Playwright Lillian Hellman said, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."
The statement was in a letter to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The year was 1952. We tell ourselves that the McCarthy era was vastly different than our own - but what about the political fashions of 2010?
This year's fashions cut mean figures on Washington's runways. Conformities lie, and people die..
A dozen years after Hellman defied HUAC, a senator defied the fearful conformity of 1964. Seeing the escalation of the Vietnam War on the near horizon, Wayne Morse spoke truth to - and about - power. The contrast with today's liberal baseline on Capitol Hill is painfully evident if you watchfootage of Senator Morse for two minutes...
In his triumphant speech on election night, the next senator from Massachusetts should have thanked top Democrats in Washington for all they did to make his victory possible.
For a year now, leading Democrats have steadily embraced more corporate formulas for "healthcare reform." In the name of political realism, they have demobilized and demoralized the Democratic base. In the process, they've fueled right-wing populism.
The Democratic leadership on healthcare and so much else -- including bank bailouts, financial services, foreclosures and foreign policy -- has been so corporate that Republicans have found it easy to play populist...
On election night a year ago, celebrations across the North Bay included dancing in the streets. The voters had spoken — loudly — for Barack Obama, who won 74 percent of ballots in Sonoma County and 78 percent in Marin. Spirits were sky high, and so were expectations.
That evening, as he spoke to the nation from Chicago’s Grant Park, Obama repeated his campaign mantra: “Yes we can.” But a year later, the words are less uplifting.
“If this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers,” Obama declared in his election-night speech. Yet Wall Street is now doing quite a bit better than Main Street...
Read the full op-ed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Barack Obama’s triumph on Tuesday night was a victory over a wall that pretends to be a fly on the wall.
For a long time, the nation’s body politic has been shoved up against that wall — known as the news media.
Despite all its cracks and gaps, what cements the wall is mostly a series of repetition compulsion disorders. Whether the media perseveration is on Pastor Wright, the words “bitter” and “cling,” or an absent flag lapel-pin, the wall’s surfaces are more rigid when they’re less relevant to common human needs and shared dreams.
“We’ve already seen it,” Obama said during his victory speech in North Carolina, “the same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn’t agree with all their ideas, the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives, by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy, in the hopes that the media will play along.”
And how, they’ve played along. From the front pages of “quality” dailies to the reportage of NPR’s drive-time news to the blather-driven handicapping on cable television, the ways that media structures have functioned in recent weeks tell us — yet again — how fleeting any media attention to substance can be.
News outlets spun out — “pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy” — as media Obama-mania about a longshot candidate morphed into Obama-phobia toward the candidate most likely to become the Democratic presidential nominee. The man who could do little wrong became a man who could do little right. The lines of attack were spurious and protracted enough to be jaw-dropping...
Maybe it sounded good when politicians, pundits and online fundraisers talked about American deaths as though they were the deaths that mattered most.Maybe it sounded good to taunt the Bush administration as a bunch of screw-ups who didn’t know how to run a proper occupation.
And maybe it sounded good to condemn Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush for ignoring predictions that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to effectively occupy Iraq after an invasion.
But when a war based on lies is opposed because too many Americans are dying, the implication is that it can be made right by reducing the American death toll.
When a war that flagrantly violated international law is opposed because it was badly managed, the implication is that better management could make for an acceptable war...
There have been good reasons not to support John Edwards for president. For years, his foreign-policy outlook has been a hodgepodge of insights and dangerous conventional wisdom; his health-care prescriptions have not taken the leap to single payer; and all told, from a progressive standpoint, his positions have been inferior to those of Dennis Kucinich.
But Edwards was the most improved presidential candidate of 2007. He sharpened his attacks on corporate power and honed his calls for economic justice. He laid down a clear position against nuclear power. He explicitly challenged the power of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical giants.
And he improved his position on Iraq to the point that, in an interview with the New York Times a couple of days ago, he said: “The continued occupation of Iraq undermines everything America has to do to reestablish ourselves as a country that should be followed, that should be a leader.” Later in the interview, Edwards added: “I would plan to have all combat troops out of Iraq at the end of nine to ten months, certainly within the first year.”
Now, apparently, Edwards is one of three people with a chance to become the Democratic presidential nominee this year. If so, he would be the most progressive Democrat to top the national ticket in more than half a century.
The main causes of John Edwards’ biggest problems with the media establishment have been tied in with his firm stands for economic justice instead of corporate power.
Weeks ago, when the Gannett-chain-owned Des Moines Register opted to endorse Hillary Clinton...
The problem with letting history judge is that so many officials get away with murder in the meantime — while precious few choose to face protracted vilification for pursuing truth and peace.A grand total of two people in the entire Congress were able to resist a blood-drenched blank check for the Vietnam War. Standing alone on Aug. 7, 1964, senators Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morse voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
Forty-three years later, we don’t need to go back decades to find a lopsided instance of a lone voice on Capitol Hill standing against war hysteria and the expediency of violent fear. Days after 9/11, at the launch of the so-called “war on terrorism,” just one lawmaker — out of 535 — cast a vote against the gathering madness.
“However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint,” she said on the floor of the House of Representatives. The date was Sept. 14, 2001.
She went on: “Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, Let’s step back for a moment, let’s just pause just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.”
And, she said: “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”
With all that has happened since then — with all that has spun out of control, with all the ways that the U.S. government has mimicked the evil it deplores — it’s stunning to watch and hear, for a single minute, what this brave Congresswoman had to say....