Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kuttner on the Economy

(click any image to enlarge)

For a long time, Robert Kuttner has been one of my favorite progressive economists. He appeared on NPR's excellent news show, NOW, this weekend and suggested a controversial plan for economic recovery that emphasizes massive public investment over fiscal restraint, at least until the economy gets rolling again. Kuttner argues that staving off another Great Depression is more important than balancing budgets. Check it out here.

What do you think? If you could craft public policy to address the economic collapse, what would your plan look like? What would you do?

Here is what Nobel-winning economist and NYTimes columnist, Paul Krugman, thinks should be done about the economic crisis.

Here are some other economy-related political cartoons by Keith Tucker: (click any image to enlarge)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Clarity on Obama

Is Obama the end all be all? Or, is he the same old, same old? Jay Smooth, at, has a nice reply...

What do you think?

The Three Trillion Dollar War (It's Cost in Ten Steps)

In 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld estimated that a war with Iraq would cost $60 billion. Five years later, the cost of Iraq War operations is more than 10 times that figure. By the time the United States leaves Iraq, the estimated total cost of war will be more than $3 trillion.
(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Iroquois Prayer of Thanksgiving

An Iroquois Prayer of Thanksgiving

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, 
which sustains us.

We return thanks to the rivers and streams, 
which supply us with water.

We return thanks to all herbs, 
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.

We return thanks to the corn, 
and to her sisters, the beans and squash,
which give us life.

We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
which provide us with fruit.

We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air,
pushes away sadness.

We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light
when the sun was gone.

We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
who has given to us his rain.

We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth
with a beneficent eye.

Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in whom is embodied all goodness,
and who directs all things
for the good of his children.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Beatles "White Album" Turns 40...

It's the 40th anniversary of The Beatles, "The White Album." NPR had a nice reflection on the album that is worth checking out: When The White Album was released 40 years ago this month, fans were both baffled and awe struck by its sprawling world of sound. It was released as a double LP (almost unheard of at the time) and featured instant classics like "I Will," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and "Blackbird." But The White Album (its real name is simply The Beatles) was also filled with songs many found hard to digest, like the eight-minute, experimental sound collage "Revolution 9" or the inexplicably surreal "Wild Honey Pie." On this edition of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen talks with Bruce Spizer, author of The Beatles On Apple Records, about the groundbreaking White Album and how it came to be. Listen to the program here.

Here is a similar 40th anniversary reflection on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band": For many fans, hearing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time was a life-changing experience. Prior to its release in June of 1967, most of music being produced was for Top 40, AM radio play and for dance parties. Kids bought 45s and never thought of a collection of songs as a "concept album" or work of art. Bob Boilen has a rememberance.

And another on the "Love" CD that came out a few years ago, which features a remix of various Beatles tunes. "Love" is the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleiel show of the same name in Las Vegas: A new CD of Beatles music is out and it isn't simply a reissue of the same songs. It's a mashup of sorts. Imagine the guitar solo from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" mixed onto "Lady Madonna." Or tablas from "Tomorrow Never Knows" mixed under the sitar of "Within You Without You." That's what Beatles producer George Martin and his son, Giles have done. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen talks with Giles Martin about these stunning new remixes.

Here is program about a box set that collects the American versions of four early Beatles albums: Capitol Records is releasing four early Beatles recordings, never before available on compact disc. The American versions of The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul make up a new box set, The Capitol Albums Volume 2. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen talks with Beatles author Bruce Spizer about the new collection.

What is your favorite Beatles album?  Why?

Who is your favorite Beatle? Why?

Living History

Fareed Zakaria: "Some of us--especially those under 60--have always wondered what it would be like to live through the kind of epochal event one reads about in books. Well, this is it. We're now living history, suffering one of the greatest financial panics of all time. It compares with the big ones--1907, 1929--and we cannot yet know its full consequences for the financial system, the economy or society as a whole."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Slow Movement

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there's a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives. Slow -it-down and make the time to listen to this interesting talk about "the slow movement"...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some Cyanide to Go With That Whine?

Anti-Racist activist, writer and provocateur, Tim Wise, has penned a new essay: "Some Cyanide to Go With That Whine? Obama's Victory and the Rage of the Barbiturate Left" I'd be very interested in any responses other folks have to Wise's critique of the American Left...

Here is his basic point:
... one of the key problems with the left in the U.S. Namely, for the sake of ideological purity few within the professional left expressed any joy about life, or any emotion whatsoever that wasn't rooted in negativity. They are like the political equivalent of quaaludes: guaranteed to bring you down from whatever partly optimistic place you might find yourself from time to time.

Be sure to check out the whole essay. There is much food for thought there. And the comments are interesting, too.

What do you think about Wise's analysis?

UPDATE: Wise has posted a response to some criticism he has received on his article from lefties, titled, "ARE WORDS (AND HISTORY) THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND? A FINAL RESPONSE TO THE MORE-RADICAL-THAN-THOU CRITIQUE OF OBAMA SUPPORTERS"

Friday, November 21, 2008

King, Obama and the Politics of Hope

This is an interesting essay, written by Michael Honey, who recently published an excellent book on King's involvement with the Memphis garbage strike in 1968. Honey argues, "After experiencing the limitations of local organizing, [Obama] went on to law and politics to find greater leverage. He also tapped into Martin Luther King’s politics of hope. That combination has opened up the country to the possibility of new politics, and new goals." Check out the whole thing...

... is hope a transformative political concept?

Trashy Art...

This is one of Tim Nobel and Sue Webster's pieces of art made from everyday garbage. To see other examples, click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say It Loud!

Obama Election Spurs "Hundreds" of Racist Incidents Around Country

Cross-burnings, threats, racial epithets, assault, a church burned down. These are just a few of the racist incidents that have occurred across the country since Obama's historic victory two weeks ago. Here are some specific examples that give a sense of the scope of this outbreak of racist hate:

* At the Standish, Maine, Oak Hill General Store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin.Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. "Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count," the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written "Let's hope someone wins."

* In Idaho, the Secret Service is investigating a "public hanging" sign erected by a man upset with the election outcome, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported Thursday. A handmade sign posted on a tree reads "FREE PUBLIC HANGING" written in large letters beneath a noose fashioned from nylon rope. The most prominent name on the sign is "OBAMA," according to the Bee. "That's a political statement. They can call it whatever they want, a threat or whatever," the creator of the sign, Ken Germana, told the Bee.

* A popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day. The site,, was temporarily off-line on Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received. One poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, "I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest."

* From the Orange County (Ca.) Register: "Two gang members pleaded not guilty Thursday to hate crime and attempted robbery charges in connection with the beating of a black man who was trying to buy cigarettes at a Fullerton liquor store." The two men shouted racial and anti-Obama epithets in the attack.

* From today's New York Times: "Two white Staten Island men face hate crimes charges after they were arrested on Friday in the beating of a black teenager on the night that Barack Obama was elected president, the police said on Saturday. The teenager, Alie Kamara, 17, was walking home on Pine Place in the Staten Island neighborhood of Stapleton when several men hit him on the head with a baseball bat and yelled 'Obama,' said Aliya Latif, the civil rights director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who was in contact with Alie's family since the attack and spoke to his mother on Saturday after the arrests were announced."

* In Mississippi alone, the American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 10 calls since the staff first reported anti-Obama incidents last Friday, according to the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press.

* In Midland, Mich., a man dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia walked around toting a handgun and waving an American flag. Initially denying it, the man eventually admitted to police that the display was a reaction to the Obama victory. "[The man] had a concealed weapon permit and was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of a vehicle dealership while some motorists shouted obscenities at him and others shouted accolades," police told The Saginaw News.

* Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, "Assasssinate Obama!"

* At the University of Texas in Austin, a racist post on Facebook has cost one student his place on the university football team, according to the Houston Chronicle. Buck Burnette, a sophomore offensive lineman for the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns, was dismissed from the team on Nov. 5 after posting a racist remark about President-elect Obama as his "status" on the social networking Web site. Burnette posted: "All the hunters gather up, we have a [slur] in the White House," the Chronicle reported.

* AP reports: "While the world watched a Grant Park celebration heralding the election of the first black U.S. president, some white Chicago police officers committed hate crimes against black residents cheering Barack Obama's victory elsewhere in the city, attorneys alleged Thursday." Lawsuits have been filed.

* At Appalachian State University, the administration has expressed disappointment at the numerous times black students have expressed being harassed in residence halls since the election. The Appalachian, a student newspaper serving the university, also reported conversations suggesting Obama may not be alive in 2009 and a t-shirt seen around campus that reads "Obama '08, Biden '09."

* Mentioned in the same article, racist comments were discovered at North Carolina State University last week. Spray-painted in university's free expression tunnel after the election were the phrases, "Kill that nigger," "Let's shoot that nigger in the head" and "Shoot Obama," the Appalachian reported. The NAACP has called for the expulsion of the four students accused of the graffitti, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

* The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, "Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son's car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama."

* Employees at Hampel's Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: "(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n----- got in," said Hampel's employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.

* Authorities in Temecula, Calif., found spray-painted graffiti on a city sidewalk containing a swastika and anti-Obama slogan. And from the Los Angeles Times: "Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars in Torrance that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday. The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said. No arrests have been made."

* And from Maine: "More than 75 people rallied Sunday against an incident last week in which black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election," according to the Bangor Daily News.

* Racist graffiti was found in places including New York's Long Island, where two dozen cars were spray-painted; Kilgore, Texas, where the local high school and skate park were defaced; and the Los Angeles area, where swastikas, racial slurs and "Go Back To Africa" were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.

* Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted "assassinate Obama," a district official said.

* University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. "It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," Houston said.

* Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

* Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

* A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'

* In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."
This website is keeping track of incidents.

And there is other evidence that hate-crimes are on the rise in NY, not just against African Americans, but also against Latino immigrants. Here is one particularly appalling example:

Well, this isn't all that surprising, given our nation's tragic racial past, the long history of white backlash following moments of racial progress, and the way Obama's opponents exploited racial divisions in a series of desperate last-ditch efforts to save their campaigns. Even so, we must call this stuff out when it occurs and stand together publicly to condemn it.

What has been your experience, post election?

The Anti-Gay Blacklist?

Along with Obama's inspiring, historic victory came some electoral disappointments, too. In Nebraska, voters decided to amend the state constitution to ban state affirmative action programs. And in three states, basic civil rights for gays and lesbians were curtailed. Most notably, California residents overturned a recent court decision which had legalized gay marriage.

Even so, one of the promising developments in the wake of these defeats has been a spate of nation-wide protests in support of full equality for the GLBTQ community. Even here in Omaha, an estimated 250 people came out w/ signs last Saturday and filled the pedestrian bridge that crosses Dodge Street, the main drag in the city. Not bad for Nebraska...

It now appears that a boycott of companies that supported the California ban is gaining some steam. One group - Anti-Gay Blacklist - has generated controversy by listing the names of both companies and individuals who donated $1,000 or more to support Proposition 8. It's the individuals that are controversial. Is it ethical to go after individuals, with the threat that they might lose their jobs, or not get hired, because of their political views? Or, is this a fair use of the right to boycott? Emma Ruby-Sachs doesn't think it is cool to go after individuals...

If individuals perform their jobs well, if they are good students or good human resource managers, then they should be allowed to continue in their positions. Until their actions in the workplace create harm -- dismissals based on political affiliation should not be encouraged.

This movement for equal rights is based on the fundamental belief in the equal protection of the law. That means equal protection for us, but it also means equal protection for the people who hate us. We can create an effective movement for full protection for LGBT people under the Constitution without working to unemploy individuals who, because of faith or bigotry, don't think we deserve to be treated equally. That is a movement of which we can all be proud.

What do you think? Is it cool to target individuals?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Post-Racial Society?

Over at The Progressive, Fred McKissick reminds us, in this post-election Obama-glow, "We still aren’t in a post-racial society." He asks,
Exactly how can we be in post-racial America when nearly 40 percent of black children under the age of 5 live at or below the poverty line?

How are we in post-racial America when the level of school segregation for Hispanics is the highest in the forty years and segregation of blacks is back to levels not seen since the late 1960s?

How are we in post-racial America when the gaps in wealth, income, education and health care have widened over the last eight years?
Yes, how, indeed?

Barack Obama's victory was something, but not everything, and we need to be clear about the serious and daunting task that lays ahead in terms of racial justice. The challenge before us is to put substance to the symbol. We must not get so lost in our self-congratulation over the election of our first black president that we forget the persistent chasm of caste and class in our society today, a yawning gap that will require sustained attention, organized political action and significant resources if it is to be bridged.

Childhood Poverty Up 50% in 2007...

... and those numbers came in BEFORE the economic meltdown of recent months!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The "Magical Negro in Chief"?

Bijan Bayne, over at The Root, asks whether Barack Obama is the "magical Negro in Chief." A "magical Negro" is a character in a novel or film, who is possessed of an inner wisdom and who ultimately helps the white lead character get out of trouble. Back in 2003, Rita Kempley wrote an article for Black Commentator on this subject. Here are a few oft-cited examples of "Magical Negroes":

• Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier) in the film The Defiant Ones (1958)
• Dick Haloran (Scatman Crothers) in the Stephen King novel The Shining (1977), later a 1980 film
• Willie Brown (Joe Seneca) in the film Crossroads (1986)
• John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) in the serialized Stephen King novel The Green Mile (1996), later a 1999 film
• Albert Lewis (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) in the film What Dreams May Come (1998)
• Cash (Don Cheadle) in the film The Family Man (2000)
• Bagger Vance (Will Smith) in the film The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
• An angel (Gabriel Casseus) in Bedazzled (2000)
• God (Morgan Freeman) in the film Bruce Almighty (2003)
• The blind handcar-pumper (Lee Weaver) in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
• The old woman seer in the Stephen King novel The Stand
• The barkeeper Guinan in Star Trek: The Next Generation
• The Oracle in The Matrix Reloaded
• Gabriel (voice of Delroy Lindo) in The Simpsons episode "Brawl in the Family" (DABF01, 2002) (a deliberate parody of the archetype)

Almost as soon as Obama began to have success in the presidential primary, debate about his status as a "magical Negro" took off. Steven Rosenfeld, over at Alternet, explored the "Magic" behind Obama's success as did Anne Applebaum, at The Washington Post, who posted a column suggesting Obama's blackness provided some advantagous "magic" in the election. Even conservative blow-hard Rush Limbaugh got into the act with a racially derisive song he played on his show. On the flip side, Gary Kamiya, over at Salon, saw Obama's magical status in a more positive light, raving that "the fact that it is a black man who is serving as America's philosopher's stone, turning the base metal of bitterness into the gold of forgiveness, is extraordinarily moving." But, as recently as March, a writer for the L.A. Times argued that Obama was, in fact, a "magical Negro."

The underlying question is: What does the Obama victory win mean for white liberal/progressive voters? Is the meaning confined to this "magical" paternalistic realm? Does Obama's win liberate white liberals from their racial guilt? If so, is that a bad thing? Or, is there something more substantive and concrete there? Does this view of Obama as "magical Negro" diminish his accomplishment and dismiss the very real and positive inter-racial work being done in this campaign?

Check it out. What do you think?

Good Sheet: National Service

President Kennedy famously declared during his inauguration speech that we should ask ourselves what we can do for our country. National service takes many forms—from Americans deployed overseas to senior citizens teaching a new generation how to read. Now that the election is over, let’s continue the spirit of civic engagement. Find out what you can do for your country...
(click image to enlarge)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Play, Spirit and Character"

It's Sunday...

What is the role of "play" in our lives? How is play linked to our spiritual selves?

That is the subject of NPR's Speaking of Faith program, "Play, Spirit and Character." Click here to listen to "Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play, [who] says that pleasurable, purposeless activity [play] prevents violence and promotes trust, empathy, and adaptability to life's complication. He promotes cutting-edge science on human play, and draws on a rich universe of study of intelligent social animals."

What do you think?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Financial Meltdown 101

The folks at Truthdig have made this nice, interactive timeline (above) on the financial meltdown, starting during the depression-era and moving right on up to the present. Here is how they introduce it:
Getting a grip on the economic catastrophe that rocked the country during the fall of 2008 is no easy feat, what with so many players, back-room deals, bills, upswings and meltdowns to consider. To that end, Truthdig, once again in collaboration with, has put together a comprehensive multimedia timeline that explains how we got into this mess and how we might avoid repeating history in the near future.

This is a work in progress, and we’ll be adding updates and pointers in coming weeks, so check it out and leave your feedback in the comment section below. We’ll also be including some audio commentary to highlight key turning points along the story line to make this complicated narrative easier to understand, even for those of us who fell asleep during Econ 101 (or avoided that whole scene altogether).

Update: Be sure to watch the first entry on this Capzle to see a video of Truthdig’s Robert Scheer explaining the key issues and moments along the timeline.

What do you think?

Current TV: Interview w/ Shepard Fairey

"Obama inspired his art, and his art is inspiring supporters. Street artist and DJ, Shepard Fairey talks about the positive shift in his work from tagging to political campaigns, and the correlation of his two careers."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Neil Young on How to Save the Auto Industry

Neil Young (yes, that Neil Young!) has penned a thought piece about the American auto industry's woes and how best to solve them. He writes, "We need visionary people now with business sense to create automobiles that do not contribute to global warming." And then he goes on to detail his plan.

Young, a long-time environmental advocate in addition to being one of the most enduring musicians from the 1960s, is the driving force behind Lincvolt, an effort "to turn a nearly 20-foot-long, 5,000-pound 1959 Lincoln Continental into a vehicle that will run on natural gas, electricity or some other form of clean energy. His aim is to win the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million challenge to develop a vehicle that can get 100 miles per gallon or better by 2009." Lincvolt even has its own Youtube channel.

I wholeheartedly agree with Young that this moment cries out for bold, visionary solutions to the problems we confront:  on the economy, on the environment, on health care, on education, on foreign policy, etc.  This is the primary difference between the Clinton Democratic moment in 1992 and the Obama moment in 2008.  In 1992, embattled by a rising conservatism, the best the Dems could hope for was a Republican lite version of Democratic politics.  In 2008, though, there seems to be real opportunity to think big and throw long.  I suspect this will ultimately be the measure of Obama's administration:  the degree to which he seizes the historical moment, takes some risks, and goes the visionary route...  or the degree to which he misses the moment by being overly cautious and halting in his reform agenda.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Worlds of Sound": The 60th Anniversary of Folkways

NPR had a nice program honoring the 60th anniversary of Folkways Records:
Sixty years ago, Moses Asch set out with the lofty ambition to record "all the sound of the world." He established Folkways Records — "the little label that could" — and in the decades that followed, Folkways recorded everything from folk singers, to jazz greats, to sounds of the natural world.

Worlds Of Sound, a new book by Richard Carlin, details the history of Smithsonian Folkways and how Asch and his collaborators were able to "capture the soundscape of a century."
You can listen to the program and read an excerpt from Carlin's book here.

The Old-Time Herald has a nice article detailing Asch's life, the establishment/development of Folkways and its ultimate merger with Smithsonian.

Here is Asch, from the pages of Sing Out! in 1961, declaring himself for folk music.

This Week in Blackness #13: "Black, Black, Backity, Black"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba Has Died

South African music legend and freedom fighter Miriam Makeba has died following a heart attack shortly after finishing a concert in Italy to show solidarity for those fighting organized crime. Deoliver47 over at Daily Kos has a nice diary on Makeba, including a number of photos and video clips.

Makeba in 2000: “I just told the world the truth. And if my truth then becomes political, I can’t do anything about that.”

Give thanks and praises for Miriam Makeba and her inspirational life lived in struggle...  

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The First 100 Days

Another interesting "Good Sheet":

(click image to enlarge)

“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people,” Franklin D. Roosevelt told supporters in 1932 while accepting the presidential nomination. When he took office the following year, he spent his first 100 days enacting a dizzying number of reforms designed to stabilize an economically depressed nation. Since then, a president’s first 100 days have been an indicator of what he is able to accomplish. In January 2009, the clock starts again.

UPDATE: The editor of The Nation magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, suggests a "center-left" agenda for the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

Election Over, Bill Ayers Speaks

Now that the election has concluded, Bill Ayers has penned an essay - "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been" - for In These Times ruminating on the way his life became "a prop, a cartoon character created to be pummeled" by the McCain/Palin campaign. It is an interesting and more complex inside look at the mind and experience of the man who might have upset Obama's run for the White House, but didn't. Ayers discusses the campaign, but also the significance of the 1960s today. Check it out.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Historians Love the Democratic Party

For what it is worth, according to a new poll, 79.2% of all historians self-identify as Democrats, more than any other academic discipline...

... during the election, there was even a group called Historians for Obama.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Obama's Win Has Roots in Mississippi"

The Sun-Herald, which serves the Biloxi, Gulfport and southern Mississippi area, published two interesting articles about Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) veterans and their role, 40+ years ago paving the way for an Obama presidency. The first article focuses on 1963, when Aaron Henry, a black civil rights activist, teamed up with Rev. Ed King, a white Methodist minister, to run for Governor and Lt. Governor in Mississippi. The second brief article focuses on Unita Blackwell and Hollis Watkins, both Movement vets. Check 'em out...

BREAKING: Obama Gets NE District 2 (Omaha-land) Electoral Vote!

Great news! It has just been announced here in Nebraska that Obama earned the District 2 electoral college vote in Nebraska. District 2 is made up of Omaha-land, essentially. This is the first time in 40-odd years that a Democrat has won an electoral vote in the state and the first time ever that the electoral votes of Nebraska have been split. It is a HUGE victory for us locally and a nice thank-you for all the hard-work so many local people did around here to make this a reality.

Selma, Lord, Selma!

(Ms. Bland is to the right of Barack Obama as you look at the above photo!)

Selma, AL, is sacred ground in the civil rights movement. It was there, in '65, during the historic voting right campaign, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, that thousands of people made a stand for racial justice that reverberated across the country and around the world. Those activists and local people took their lumps, but their efforts resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ms. Joanne Bland was there, as a little girl, and has spent the rest of her life in Selma, carrying on the struggle for full equality. I've had the great fortune to get to know Ms. Bland, first as a grad student at the U. of Wisconsin, and more recently when I brought her to Lincoln as a part of "From Selma to Washington: A 40th Anniversary Celebration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act," a conference I organized in 2005.

This New York Times video features Ms. Bland and other local people in Selma, as they vote and await the results of election '08 on Tuesday. In case you are unclear about the deep meaning of Barack Obama's historic victory, please watch this moving video... but be prepared to shed some tears.

I love you Ms. Bland! Thank you for everything you and all the other local people in Selma have done for our nation, for our democracy! This one is for you and for all the other foot-soldiers of the Movement. We are a better nation because of your sacrifices...

Ralph Nader's Political Career, R.I.P.

Good lord has Ralph Nader become an annoying jack-ass... and I say that as someone who supported him in 1996 and 2000 and who has long admired his work on behalf of consumer rights and democratic reform.

Check this out: Here he is making a complete fool of himself on election night, asking whether Obama will be "an Uncle Tom" for corporate interests at the very moment our nation elected its first black president. What a putz. Hell, even Shep Smith of Faux News understands how lame-ass Nader's comments were...

Tim Goodman, over at The San Francisco Chronicle website, skewers Nader's performance on election night. In part, he writes, Nader is "A character without a filter between his head and his mouth and the willingness to say just about anything while being completely oblivious to the fallout." Goodman continues, "As to Nader supporters parsing what he said and what he meant with the 'Uncle Tom' comment, let's not waste a lot of time and ranting comments on whether that's an offensive term or not. Why not field test it yourself? Go to a bar (around midnight, shall we say?) filled only with African Americans. Use the term 'Uncle Tom' any way you'd like and see how that works out for you." Finally, he reminds us, too, that this is not the first dumb racial thing Nader has said about Obama. Recall that earlier in the campaign he accused Obama of "talking white." Again, what a dumb-ass.

No wonder most progressive/lefties abandoned Nader after 2000. His campaign had no meaningful grassroots support this year and achieved only .5% of the vote. Because Nader's presidential runs are now about him, personally, and not attached to a viable third party, they play no role in building alternative progressive institutions, let alone a "movement." Sad.

Moreover, any viable progressive/left movement in the U.S. must be multi-racial. Do you think the guy in the above video could possibly form or lead such a multi-racial movement? Of course not.

It is sad to see Nader tarnish his legacy these last few years... but that is what happens when you allow yourself to confuse your own ego with "the movement."

Ralph, your electoral career has now officially ended...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Racial Implications of Obama's Historic Win

We are starting to see a trail of articles and programs focusing on the racial implications of Obama's historic win on Tuesday. Here are a few for your consideration:

• Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of "America in the King Years," Taylor Branch, cautions not to exaggerate the racial progress represented in Obama's victory.

• The NYTimes had a nice piece, "A Time to Reap for Foot Soldiers of Civil Rights"

Civil Rights icons react to Obama's victory.

•In, "In Our Lifetime," Harvard African American Studies guru, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., argues that "from toiling as White House slaves to President-elect Barack Obama, we have crossed the ultimate color line."

• Famed literary figure, Alice Walker, penned "An Open Letter to Barack Obama."

• John Nichols suggests this is "America's Mandela Moment."

• Post-election, The Root suggests what black folks shouldn't do and what white folks shouldn't do.

• Obama's victory a "non-violent revolution"? Many think so.

• The sister of one of the girls killed in the 1963 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham speaks out about an Obama victory.

• And what about the so-called Bradley Effect? A lot of folks are thinking and writing about it. Ann Applebaum suggests race helped Obama win, not hurt him.

What do you think? Have you seen other interesting stories on the racial dynamics of Obama's win? Post a link in the comments section...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Onion: "Nation Finally Shitty Enough to Make Social Progress"

Very Oniony...
Obama's victory is being called the most significant change in politics since the 1992 election, when a full-scale economic recession led voters to momentarily ignore the fact that candidate Bill Clinton had once smoked marijuana. While many believed things had once again reached an all-time low in 2004, the successful reelection of President George W. Bush-despite historically low approval ratings nationwide-proved that things were not quite shitty enough to challenge the already pretty shitty status quo.

"If Obama learned one thing from his predecessors, it's that timing means everything," said Dr. James Pung, a professor of political science at Princeton University. "Less than a decade ago, Al Gore made the crucial mistake of suggesting we should care about preserving the environment before it became unavoidably clear that global warming would kill us all, and in 2004, John Kerry cost himself the presidency by criticizing Bush's disastrous Iraq policy before everyone realized our invasion had become a complete and total quagmire."

What's Your Word?

What word describes how you feel about the election?  Add your word to the word-stream...

Progress, Hope, Unity, Change

... glory, hallelujah!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good Sheet: "Love It, or Fix It: McCain v. Obama"

Everything you need to know, this is your election review sheet...
(click to enlarge)

Vote Obama, in Words and Music

Dres from Black Sheep:

The Case for Barack Obama, by Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton penned an opinion piece supporting Barack Obama for president in today's New York Daily News:

On Tuesday, New Yorkers and Americans have a big decision to make. Do we continue to pursue the policies of the past eight years or do we chart a new course? I believe we can and we must chart a new course led by President Barack Obama.

How can it be any other way? We find ourselves in an economic crisis born and bred by the failed policies of Washington Republicans: gut regulations; cut taxes for billionaires and big corporations instead of the middle class; continue tax breaks for oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies, and companies that ship jobs overseas; deny the home mortgage crisis; ignore the energy crisis; and dismiss the health care crisis.

The result?

Businesses can't find credit. Students can't find college loans. Retirees' nest eggs are starting to crack. I've met hardworking men and women near retirement who are afraid to check their 401(k)s. Health care premiums have doubled. On Thursday, we learned that the economy actually contracted in the last three months. And the United States has lost jobs for nine straight months; President Bush has the worst job creation record of any President since the Great Depression.

And the fact is, President Bush has practiced what Sen. John McCain has preached. We know that Sen. McCain and the Republicans are only offering more of the same.

The Republicans' answer to jobs being outsourced: continue tax incentives to companies that outsource jobs. Their answer to a broken health care system: throw everybody to the mercy of insurance companies. Their answer to rising economic insecurity: privatize Social Security. Their answer to rising costs and stagnant wages: trickle down tax cuts for millionaires instead of middle class families.

To McCain and the Republicans, America can't win unless most Americans lose. That's why they ignored the home mortgage crisis until it became a financial crisis. That's why McCain has proposed even more tax cuts for the oil companies and drug companies. And that's why McCain has said repeatedly that the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

We cannot afford four more years of the same broken ideological policies. Barack Obama must be our President. Joe Biden must be our vice president. And Democrats must once again clean up an economic mess the Republicans left behind. We've done it before, and we'll do it again.

By the close of the Clinton administration, America had created 22 million new jobs. Our nation built a new economy with the lowest child poverty rate in 20 years. Wages were rising and prosperity was shared. The country produced balanced budgets and a surplus. Now, eight years later, they had to add a digit to the national debt clock.

For two years on the campaign trail, for eight years as a United States senator, and for my entire adult life, I've been fighting for families left out and left behind; for every child's chance to reach his or her God-given potential; and for the people of this country who have felt invisible to their President. And that's who I will always fight for every day.

Wherever I travel around New York and the country campaigning for Obama and Biden and other Democratic candidates, I hear people asking "Who are you for?" But the more important question is, "Who is for you?"

Obama has proposed a tax cut for 95% of people earning a paycheck. He'll fight for equal pay for equal work. He'll protect Social Security. And Obama will promote policies that reflect the way parents are working and living today, including child care, long term care, and a stronger Family and Medical Leave Act.

Obama will invest new jobs in clean energy, manufacturing and infrastructure. And he'll fight for universal health care. I can't wait to stand on the South Lawn of the White House when President Obama signs into law health care for every American - no exception, no excuses.

I'm so grateful to the people of New York and proud of the record of accomplishment we've created together. I'm committed to doing all I can to continue to find solutions to the challenges we face. The most important step we can take right now to deliver the change New York and America needs is to close the book on eight years of failed policies - and elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Shirley Nagle, Meanie!

In a move that pretty much sums up the grumpy old campaign of McCain/Palin, an affluent resident of Gross Pointe Farms, Michigan, Shirley Nagle, refused to give candy to children of Obama supporters on Halloween. Seriously. Check it out:

Make her day by helping this video go viral. Pass the link to as many folks as possible...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Save Our Cities!

Responding to Sarah Palin's recent claims that small town America is the "real America," Good Magazine writer, Cliff Kuang, has written an interesting article passionately arguing for a strong urban policy in the next government. He asks,
Is pitting small town against city just another ploy devised to hide distortions on taxes and foreign policy with a grotesque quilt of resentments? And what if that pastoral vision is blatantly false?

Hoopla aside, with the economy sowing so much worry, the town vs. city-issue should be a reminder of an important fact: Towns have not kept our country’s economy vital, no matter what Eleanor Fudd [Sarah Paln] says. Cities have; and they present our best prospects for creating the jobs and prosperity that will pull us out of the economic hole we’re in.

Most Americans simply don’t understand the role that cities play in their own economic well-being...

Kuang goes on to explain the central role of cities as the engines of economic innovation and productivity in the U.S. (cities account for 76 percent of knowledge-economy jobs, 78 percent of all patents, 75 percent of graduate degree holders, 81 percent of R&D employment, and 94 percent all venture funding!) Statistics also make clear that the wealth generated in cities strongly benefits rural America through a federal tax system that redistributes state monies disproportionately to smaller states. So, in fact, our cities are under-served, under-funded, under-appreciated, scorned and too often on the political Right, attacked and condemned as the engine for all that is bad in our society. Kuang concludes that despite the continuing economic struggles of rural Americans, "in the long run, we’ll all suffer if we don’t double down on the places that promise the most return: Cities."