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Peter Dreier
Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His latest book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, was published in July 2012 by Nation Books. He is coauthor of Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and American Prospect. From 1984-92 he served as senior policy advisor to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. He is chair of the Cry Wolf Project, a nonprofit research network that identifies and exposes misleading rhetoric about the economy and government. He also serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the National Housing Institute.

Entries by Peter Dreier

How Four College Students Started a Revolution

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 1:38 PM

Late in the afternoon of February 1, 1960, four young black men -- Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil, all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro -- visited the local Woolworth's five-and-dime store. They purchased school supplies and toothpaste, and then they...

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The Big Short's Big Shortcomings

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2016 | 1:17 PM


"Food Stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis," said President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union speech. "Recklessness on Wall Street did."

That's also the message of "The Big Short," a fascinating film that looks at how bankers' greed led...

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A Century Ago, Louis Brandeis Beat Big Business and Anti-Semites, and Revitalized American Democracy

(7) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 7:47 AM

On January 28, 1916 -- 100 years ago -- President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis to be the first Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the most hotly debated nomination in American history up to that time. The controversy involved Brandeis' progressive political views as well as his...

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Martin Luther King Would Support a $15 Minimum Wage in Pasadena

(1) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 9:15 AM

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(left) Four college students protest segregation at Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. in February 1960. (right) Picketers march in front of Kress store on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in 1960 in solidarity with Southern sit-ins....
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What Super Wealthy Times Columnist Tom Friedman's Attack on Sanders Misses

(170) Comments | Posted January 22, 2016 | 8:29 PM

"What if our 2016 election ends up being between a socialist and a borderline fascist -- ideas that died in 1989 and 1945 respectively?," New York Times pundit Tom Friedman asks in his latest column.

Friedman apparently doesn't understand that the idea that "died in 1989" was...

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Martin Luther King Was a Democratic Socialist

(61) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 10:55 AM

As we celebrate his birthday, it is easy to forget that Rev. Martin Luther King was a democratic socialist.

In 1964, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian "democratic socialism." He...

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On the Minimum Wage, Pasadena's Restaurant Lobby is Serving Baloney

(5) Comments | Posted January 14, 2016 | 2:18 PM

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Pasadena workers and supporters are fighting for a living wage. Restaurant moguls Gregg and Bob Smith (owners of Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Smitty's and Seco) want to stop them.


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The Washington Post Fired Lefty Columnist Harold Meyerson

(202) Comments | Posted December 31, 2015 | 10:01 AM

Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation's finest journalists and perhaps the only self-proclaimed socialist to write a weekly column for a major American newspaper during the past decade or two.

At a time when America is experiencing an...

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Howard Leibowitz -- Advisor to Two Boston Mayors, Social Activist, Mensch -- Dies at 63

(8) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 11:29 AM


My good friend Howard Leibowitz died Sunday morning after suffering a heart attack in his home in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. He was 63. We worked together for Mayor Ray Flynn for eight years. I moved to Los Angeles in 1993, while Howard...

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"Don't Cry For Me, Donald Trump Fans"

(2) Comments | Posted November 30, 2015 | 10:58 AM

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"Don't cry for me, Donald Trump fans.
The truth is, he is a bully.
A right-wing blowhard.
A racist bigot.
If he's elected
You'll be connected."

"Don't cry...

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Pasadena Chamber of Commerce's Paul Little Applauds LA's Minimum Wage Law

(3) Comments | Posted November 25, 2015 | 9:38 AM


Pasadena Chamber of Commerce president Paul Little is ecstatic about Los Angeles' new minimum wage law.

"Thank God for the LA City Council," Little was heard to say at the hearing held by the Pasadena City Council's Economic Development and Technology committee...

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The New Wave of Campus Protest: What's Behind the Oxy Occupation?

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 8:57 AM


Students around the country are in revolt. So the pundits are pontificating. Much of it is hogwash, but there have been a few thoughtful analyses of what's happening on American campuses. One of the best is a column in Sunday's New York Times,...

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I Don't Care Who Killed JFK

(113) Comments | Posted November 22, 2015 | 8:39 PM

The controversy over who killed President John F. Kennedy has now raged for over half a century. Every year on November 22, Americans regurgitate the debate over who was responsible for JFK's murder in 1963. It is a diversion and a waste of time.

It is more important to...

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Let's Turn Pasadena Into the City of Raises

(6) Comments | Posted November 19, 2015 | 9:10 AM

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Pasadena workers and supporters are fighting for a living wage. Restaurant mogul Gregg Smith (Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Smitty's and Seco) wants to stop them.

Pasadena, California -- home...

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Henry Wallace: America's Forgotten Visionary Politician

(6) Comments | Posted November 16, 2015 | 8:40 AM

Henry Wallace with Franklin D. Roosevelt

Henry Wallace, who died 50 years ago this week (November 18, 1965), was one of the most fascinating and controversial political figures in American history.

One of the great "what if?" questions of the...

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8 Key Questions for the Next Republican and Democratic Debates

(31) Comments | Posted November 3, 2015 | 9:15 AM

The Republican debates so far have allowed the presidential candidates to avoid some of the tough issues facing our economy and society. Most of the debate moderators' questions so far have encouraged the GOP candidates to attack each other's personalities, character, and poll numbers, but have not explored their positions...

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Paul Wellstone's Ordinary Life and Extraordinary Legacy

(7) Comments | Posted October 25, 2015 | 9:15 PM


The late Senator Paul Wellstone used to say that he represented the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Since Wellstone died in a plane crash 13 years ago (on October 25, 2002), other activists and politicians -- from the Occupy Wall Street, Raise...

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Paul Ryan Is a Hypocrite, Charlatan, and Right-Wing Extremist

(158) Comments | Posted October 21, 2015 | 2:44 PM

Paul Ryan wants to be Speaker of the House but he wants a coronation, not a contested election. Toward that end, he's orchestrating a campaign that makes him appear to be a bridge-builder between the so-called "establishment" and "Tea Party" wings of the Republican Party -- the only guy who...

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Playwright Arthur Miller, Dead for a Decade, Is Still Stirring Controversy

(1) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 1:23 PM

Arthur Miller -- one of America's greatest playwrights whose work reflected his affinity for the underdog and who translated his social conscience into political action -- was born 100 years ago (October 17, 1915) and died in 2005.

A Miller play is always being performed somewhere in the world,...

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The Koch Brothers Are My Brothers

(10) Comments | Posted October 14, 2015 | 10:15 AM

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Charles and David Koch

Two years ago I discovered that the Koch brothers are my brothers.

I learned about our extraordinary kinship through a brief article in the New Republic, which mentioned that Charles...

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