Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Elephant in Our (History) Room

July 25, 2014

Maybe the only way history becomes meaningful to anyone is when it illuminates your own experience, and vice versa. As a white person who was around for the Civil Rights Movement and played a very small role in it, I thought I understood something about the realities of our bloody history.

There was, of course, the one great peaceful moment: the 1963 March on Washington. I rode down from Boston overnight in the vast cavalcade of buses streaming south to hear Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

March on Washington, 1963

March on Washington, 1963

The following year, I picketed the Boston School Committee over segregation and was escorted to safety when Southies arrived in force. I was acutely aware of the violence faced by the people my own age who went down to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, from fire hoses and police dogs to murders and bombings. (The guy who pulled me off the Boston picket line had just returned from Mississippi.)

All of which counts for nothing. In fact, I understood very little either of the realities of the black experience in America or of the extent to which the violence of racism has shaped and warped us and our culture. Two excellent, compulsively readable books have made that plain: Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple (2013),

Ecstatic Nation

and The Warmth Of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (2010).

The Warmth of Other Suns

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Ai Weiwei, Stasiland and the Persistence of the Police State

September 6, 2012

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the story of a world-famous artist who provoked the Chinese police state and, so far, seems to be getting away with it—if you don’t count being slugged by a Sichuan policeman in 2009 and almost dying of a subdural hematoma, being arrested in 2011 and held for 81 days and, now, being forbidden to leave the country and liable for a fine of almost $2 million for alleged tax evasion. His provocation: leading an effort to document and publicize the deaths of more than 5,000 schoolchildren, buried or crushed when their poorly constructed schools collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. And, on top of that, first demanding an investigation of the Sichuan police slugging and then suing. Plus photographing, filming and tweeting everything that happened to him along the way.

We see him, strong and confident, at his huge Beijing studio / residence, overseeing the production of his work, organizing the investigation of the student deaths. We see heartbreaking photographs of fields of small backpacks, dirty, torn open, their contents spilling out—all that’s left of the children who wore them to school that day. Read on

Sarah Says She’s Been Cleared!

October 13, 2008

According to Sarah Palin, the Branchflower Report (see Oct. 11 post below) actually clears her of “any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity”!!! Check out her dizzying claims on Mudflats, a blog that takes you “tiptoeing through the muck of Alaskan politics.”

It’s Official! Sarah Palin’s Abuse of Power

October 11, 2008

From the Branchflower Report on Sarah Palin’s ethics:

Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides

The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

Read more and download the report on the Alaska Politics Blog. (Thanks to Jerry Weinstein.)

Palin Quotes Reagan Against Medicare!

October 4, 2008

If you’re beyond the Zeitgeist, you’ll get this: Paul Krugman, in his NY Times blog, reports that Sarah Palin’s closing speech in Thursday night’s debate quoted Ronald Reagan campaigning against Medicare! (See Oct. 3.) There’s a link to an article with Reagan’s original 1962 speech, part of a campaign kit distributed to women who were supposed to help the AMA defeat “socialized medicine.” Reagan’s quote, adapted by Palin: “And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”  

Socialized medicine is portrayed as the thin edge of the wedge of the dreaded socialism, when not just doctors and patients but everyone under any circumstance would be told what they could and couldn’t do by the government. 

Of course, without universal health care, doctors, and their patients not eligible for Medicare, are told what they can and can’t do by the corporate healthcare “providers,”  whose only goal is to minimize expenses (patient care) and maximize profits (through denial of care, ever-higher premiums, drug sales, etc.).

The Scoop on Sara Palin and Censorship

September 23, 2008

“My favorite Sarah Palin cartoon circulating on the web is one showing a huge moose, Alaskan no doubt, with a cartoon bubble saying, ‘BE AFRAID…BE VERY AFRAID!'” wrote Francine Fialkoff, editor-in-chief of Library Journal, in a September 18 editorial. Read it and you’ll agree with the moose.     (Thanks to my friend Jerry Weinstein for alerting me to this piece.)

From Her Lips to Your Ears: the Palin-McCain Administration

September 19, 2008

In my last post, I wondered why Sarah Palin was running against Barack Obama. Hear her tell it like she thinks it is: the Palin-McCain administration, courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Why Is Sarah Palin Running against Barack Obama?

September 18, 2008

In her September 17 New York Times column, Maureen Dowd quotes a Wasilla “Wal-Mart mom” who said that Obama “gives [her] the creeps” – he “seems snotty and he looks weaselly”, whereas Sarah Palin is “down home”.

This is exactly why the Republicans are once again asserting the politics of identity—in which wealthy candidates pose as down-home types (clearing brush, shooting moose), thus inducing ordinary people to feel comfortable with them. Read the rest…

Back to the 50’s with Sarah Palin

September 13, 2008

It’s particularly depressing to contemplate Sarah Palin as a 21st-centruy avatar of 1950’s sexual ideology.

Already this year we’ve had the Mormon-Stepford wives in their identical 19th-century drag and creepy hairdos. Now we have a vice-presidential candidate who is using her own daughter—not to mention her Down-syndrome infant—to further her political career, and being praised for her family values! (Not to worry, she assured us during the convention, the baby is on the bus, being cared for by his big sister.) Read more…