Seeking Progressive Social Change
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Posts from — March 2008

Howard Zinn for President? Time for a “New” New Deal!

The always on-target Howard Zinn makes like a presidential candidate with a “speech” calling for an FDR-like “New” New Deal. God knows we could use an FDR right about now; can you imagine a leader who asks us to discard fear, rather than one who exploits it for a few votes?

Anyway, a few of the jewels in this must-read article:

“We can go beyond the New Deal, extending the principle of social security to health security with a totally free government-run health system. We can extend the GI Bill of Rights to a Civilian Bill of Rights, offering free higher education for all.”
“We will have trillions of dollars to pay for these programs if we do two things: if we concentrate our taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population, not only their incomes but their accumulated wealth, and if we downsize our gigantic military machine, declaring ourselves a peaceful nation.”
“We will not pay attention to those who complain that this is ‘big government.’ We have seen big government used for war and to give benefits to the wealthy. We will use big government for the people.”

Kind of brings tears to your eyes. Think about it: We’ve allowed corporate interests to dominate our social conversation to the point where “conventional wisdom” comes out the boardroom, rather than the dining room. We’ve forgotten – or willfully discarded – the notion of government AS the people for a government that’s the TOOL of the wealthy. Along the way we’ve managed to turn Democracy into some kind of radical concept.

What is it that we really want out of our lives? Should we measure our societal success based on the number of plasma TVs we can buy, or on the $500/month Lexus we can lease? Or is it time to replace the GNP with GNH – Gross National Happiness? Isn’t a successful society one that allows us to live fulfilled lives where our kids can breathe clean air, where we can trust the water that comes out of our taps, where we know that if we get sick the best care will be there for us?

How about turning our backs on consumerism: Unplug the TV, put cable news on “ignore” and start thinking for ourselves. Let’s build a society based on compassion and personal fulfillment, where we pool our resources for providing the things we need. Let’s have a New New Deal!

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March 31, 2008   |  Filed Under Political  |  No Comments

Which Way FOX? How About Unplugged.

TIME has an article out where they wonder about FOX News in a post-Bush world.

Fox hasn’t gone soft, but from watching its coverage lately, I get a sense that the haven for conservative hosts, and viewers alienated by liberal news needs to figure out its next act.

Here’s a better idea: It can just go away. Where is it written in the social contract that we must have three 24-hour news channels? We don’t need three 24-hour news channels. We don’t even need one.

Fox may have invented the “Fair and Balanced” nonsense but really, all Cable news networks operate as if we live in a pretend nursery school world where “every idea is always right”. But in the real world there are bad ideas which are undeniably WRONG. If you don’t take a stand and point out the obvious problems – even if it means giving more coverage to one “side” than another – you end up legitimizing absurdity.

Wrong is always wrong and it’s the media’s role to be brave enough to point this out. Yet over and over again it has failed in its duties as the Fourth Estate, even when it knows better. You don’t have to go back to the media’s complicity in the War buildup in 2002 to see this; just look back at the last six months of “Surge” coverage (not to mention the complete blackout smash your tvon Winter Soldier coverage the past few weeks). Judging by the optimistic and – we’re starting to learn – wholly simplistic analysis you’d have thought The Surge was the turning point towards peace. Now we’re seeing that things are much, much more complicated.

Ironically, the plain truth in America these days is that if your desire is to be fully informed about events you’re better off – by far – if you shut the corporate news out. You’ll get less disinformation and can start thinking for yourself for a change. Now imagine millions of Americans doing the same thing….that’s the way you start a social change movement!

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March 28, 2008   |  Filed Under Political  |  2 Comments

Your Thursday Lefty Links

From the “In Case You Missed It” camp:

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March 27, 2008   |  Filed Under Political  |  No Comments

Obama’s “three little words” troubling you? Lighten UP.

I gave up watching mainstream news a long time ago. It’s a pretend version of reality that uses spin and simplicity to manipulate us emotionally and redirect our anger away from the real sources of our problems. But sometimes I stumble onto clips and even though I know better I click on them anyway. And now I sure am stirred up emotionally – in fact I’m going to snap my keyboard I’m typing so hard – but it’s not misplaced.

Must we re-write 230 years of history just to satisfy the corporate media’s need to be “fair and balanced”?

This week we saw Barack Obama give a deeply personal, eminently thoughtful 45 minute speech on the state of racial ideology in America. It was the kind of honest intelligence you do not see from politicians, and it continues to be the reason I am so drawn to his candidacy, even when I know he won’t bring about the true progressive changes that are so badly needed. But I agree with John Stewart when he said that Obama “spoke to Americans as though they were adults”.

Imagine that. You can see the speech – and a full transcript, over at the Huffington Post.

In this beautiful speech there is a particularly moving section where Obama discusses cringing childhood moments when his white grandmother would make racial comments about black men – in his presence. From the speech:

I can no more disown him (Wright) than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

Honest and disturbing but undeniably true. Who among us hasn’t cringed at things our own family members have said in our presence? I know I have, and they’ve been said by people I deeply admire otherwise.

Apparently a day after giving the speech he had the following to say on a Philadelphia Sports-talk morning show:

“She is extremely proud, and the point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, there is a reaction that has been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way…” (emphasis added)

The media is having a field day with this, with Fox News apparently spending two hours replaying the quote but cutting it off after “typical white person.”. You can watch the clip for yourself here, if you can stomach it.

The corporate media, in its typically simplistic, anti-intellectual manner is using that “if a white person had said this…”argument. The point that they (deliberately) miss is that a white person would not say this because the history of racism in America has been against black people. Do we now need to re-write 230 years of American history just so we can satisfy the corporate infotainment’s need to be “fair and balanced”?

We’ve managed to somehow survive Bush’s eight years and most of the country is eagerly awaiting January 2009. A lot of people are now wondering how a man who uses “fuzzy math” as a scientific term or who boasts about “never reading” ever managed to get elected in the first place. The thing is, if we’re not mature enough to see past Obamas “three little words” in order to recognize the sophisticated and elemental truth of his argument, then we will continue to get the simple-minded leaders we deserve.

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March 21, 2008   |  Filed Under Political  |  No Comments