Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Catching flies

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Bryn Mawr College is looking into becoming the first American women's college to set up shop in the oil-rich Middle East, but some faculty and students worry that the move clashes with the school's history of feminism and could dilute the school's stellar program.

The liberal-arts school is being courted by the government of Abu Dhabi, which is eager to collaborate with an elite women's college, said Bryn Mawr president Jane McAuliffe.

A group of faculty visited Abu Dhabi in the fall and the school expects to decide by early summer "whether a small liberal-arts college can manage something like this," said McAuliffe, an Islamic-studies scholar who became Bryn Mawr's eighth president in July.

For American universities, the offer to open global versions of themselves in the Middle East and other booming regions of the world is often too good to pass up.

Abu Dhabi, one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates, gave New York University a $50 million gift to establish an offshore campus, with the promise to fund the entire operation and parts of its home campus as well.

And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning -- a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope -- because American values are America's greatest export to the world.

To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example.

-President-elect Barack Obama

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How It's Playing Thus Far

From the New York Times:

President-elect Barack Obama’s aides say he is considering making a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital during his first 100 days in office.

Still, Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian ambassador, e-mailed me a statement. “Needless to say, the President of the United States is always welcome in Egypt,” it said. “Delivering such a speech from Cairo would no doubt reinforce the intended message. Cairo has long been a center of Islamic learning and scholarship, in line with Egypt’s central role in the Middle East.”

During the the 2008 Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia Hillary Rodham Clinton made a remarkable but curiously unexamined appeal for the creation of a Middle Eastern security pact fashioned after NATO.

"And I think that this is an opportunity, with skillful diplomacy, for the United States to go to the region and enlist the region in a security agreement vis-a-vis Iran. It would give us three tools we don't now have.

Number one, we've got to begin diplomatic engagement with Iran, and we want the region and the world to understand how serious we are about it. And I would begin those discussions at a low level. I certainly would not meet with Ahmadinejad, because even again today he made light of 9/11 and said he's not even sure it happened and that people actually died. He's not someone who would have an opportunity to meet with me in the White House. But I would have a diplomatic process that would engage him.

And secondly, we've got to deter other countries from feeling that they have to acquire nuclear weapons. You can't go to the Saudis or the Kuwaitis or UAE and others who have a legitimate concern about Iran and say: Well, don't acquire these weapons to defend yourself unless you're also willing to say we will provide a deterrent backup and we will let the Iranians know that, yes, an attack on Israel would trigger massive retaliation, but so would an attack on those countries that are willing to go under this security umbrella and forswear their own nuclear ambitions.

And finally we cannot permit Iran to become a nuclear weapons power. And this administration has failed in our efforts to convince the rest of the world that that is a danger, not only to us and not just to Israel but to the region and beyond.

Therefore we have got to have this process that reaches out, beyond even who we would put under the security umbrella, to get the rest of the world on our side to try to impose the kind of sanctions and diplomatic efforts that might prevent this from occurring."

Through her husband, Mrs. Clinton has a privileged view of sensitive and high level negotiations involving the Palestinians and Israelis. Near the very end of his precarious tenure, Bill Clinton brokered a peace agreement that fractured at the very last minute. It's not unreasonable to think that there are lessons from these failed negotiations that could be of value going forward.

Holding in abeyance the substance of foreign relations, the appointment of Mrs. Clinton to the Department of State liberates Mr. Obama considerably on the domestic front. Health care, which is the New York senator's bailiwick, was sure to be a contentious issue going forward had Mrs. Clinton remained in the Senate.

Equally important is the need to restrain Bill Clinton. The former president, as satirized by Chris Rock, never wholly submitted to the pride of Carthage. History tells us that former presidents can make trouble for the incumbent. The Bay of Pigs assault, an albatross for John F. Kennedy, was the creation of Dwight Eisenhower. Even a dotardly Herbert Hoover caused Harry Truman some discomfort as the US was steered into an internationalist course.

While the mist of disenchantment descends on the Obama administration and the nation, it is a good time to leave behind the retail aspect of politics.

The Time Paradox

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Power a Neurotoxin?

In the six years that he practiced medicine, Owen came into close contact with doctors treating prominent politicians and observed firsthand the toll that political life takes on public figures. Thus began his interest in health and power, which culminated in The Hubris Syndrome. This book, published in 2007, argues that being in power brings about changes in one's mental state and leads to hubristic behavior, and that hubris is not merely a personality characteristic but a pathological state. Mental illness, Owen notes, "may need to be redefined to include a hubris syndrome."

The entire article from Foreign Affairs can be viewed here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Further Consideration

After watching the above, please take a look at this.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Never Could See It Coming

This from the formidable Temple3:

You are about to bear witness to the resilience of a tremendous people. You didn't see Reconstruction back in the day -- but you're about to see a wave of Black folk in elected office. You're about to see more federal contracts go to faces that simply cannot ROTFLMWA. And you won't see the ReBirth of your nation because you don't have the numbers or the sufficient consciousness to close your borders.'s already a wrap. And to think, Lothrop Stoddard wasted all that good ink warning you dupes as early as 1920. Time for you to get your fornication-reproduction game together (holla at ya boy Ben Wattenburg) and beat a hasty retreat to a territory you can HOLD with guns.

South Africa is done. The US is next. Dominoes, just dominoes. Will you be heading to Sweden where you can knock up as many as you can muster without a ring OR will it be off to the Fatherland?

I believe obsolescence fits you well. And you're concerned about nuclear families...that's funny. You're going to need more than that to survive the economic and energy upheavals facing this society...haven't you heard about the limitations of "nucular"?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ahead of His Time

And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President

Tupac Amaru Shakur

Friday, November 7, 2008


According to Big Don "the Coefficient of Uppitiness, out there on the street, has definitely ratcheted up a couple of notches."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remember When

My first day back to work since the election. I'm going to need extra water for all the salty crackers that I will encounter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lesson Learned

From The New York Review of Books:

The vice-presidential search in the spring of 2000 was characteristic of the co-presidency to come in one other way. It involved the collection of information for future use against political rivals. In this case, the rivals were the other potential VPs, among them Lamar Alexander, Chuck Hagel, and Frank Keating. They had been asked to submit exhaustive data concerning friends, enemies, sexual partners, psychological vicissitudes (noting all visits to therapists of any kind), personal embarrassments, and sources of possible slander, plus a complete medical history. Each also signed a notarized letter that gave Cheney the power to request records from doctors without further clearance.

All this information would prove useful in later years. Barton Gellman reveals in Angler that soon after Frank Keating was mentioned as a likely candidate for attorney general, a story appeared in Newsweek about an awkward secret in his past: an eccentric patron had paid for his children's college education. No law had been broken, and nothing wrongly concealed; but the story killed a chance for Keating to be named attorney general; and the leak could only have come from one person. Doubtless most of the secrets in Cheney's possession were the more effective for not being used.

Entire article can be found here.

My Inner White Boy

I blame Ed Dunn.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Illusionist

Here is the abridged and politically relevant portion if you don't have time to watch the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

R&B Moment

Not a fan of Joe but I like this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

John McCain, Please Disperse

Barack Obama has really catapulted America into its 21st-century multi-cultural future, really whether Americans are ready for that or not.
Peniel Joseph

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

One way to look at it.

I don't claim any special insight into the current financial distress, but this email exchange forwarded to me by a friend captures my internal conflict.

Ted: I still don't know what I think about this. It seems like my teenaged kid - who I have previously suspected of being irresponsible - crashed his car while drag racing, and now wants me to buy him a new one. My initial reaction is HAYUL NO, but I also know that if I don't, he won't be able to get to school or work and will be slouching on the couch all day. It's in my interest to ensure that he has transportation, but it just doesn't feel right to reward his irresponsibility.

Maybe I should get him a bus schedule instead...

Bill: I'm with you...Except that your entire family is depending on the bucks he makes at his after school job, so you gonna ground him out of principle and reduce your family to mac&cheese for the next 6 years?

I do like the bus pass idea, though. Maybe you get him a dodge omni and put the rest of that cash directly into groceries.

Little Brown Brothers

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Easy for him to say

I consider Makheru Bradley a friend in the same way that Patrick Ewing considered Michael Jordan a friend. He is a tenacious black partisan and even when I disagree with him about the implications for an Obama presidency I retain respect and admiration for his principles.

Walter Benn Michaels writing in the recent New Left Review shows the limits of white radicals:

The point, then, is that the nomination of Obama is great news for American liberals, who love equality when it comes to race and gender, but are not so keen when it comes to money. Liberals are the people who believe that American universities and colleges have become more open because, although they are increasingly and almost exclusively populated by rich kids, more of these today are rich kids of colour. (Obama’s popularity on college campuses is no accident—he is diversity’s pin-up.) And having helped keep the poor out of college and thus made sure they remain poor, liberals are now eager to point out that white voters with only a high-school education (the very people who do not go to Harvard) are disproportionately sceptical of Obama; they are happy to deplore the ignorant racism of people whom they have kept ignorant, and whose racism they have thus enforced. The Obama candidacy is great news, in other words, for a liberalism that is every bit as elitist as its conservative critics say—although not, of course, quite as elitist as the conservative critics themselves.

Omitted from his analysis is the historical fact that committed opposition to savage economic inequality isn't synonymous with confronting racism. New Deal palliatives, for instance, did not translate into gains for blacks commensurate with those of whites. Moreover, there are real racial distinctions such as stereotype threat that become obscured when you consider only income. Until I see black versions of entitled mediocrity equal to George W. Bush and Sarah Pailin, I'm not buying what Professor Michaels is selling.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This looks hot

Going to see the new Spike Joint at the Landmark tomorrow. But this Neeson flick has my interest.

John McCain: No Mas

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By the way, I am a doctor

Below is a letter that I sent to my representative this past week.

Dear Senator Cardin,

Don't do this. Please. Take a precious moment to reflect even though everyone including the President and the Secretary of Treasury is screaming for you to act now. I can empathize with what you're going through. Being a physician practicing emergency medicine in Baltimore, there are few non-military professionals that can match me in the frequency and severity of making life-altering decisions. What I’ve learned is that the best doctors couple speed with deliberateness.

Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard, has written about the battle for the soul of capitalism as boiling down to shareholders confronted by managers. The recent round of passed and pending bailouts has brought this into sharp relief. No plan should be enacted that doesn't undertake to limit the exorbitant remuneration for corporate executives despite company losses and ends abuses born out of deregulation. Additionally, individual, at-risk homeowners must be afforded some modest degree of protection.

We are in crisis. But it's the kind of crisis that the Senate was designed to meet. As a United States Senator, you are uniquely capable of providing the leadership and skill required to navigate the current economic challenges while enduring the turbulence of a national election. The White House, market, and public are clamoring for action. Without wisdom and reason, however, the proposed cure may result in something worse than the disease which inspired it. I trust that you will uphold your constitutional duty and not merely consent but also advise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Check it out

Next Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 12:PM the Urban Institute will host a forum on Presidential Politics and Poverty. The truth, of course, is that middle and upper-middle class angst has consumed public deliberation. Nonetheless, elimination of poverty is vital to the national interest. You can sign up for the audio telecast here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Real Maverick

I think it's time to do a bit of co-opting ourselves.

Mrs. Palin Goes to Washington

Isn't she a real Babe?

Come again?

Mandated bilingual education doesn't work. At least that's what the latest paper published by the Lexington Institute asserts. First, there aren't enough good bilingual education teachers. Consequently, schools are forced to settle for mediocrity in order to be compliant. Second, the material isn't of very high quality. Because of relatively less demand, there is little incentive for publishers to create superior teaching materials. It's too bad that kids are a political football.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Orthogonian Blues

This is big. Coming as it does on the tails of the GOP convention, it has a potency that is not easily dismissed by serious observers. In the clip that I've seen, Barack Obama definitely modulates his views and the atmosphere is tense. But if you've ever pledged an historic Black fraternity, you know that sometimes it's not about how well you perform under pressure but that you simply endure.

Last night John McCain confirmed his inability to perform the rhetorical and ceremonial duties of the Presidency. He was stiff. McCain's tendency to swivel his entire body to face the audience made me wonder if he has surgically fused cervical vertebrae. His arms are short and appear to have a range of motion limited to seventy degrees of abduction. Inexplicably, the podium was set barely above his knees. The Arizona senator, too, could have used a Greek colonnade for a backdrop rather than the digitized blue sky background with a flag waving askew. Even his smile seemed so rehearsed that it reminded me of Nixon.

The speech itself was not the angry or defiant one delivered by Sarah Palin during her acceptance of the Vice Presidential nomination. But I am still quite confused and surprised that McCain uttered "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us." That line served no other purpose than to propel Palin and to undermine the Republican candidate for president's claim to maverick status .

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Only when a nation means something to itself can it mean something to others."
-Richard M. Nixon

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You know, I think he's right

From today's Baltimore Examiner:

Obviously, there are so many factors that have been applied, incrementally, over a long time, to bring us to a place where an African-American can be elected president. But I cannot help believing that the ubiquity and esteem of the black man in sport has played a significant part in this transformation that enables a black man to run for president.

Deford continues:

Look, maybe Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee if there had never been a Frank Robinson and a Michael Jordan and a Tony Dungy and a Derek Jeter. But I really don't think so.

I think it's reasonable to argue that black cultural hegemony has influenced the emergence of Barack Obama.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All the world's a stage

And all the men and women merely players.
-William Shakespeare

"Policy," wrote Metternich, the Austrian minister who steered his country through 39 years of crisis by a tour de force perhaps never excelled, " is like a play in many acts which unfolds inevitably once the curtain is raised. To declare then that the play will not go on is an absurdity. The play will go on either by means of the actors or by means of the spectators who mount the stage....The crucial problem [of statesmanship], therefore, resides in the decision of whether to assemble the audience, whether the curtain is to be raised and above all in the intrinsic merit of the play. "
-Henry A. Kissinger

While striding across the world stage as a true life incarnation of Fortinbras, Barack Obama was helped tremendously by Nuri al-Maliki. The Iraqi prime minister seized the diplomatic initiative to endorse the Democratic candidate for president. It was yet another deflection to American nationalist aspirations.

With calls for more aggressive intervention in Afghanistan, greater demand for Pakistani subservience, and an enthusiastic and mutually reciprocated embrace by the military apparatus, Senator Obama proved his sangfroid. This posture completely undermined his opponent's charge that a Prsident Obama would concede defeat to Islamic fundamentalism or fail to adequately defend the national interest.

If, as I've previously advocated for, Chuck Hagel is tapped as Obama's running mate, then John McCain will effectively be deprived of oxygen. Unlike his Republican colleague, the senator from Nebraska absorbed the correct lessons of Vietnam and recognizes the tragedy that ensues when a great power ceases to be directed by tangible interests with realizable gains and instead obsesses over projecting an image of strength. Hagel's presence on this trip signals that at the very least he will be the next Secretary of Defense if Obama occupies the White House.

Despite its declining political and economic strength, the United States remains quite significant and potent. Modern history has shown that even the most strident revolutionary states of Russia, China, and Vietnam ultimately obliged an international order under the cachet of America. The Middle East, including Iran, should prove no different.

Show Me The Money

Tomorrow at noon the the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, will be hosting a forum discussing the tax implications of the current presidential candidates. It should be worth your time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Got a Problem With That?

After listening to Senator Obama I have concluded that the outrage over his call for greater personal responsibility is unjustified. The only flaw is that he didn't similarly admonish black leaders. From Jesse Jackson, Sr. to William Jefferson to Kwame Kilplatrick, black elites are tainted with questions of corruption and dubious personal comportment.

In my continuing efforts to understand the modern world, I am struck by the moral fastidiousness of Ho Chi Minh and the leadership of the Vietnamese resistance. They resisted the lure of cultism which infected Stalinist Russia and Maoist China. The absolute moral superiority of Vietnam's revolution allowed it to endure and eventually prevail in the longest conflict in American history. In retrospect, truth was the decisive weapon against the most powerful nation in the world.

This moral authority wasn't merely an innate belief that they were right or tough. Persons literally were unworthy to be considered leaders if they did not not share in the prodigal conditions of their followers. Additionally, to be a leader required regular sessions of serious self-criticism, something which Scott McClellan notes was entirely absent in the current Bush administration.

Such aggressive searches for the deficiencies of leaders results in realistic assessments of their capacity to act effectively and is essential for self-improvement. Organizational failure is inevitable if the leadership has no default mechanism to confront and absorb the truths about itself. So rather than limit the requirement for deodorant to the undifferentiated and unwashed masses, Obama needs to include the black elites who regularly strut their stuff at invitation-only formal events.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Oh, Really?

From Mary Dudziak. We know that he certainly exceeds the age threshold. But does John McCain meet the citizenship requirement to become President of the United States? According to legal scholar Gregory Chin, the answer is no.

Senator McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to U.S. citizen parents. The Canal Zone was territory controlled by the United States, but it was not incorporated into the Union. As requested by Senator McCain's campaign, distinguished constitutional lawyers Laurence Tribe and Theodore Olson examined the law and issued a detailed opinion offering two reasons that Senator McCain was a natural born citizen. Neither is sound under current law. The Tribe-Olson Opinion suggests that the Canal Zone, then under exclusive U.S. jurisdiction, may have been covered by the Fourteenth Amendment's grant of citizenship to "all persons born . . . in the United States." However, in the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court held that "unincorporated territories" were not part of the United States for constitutional purposes. Accordingly, many decisions hold that persons born in unincorporated territories are not Fourteenth Amendment citizens. The Tribe-Olson Opinion also suggests that Senator McCain obtained citizenship by statute. However, the only statute in effect in 1936 did not cover the Canal Zone. Recognizing the gap, in 1937, Congress passed a citizenship law applicable only to the Canal Zone, granting Senator McCain citizenship, but eleven months too late for him to be a citizen at birth. Because Senator John McCain was not a citizen at birth, he is not a "natural born Citizen" and thus is not "eligible to the Office of President" under the Constitution.

And to think that while questions were being entertained about Senator Obama's religious affiliation, John McCain's status as a natural born citizen is in doubt.

E Pluribus Unum

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Good Old Days

Barack Obama is crafting a 21st Century version of the political alliance that enacted the Civil Rights Movement: overwhelming but far from unanimous black support combined with white middle and upper-middle classes and youthful vigor to affect the political process.

Rick Perlstein's Nixonland describes how Strom Thurmond brokered his support for Richard M. Nixon's candidacy in 1968 in exchange for not just concessions on federal enforcement of civil rights legislation but also for protectionist policies to favor South Carolina's textile industry.

Needless to say, economic liberalization has removed such items from consideration. Furthermore, the conservative backlash has effectively dismantled programs to promote advancement and protection of blacks. And the crowning achievement of welfare reform and a massive carceral state has subdued and pacified urban dwellers.

All the above plus the economic uncertainty of the ostensibly entrenched white middle and upper-middle classes has markedly diminished the power of appeals to racial solidarity. White ethnonationalists on the air may persist in attempting to make Latino immigrants the source of pecuniary woes but illegal residents aren't displacing laid off airline pilots and bank executives. They aren't purchasing foreclosed homes. Their kids aren't overrepresented in high priced private colleges. They aren't purchasing baubles from upscale specialty stores in quaint historic towns. In other words they aren't to blame for any of the perturbations of affluent society.

That's the aftermath of Hurricane Bush. Whites who occupy the higher social strata and gaze upon John McCain must ask themselves the same rhetorical question posed by Harry Callahan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

He Got That Right

The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children
the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified “a national consensus” that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child;second, the Court concludes, based on its “independent judgment,” that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with “‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’” Ante, at 8, 15, 16 (citation omitted). Because neither of these justifications
is sound, I respectfully dissent.

-Justice Samuel Alito

The entire decision can be read here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

History in the Making

Jesus Saves

In an election year which literally showcases the son of an African and the scion of slave-holding aristocrats, I sometimes reconsider my apostasy. While the consensus is that the Black church is a force for political empowerment, my reading of history leads to a different conclusion. If not for the restrictions imposed from above, there is no reason to believe that blacks forcibly transported to the New World or living under colonial rule would have embraced Christianity. It is only with a combination of active encouragement and tacit approval of the dominant structure that the church took root in the Black community.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Kite Runner

Contrary to the popular opinion of supporters and foes, not even a President Obama will simply disengage from Iraq or unilaterally disarm the United States. This Thursday and Friday, the Miller Center will host a conference, The Politics of Troop Withdrawal, that I hope brings much needed clarity to the subject.

If history is a useful guide, the reality will be that removing ground forces from Iraq will be linked to stepped up air war and covert operations. The hawks will be assuaged by enhanced focused on Afghanistan and doves will approve de-escalation.

When Obama calls Iran small, he isn't discounting the threat that it poses. He is simply making a cold, rational decision in the face of a deepening commitment and diminishing resources to support a client state on the Iranian border.

The dissolution of the USSR caused a disruption to the military establishment on a level that it had not encountered since the end of the Second World War. September 11, 2001 was utilized, like Korea, to justify not only maintaining the status quo ante but to greatly expand it.

Barack Obama proposes to recalibrate the focus from expansionism to security. In its quixotic quest, the Bush administration is threatening the apparatus that has guided foreign policy since FDR. The futility of preventing the rise of lesser powers is a lesson that the Chinese taught America in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The policy of accommodation, fiercely resisted by LBJ and eventually accepted by Richard Nixon, has been accepted doctrine until George W. Bush arrogantly chose to revisit the issue.

Cancer Wars

Devra Davis is a courageous scholar whose work openly advocates a political goal. Too many scientists sequester themselves to analysis and avoid policy prescriptions. Although it is de rigueur to omit industry considerations from discussions on public health, Davis does an exceptional job proving otherwise.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Perfect Politician

We are but warriors for the working day.
-King Henry V
by William Shakespeare

If the national military establishment is a corporation, then we citizens are its shareholders. It is undeniable that American imperialism has its roots in democracy. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the foundation of our modern empire, he enjoyed overwhelming support that has never been equaled. Once the bricks and mortar were laid, the only thing left were arguments about where to place the sunroom and which furnishings should adorn the halls.

Conventional leftist or progressive wisdom purports that elites use rhetorical sleight of hand and overt coercion to manipulate the masses. While not untrue, most Americans have consented to being seduced.

Barack Obama will certainly become the next President of the United States. The popular narrative not withstanding, it will take much more than a cohort of racists to deny him the presidency.

The fundamental currents moving the ship of state are nationalism and internationalism. National security is the star which guides the vessel. Whereas nationalism brought the United States to the cusp of power, internationalism is the legacy of the atomic age ushered by World War II. The youthful vigor of nationalism gave way to the deliberate and considered movements of internationalism.

In this election cycle, the internationalists are surging to victory. The very fact that only senators remain in contention for leadership of the First World testifies to this. Not governors or businessmen promising to impose their will on Washington but consummate insiders who function as equals among the legislative elite.

Barack's team is entrenched firmly in the internationalist camp which advocates for multilateralism. The same Northeastern liberal establishment that produced John F. Kennedy and FDR has conceived Obama. Though he now wears a flag pin, even the Illinois senator's mantras of "Change" and "Yes We Can" are global in their embrace.

The greatest political figures, including Senator Obama, embody the conflicts and opposing isms that comprise America. Politics literally doesn't get more retail than Obama - an Ivy Leaguer whose background is in local community organizing, a state representative of a district enmeshed in Black Power politics who assiduously avoids discussing racial barriers encountered by his supporters, a United States senator offering an olive branch to Cuba and Iran while advocating a more aggressive posture in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Contrary to naysayers, the executive matters for s/he decides which current to follow. We, however, have a small but definite input. And tapping into our aspirations is the source of Barack's exceptional magnificence.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What Hillary Should Have Done

Instead of hoping for Barack Obama's demise or relying upon the support of racists, this is the kind of idea that Hillary Rodham Clinton should have been advocating. If she were a true feminist, Sen. Clinton wouldn't need to appear tough by posing with a cadre of generals or throw back shots with the boys and spout off about obliterating Iran. She would have known that nothing is more vital to national security than family well-being.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Worth Fighting For

The domestic agenda can be properly understood only in an international and historical context. Carl Bosch provides a vivid example of the intersection of science, capital, and politics. He came to prominence with the discovery of a procedure to make ammonia. By facilitating the production of the key element in fertilizer, the Haber-Bosch process would advance human well-being. But just as important was its role in producing explosives and chemical warfare agents.

In the 1920s, Carl Bosch was predicting peak oil. He turned his agile mind toward developing synthetic fuels. The capital requirements were so huge that IG Farben, the company Bosch founded, turned to the Reich for help. The program of self-sufficiency dovetailed nicely with Hitler's massive military rearmament program.

Currently, the alternative fuel industry is burgeoning. Citizens are enticed with dreams of maintaining luxurious lifestyles which incur less financial and environmental cost. The power politicians see a Leviathan unbound from the physical constraints of fuel imports and critics complaining about domestic burdens of foreign intervention. Overall, any advance on the energy front is likely to exacerbate global conflict.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Saboteur, Provocateur

T. West applies a surgeon's scalpel to Dr. Wright.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For Reverend Wright and Black Power Devotees

You know sometimes it's just that simple.

For My Brother, Barack

Take courage. I know it has not been easy. But your people remain by your side.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Economic Populism 101

Political pundits wonder why Senator Obama has difficulty connecting with less educated, less affluent white voters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Right Turn Ahead

I think Michael Fisher is right. While an Obama defeat does not necessarily correlate with the ascendancy of Louis Farrakhan it would signal an irremediable turn by the electorate toward nativism. A rise in Black nationalist sentiment would be a logical outgrowth.

America has a debt mountain to climb which is so high as to be impassable. The considerable problems citizens face are even worse than conventionally described. The manipulation of inflation and unemployment numbers is scurrilous beyond belief.

Since the economic downturn of the 1970s, white ethnonationalism has moved from being a mostly regional and marginal influence to mainstream legitimacy. The main reason for the dominance of cable news over network news has been the former's relentless embrace of white nationalist sentiment. This accounts for right-wing radio's popularity as well. And last week American Broadcasting Company became the first network channel to vigorously express this language. Obama's careful avoidance of Fox News was undone in the ambush set by ABC.

The United States currently faces the same challenge that Germany had in the Thirties. How does a state create an economy to support a military superpower yet meet fundamental human needs beyond physical security? The answer, of course, is that it can't and the ensuing scarcity management requires a Darwinian approach.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Culture Wars

So far, Barack Obama has not accepted the invitation to retreat from his recent statement about economically distressed whites voting against their economic interests in favor of contentious cultural issues.

The shortcomings of black conservative calls for moral rectitude have been rudely exposed. Barack Obama has followed their playbook to the letter. Yet he now finds himself being called an elitist.

Racism is alive and well. It doesn't care if your name is Ronald and speak good English. It doesn't care if you graduate from an Ivy League school and condemn rap music. Glorified attributes such as diligence and skill are condemned when used by blacks without prior authorization.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tavis Under Fire

Prometheus 6 reports that Tavis Smiley has quit the Tom Joyner Show. I think the following video is an appropriately framed discussion on what my friend E.C. Hopkins calls Black Preachapundilectuals. The interviews featured in Who Speaks for the Negro? can be found here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Does America Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

The Slave Ship is a good and important book. I enthusiastically recommend it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

This comes from Cornel West by way of Huffington Post.

I want to say that I'm deeply disappointed that my dear brother Barack Obama decided not to go pay tribute and lay his wreath for the great Martin Luther King, Jr. That brother Martin's profound love and deep sacrifice for black people, America and humanity is in no way reducible to political calculations, even for the campaign for presidency. That Martin Luther King Jr.'s deep commitment to unarmed truth and unconditional love can in no way be subject to strategies for access to political power. Hence, I have a very deep disagreement with my dear brother, Barack Obama -- in this case, commitment to truth is in tension with the quest for power.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. A virtuoso performance by a leading black intellectual which confirms bankruptcy of useful ideas. Laying a wreath and paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. has become a marker for "commitment to truth." These old heads just crack me up.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill are full of it. Oh, and Chuck Hagel will be Barack's running mate.

If Scahill and Klein were truly serious about desiring an end to the Iraq War, then they would have aligned themselves with Obama the day after Hillary averred that she and John McCain had "crossed the commander-in-chief threshold." Such a declaration was a euphemism for willingness to wage war against Iran. By putting herself in the same philosophical mold as McCain, Clinton let it hang out there for all to see.

If Scahill and Klein were intelligent, then they would be advocating for Senator Clinton to drop out of the race and for Senator Obama to choose Chuck Hagel as his running mate. An Obama-Hagel administration would have the public mandate and political agility required to negotiate an end to the misery in Iraq.

Senator Clinton has already shown how impervious she is to public pressure. If Scahill and Klein don't see this then they are demented.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Magnificent Ambersons

What happens when an aristocracy faces change not of its own design and a rapidly expanding democracy? In The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles depicts the response of the ruling class when facing a terminal crisis in leadership. The protagonist, George Minafer, is a spoiled young man secure of his place because of his old family name and connections. Disequilibrium results when he meets and is charmed by a young Lucy whose father has come into new wealth through the automobile industry. In the economic acceleration following the Civil War, landowners were displaced by men able to harness new technologies.

Early on, I mistook Hillary and Bill Clinton's obstinate defiance as a marker for their own particular psychological defects. But over at Jack and Jill Politics, Rikyrah has nailed it. Folks who say that there is no difference between Democrat and Republican are wrong. The Republicans had there own version of Obama in the form of Mike Huckabee but he was quickly marginalized in favor of a candidate who enjoyed less enthusiastic support but wasn't a threat to their pecuniary interest like Governor Huckabee and didn't arouse the tensions associated with Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

On the Democrat side, Barack Obama's ability to outmaneuver Hillary Rodham Clinton poses an existential threat to the dominance of her ultra rich supporters. For what is the value of being a multimillionaire if an upstart politician can circumvent you and gather more money by appealing directly to voters? What is the use of controlling a traditional media outlet if a politician's supporters can use the Internet to reach the masses without filters and counter skewed portraits?

What has traditionally been marketed as a democracy has really been a carefully fashioned product given to the public and called a choice. Sometimes the leash guiding the voter is bypassed in favor of direct control the way it was in 2000 with Bush versus Gore. But you can't do that more than once a generation so for the most part we're gently led toward our heart's desire. The money men and women have divided their purses fairly evenly with a modest tilt toward Republicans.

But a renaissance of democracy and open source input has challenged this approach. It was only through Youtube that Ron Paul was able to moderately overcome obstacles to getting access on network and cable television. And Obama's political capital is derived in great measure from his skillful use of the Internet. That does not obviate the truth that Barack has been carefully vetted and has his own crew of embedded insiders.

There is a difference, however, between a realist willing to accommodate a new and more inclusive and transparent order with a revanchist unwilling to give up a lost cause based on political infighting and brokered arrangements suited to the era before the blogosphere. Despite all the talk about enfranchising the voters, Hillary and her supporters are seeking to do just the opposite at this summer's convention. But let's hope that not too many accept the largess Hillary's closest friends. After all, they were willing to drop $12 million on Michigan and I'm sure they'll bring their wallets with them to Denver.