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Showing posts from September, 2011


Do ya think these two sorta like each other?

Troubling Questions

I'd like to go public with my unease this morning on the news about the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all greenwald on you here. But lets be honest - it does raise some troubling questions. As usual, I think BooMan has expressed what I feel extremely well. Here's my problem. Based on what the government says it knew, I can understand that they did not want to leave this man free to continue his activities. It's our government's responsibility to keep us safe, and this man was quite dangerous. I also understand that capturing him was impractical. It's a highly unusual situation that our laws are not presently designed to address. I don't know if a similar situation will ever present itself again, but we need to craft our laws in a way that can account for this type of situation so that there is some legal review of some sort before a U.S. citizen can be assassinated by his own government. Because, let's f

What kind of leader do we want?

Yesterday Steve Benen wrote a fantastic column on leadership riffing off of this quote from Gov. Christie's speech this week. “We continue wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office,” the governor said. “We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things.” Really? After years of talk about the Kenyan socialist who "rammed health care down our throats" and is hell-bent on destroying the very fabric of our country, now we're supposed to think he's a bystander constrained by paralysis? Kinda makes your head spin, huh? Benen also says that he got emails from some of his progressive friends who actually LOVED what Christie said. Those of us who have watched the poutragers over the last couple of years aren't surprised. While some of President Obama's critics on the left are still tossing around their bags of fire, there are those who are embracing

Photo of the Day - Incognito

Attention shoppers! First Lady Michelle Obama has said in the past she likes to go shopping incognito. AP photographer Charles Dharapak captured her doing just that in a suburban Washington retailer today wearing sunglasses and a ball cap. 9/29/11

Lyons confirms the problem in his response to Harris-Perry (updated)

The backlash to Melissa Harris-Perry's assertion that racism might play a part in white liberal's critique of President Obama has become even more interesting than her original assertion. Remember that in her response to the backlash, she demonstrated that there are some grounds on which the conversation should take place, but that she has an open mind about the outcome. It is completely possible that I am absolutely wrong about white racial bias on the left against President Obama. Certainly, it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong in my political analysis. But listen to this for a moment white allies: many African-Americans (not all, but many) feel that the attacks on President Obama are racialized on both the right and the left. This feeling has meaningful implications for the quality of our national, political fabric. When we tell you that the attacks are racially troubling, painful, we would like you to take our concerns seriously rather than working to simply defend

Dancing with the Stars

To be real honest, I was feeling a little down tonight. Who knows why? I started stumbling around the nets - wound up on youtube - and the next thing you know I'm watching these and smiling. I hope they brighten your day too.

Assessing the "droppers" and "switchers"

The group Third Way recently did an interesting poll of what they call "droppers" and "switchers." The former are those who voted for President Obama in 2008 and stayed home in 2010. The later are those who voted for President Obama but switched to vote Republican in 2010. Here's how Jonathan Cowan (President and Co-Founder of Third Way) describes what they learned from the droppers. Droppers - the name we’ve coined for folks who voted for Obama in 2008 but dropped off in 2010 - have come home, and while an aggressive turnout operation is necessary, with the expected ground game they will be with him next year. By a margin of 50 to 8 they blame the GOP for the near default in August, and three-quarters already say they’ll vote for the President in 2012 (only three percent say they’ll definitely vote for the Republican)... The idea of putting the tea party and Republicans who are beholden to it in charge of the White House will ensure that key groups like

Perry's immigration problem forecasts trouble for GOP

We all know that Gov. Perry's bid for the GOP presidential nomination is in trouble. One of the key factors is his position on immigration (read: brown people). Less than two months into Rick Perry's presidential candidacy, a record on illegal immigration that served him well politically as a border-state governor is proving a tough sell with voters looking toward Iowa's Republican caucuses this winter. If you remember, Gov. Perry had to run for re-election in Texas last year and for a while the polls against his opponent Bill White were pretty tight. He'd just come out of a bruising primary battle with former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and many prominent Texas Republicans were jumping ship and supporting White. Perry also knew the kinds of things the 2010 census revealed. Like the fact that in 10 years the White population of Texas had gone from a majority 64% to a minority 45%. And that Hispanics in Texas now make up 38% of the population. So what did he d

The Subtle Racism of Friends and Allies (reposted)

I see that my link last night to this post I wrote almost two years ago generated some interest. I've thought before about re-posting it and perhaps now is as good a time as any to do that. Have you ever heard a person of color say that they prefer the open racism of conscious bigots to the subtle racism of us do-gooders on the left end of the spectrum? I remember an African American friend of mine here in Minnesota who years ago would often tell me that she longed for the day she could move back to the south where racism was right up front for everyone to see. I'd shake my head at her and feel completely clueless about why she would think that. After all, I had grown up in East Texas and couldn't get away from all that craziness fast enough. Over time though, I've come to understand that view a little better. Much of that awareness came from reading in "the diversosphere." I found that people of color express things in blog posts that would never be sa

The Great Divide

At the end of the Bush/Cheney era, I thought the contrasts between the Democrats and Republicans were as clear as I'd seen them in my lifetime. After all, we'd just seen the Republicans lie in order to start an unnecessary war we couldn't seem to get out of, crash our economy, and run the national debt into the stratosphere. Following their electoral defeats in both 2006 and 2008, I wondered what the Republican Party would do to re-constitute itself. There were sure ample reasons to re-think their policies. Its now clear what they did in response...they doubled-down on everything that had failed before. The great divide between the Republicans and Democrats has never been more clear. At a time when the ranks of those living in poverty is growing and the middle class is loosing ground daily, the Republicans have firmly staked their ground on fighting for the wealthy. They've drawn the battle lines at protecting billionaire's tax cuts and trying to make an argum

Obama and his elders

Ever since the 2008 primaries, I've been fascinated by the reaction of children to Barack Obama. It just dawned on me recently that he gets an equally interesting response from folks who have a few years under their belts.

Race Talk

Melissa Harris-Perry has written a response to the arguments she received against her column about the double standard white liberals are using to evaluate President Obama. She's not so much trying to make her original point again as she is talking about what gets in the way of conversation about racism with white liberals. In that sense, it takes up the same topic Kai did several years ago when he wrote about The White Liberal Conundrum. Harris-Perry puts it all neatly into three talking points. The first is a common strategy of asking any person of color who identifies a racist practice or pattern to “prove” that racism is indeed the causal factor. This is typically demanded by those who are certain of their own purity of racial motivation. The implication is if one cannot produce irrefutable evidence of clear, blatant and intentional bias, then racism must be banned as a possibility. But this is both silly as an intellectual claim and dangerous as a policy standard. In

When the audience takes center stage

As establishment Republicans wring their hands over the presidential candidates the tea party has produced, the reality is that the audiences at the recent debates have overtaken the candidates as the main story. And President Obama noticed. Here's the story from his fundraiser in California last night. “I mean, has anybody been watching the debates lately? You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change,” Mr. Obama said in a reference to Mr. Perry that drew applause from the 350 donors at a fund-raiser in Woodside, Calif. “You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not reflective of who we are.” Yep, that's how you make this a choice election vs a referendum while the Republicans continue to pine after a hero who will save them from their current nightmare.

Its NOT politics as usual

Eric Boehlert has a great column demonstrating how the Republican obstructionism we're witnessing in the Obama era is definitely not politics as usual. To demonstrate, he goes back to 1983 when Reagan was in his 3rd year as President, the Senate had a Republican majority, and the House was controlled by Democrats - the exact mirror of what we have now. There are other similarities as well. Like the fact that the economy was faltering and Reagan's approval ratings were in the 40's. Boehlert found this summary of Congressional activity in the New York Times from August of that year. Congress has gone on vacation after one of its most productive periods in recent history, and to this point, the 98th session of the nation's legislature could well be called ''the bipartisan consensus Congress.'' In a half-dozen major areas, from job legislation to the MX missile to Social Security, the lawmakers were able to succeed by seeking accommodations across

Photo of the Day

Bill Russell hits a funny bone

US Army: Land swap for $7 billion investment in renewable energy

The US Army set a goal to get 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. One way they'll move forward towards that goal is to swap 5 million of their 15 million acres of land to companies who will invest $7 billion over 10 years in renewable energy installations. In the process, the Army will be able to tap into the energy produced. The new program involves building twenty utility-scale renewable energy installations that rely on a mix of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass power. The installations will be constructed on land owned by the Department of Defense, at Army bases throughout the U.S. The program calls for the Army to use its land as equity to leverage about $7 billion in private investment for the twenty projects. The Army’s goal is to provide its bases with reliable energy sources that are insulated from price spikes, shortages and grid disruptions. Aside from these energy security issues, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are key goals.

Good Crazy

Those of you who have watched or read President Obama's speech to the Congressional Black Caucus last night know that he focused his remarks on the words of Rev. Joseph Lowery back when the two of them attended an event in Selma on March 4, 2007. In case you've never seen it - this is something you won't want to miss. I first watched this video back in Nov. 2008 when Ta-Nehisi Coates reflected on the historic presidential election and its relationship to an embrace of good crazy. I'm not a religious man, but I've been enthralled with that sermon since the day I saw it. I posted it on my blog four times. To the chagrin of my partner, I wandered around our house muttering, in a bad imitation of Lowery's Georgia accent, "Crazy things are happening." I woke her up at 5:30 a.m. on Election Day, woke my son, plugged my laptop into the speakers and played the sermon again while I got dressed. When I got home, I posted the clip on my blog again... H

"Information is powerful. But it is how we use it that will define us."

Zack Matere's story both humbles and inspires me.

There's more to GOP disarray than "we just can't find the right candidate"

Its been interesting to watch the implosion in Republican ranks since their latest hero - Gov. Perry - took a nosedive in the last debate and then proceeded to loose the Florida straw poll to Herman Cain. The line that keeps emerging is that if only they could find the right candidate - they'd sail to victory against President Obama. If you don't mind traveling into strange waters, this post at Red State titled I Need a Hero pretty well sums it up. That particular author seems to think his wish for a hero would be fulfilled if Sarah Palin would actually get in the race. And we know that Bill Kristol (speaking for establishment Republicans) sees Gov. Christie as the GOP savior. But don't you get flashbacks to when everyone thought Gov. Perry would be the savior when you hear this kind of thing? Remember when Bachmann was all the rage? Or perhaps when Donald Trump was generating all of the excitement amongst the tea partiers? The Republicans are chewing up and spitting ou

My Race Story

Author Jonathan Odell explains why it is important for all of us to know our own race story. The ticket to get into an authentic dialogue about race, is to have a coherent narrative, detailing not only about how race affected you in the past, but how you struggle with it in the present. Otherwise you are a voyeur, no matter how good your intentions. Only whites with a conscious, on-going race narrative can communicate deeply and effectively with those who are not white. Here is Jonathan telling parts of his own story. It was his admonition and example that started me thinking a couple of weeks ago about how I was similarly affected by my grandmother saying things like "When a chigger becomes a chigero, a n****r will become a negro." I realized that ordered my world in the same way that Miss Helen had ordered his. But I had another experience this week that took things a little deeper for me. I grew up mostly in a small town in northeast Texas. Recent movies have det

The real question is "what is working?"

We've heard enough from Republicans lately to know that they are going to make every attempt to pin the slow economic recovery on President Obama. That will be much easier to do when voters don't have a real sense of economics and what fueled our current situation. I'm definitely not an economist and tend to struggle with understanding our current global financial system. But its important that we grasp some basics so that when questions come up, we're prepared to address them. Steve Benen has a great column up this morning putting it all into perspective. He points out that most often when we evaluate how we're doing, we compare things like unemployment to what happened during previous U.S. recessions. I expect that, like me, you've seen this chart showing that comparison going back through all recessions since WWII. The red line represents our employment situation during this most recent recession. Looking at that comparison, this one was much worse a

Electoral Racism

Melissa Harris-Perry lays it out. The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors. That's just a tease.!

Dreams Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore - And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? – Langston Hughes Much has changed since Langston Hughes wrote that poem back in 1951. But I’m not sure that we’ve addressed the deferred dreams that he talked about for many young people. Alex Kotlowitz uses this poem as the introduction to his book There Are No Children Here. Its the story he wrote after following the lives of Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers, two young boys living in Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex in Chicago. In the preface, Kotlowitz tells the story of one of his first conversations with Lafeyette. And then I asked Lafeyette what he wanted to be. “If I grow up, I’d like to be a bus driver,” he told me. If, not when. At the age of ten, Lafeyette wasn’t sure he’d make it to adulthood. At

Women for Obama

This past Tuesday, Michelle Obama attended a "Women for Obama" luncheon in New York City. She was joined by Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, NARAL President Nancy Keenan, EMILY’S List President Stephanie Schriock, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s Maria Elena Perez, and DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. "Right now, we stand at a fundamental crossroads," the First Lady said. "When it comes to just about every issue—[our] health, our economic security, our basic rights and freedoms—the stakes for American women have never been higher."

GOP Dilemma: The Party of Lies or the Party of Crazy? (updated)

This is what its come down to - is the GOP the party of lies or the party of crazy? One place that is being manifested is in the battle for the presidential nomination between these two men. Some talk about Romney being a "flip-flopper," but I prefer lies because we all know by now that he'll say anything to get elected. And I remember what happened when people believed George W. Bush when he said he'd be a "compassionate conservative" and wasn't in to "nation-building." We all know how that one turned out. The pundits seem to think that Romney got the better of Perry last night, but will their primary voters agree? You see, there's that whole alpha male thing going on that should never be underestimated. We're also seeing the dilemma in Congress. Speaker Boehner initially couldn't get a continuing resolution passed to fund the government because - according to the crazies in his party - it didn't cut ENOUGH money (ie,

Obama campaign's "Double Down" scorecard

As we watch the Republicans candidates square off against each other in this primary, its no secret that teh stupid is ruling the day. So many times the dilemma is whether to laugh at the clownishness or cry that this is what the "grand old party" has been reduced to. Last night's debate was no exception. There were so many moments of teh stupid that its hard to pick one as a standout. Just after it was over, I happened on the Obama campaign web site and saw that the team there is up to the challenge of taking this all on. In a perfect mixture of humor and facts, they produced a GOP Debate Watch Scorecard. The crux of the game: As the Republican candidates square off in Florida tonight, where will they double down on previous statements and where will they backtrack? You got to pick whether or not the candidates would backtrack on teh stupid or double down. The graphic is too big to reproduce here - but go take a look. This morning they've updated it with the

Some stories that caught my eye today (9/22/11)

First of all, Steve Benen had a great find today. Notice anything interesting in this picture from the last GOP debate? Ya think it will cause the same stir that this one did? Nah, me either. Of course Gov. Perry is patriotic. We know that because he's...oh wait, nevermind. Secondly, did the DOJ really pay $16 for a muffin? Not likely. Thirdly, from Greg Sargent comes the story that AFSCME is going to put some muscle (and $) into fighting for the American Jobs Act. Here's their first ad with an interesting twist. Fourthly, the headline of the day goes to xpostfactoid for this one: You can't fact-check a dog whistle. You KNOW its going to be a good read when it starts out like that! And this one doesn't disappoint. Finally, here's the photo of the day. This one's for you Speaker Boehner.

Hostile work environment?

You have to wonder what kind of whispers Suskind might have heard if anyone had the courage to talk about the work environment in this White House.

The Agitator

My position is that most people don't begin to understand President Obama. That's why we get stupid questions like this one from Gloria Borger... Obama: Clark Kent or Superman? We're trying so hard to put him in a box we already know and can define, that we miss looking at what is actually there. Recently I went back to read something Ryan Lizza wrote about Obama back in early 2007 - long before anyone really thought he could be President. Lizza dove in deep to Obama's roots as a community organizer. He tells this story about one of his first encounters in Chicago. Not long after Obama arrived, he sat down for a cup of coffee in Hyde Park with a fellow organizer named Mike Kruglik. Obama's work focused on helping poor blacks on Chicago's South Side fight the city for things like job banks and asbestos removal. His teachers were schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago trained social scientist. At the hear

Random Thoughts

As some of you might have noticed, I haven't been able to write about Troy Davis. I don't know why. All I know is that sometimes my feelings are too deep for my limited writing ability to capture. And so I watched and read, and last night I cried. But I chose to do so in silence. Perhaps that's cowardly - I have to think that one through. Yesterday we showed the movie Deacons for Defense at our all-staff meeting. Its the true story of a group of black men in the South who had finally had enough of the terror and took up arms to defend themselves against the Klu Klux Klan. In a room made up of mostly African American staff, when the movie was over there was mostly silence as well. One scene from it comes to mind. The leader of the Deacons is talking to one of the non-violent civil rights organizers who had joined him in the struggle but fought the idea of meeting violence with violence. The Deacon tells him that he killed white men for the military during World War II

Women in the White House

By now most of you have probably heard about the controversy stirred up about women in the White House coming from Ron Suskind's latest book Confidence Men . From what I've read, it sounds like there was a problem in the beginning. But when folks want to suggest that this indicates the President has a problem with strong women, I have to say "puhleeze...have you taken a look at who he's married to?" For a long time now I've suggested that the best way to evaluate a man's embrace of feminism is to look at who he chooses to commit himself to in a long-term relationship. Barack Obama passes that one with flying colors. Now that we've gotten that one out of the way, it's significant to look at how Suskind misquoted former staffer Anita Dunn. Here's how Suskind wrote the quote in his book: Looking back, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace....Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile

Beauty I Would Suffer for

by Marge Piercy Last week a doctor told me anemic after an operation to eat: ordered to indulgence given a papal dispensation to run amok in Zabar's. Yet I know that in two weeks, a month I will have in my nostrils not the savor of rendering goosefat, not the burnt sugar of caramel topping the Saint-Honore cake, not the pumpernickel bearing up the sweet butter, the sturgeon but again the scorched wire, burnt rubber smell of willpower, living with the brakes on. I want to pass into the boudoirs of Rubens' women. I want to dance graceful in my tonnage like Poussin nymphs. Those melon bellies, those vast ripening thighs, those featherbeds of forearms, those buttocks placid and gross as hippopotami: how I would bend myself to that standard of beauty, how faithfully would consume waffles and sausage for breakfast with croissants on the side, how dutifully I would eat for supper the blackbean soup with madeira, followed by the fish course the meat cours

A few stories I found interesting today

First of all, DOJ's Civil Rights Division continues its impressive performance. The Justice Department said Monday that Texas' state House and congressional redistricting plans didn't comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), indicating they thought the maps approved by Gov. Rick Perry (R) gave too little voting power to the growing Latino population in the state... DOJ veteran and redistricting expert J. Gerald Hebert saw the Justice Department's filing as a "good sign" for the Civil Rights Division, which had undergone politicization during the Bush administration... "I think it's a good sign that voting rights is back in the hands of people who are going to make a judgement about the facts and the law," Hebert continued. Ahead of the decision, some were anticipating the Justice Department's decision as an indication of how hard the Obama administration would fight for Latino voters, especially in a proxy battle with a

It's OVER!!!!!!!

Via Chipsticks Thank you President Obama and Congress!

It's the tone that's changed - not the policies

Narratives in politics are interesting to observe. And we certainly have one developing right now. I wish I had a nickel for every time I've read this morning that - for once - President Obama didn't pre-compromise his position. Here's how the New York Times editorial board put it. This time, President Obama did not compromise with himself beforehand, or put out a half measure in hopes of luring nonexistent Republican support. It's a convenient narrative if you're looking for a way to craft the last 3 years in national politics under the roof of one man's responsibility and generalize that everything that's happened has come from one script played out over and over again. But it doesn't work so well when you ask these folks to talk through a specific example. The most obvious way it doesn't work is if you take what President Obama has proposed over the last couple of weeks and suggest its a policy break from anything he's been proposing ove