Pumpjack Blowout: The Blog

One toke over the line

Ten tips for when pot-smoking family and friends visit Oregon for the first time since legalization

Oregon voters legalized marijuana on July 1, 2015. A year later, my cousin and a contingent of her pot-smoking extended family and friends visited from an east coast state where their habit is still carried out under threat of arrest and imprisonment. The visit was an eye-opener. What I learned during their stay in Oregon may help Oregonians—or others living in state where pot is legal—prepare for similar visits.

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Let's get the narrative straight for a union comeback

At their peak, unions achieved many things. So what went wrong? In short, early idealism about organizing workers into a bloc as a counterweight to industry in a capitalist economy fell victim to age-old human love of power and fear of the “other.” Has the moment arrived for a union resurgence?

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Elation and grief on the anniversary of the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde died on May 23, 1934. Bonnie Parker was 24 and Clyde Barrow was 25—startling young—when they were killed in a hail of bullets on a county road by a hastily convened vigilante ambush comprised of judge, jury and executioner. But what if things had turned out differently? What if grinding poverty had not pushed them into a life of crime? What if they had never died?

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Bunker down: A nonfiction reading journey to (partial) understanding in the age of Trump

These are challenging times for progressives. The policies being enacted are bad enough — placing profits over people, removing environmental protections and quickening the wealth extraction by the elites. But even more troubling to me about the election outcome was the disheartening swell of racism, misogyny and homophobia, of the misdirected anger lingering on the hot edge of violence, that seemed to eclipse the common sense of otherwise rational, compassionate human beings. I want to better understand it, so I’ve been doing some focused reading. Here’s my list of reading in the age of Trump that, taken in order, helped me find some clarity (but no solace) about what is happening in America.

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Where have all the radicals gone?

I sometimes imagine a long-ago unicorn moment when a path appeared that, had it been taken, may have dramatically altered the lives of America’s working class, or what we now call the 99 percent. In the mid- to late-part of the 20th century, the labor, civil rights, environmental and feminist movements were at an apogee, an emerging counterweight to the wealth extraction and concentration grinder of capitalism. Looking back, the potential was breathtaking. And then it all fell apart.

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