Oh well, Obama got in so it's all good, no wait Ta-nehisi Coates is still raging so 2014 is 1964 in America! : (hat tip ; Erik Loomis)
Oh well, Obama got in so it's all good, no wait Ta-nehisi Coates is still raging so 2014 is 1964 in America! : (hat tip ; Erik Loomis)
From Paul Krugman:
Yes, liberals are sometimes subject to bouts of wishful thinking. But can anyone point to a liberal equivalent of conservative denial of climate change, or the “unskewing” mania late in the 2012 campaign, or the frantic efforts to deny that Obamacare is in fact covering a lot of previously uninsured Americans? I don’t mean liberals taking positions you personally disagree with — I mean examples of overwhelming rejection of something that shouldn’t even be in dispute.
Or look at how liberals reacted to the woes of healthcare.gov. We heard a lot of talk about how it was Obama’s Katrina, or his Iraq. But was there anything like Bush’s “heckuva job” moment — which was matched by widespread insistence on the right that he was actually doing a great job? Was there anything like the years-long denial that anything was going wrong with the Iraq occupation? On the contrary, liberals were quick to acknowledge that the rollout was a disaster, and in fact sort of freaked out — which, as Noam Scheiber says, is what they usually do in the face of setbacks. And what’s more, as Scheiber says, that’s a good thing: faced with setbacks, liberals rush to fix things, rather than denying the problem. Hence the stunning Obamacare comeback.
From Ta-Nehisi Coates :
People who take a strict binary view of culture ("culture of privilege = awesome; culture of poverty = fail") are afflicted by the provincialism of privilege and thus vastly underestimate the dynamism of the greater world. They extoll "middle-class values" to the ignorance and exclusion of all others. To understand, you must imagine what it means to confront algebra in the morning and "Shorty, can I see your bike?" in the afternoon. It's very nice to talk about "middle-class values" when that describes your small, limited world. But when your grandmother lives in one hood and your coworkers live another, you generally need something more than "middle-class values." You need to be bilingual.
David Brooks polluted the American 'culture' debate with mediocre thinking and thus, it is just desperately obnoxious and wasteful!
Oh mon dieu ! :
Is it possible that France is now importing the brand of conservative politics peculiar to Texas? Following their first round of local elections last Sunday, the French, at least at first glance, seem intent on doing so. Though a second round of voting will take place this Sunday, French voters have already spoken. What they had to say echoes what Texas conservatives, in particular the Tea Party stalwarts, have been saying for some time: Less federal government (whether D.C. or Brussels), more traditional values, and please, no more immigrants trying to change things around here.
(...)Even from the modest height of the ersatz Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas, the twinned radicalization of Lone Star and French conservatives unfolds in neat parallel. On a number of issues, the discourses of the Tea Party in Texas and the FN in France have pushed the traditional conservative establishments to the right.
It is hard to be culturally illiterate!
From Tom Ricks:
I am no longer going soft on Greenwald and Putin [He meant to write Snowden I think, but what do I know!]. In fact, rather the opposite, I am beginning to believe the worst about them. If they acting on moral beliefs, now would be the time for both of them to speak out against Putin. It could have a great impact, I think.
Oh my gawd, I'm sure that nobody saw that coming!
Worrisome sugary excerpt from Nick Turse:
A new type of expeditionary warfare is underway in Africa, but there’s little to suggest that America’s backing of a former colonial power will ultimately yield the long-term successes that years of support for local proxies could not. So far, the U.S. has been willing to let European and African forces do the fighting, but if these interventions drag on and the violence continues to leap from country to country as yet more militant groups morph and multiply, the risk only rises of Washington wading ever deeper into post-colonial wars with an eerily colonial look. “Leveraging and partnering with the French” is the current way to go, according to Washington. Just where it’s going is the real question.
American hypocrisy has not become more problematic because other governments are sincerely outraged by Washington’s behavior (although some foreign officials are genuinely shocked and unhappy). Rather, the real trouble is that the hypocrisies of the United States and those of other countries no longer reinforce each other. (...) countries that used to prefer to turn a blind eye to objectionable American behavior can now no longer ignore it. (...)
American hypocrisy has long remained unchallenged and deeply intertwined with U.S. foreign policy. (...) One result is a good deal of inconsistency in the ways that U.S. officials have responded to the Manning and Snowden scandals, seeming to vacillate between denying that the leaks pose a major problem and harshly overreacting against those who have exposed the emperor’s nudity. Sooner or later, however, if the United States wants to remain able to convince others through the force of its legitimacy rather than just through threats or bribery, Washington must acknowledge the past importance of hypocrisy as well as its new limits.
This is a country that likes trials of the century—a couple of them a year, if possible. We’ve also, as politicians remind us, been convulsed as a nation by the September 11th attacks, which are supposed to have changed our expectations of everything from Presidents to airplane rides and privacy. The one thing that the memory of 9/11 hasn’t had the power to do, strangely, is get us engrossed in the actual judicial proceedings involving members of Al Qaeda. When it comes to bringing terrorists to justice in a courtroom, we seem to get bored.
<div><iframe width="480" height="270" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="http://player.canalplus.fr/embed/?param=cplus&vid=1023017"></iframe></div><div style="width:472px;font-size:11px; background:#EBEBEB; border:1px solid #D6D6D6; margin-top:5px; padding:4px 0 4px 6px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; -moz-border-radius:3px; -webkit-border-radius:3px;"><a target="_blank" style="text-decoration:none; color:#666;" href="http://www.canalplus.fr/c-divertissement/c-le-grand-journal/pid6298-les-extraits.html?vid=1023017&sc_cmpid=SharePlayerEmbed"><span style="color:#000; font-weight:bold;">Appel de BHL sur la situation en Ukraine</span> - Le Grand Journal du 18/02</a></div>
Outrageously dumb stuff from James Poulos:
Republicans squeal and squeal about socialism, but in France, where socialists really are in charge, the right is outflanking the left by going populist in a new way. Of course, there are stark differences between Europe and the United States. In the Old World, populism has long appealed to a revolutionary future or a reactionary past. In America, populism is more closely associated with protecting the cultural status quo. But Le Pen largely rejects both these models, vowing to replace the E.U. regime with a newly free and sovereign France.
It's the sort of nationalistic play that Republicans can study to improve their own. Since Abraham Lincoln's reelection campaign in 1864, Republicans have rooted their popular appeal squarely in militant nationalism. Today, however, they should recognize that Le Pen's assault on patronage bureaucracy actually heightens nationalism because the system she opposes mostly emanates from Brussels, not Paris. Meanwhile, lacking a meddlesome, supranational North American Union, Republicans running against crony capitalism run against their very own government.
(...) While Obama and Hollande make nice, Republicans should use their time out of the White House to set aside the drama surrounding their would-be presidential contenders, and pay heed to Le Pen's lessons about a populism that can unite people and win.
I wonder how well Poulos knows French and France; my guess is probably as much as George W Bush knew about Spanish and Mexico!
Please, Ta-nehisi stop you are going to make me puke!:
"I am not raising 'nothing niggers,'" my mother used to tell me. "I am not raising niggers to stand on the corner." My mother did not know her father. In my life, I've loved four women. One of them did not know her father and the other two, very often, wished they didn't. It's not very hard to look at that, and seethe. It's not very hard to look at that and see a surrender, while you are out here at war, and seethe. It not hard to look around at your community and feel that you are afflicted by quitters, that your family--in particular--is afflicted by a weakness. And so great is this weakness that the experience of black fatherlessness can connect Barack Obama in Hawaii to young black boys on the South Side, and that fact--whatever the charts, graphs and histories may show--is bracing. When Barack Obama steps into a room and attacks people for presumably using poverty or bigotry as an excuse to not parent, he is channeling a feeling deep in the heart of all black people, a frustration, a rage at ourselves for letting this happened, for allowing our community to descend into the basement of America, and dwell there seemingly forever. (...) There are moments when I hear the president speak and I am awed. No one, from the offices of the White House, could have better explained to America what the George Zimmerman verdict meant. And I think history will remember that, and remember him for it. But I think history will also remember his unquestioning embrace of "twice as good" in a country that has always given, even under his watch, black people half as much.
Gary Younge on Obama's fifth State of the Union address:
Less Martin Luther King (“The arc of history is long but bends towards justice”) and more Rodney King (“Can we all get along?”) this was a far more plaintive and far less polemical speech than usual.
Damn still two more to go before I get to wake up from the coma in which Obamaphilis plunged me!
Awesome stuff from Paul Krugman:
The whole politics of poverty since the 70s has rested on the popular belief that the poor are Those People, not like us hard-working real Americans. This belief has been out of touch with reality for decades — but only now does reality seem to be breaking in. But what it means now is that conservatives claiming that character defects are the source of poverty, and that poverty programs are bad because they make life too easy, are now talking to an audience with large numbers of Not Those People who realize that they are among those who sometimes need help from the safety net.
Ah a deep thought from Ta-nehisi Coates!:
Racism is a kind of fatalism, so seductive, that it enthralls even its victims. But we will not get out of this by being on our best behavior—sometimes it has taken our worse. There's never been a single thing wrong with black people that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix.
The power of shame is shameful particularly on race men people!
I agree with Sean Collins on this:
it is a myth that the US is becoming ‘libertarian’ – the number of restrictions on personal behaviour is increasing, not decreasing. At the same time as marijuana is being legalised in Colorado, cities are banning e-cigarettes for no rational reason. The newly ‘liberal’ America says it’s cool to smoke marijuana but then demonises those who eat a McDonald’s hamburger or drink a Big Gulp soda. Many of the same people who are posing as liberty’s champions over marijuana are the same ones who are leading the charge when it comes to bans, limits and nudges on tobacco, soda, school lunches, and so on.
Well, best wishes to all for the new year (ah it's a world cup year yeah!) and here's a sugary excerpt from Fredrick C. Harris:
What started as a philosophy promulgated by black elites to “uplift the race” by correcting the “bad” traits of the black poor has now evolved into one of the hallmarks of black politics in the age of Obama, a governing philosophy that centers on managing the behavior of black people left behind in a society touted as being full of opportunity. In an era marked by rising inequality and declining economic mobility for most Americans—but particularly for black Americans—the twenty-first-century version of the politics of respectability works to accommodate neoliberalism. The virtues of self-care and self-correction are framed as strategies to lift the black poor out of their condition by preparing them for the market economy.
For more than half of the twentieth century, the concept of the “Talented Tenth” commanded black elites to “lift as we climb,” or to prove to white America that blacks were worthy of full citizenship rights by getting the untalented nine-tenths to rid themselves of bad customs and habits. Today’s politics of respectability, however, commands blacks left behind in post–civil rights America to “lift up thyself.” Moreover, the ideology of respectability, like most other strategies for black progress articulated within the spaces where blacks discussed the best courses of action for black freedom, once lurked for the most part beneath the gaze of white America. But now that black elites are part of the mainstream elite in media, entertainment, politics, and the academy, respectability talk operates within the official sphere, shaping the opinions, debates, and policy perspectives on what should—and should not—be done on the behalf of the black poor.
I need to read Amartya Sen's latest book.
A hahhah moment from Juan Cole :
Greatness has escaped Mr. Obama. He seems content to be the community organizer of the Federal government, asking Congress and Federal officials what they think they need and offering to try to get it for them. That isn’t leadership. His response to the NSA leaks was to announce that the country could now have a discussion of the practices, as though the citizenry could discuss matters being actively hidden from them, on which a sitting senator like Wyden is muzzled. Mr. Obama’s chance at greatness is before him. Most of the abuses are in the executive, over which he largely has control. He could initiate major reforms restoring constitutional liberties. If he does not, he is very unfortunately choosing to play P.W. Botha, not Nelson Mandela.
Ah another one from Elisabeth Drew:
Barack Obama had an unfathomable inability, beginning in his early years in office, to grasp the difference between campaigning and governing—and for that he’s been paying a fearful price in his second term.
Sentence of the day from Paul Krugman:
(...) anyone counting on Obamacare to collapse is probably making a very bad bet.
Of course Krugman is right, but the point remains that Obamacare is and will remain a canard boiteux; something liberals and many Democrats will defend to their death because it is a symbol of the blind faith they placed in the One even though it will never fix the American Health care system and a policy that all others will resist because to them it epitomizes government's meddling in an area it either can't help.
Well, thank you Obama for ruining the dream of Universal healthcare for America.
From Ta-Nehisi Coates:
White people who actually spend time around black people--not black individuals whom they know from work, but black people with their families, in their communities, with their parents--will quickly notice that using "nigger" actually isn't a barometer of closeness. I'm black and I don't call even some of my best friends nigger. They, unlike me, are offended by it. Black humans, like most humans, are different from each other. But to grasp this, you must have to have relationships with black humans that go beyond your job.
Ta-Nehisi, mon pauvre frère !
In particular, given our capacity and willingness to spy on virtually everyone, you'd think that American diplomats would be entering foreign policy contests and diplomatic negotiations with an enormous advantage over their counterparts. If we're as good at extracting private information from other countries' networks, cell phones, emails, and the like, you'd think U.S. officials would usually have a good idea of our antagonists' bottom line and would be really skilled at manipulating them to our advantage. We now know that the Allies in World War II got big strategic benefits from cracking German and Japanese codes; I want to know if we're getting similar benefits today.
It is hard to believe we are, given that America's foreign policy record since the end of the Cold War is mostly one of failure. And that leads me to suspect that one of two things is true. Either 1) the NSA is good at collecting gazilla-bytes of stuff but not very good at deciding what to collect or figuring out what it means, or 2) the rest of our foreign policy establishment is not very good at taking advantage of the information the NSA has worked so hard to acquire. In other words, either the NSA is not worth the money we're paying for it, or the rest of our foreign policy establishment is less competent than we thought. To be frank, I'm not sure which possibility I prefer.
Sugary excerpt of the week from Albert Wong and Valerie Belair-Gagnon :
Consciously or not, Western journalists and media outlets may still (even more than a decade after 9/11) be wary of appearing to be “soft on terror,” much as they once were about appearing to be soft on Communism. President George W. Bush’s September 2001 admonition that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” appears to have an enduring legacy in media bias.
[...]the US hates being preached at and needs little encouragement to act as an injured innocent.
I agree with Julian Ku on this:
In other words, the problem is not that spying itself is illegal or morally wrong, but that it is illegal and morally wrong to spy on your allies and friends. Spying on other countries might very well be morally and legally justified (e.g.: North Korea, Iran, China, Russia ( ...) In any event, my prediction is that the fallout from the latest NSA scandal will be a flurry of “no-spy-on-you” promises and then a series of new “no spy agreements” for certain favored “allies”. I think Germany will talk about a universal anti-spying norm, but this initiative will eventually die largely because no large nation really wants it.
Was I just having a nightmare or didn't the One get a Nobel Peace prize just for not being George W Bush ? I'm sure it was a dream !
David Bernstein on why the rollout of Obamacare has been 'messy':
Why, it’s obviously because President Barack Obama and his top aides hate government, and therefore can’t be trusted to run a major government program. When the government is run by political forces committed to the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, that belief tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Key priorities are neglected; key functions are privatized; and key people, the competent public servants who make government work, either leave or are driven out. What we really need is a government that works, because it’s run by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution, after all.
Doesn’t make any sense to you? It made just as little sense when Paul Krugman made the argument in 2008, imaginatively (to say the least) positing that George W. Bush and John McCain were wild-eyed libertarians, and that the former’s purported libertarianism was the cause of FEMA’s incompetence in dealing with Katrina. (...) t must come as a surprise to Krugman and his defenders that government can prove itself to be wildly, disastrously incompetent even when run by people whom even Krugman would have to admit aren’t going to be confused with libertarians any time soon (assuming, of course, that Krugman actually ever believed the nonsense he wrote).
Bernstein is been willfully disingenuous to score cheap political points for actually the failings of the Obama administration on this issue and others make Krugman. They show that Obama, as Bush, believes more in winning than in government or for that matter governing. Obamacare has no soul, c'est un machin used to gain liberal cred through a symbol that makes lovers of Harry Potter like change good.
In short, Obama is not and has never been a Krugman democrat.
People like Obamacare. They like Medicare and Social Security too, and not just because they are junkies hooked on the government yayo, but also, I suspect, out of a sense that in a country as rich as America people should not starve or freeze or die because they cannot afford to see a doctor. To roll all of this back, Republicans will have to set aside the exciting, romantic, vox clamantis thrill of noble failure, and get about the boring drudgery of actually winning elections—and not just in gerrymandered districts, but nationally. As I tell my five-year-old: destroying things is easy. Building is hard.
But building is better, and more necessary. America really does need an effective check on the Obama administration's regulatory instincts. It needs a sane, functional pro-business party—one focused on doing things like winning elections in an increasingly diverse country by actually persuading voters rather than by keeping "undesirable" voters from the polls.
From Daniel Drezner:
Thanks to the Mongolian clusterf**k that Ted Cruz, John Boehner, and some other economic know-nothings in the U.S. Congress have perpetuated, the next decade of global political economy will provide an excellent natural experiment to see whether there will be any form of economic balancing against the United States.
Oh well, chaos is good or at least flashy so there is nothing to worry about...
I agree with this :
For news-media creators, potentially catastrophic events like the shutdown are the deep source of the currency we seek: page views, forwards and links. The shutdown captivates the attention of the fickle public, tearing it momentarily away from the spectacle of a naked Miley Cyrus gripping giant construction apparatus between her legs. (That spectacle itself, of course, is a different type of calculated attention-getting "controversy" constructed by a number of self-interested media players, not least of them Ms Cyrus herself.) Journalists and bloggers swarm over the shutdown like ants on a dropped twinkie. But in an even more symbiotic relationship, we also create the controversy we feed on by swarming to it. Bloggers, tweeters, politicians and everyone else have an incentive to focus on the shutdown, to intensify the controversy, in order to drink from the resulting fount of public attention.(...) Nowadays, however, almost everyone who participates in social media understands it. A very large number of Americans are now adept at identifying potentially viral memes, and then ramping up the hype in order to both create and piggyback on them. In the general media viral memes may often be merely weird or titillating, but in politics, since politicians have not yet figured out how to use sex scandals to win (rather than lose) elections, they are almost always divisive, insulting, controversial and infused with prophecies of doom. So in politics the effect of increasingly widespread participation in this dynamic has been to exacerbate the American public's already deep attachment to apocalypticism.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Malise Ruthven:
Drones, for all their horror, are just the latest instruments by which powers based in urban centers (and not just those linked to the United States) beat into submission the peripheries—what Morocco’s rulers used to call the “Land of Insolence.”
Governing America is a lot more challenging than seducing Oprah...Thank God That's great.
It should be puzzling just how little power the present executive is actually capable of wielding. He can go to the U.N. or Kansas City and make speeches (that themselves often enough implicitly cast him as a kind of interested observer of his own presidency), but nothing much that he says in Washington seems any longer to be seriously attended to. In the foreign policy arena, he is surrounded by a secretary of defense who ducks for cover, a secretary of state who wanders the world blowing off steam, and a national security advisor and U.N. ambassador who seem like blundering neophytes and whose basic ideological stance (in favor of American -- aka “humanitarian” -- interventions globally) has been rejected in this country by almost any constituency imaginable. Unlike previous presidents, he evidently has no one -- no Brent Scowcroft, Jim Baker, or even Henry Kissinger -- capable of working the corridors of power skillfully or bringing a policy home.Domestically, who ever heard of a presidency already into its second term that, according to just about all observers, has only one significant achievement -- Obamacare (whatever you think of it) -- and clearly hasn’t a hope in hell of getting a second one?
I agree Stephen Walt on this:
If you wanted yet more evidence of how unserious the United States is in its conduct of diplomacy, I'd nominate the breathless "will they, won't they?" attention paid to whether U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani will actually meet during the U.N. General Assembly meeting. If they do meet, will they shake hands? Will it be an impromptu sidebar or a sit-down conversation? What color tie will Obama be wearing? Will they drink coffee or tea? Boxers or briefs?
For all I know, these and other truly vital questions will have been resolved by the time this gets posted. My main point is that Americans attach too much significance to these sorts of meetings -- mostly because we are too fond of not talking to countries we dislike -- and this reticence cripples our diplomacy. Refusing to talk to people or countries with whom we differ is really just a childish form of spite and one the United States indulges in mostly because we can get away with it. But it also makes it more difficult to resolve differences in ways that would advance U.S. interests. In short, it's dumb.
So boxers or briefs? I don't know but they will inhale.
Jeff Shesol sums up perfectly the American policy on Syria:
Foreign policy-making, unlike the domestic variety, is rarely compared to sausage-making, but what we have seen over the past couple of news cycles should be inspected by the U.S.D.A.
I would love to be having whatever Andrew Sullivan for Obamaland must be Eden when one is high.
To mourn the end of summer or rather celebrate my return to blogging life, sugary excerpt of my hiatus from Sandy Levinson;
:For reasons known only to himself, President Obama has decided to risk his presidency on the outcome of the congressional vote. As I see it, the best way to assure the destruction of his second term is to authorize a strike that makes almost literally no sense in terms of the public rationales that have been offered. There is literally no measure of what might count as "success," other than deterring additional use of chemical weapons. Given that there is no evidence that Assad ordered the use of those weapons in the first place, one might well imagine that he will make some efforts to make sure they are not used again. (There is something particularly indecent about the Obama Administration claiming that Commanders-in-Chief must be held responsible per se, a reversion, it appears to the Yamashita doctrine right after World War II. This, of course, is the Administration that has resolutely refused to hold anyone from the Bush Administration responsible for what is at least equally banned by international and domestic law, i.e., torture, or, for that matter, to pursue members of the Bush I Administration for their toleration of Saddam Hussein's use of poison gas against Iran and then Iraqis. )
It is ominous that Obama's chief domestic support is coming from John ("I never met a war I didn't want to get into") McCain. We all live with (and are victimized by) analogies. I keep thinking of Vietnam, in which thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives in order to vindicate American "credibility" and fight against the perception that we were a "paper tiger."
(...) Paula Deen polls way better among Georgia Republicans than the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Favorability/unfavorability: Paula Deen 73/11, Martin Luther King Jr. 59/28. And that’s just the people who are willing to say they don’t like MLK on the phone. How many of them do you think hate him more than that?
Hum, well at least Cornel West is consistent. Is that a good thing? I don't know but he is onto something.
Frank Pasquale on the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman case:
I have to say, after this case, I'm scared to go to Florida. What happens if I'm in a fender bender and the person in the other car misinterprets my reaching for my registration as reaching for a gun? What if I don't like to drive, and walk along a road, and for that very reason am seen as "suspect" and start getting followed by somebody? If I, as a white man, have these concern, I can't even imagine how the usual subjects of discrimination feel. Stand your ground seems to be not merely a law, but the first volley in an attempted cultural revolution in how individuals interact. Dueling looks civilized by comparison with what may happen as SYG becomes entrenched.
However inflected by race the old protocols were, they were at least somewhat stable. We are entering a brave new world, where one may well be ill-advised to go anywhere unfamiliar without a taser, gun, mace, or other weapons. This is how "guard labor" approaches, and will perhaps exceed, 20% of GDP, and how the producers of weapons acquire the means to make society's systems of dispute resolution (or creation) ever more dependent on their tools.
Whatever Obama was before, today he is an unsentimental practitioner of realpolitik, which has ruled in America for some time. One could be more specific: Obama's foreign policy lacks any emotional dimension. The president is led by pragmatism and interests, with limits being set, if need be, by international law. (...) Obama twists and turns and examines a foreign policy problem. After he has weighed all of the arguments, he then decides. That leads to a rational, and sometimes hesitant, but not empathetic foreign policy. (...) Paradoxically, Europeans, especially the Germans, have their problems with both presidents. They despise Bush as a supposedly dim-witted cowboy. But in the meantime, they have become leery of the coldly analytical Obama, who kills suspected terrorists with drones and lets his government monitor the Internet.
Ah the death of fine romances is always slow, painful, and crippling...
From Chris Bertram:
We line up obediently behind Miliband (or Obama, or Hollande) and, having persuaded enough of our fellow citizens to vote for a programme of progressive reform, our social-democrats then enact that very programme. That’s democracy. Except that it very rarely happens like that. What actually happens is that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of ordinary men and women demonstrate, by their acts of lawbreaking, disobedience, even violence, that there are injustices up with which they will no longer put (I’m channelling James C. Scott here). Neither the US civil rights movement of the 1960s nor the Gezi Park protestors of today are willing just to wait for the next election and hope it all turns out right: rather they want to move the window of political possibility, to make some injustices impossible and to make some concessions inevitable. (And in our “post-democratic” age, the myriad lobbyists and corporate interests aren’t waiting either. Typically they are trying to box in all elected governments to programmes of neoliberal “structural reform”.)
So here’s the worry. Just as the FBI tried to discredit Martin Luther King, so government agencies, equipped with all the latest surveillance techniques, will attempt to damage lawbreakers in pursuit of social justice. There’s nothing new about this, just the tools to do so are far more powerful.
An eloquent community organizer? Which websites did he visit? Or, failing that, which websites did his close associates and family members visit?
An environmental activist? How come she was searching for guidance on mental health issues? Did she have an abortion? Do something that can be portrayed as less than green?
So it goes.
And so we know the end of this awful movie!
I agree with Professor Bainbridge on this:
Bush was bad enough, but Obama's not much better and in some ways worse. We seem to be living in a permanent security state that is gradually morphing into something disturbingly authoritarian. (...) We're losing the moral high ground to criticize places like Russia and China, as we allow our freedoms to continually erode.
Poignant question from Sandy Levinson:
Why has "surveillance state" apparently become so widely accepted as a "neutral" term describing the present United States (and, no doubt, other countries as well, and perhaps all that have the technological capacity), while "police state," even if modified by "soft" or "pink" or, to adopt an adjective from the 18th century referring to one type of despot, "benevolent," still presumably raises all sorts of hackles and undoubtedly would generate accusations of ideological shrillness (perhaps like using "constitutional dictatorship" to refer to at least aspects of the American system, even if most of it these days is dysfunctional and incapable of any cogent action regarding many of our most crucial challenges)?
What happened? Well, my guess that something died in America when the change we could believed in ended up being nothing more than remixed Bushism.
Old, but great stuff fromm Amitava Kumar:
As an Indian, I’m raising my kids in the firm belief that sooner or later, everyone in this country [America] is going to look like Kal Penn.
That would make America the handsomest country in the world and an Abercrombie & Fitch's wet dream!
Can American Muslims really be an equal part of the American family when they’re viewed either as suspects or as informants?
Sntences of the week from Ta-nehisi Coates:
The years between 2000 and 2010 do not simply constitute a war on marijuana, but a war on black people who use marijuana.A rising wave smashes Negroes first.
From Jane McManus:
With too many tragedies to report in such a short period of time — Newtown, the Boston bombings, Hurricane Sandy, the deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant and others — there seems to be a desire to move straight from the tragic to the silver lining.
I have nothing against the woman who found her dog in the rubble, or the few horses that survived a direct hit of an F5 tornado at the Orr Family Farm.
But in an everything-happens-for-a-reason culture, where happy aphorisms greet you every time you log onto a social media site, the premature positivity feels forced. I know polls constantly tell station managers that the public wants good news, not so much bad news. But news itself doesn’t have a point of view, it just is — when reported objectively.
But once the cloud of national news outlets descend and the news cycle is all day long, you can see how the same threads get teased from the wreckage.
No wonder Camus thought that America lacked a sense of the tragic for in the US, whenever shit happens, the news story rarely focuses on the agony and the consequences to avoid being about fatality, tragedy and its meaninglessness instead of survival and triumph over adversity.
Quote of the day from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives:
The one thing I do conservatively is count.
In truth Mr Obama’s problems extend well beyond the confines of the capital’s Beltway. The president’s headache is that his winning majority resembles the hamlet in “Brigadoon”. It exists all right, twice sending him to the White House. But, like that Highland village, it is hard to see or touch most of the time. (...) The magic at the heart of Mr Obama’s two victories was his ability to expand the electorate itself, mobilising sporadic voters who shun politics most of the time, notably the young and minorities. Now that he is no longer on the ballot, his loose coalition risks being no match for the intense ideologues who fight and oversee Washington’s partisan battles.