign exposing Tea Party racism has hit a nerve, not only within the Latino community but also … Continue reading

‘We have met the enemy and he is us’

The union-haters must still be in hog heaven over an AFL-CIO-sponsored poll that showed most Massachusetts union households supported Republican Scott Brown over union-endorsed Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. The margin was 49 to 46 percent. The numbers remind me again of Pogo’s apt observation: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The Massachusetts AFL-CIO unanimously endorsed Coakley. She was clearly the pro-union candidate, according to Robert Haynes, president of the Bay State labor federation. Nonetheless, Karen Ackerman, the national AFL-CIO’s political director, admitted to the Wall Street Journal that “What happened in Massachusetts is that working families did not see the Democratic candidate as being on their side.” … Continue reading

‘Brown Democrats’

Eighty-two percent of them said they want a public option as part of the Democrats’ health care reform. Yet they just helped elect a guy who opposes the public option and the Democrats’ health care reform. They’re Obama voters who cast ballots for Massachusetts’s new Republican senator, Scott Brown. He promised to be “the 41st vote” against what the GOP slams as “Obamacare.” The 82 percent number is from a Research 2000 survey taken right after the polls closed in the special election to fill the unexpired term of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He championed health care reform, including a robust public option. The poll was conducted for three liberal groups who favor a public option – the Progressive … Continue reading

Tea Baggers and ‘populist anger’

I wish the media would quit saying “populist anger” is fueling the Tea Bagger movement. It’s giving the real Populists a bad name. The Tea Baggers are on the side of millionaires. The Populists of the 1890s weren’t. I teach history, but I used to be a reporter. Good reporters dig deep when they write stories. They even read history books. Granted, there are some similarities between Tea Baggers and Populists. Tea Baggers are anti-government. So were Populists. Most Tea Baggers aren’t rich. Neither were most Populists. But the Tea Bagger movement and Populism are fundamentally different. Tea Baggers want government to step aside and let the “free market” prevail. Millionaires love it. Most Populists were poor farmers and laborers victimized by America’s new … Continue reading

Tea Baggers and Tories

The “Tea Baggers” made LEO’s “list of the 50 grandest, most brain-bending and spirit-crushing gaffes, foibles and malicious undertakings” of 2009. LEO is short for Louisville Eccentric Observer, an alternative newsweekly — print and online — in Kentucky’s largest city. “…Folks and organizations qualify for our infamous awards because, generally speaking, they’ve betrayed the public trust,” Leo explains. “Our message is simple: Do better.” LEO doesn’t pull punches. It defines Tea Baggers as “an embodiment of all that is loud, frightened and stupid in this country.” Their “anti-government…movement,” according to Leo, “…has provided conservative middle America a perfect medium through which their fear of an illegally elected black president and his socialist utopia of spending, taxing and drinking the blood … Continue reading

Scared turtles

It is the great unmentionable in the health care debate. It is an attitude apparently shared by many voters.  The Democrats keep quiet about it because they don’t want to make voters mad. The same attitude is helping the Republicans thwart reform. But they won’t acknowledge it publicly for fear of looking bad. B. Smith isn’t scared to talk about it on his Internet blogsite, Radical Love. It is greed and selfishness, which he says are “hateful” aspects “of humanity that this debate has brought out” in much of the body politic. Smith identifies himself as a Methodist pastor from Pulaski, Tenn. He doesn’t pull punches. Smith says, flat out, that some folks oppose reform because they think it will diminish the quality of their health care in favor of “undeserving” poor … Continue reading

“…Slavery and race were absolutely critical elements in the coming of the war”

I just saw another Rebel-flag emblazoned “Heritage not Hate” bumper sticker. I suspect I’ll see more during the sesquicentennial observances of the Civil War.  The “Heritage not Hate” folks claim slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War. Neo-Confederates – and there are more than a few in my native Kentucky – claim that 11 slave states – the Bluegrass State not among them — seceded over “states’ rights.” I teach history. Slavery had everything to do with the Civil War. “To put it quite simply, slavery and race were absolutely critical elements in the coming of the war,” wrote Charles B. Dew in Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. For my money, Dew’s little book is … Continue reading

You can’t shame the Republicans

The Republicans and Al Qaeda say President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. A former Peace Prize winner says he does. “In less than a year, with his inspiring messages of humility, dialogue and peace, President Obama has significantly lessened the tensions in the world, in the Middle East (University of Cairo speech), in relations with Russia, Iran, Venezuela,” Jose Ramos-Horta recently wrote on the Huffington PostInternet website. “President Obama’s conciliatory approach, the depth of his intellect and vision of peace, have won over many millions of people.” Ramos-Horta is president of East Timor. He received his peace prize in 1996. “By giving hope to the millions of disfranchised, the poor and the angry in Middle East, Asia and … Continue reading