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Showing posts from August, 2009

A republic...if you can keep it

There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

I often think about that story - and I especially did during the previous Bush administration. Perhaps no moment demonstrated to me more powerfully how close we came to loosing the republic than what Cheney said when asked to comment on the fact that 2/3 of the people in this country didn't support the war in Iraq.



I believe that the Republicans can afford to be viscous in their attacks because - in their hearts - they don't believe in a democratic republic. A…

How some liberals embrace neocon thinking

Whether it was the USSR during the Cold War or the Axis of Evil during the Bush administration, the failed strategy of the neocons was to try to scare us all into thinking of them as our enemies in order to justify making demands and expecting compliance or going to war. Any talk of diplomacy by those of us on the left was labeled appeasement. Of course, the idea of talking to and treating the opposition with respect was met with cries of naivete.

This has always been infuriating because we know that underneath it all, it is fueled by a deep misunderstanding of human nature, as well as a total lack of comprehension on what diplomacy and negotiation can accomplish.

So I have to wonder why, when we turn from foreign affairs to domestic issues, so many liberals want to embrace the exact same kind of thinking.

Are Republicans all that much more of a threat than the likes of Nikita Khrushchev or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or Kim Jong-il? So much so that we should not attempt to even talk to th…

For Obama - its about the principles

Over the last few days, many have complained about the lack of leadership or clarity from the Obama administration on health care reform. As I've said elsewhere, I think some of our problem is that we are perhaps too attuned to the 24-hour news cycle and find ourselves riding the roller coaster of every new media sound-byte that stirs up the controversy needed for their ratings.

But I also feel that we're still in the process of getting used to a different style of leadership than we are accustomed to in a POTUS - especially after GWB's unitary executive approach. I think that the more that we understand that style, the less we'll be vulnerable to much of the media's efforts to stir up discontent and will be able to keep our "eyes on the prize" of knowing our role in the process as advocates.

'm not prepared to make a historical comparison of the style of governing for different Presidents. But I have been watching Obama and feel pretty certain about …

Hate Unleashed

Last night I watched an interesting segment on Countdown (link to video) where Keith interviewed Melissa Harris-Lacewell. His opening question to her was about whether or not we're seeing racism in this country becoming blatant rather than hidden behind euphemisms.

At one point in the conversation, Melissa talked about the cumulative effect of things like having an African American President, a female Secretary of State and a Latina on the Supreme Court. She goes on to say:

That kind of change in America produces a great deal of anxiety for people who are not quite sure that governing amongst women and brown and black people constitutes real American government.

I think she captures much of what I've been feeling about what's behind the fear we see these wingnuts expressing. As I wrote recently in an essay about The children of 1969, we're now seeing the effects of affirmative action in our halls of power - and particularly the affirmative action that began at Ivy League…

On giving your opponent a headache

Last week I wrote about some of Al Gioradno's reporting on the ground from Honduras. Namely, I was interested in the fact that coup resisters in Honduras were learning from the Otpur movement in Serbia.

This week, Giordano provides a first-hand account of advice given to the Honduran resisters by Ivan Marovich, the "Serbian resistance veteran who had been invited by local and national anti-coup organizations to share his experiences." Namely, here's his response to a question about how to give your opponent a headache. I think its an amazing lesson for all organizers - no matter what battle is raging.

The whole game is to calculate the next steps, to put the adversary in a position where he can’t react well.<...>

This is what we called a “Dilemma Action.”<...>

So what we wanted to have is a dilemma action in which the opponent is going to regret whatever he does.

The fist thing that we did, when we were still ten people, is we took a big barrel and a bas…

What is our alternative to the birthers, teabaggers, astroturphers?

As far as I'm concerned, we've managed to document and understand the reactions we're seeing come from the birthers, teabagers, astroturphers pretty well. We've expressed our outrage and done our best to show the lunacy of their positions.

If, as many of us believe, we are in the midst of the next evolution of the battle against racism and privilege, I begin to wonder what we, as progressives, bring to the table as the antidote to the hate and fear that the wingers are espousing. Certainly we want to see universal health care. But we all know that the battle that is raging is about more than that. So I ask myself what the vision is that we are offering as an alternative and how that vision can ground us in the heat of the battle.

Recently jessical wrote a diary spurring much thought for me about that question.

We are all living with a burden of shame and fear and anger, and in every single moment of your life, in every action, you invite decency and grace, or you invite v…