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Noted With Interest, September 2009

Sep 25, 2009

New Rule: If America Can’t Get It Together, We Lose the Bald Eagle
By Bill Maher. And quite plainly, we can’t. From the Huffington Post, Sep 25, 2009. Accessed Sep 25, 2009.

Librophiliac Love Letter
A compendium of beautiful libraries. I’m a librarian; I couldn’t resist. From Curious Expeditions via Manhattan Users Guide, Sep 6, 2009. Accessed Sep 24, 2009.

by Cristóbal Vila. Lovely. From YouTube via Manhattan Users Guide, Sep 23, 2009. Accessed Sep 24, 2009.

Baseball Infographics and Other Visual Treats
by Craig Robinson. Okay, it's not politics, but I love baseball and these are some of the most impressive graphics we’ve seen on the game. From FlipFlopFlyBall.com. Accessed Sep 24, 2009.

Globalization Goes Bankrupt
by Chris Hedges. “[U]nless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right-wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.” It may be too late, and the rage may already by co-opted by the right. From Truthdig.com, Sep 20, 2009. Accessed Sep 23, 2009.

Afghanistan’s Other Front
by Joseph Kearns Goodwin. How to get Afghanistan right. It won’t be easy. From the New York Times, Sep 15, 2009. Accessed Sep 16, 2009.

Stop Begging Obama and Get Mad
by Chris Hedges. Who is becoming my favorite progressive voice. From Truthdig.com, Sep 14, 2009. Accessed Sep 16, 2009.

The politics of the veil
by Robert Fulford. One of the more articulate essays I have read regarding the Islamic obsession with covering up their women. From National Post, Sep 12, 2009. Accessed Sep 15, 2009.

How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?
by Paul Krugman. Probably by their narrow focus and lack of imagination. See next item, in response to this piece. From the New York Times, Sep 2, 2009. Accessed Sep 6, 2009.

Other Economists in the Room
By Jane Smiley. She goes after Krugman and other economists for their tunnel vision and toadyism. From the Huffington Post, Sep 3, 2009. Accessed Sep 4, 2009.

Ike’s Other Warning
by Max Blumenthal. I liked Ike. And he liked Eric Hoffer! From the New York Times, Sep 2, 2009. Accessed Sep 4, 2009.

Progressives Pay the Price for Confusing a Party with a Movement
by David Sirota. Wise words which I have been shouting to my half a dozen readers for months. Back to the grass roots! From Truthdig.com, Sep 3, 2009. Accessed Sep 4, 2009.

Obama’s September Choice: Charge or Trim
By Robert L. Borosage. David Brooks should not require further putting down. From the Huffington Post, Sep 2, 2009. Accessed Sep 2, 2009.

Has Obama’s Handling of the Bank Bailout Undermined Health Care Reform?
by Arianna Huffington. Disregarding Huffington’s naive notion of the purpose of government, this fine piece makes several good points about Obama’s fast-fading glory. Sad. Ineffably sad. From the Huffington Post, Aug 31, 2009. Accessed Sep 2, 2009.

tags: Noted with Interest

Up from Slavery

Sep 06, 2009
People are having a hard time coming to grips with the realization that Obama is every bit the corporate lackey that his predecessors have been for the last 30 years, Clinton included. He has lost his progressive base, those of us who are more informed, more mature, and therefore more wise and far-seeing than our center and right-wing compatriots. However, for all our information and wisdom, we managed to be well and truly snookered by the Obama campaign, some of us—myself, for instance—blinded by the unimagined euphoria of seeing a black man make a credible run at the White House in this deeply arrogant, self-satisfied, ignorant, and racist country.

At least one pundit has predicted the Democrats will lose 30 to 50 seats in the House in 2010, possibly even losing their majority. The Democratic hold on the Senate is so marginal that we can predict their losing at least the ability to forestall Republican filibusters. We will then settle back into frigid gridlock for the remainder of Obama’s one-term presidency.

It is already scarcely more than a year before the midterm elections. It is urgently incumbent upon progressives and their liberal Democratic friends to:

  • Forget health care, forget EFCA, forget energy reform, forget AfPak. Leave all these to the Lilliputians currently running things. Something may happen, something may not. But it is too late in the day to continue wasting our energies on these damaged issues, and to continue to do so plays into the hands of the feral opposition.
  • Convene a summit in October consisting of progressive and liberal leaders, elected and otherwise, public and private figures, organizers, donors, volunteers, a million-person march on Washington and once there:
  • Get worried. Get organized. Get going. Egos set aside for the nonce, and everyone pulls for their lives. The prize on the horizon? November 2, 2010.
  • Identify incumbents who are sympathetic to our positions and who are up for re-election and facing a tough struggle. We need to be on them like white on rice, with support, money, volunteers—whatever it takes to ensure their re-election;
  • Identify weak incumbents from both parties who are not sympathetic to our positions and find, fund, and elect those who are, providing them with an even greater full court press than the previous group;
  • If resources remain, take them into the starkest enemy territory, where the people are most abused by lies and manipulation—Coburnland, Hatchville, Bachmanntown, etc. Bring facts and truth to these blighted landscapes, not because we can turn them around in 2010, but to plant some seeds of hope for the future.
Nothing matters now but stemming the retreat from the hard-won, still precarious position we are in. The opposition have done all they can to stonewall that position and render it impotent. They have done a terrific job of appealing to the lowest instincts of the American people, confusing and enraging them with their lies, their brilliant mischaracterizations, and their irresponsible intransigence.

The American people must know the truth, and the truth will—must—set them free.
tags: Politics | New Political Party

The Greatest Good

Sep 03, 2009

[S]houldn’t the vision of marshaling forces to improve conditions for the greatest possible number of Americans be the appropriate goal for any civilized society? —Arianna Huffington, August 31, 2009, The Huffington Post
There are two political philosophies which have vied in unequal battle throughout human history. In her excellent column (must reading at the link above), Huffington espouses the one known by the name Utilitarianism, which counsels “that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility, that is, its contribution to happiness or pleasure as summed by all people.”1 The Utilitarian political philosophy contends that government exists to realize the greatest good for the greatest number and is the philosophy to which all governments pay lip service.

The political philosophy which governments have largely implemented throughout our long history, however, is the one that espouses the greatest good for the smallest number. For most of human history, that number was exceedingly small, usually numbering only one—the king, the emperor, the pope—who passed a few crumbs out to the second rank aristocracy but who, in essence, hogged the lion’s share for themselves.

The religious egalitarianism which Jesus advocated, and the economic system Karl Marx favored, are the only two instances in history where the greatest good for the greatest number were actually the underlying essence of the philosophy. In all other instances, such idealism was just an element of PR fluff.

Today, the American political establishment has been commandeered by the “greatest good for the smallest number” crowd. Fewer Americans are hording an ever larger slice of the pie for themselves, as the middle class sinks into poverty, wages decline, well-paying jobs disappear to lands with no labor or environmental protections, perpetual war perpetually fills the coffers of the corporatocracy, and the notions of reform, of change, of hope, have turned into a sick joke, and our mouths are filled with the taste of ashes from a ruined dream.
1 Utilitarianism, from Wikipedia, accessed Sep 1, 2009.
tags: Politics | History | Economics

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