As for peacemaking or de-escalation next year, fuggedaboutit…2010: pure loss.
Mobilization of progressive movements to pressurize Obama in the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill has always been essential. It hasn’t happened. Instead, among Democratic loyalists, reflexive support for the latest line from the administration has made it easier for Obama to move rightward.
That Goya was a better painter than the earlier, more popular Peter Paul Rubens, or a more intelligent artist than Diego Velazquez, Michelangelo or Rembrandt hardly seems worth mentioning. That he created the Black Paintings, and The Dog, the most thoroughly modern piece in the group, in utter solitude, is food for thought in this age of Artistic Prostitution.
In all likelihood, the White House and the Dems eventually will get a bill they can call “reform,” but they will not be able to say with straight faces that the reform is a significant improvement over the terrible system we already have.
His Excellency Dasho Nado Rinchen of Bhutan outlined his country’s official national development focus: instead of the purely economic gross national product (GNP), he said, they track and pursue gross national happiness (GNH), a more holistic goal.
It goes without saying that Obama and the other leaders who arrive in Copenhagen this week will have their fingers pressed upon the pulse of domestic political opinion. So in a very real sense, what happens here is up to you.
Reading Erickson is like careering through space in a stunt car—the kind that jumps ramps through rings of fire.
From the start, opponents of the public option have wanted to portray it as big government preying upon the market, and private insurers as the embodiment of the market. But it’s just the reverse.
In Afghanistan, after 30 years under the murderous twin shadows of poverty and war, the only lifeline is peace. From President Obama, we hear that peace is the ultimate goal. But “peace” is a fixture on a strategic horizon that keeps moving as the military keeps marching.
No president in modern times walks a tightrope as exquisitely as this one. His balance is a thing of beauty. But when it comes to this economy right now — an economy fundamentally out of balance — we need a federal government that moves boldly and swiftly to counter-balance the huge recessionary forces still at large.
Carole Joffe: Personal Tragedies and Public Cruelties: Speaking Out Against the Stupak-Pitts AmendmentDecember 7, 2009
The Stupak-Pitts amendment, if it becomes incorporated into an eventual health reform measure, would have the effect of further eroding insurance coverage of abortion, ultimately affecting those even with private insurance.
The best human analog to the role physics is playing here may be fascism in the middle of the last century. There was no appeasing it, no making a normal political issue out of it. You had to decide to go all in, to transform the industrial base of the country to fight it, to put other things on hold, to demand sacrifice.
What we really need is a new women’s health movement, one that’s sharp and skeptical enough to ask all the hard questions. What we don’t need, no matter how pretty and pink, is a ladies’ auxiliary to the cancer-industrial complex.
At the core of enabling politics is inner space that’s hollow enough to reliably cave under pressure. Typically, Democrats with antiwar inclinations weaken and collapse at push-comes-to-shove moments on Capitol Hill. The habitual pattern involves loyalty toward — and fear of — “the leadership.”
“Since graduating school, no book has impressed me as much as Augie March.”
Shame? If we’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that Wall Street has none.
Rebecca Solnit: Learning How to Count to 350: Remembering People Power in Seattle in 1999 and Berlin in 1989November 24, 2009
If communism failed 20 years ago, then capitalism staggered 10 years ago in Seattle, and fell to its knees a year ago when our “wall” on Wall Street collapsed. One large question remains as we face a climate-changing world: If capitalism and communism both failed, what’s the alternative?
The public option proposed by Harry Reid is a token public option, an ersatz public option, a fleeting gesture toward the idea of a public option, so small and desiccated as to be barely worth mentioning except for the fact that it still (gasp) contains the word “public.”
The Fed and the Teasury have, in effect, placed a huge bet on a recovery driven by asset prices. That’s a bad bet. The great disconnect between the stock market and jobs is pushing stock prices way out of line with the real economy. This isn’t sustainable.
Many of the California Democratic Party leaders who voted to approve the out-of-Afghanistan resolution on Nov. 15 have come to see the touted reasons for the U.S. war effort as specious, the mission as Sisyphean and the consequences as profoundly unacceptable.
Written at the very end of Nabokov’s life, The Original of Laura was interred, in notecard form, in a Swiss vault after Nabokov’s death in 1977. Despite his instructions that his wife Vera burn it, she disobeyed. When she died, the decision fell to Nabokov’s son Dmitri, who resolved last year to have it published.
The Reporter’s Notebook interviews Guernica’s Guest Fiction Editor Amitava Kumar about the Asian American Literary Festival happening tomorrow, November 14.
Read him for the same reason you might drink whiskey neat: to brace you and awaken your senses.
Disputes are raging within the Obama administration over how to continue the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. A new leak tells us that Washington’s ambassador in Kabul, former four-star general Karl Eikenberry, has cautioned against adding more troops while President Hamid Karzai keeps disappointing American policymakers. This is the extent of the current debate within the warfare state.
Although often privately owned, farm land must be treated as a commons.
The American people need to realize that the “super-predators” they’ve been taught to fear are first and foremost children, and the United States Supreme Court needs to see to it that no more children are denied the right to change and are protected against the “cruel and unusual punishment” of a slow death in prison.
How Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” Makes a Case for Much More Than Vegetarianism.
The fact that God uses human myths to talk to humans need not perturb the religious. “wa tilka al-amthal nadribuha lil-nas la’alahum yatafakiroon,” says the Qur’an. “We rehearse these parables to people in order that they may think.” From a religious perspective, the rehearsal of myths in sacred text is proof of God’s understanding of human minds. And where do the myths arise from anyway? From unforgotten events, and from us, from our shared Godstuff.
Dahr Jamail and Sarah Lazare: Where Will They Get the Troops?: Preparing Undeployables for the Afghan FrontNovember 8, 2009
As the Obama administration debates whether to send tens of thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan, an already overstretched military is increasingly struggling to meet its deployment numbers. Surprisingly, one place it seems to be targeting is military personnel who go absent without leave (AWOL) and then are caught or turn themselves in.
People who scrape together enough money to buy health insurance will discover that they’re riding in the back of the nation’s healthcare bus. The most “affordable” policies will be the ones with the highest deductibles and the worst coverage.
If job numbers aren’t moving in the right direction by the mid-terms elections Blue Dog Dems will be more politically endangered then than if they vote for a larger stimulus now.
Vaccines can be tricky and less than maximally profitable to manufacture. They go out of style with every microbial mutation, and usually it’s the government, rather than cunning direct-to-consumer commercials, that determines who gets them. So it should have been no surprise that Big Pharma approached the H1N1 problem ploddingly.
Robert Reich: Health Care Reform is Critically Important, But Getting Americans Back to Work is More SoNovember 2, 2009
Obama’s focus on health care rather than jobs, when the economy is still so fragile and unemployment moving toward double digits, could make it appear that the administration has its priorities confused.
Photographer Roy DeCarava dies at 89.
Be the first to buy your ticket to the Guernica Benefit on October 28 in Brooklyn and win a chance to see Andrew Bird live in Philadelphia.
Laura van den Berg’s writing is spare and elliptical. Large topics are broached, but quietly and the stories stay with you.
As Tin House Books makes its foray into children’s book publishing with The Little General and The Giant Snowflake, Associate Editor Tony Perez sits down with the book’s author, Kingsley Tufts winner and National Book Critics Circle Award nominee Matthea Harvey.
American preeminence is disappearing fifteen years early.
Robert Reich: Too Big to Fail: Why The Big Banks Should Be Broken Up, But Why The White House and Congress Don’t Want ToOctober 26, 2009
Like a giant, gawking adolescent who’s just discovered he can crash the Lexus convertible his rich dad gave him and the next morning have a new one waiting in his driveway courtesy of a dad who can’t say no, the big banks will drive even faster now, taking even bigger risks.
The Obama administration and congressional leaders — with Sen. John Kerry playing a starring role in recent days — are making a determined effort to legitimize the Afghan government as a prelude to further U.S. escalation of the war.
Let’s sing the praises of perpetual war. We better, since right now every forecast in sight tells us that it’s our future.
If Obama doesn’t weigh in forcefully and say “no” to the hush money for Big Pharma, big insurance, and the AMA, America’s middle class will get walloped. And if the walloping starts before 2012, Sarah Palin or some other right wing-nut populist will wallop Obama.
Roy DeCarava: chronicler of his own Harlem; eye-poet of the hardscrabble streets where he was born; master at printing subtle variations between black, pitch black, and pitch blacker.
The right-wing blogosphere seem interested in a talk I gave in September, 2007 to students in a political science class here at Berkeley, in which I played the role of a presidential candidate so politically incorrect and tone-deaf as to pummel every sacred cow in sight. In their desperation they have proven the whole point of my lecture.
This book is a weapon. It will teach you how to think.
Barbara Ehrenreich dismantles a recent study about the supposed declining happiness of American women and the flurry of response around it blaming feminism for the blues.
How private health insurers just blew their cover.
Note to the president: you should have dealt with our feelings about the guy who had the job before you.
President Obama, Afghan War commander Stanley McChrystal, and special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke should put aside their focus on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism and focus instead on H.G. Wells’s 111 year-old novel, The War of the Worlds — and on the thought that we might actually be the Martians of the twenty-first century
Had the world not suffered eight years of George W. Bush, Obama would not be receiving the Prize. He’s prizeworthy and praiseworthy only by comparison.
In each of these areas — healthcare, financial regulation, environment, and jobs — the “better” is really not that much better. Forget perfect; anything that offered real reform would suffice for now. But in every case, what should be the centerpieces of reform are being left out.
With the debt ceiling approaching and the gravitational pull of the 2010 elections increasing, the White House can’t go back to Congress with a formal bill to enlarge the stimulus package. Here are four simple steps that would help small businesses, public schools, childrens’ health, and average working people.
With the war in Afghanistan occupying the news, Congress, and President Obama, J. Malcolm Garcia offers this dispatch from Kabul.
On the gradual extinction of print journals.
While certainty is lacking, steely resolve is evident. An unspoken mantra remains in effect: When in doubt, keep killing. The knotty question is: Exactly who and how?
Damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t, NATO will limp along much as the British and Soviet empires did after their misadventures in Central Asia. These were, after all, dead empires walking. NATO may be in this category as well. It just doesn’t know it yet.
Seamus Heaney reminds us that a writer’s life means “the disciplining of a habit of expression until it becomes fundamental to the whole conduct of a life.” The Story About the Story is full of such-disciplined souls.
Despite resistance to it, the public option lives on. It’s still in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension bill. It still headlines the House bills, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s still committed to it. The latest Times/CBS poll shows 65 percent of the public in favor of it.
Of Nearsighted Progress, Feral Howls, Consensus, Chaos, and a New Cold War in Kashmir.
Netanyahu and Abbas shake hands at the UN on Tuesday.
A collaboration between artists David Ellis and Blu has produced one of the coolest things I’ve seen lately on the internet.
The battle over permissions can be a tough one.
The debut filmmaker talks about her film Amreeka with Laura Flanders on GriTtv.
Will Ferrell and some other caring celebrities have, thankfully, spoken up for those who may not otherwise be heard.
Robert Reich: Why the Dow is Hitting 10,000 Even When Consumers Can’t Buy And Business Cries ‘Socialism’September 22, 2009
The Dow is up because of the very thing so many executives are complaining about, which is government’s expansion. The problem is, our newly expanded government isn’t doing much for average working Americans.
The essays collected in The Story About the Story assault the institution of literary criticism.
House reclaims student loan program from profligate banks.
Not everyone who opposes Obama’s policies is a racist, but there is racism at play here as former President Carter suggested. Of course there is. It is deeply rooted.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping the Senator from Maine votes no next week. If she does, America has a fighting chance of getting real healthcare reform.
The way this country has grown used to its now seemingly unending wars and the immense, intense preparations for more of the same begs the question, Is America hooked on war?
What would happen if we took all that money being flushed away for law enforcement, court costs, and the cost of imprisoning hundreds and thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and spent it on, I don’t know, just about anything else?
Any administration arriving in Washington wanting to do anything these days walks into a blizzard of money from special interests, not to speak of the fact that the wind at its back, the campaign wind that got it there, was already blowing strong with similar contributions.
My squabbles with literary critics had to that point been only border skirmishes where a siege, a campaign, a war, was needed. I needed to drive a stake into the dead beating heart of the Beast, and leave him rotting in his coffin.
Despite the Government’s largesse and populist outrage none of the understood reforms to Wall Street happened.
Will the President succeed on financial reform? I wish I could be optimistic. His milktoast list of proposed reforms is inadequate to the task, even if adopted, and Wall Street’s major banks have been made more dangerous by their sure knowledge that they are too big to fail.
Guernica contributor Norman Solomon recently appeared on C-SPAN to discuss his recent fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and escalation of the war.
Robert Reich: The Final Sprint for Health Care Has Now Begun, and Where the White House is Placing Its BetsSeptember 11, 2009
The more you can make your voices heard, the more likely it is that the race will be won by the public rather than the private interests.
Based on her new book, A Paradise Built in Hell, in which she offers a radically different vision of how people react to disasters — they don’t panic, they don’t scream, they don’t look helplessly to governments for aid, they begin to organize themselves — Solnit offers us September 11th, 2001 through fresh eyes in a new moment in our history.
The right’s rhetoric today is the same as it ever was.
If the idea is to have a public option waiting in the wings in case private insurers blow it, why wait for it at all? If it gets lower costs and wider coverage, it should be included right from the start.
All over Kabul, men are tensely holding AK-47s; some are pointing machineguns from flatbed trucks. But the really big guns, of course, are being wielded from Washington, where administrative war-making thrives on abstraction. Day to day, it can be easy to order the destruction of what and who remain unseen.
Imagine for a moment what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money we have put into war efforts in Afghanistan — $228 billion and rising fast — the same “civilian surges,” the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home.
These books’ fearless lack of periods will get your pulse racing!
Ansel Adam’s goal was no less than to save the American landscape through photographs — no small endeavor — and his efforts eclipsed those of 1,000 Al Gores. When he ventured outside of his comfort zone, though, into deeper political waters to document Japanese-American internment the result is closer to US Government propaganda.
If rhetoric were reality, the war in Afghanistan would be about upholding humane values. But rhetoric is not reality.
Obama can’t rely solely on his exceptional rhetorical skills. He’ll need to twist arms, cajole, force recalcitrant members to join him, threaten retribution if they don’t come along, and, most importantly, he’ll need to be specific.
Robert Reich: The Guns of August, and Why the Republican Right Was So Adept at Using Them on Health CareAugust 31, 2009
What we learned in August is something we’ve long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America’s Democratic left and Republican right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline.
Howard Dean spoke with Rep. James Moran (D-VA) at a health care town hall in Reston, VA, and C-Span’s cameras were there to capture it.
Forget the authoritative sources. Mobilize and organize. We can get comprehensive, meaningful health care reform if we push hard enough.
This month, a lot of media stories have compared President Johnson’s war in Vietnam and President Obama’s war in Afghanistan. The comparisons are often valid, but a key parallel rarely gets mentioned — the media’s insistent support for the war even after most of the public has turned against it.
Robert Reich remembers Ted Kennedy.
As a word, “Judaize” is slightly less cumbersome than “de-Palestinianize,” but the intent and the effects are the same.
As art critic Robert Hughes wrote, “There was art before [Caravaggio], and art after him, and they were not the same.”
The widening gap between admiration for Obama and cynicism about his policies also reinforces passivity in Obama’s base, which makes it even harder to advance a specific agenda.
For those who cannot imagine living without books, the search for something to read can rank right up there with the search for medicine, housing, and food.
Set in Sri Lanka, A Disobedient Girl is heart-wrenching and jubilant.
Without a public, Medicare-like option, health care reform is a bandaid for a system in critical condition.
Reforming Wall Street, and why early indications aren’t hopeful.
This album of fingerstyle guitar compositions is genuine and youthful, and you can hear that Giacomo Fiore has poured himself into each pluck of each string.
In her short time on the public stage, we’ve come to expect this sort of thing from Governor Palin. But listen to other Republicans these days — and if you can bear it, tune in to right-wing Hate Radio — and you’ll hear more of the same.