November 5, 2008 archive

What they’re saying

I originally got a “gig” on the front page here at DD because I made an attempt to write a weekly roundup of some of the discussions going on in the diversosphere called Blog Voices. Over the months, I’ve veered off that course, but I thought that the day after the United States elected the first Black President, it might be time to check in and see what folks are saying. This is definitely not an exhaustive look, but I checked in with some of the folks whose writing has had an impact on me and would like to share some of what I found with you.

First of all, Kai over at Zuky wrote an amazing piece before the election that he titled The Palin’ Identity that captures the message of this campaign in a very powerful way. I’ll give you a taste, but mostly encourage you to go take in the whole thing.  

Back From The Lion’s Den

How did a group of female support soldiers-mechanics, supply clerks and engineers-end up fighting alongside the Marines in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq war? Find out in Lioness, a film about female combat veterans.

In the new PBS documentary “Lioness,” Specialist Shannon Morgan, a brawny, tattooed Army vet, conveys the anguish of post-traumatic stress disorder in one simple line. In the woods of her native Arkansas, she sits with a rifle in one hand. On the brink of tears, sounding half like a warrior and half like a lonely young girl, she recounts the fire fight in Iraq that probably should’ve killed her. “I really wish,” she says, “I had lost my mind.”

Four at Four

  1. And so it begins; the challenging task of governing in difficult times, or as the New York Times reports Now the hard part. “No president since before Barack Obama was born has ascended to the Oval Office confronted by the accumulation of seismic challenges awaiting him… Now falls the responsibility of prosecuting two wars, protecting the nation from terrorist threat and stitching back together a shredded economy.”

    While Roosevelt refused to get involved in prescribing economic medicine between his election in 1932 and his inauguration, advisers said Mr. Obama had concluded that he could not follow that example and remain silent until he was sworn in. At the same time, they said, Mr. Obama understands he should not overstep his bounds and wants his inauguration to mark a clean break from the past…

    But there are limits to Mr. Obama’s capacity to act in the short term. The politics of assembling a stimulus package in this netherworld between administrations could be difficult to overcome as he tries to balance pent-up demand from now-victorious Democrats eager to use their power of the purse with the reality that Mr. Bush still holds the veto pen for 77 more days…

    Whatever collaboration there may be in the short term, Mr. Obama represents the end of the Bush era in the long term. Yet he will find himself dealing with the Bush legacy for years to come. He promised on the campaign trail to close the detention facility at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but analysts in both parties expect that to be more difficult than he imagines. He will inherit a deficit that could approach $1 trillion next year, which could curtail his ambitions, like expanding health care coverage…

    Even as Mr. Obama focuses initially on the economy, he faces a perilous moment abroad… The Obama transition team has made more extensive pre-election preparations than any other previous president-elect. Thanks to a new law signed by Mr. Bush, some of Mr. Obama’s transition advisers should have interim security clearances starting on Wednesday.

    The LA Times reports Afghan war to loom large for Obama. “President-elect Barack Obama will inherit a war in Afghanistan that is certain to play a central role in his presidency, a conflict whose cost in blood and money is escalating even as many Afghans speak of a growing sense of peril in their daily lives.” The war has been waged for the past seven years. U.S. and NATO military commanders say “they are struggling as never before to find a winning strategy against an insurgency that has amply proved its determination and durability.”

    The NY Times reports that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a news conference today that his first request to Mr. Obama would be “to end the civilian casualties.”

    While In Iraq, U.S. troops watch the election from afar. And according to the anecdotes reported by the Washington Post, the troops interviewed favored McCain and believed a lot of Republican disinformation about Obama, however, this quote I though was telling.

    “I don’t have time for it,” company commander Capt. Ryan Edwards said earlier in the day. “I don’t worry about it. All I have time for is what happens in this country now.”

    The NY Times also reports that Obama moves ahead with transition planning. “The three co-leaders of Mr. Obama’s transition team are expected to be announced sometime on Wednesday – John D. Podesta, the former Clinton chief of staff; Valerie Jarrett, a longtime Obama adviser; and Pete Rouse, Mr. Obama’s Senate chief of staff.”

    Also, these are the ‘voices’ speaking for Obama’s transition team. “Dan Pfeiffer, who served as the Obama campaign’s communications director, is to become the communications director for the transition, with Stephanie Cutter, a senior Obama adviser and former aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, serving as spokeswoman for the transition, according to Democrats close to the process.”

    The Washington Post reports that Rahm Emanuel is mulling Obama job offer “to serve as White House chief of staff, according to Democratic sources… In pursuing Emanuel, Obama is also sending a message to Capitol Hill that he recognizes the need to work with them by selecting one of their own but that he also will not be afraid to play tough — Emanuel’s trademark.”

    Lastly, there is this bit of good news. According to The Guardian, Obama victory signals rebirth of US environmental policy. Obama will “introduce a major climate change bill in an attempt to bring the US back into the international environment fold according to his senior advisers… He will now send his own energy representatives to the UN’s climate change talks in Poznam, Poland, in three weeks’ time. He is also expected to announce a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and then cutting them by 80% by 2050.”

Four at Four continues with Russia warns of EU border missile deployment, the Tornado in England, and urban cowboys in India.

Obama’s Victory a Loss for Progressives

Virtually everyone, it seems, is cheering the electoral victory of Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race. The obvious exception is the Republican Party, which is likely to shift even further to the right in the halls of power due to moderate and semi-moderate GOPers losing out to Democratic challengers, but that’s a given.  You can count on them being the most obstructionist minority party in Congress since the Gingrich revolution in 1994, laying the groundwork for a similar event in 2010.

That’s to be expected.  What seems to be going ignored in the victory celebration is that the increased Democratic majority is prepared to waste the next two years accommodating this obstructionism.  Nancy Pelosi, who fended off a challenge from independent Cindy Sheehan, proudly boasted that Democrats would legislate from the right, not the left (though she called it the “middle”).

This should be the first sign that progressives frittered away their chance to shape the political landscape.  Don’t count on Senate capitulation leader Harry Reid to suddenly grow a pair or the Democratic Caucus to cease coddling Joe LIEberman now that the majority has been expanded; electoral fraud is likely responsible for the failure to win the filibuster-proof number of sixty senators, but even if Democrats had gotten it, Reid has bent over backwards to please GOPers and refused to enforce party discipline within his own ranks.  The result, as it was in 2006, is a Senate paralyzed by Republican obstructionism and Democratic appeasement.

We have a president-elect who is prepared to name Rahm Emanuel, a top-ranking Bush Dog, as his chief of staff.  Robert Rubin, a top architect of Clintonian economics and welfare-gutting, is on Obama’s economic advisory team, as are a number of other corporate marketeers.  Don’t expect sound environmental, health care, economic, or energy policy from the White House.  Nor should you expect an end to the occupation of Iraq, the unconditional support of the Israeli apartheid state, the lifting of the embargo on Cuba, or a shift away from imperialism.  There has been nothing in Obama’s campaign or his legislative record to suggest he’ll suddenly do a 180 now that he is prepared to inherit the presidency.

Nothing is more indicative of this than the popular vote.  Obama received a pitiful 51% to Republican John McCain’s 48%, a mere three percent difference.  The new president is smart; he knows just as much as the Republicans do that this election was not a huge repudiation of Bush policies.  Obama did not win so much as McCain lost, and he knows it.  He’ll govern from the right to appease his corporate backers.

We had what was probably our last, best chance this year to force Democrats back to the left.  We blew it.  Neither Obama or the Democrats have any incentive now to even listen to us, to say nothing of governing from the left.  What, then, is our recourse?

We can still walk away from the Democratic Party, and we must do so if we are to have any hope of salvaging the progressive movement.  We must build locally, work our way up to state-level, and finally, organize at the national level.  At this point it’s all we’ve got left.  Enjoy your celebration, for the hangover we’re about to suffer is going to be a long one.

Victory Cocktails: What are you Drinking?

In our house we went to bed at 6.30am, as we waited for the Obama speech, which was masterfully delivered to a thunderous, energized crowd. Every face glowed with hope, tears of joy were rolling down acres of cheeks, the relief was palpable. Then we watched a few pundits in amusement across the cable news divide, as some suddenly found a few nice words to say about the new president…In France people were dancing in the streets, as they were across Europe. I got calls from Australian friends & family who were partying hard on the heels of this momentous election, and of course most wanted to talk about what to drink next!


I’m in a celebratory mood (and will be for the next few days), let’s talk about what sort of victory drink you may be having…now or later.  

Pundits Are Trying to Steal the Election: Push Back!!

Ah, a bloggers work is never done!

Right this very moment the same blow-dried blowhards who bear as much responsibility for the last eight years as anyone besides Dick Cheney are attempting to spread their bullshit over the Change that our nation chose last night.

We were all worried about the Republicans stealing another election and We The People made damn sure that didn’t happen by turning out in record numbers. By giving Change a mandate. But now the pundits are attempting another kind of theft, they are trying to steal the election results. By defining what the election meant. And by trying to define what it meant, they are attempting to define what it will mean. The pundits are trying to steal the election from Change, and give it back to the status quo. They must be stopped!

Just as the blogs defined Sarah Palin in the days immediately following her selection and changed the media narrative from America’s Darling to dangerous extremist, we must now define this victory. Define it as the mandate for Change that it was. Define it as an American uprising. Define it as a new era, not as ‘just politics’ as they would like to. ONLY by establishing the narrative of Change do we win the results of the election. Only then can we achieve the full potential open to us, open to Change.

Things are NOT the same as they were before last night. The world Changed. The pundits will resist that Change because they are “in power,” and change threatens that power. They probably don’t even have the self-reflection to realize that, but it is real and they will react to it.

Their is a one word answer to the pundits right now and in the days to come and that word needs to be pounded into the ground.


Their is a short catchy phrase that must be repeated until we are all sick of it and then repeated some more.

Mandate for Change.

Do NOT, my friends, (!) let the pundits steal this election for the status quo. It belongs to US, to We The People. It belongs to Change.

Higher and Higher!

I think this song sums up best what we’re all feeling today!

Hypocrisy and the difference between rights and privileges

Originally posted at dKos, where a lot of people just don’t get it.

Imagine how different our world would be if Thomas Jefferson penned these words:

We hold these truths to be somewhat apparent, that some men are created more or less equal, that they are endowed by their leaders with certain alienable Privileges, that among these are Life, Malaise and the pursuit of Melancholy.

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Certainly not the kind of rousing rhetoric with which to declare the founding of our country. Fortunately, Jefferson wrote this instead:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


Senator Obama is up folks.

Up! Up! Up!

By 12 points up, which I don’t think can REALLY be is right, but I’m just too happy to think about it.


Open Thread


Threads that make you go hmmm.

Brand New Day!

Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Writer Slavoj Zizek described “the desert of the real” as the place where there are no illusions, no alibis, and no more comforting emotions. For all Americans – but especially for those of us who gave our hearts and our time to getting Barack Obama elected – it is time to move from the warmth of election night jubilation and step into the desert of the real.

In the desert of the real, we must end a pointless war in Iraq while winning a just war in Afghanistan.

In the desert of the real, we must take the lead in repairing a global economic meltdown that is the direct result of America’s irresponsibility.

In the desert of the real, we must protect, defend, and repair a Constitution that has been treated as “just a piece of paper” for far too long.

In the desert of the real, there are still far too many Americans who need our best efforts to help them gain the basic human rights that most of us take for granted.

To those who might accuse me of being a wet blanket,  to those who just want to kick back and enjoy the glow for a little while, I can only say this: there is no time.

There is hard work ahead, and some of it is dirty work, and some of it is the work of generations that many of us will not live to see completed. But it is work that needs doing, work that we should have been doing all along.

It is cold in the desert of the real; the light is bleak and hurts the eyes. But it is where we have to go, because on the other side of that desert is our shared American future. So let’s go, everyone. Wake up, get a shower, and roll up your sleeves.

Welcome to the desert of the real.

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