As this column went to print, from Islamabad to London to Paris to Moscow to Los Angeles -- wherever a flickering video image could reach -- the nerves of the world became more frayed this week with the images of mass demonstrations in the streets and the stunning announcement that Hollywood writers have gone on strike for more humane working conditions.
As a point of comparison, historians have had to reach back to the great general strike of 1926 in Britain, which was called in sympathetic protest against the national lockout of the coal miners, whose work hours had been extended and wages reduced by 25 percent, to assure continued high profits for the coal mine owners. The union refused to accept those conditions of employment with the clarion call: "Not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day."
Working men across Britain laid down their tools, stopped driving the buses, refused their employers' instructions from Aberdeen to Truro, from Manchester to London, in a historic expression of solidarity with their fellow workers. At the same time, the sons of the privileged, the well-educated, the overfed and overdressed fastidiously stepped into the employment breach in a desperate, if elegant, effort to keep the British economy going and to break the back of the "red" general strike. Sadly, the overdressed beat the underpaid. The strike was broken quickly, and as a result, today there are no coal miners left in Britain, while London is plagued by a surplus of stockbrokers, public relations professionals and art appraisers.
That is the challenge for all of us today. Each of us must decide WHICH SIDE ARE WE ON? at our moment of capital/labor crisis in the great struggle of the downtrodden Hollywood writers living in shabby Brentwood mansions and Malibu beach houses against the filthy bloodsucking wealth of the Hollywood industrialists who live in Beverly Hills supermansions and Malibu super-beach houses. It is the struggle of the owners of Gulfstream G350s vs. owners of Gulfstream G550s.
The contract between the 12,000-member Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired Oct. 31. (Who knew it took 12,000 writers to produce the dreck coming out of Hollywood these days?) Talks that began this summer failed to produce progress on the writers' key demands for a bigger slice of DVD profits and revenue from the distribution of films and TV shows over the Internet.
Producers said writers were not willing to compromise on their major demands.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.