Monday, October 29, 2007

"There has never been anything more closely approaching monarchy or autocracy than there is in this country today under a so-called Democratic government. . . . It may as well be admitted, as dictators go, (the) President would make a very fair specimen. . . . He is right sometimes, and then we all have occasion to compliment him on his resolution, his dogged persistency, and his utter disregard for what seems to be the prevalent public opinion. Also he is wrong sometimes, and then his partisans have to admit that he is the most mulish and most obstinately wrong-headed man who ever sat in the chair of Washington. . . . The struggle between the would-be dictator and the people of the United States is one which men of all parties may watch with much interest." New York Daily Tribune December 9, 1893

Monday, October 22, 2007

CNN "Planet in Peril"

CNN's latest Worldwide Investigation Series, "Planet in Peril," premiers Tuesday, October 23, 2007. Might this be evidence that Environmentalism will play a central role in American politics in the coming 2008 election cycle?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekend Music Cafe with John Cougar Mellencamp

- Rain On The Scarecrow

Scarecrow on a wooden cross Blackbird in the barn
Four hundred empty acres that used to be my farm
I grew up like my daddy did my grandpa cleared this land
When I was five I walked the fence while grandpa held my hand

Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
This land fed a nation This land made me proud
And Son I'm just sorry there's no legacy for you now
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow

The crops we grew last summer weren't enough to pay the loans
Couldn't buy the seed to plant this spring and the Farmers Bank foreclosed
Called my old friend Schepman up to auction off the land
He said John it's just my job and I hope you understand
Hey calling it your job ol' hoss sure don't make it right
But if you want me to I'll say a prayer for your soul tonight
And grandma's on the front porch swing with a Bible in her hand
Sometimes I hear her singing "Take me to the Promised Land"
When you take away a man's dignity he can't work his fields and cows

There'll be blood on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
Blood on the scarecrow Blood on the plow

Well there's ninety-seven crosses planted in the courthouse yard
Ninety-seven families who lost ninety-seven farms
I think about my grandpa and my neighbors and my name
And some nights I feel like dyin' Like that scarecrow in the rain

Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
This land fed a nation This land made me proud
And Son I'm just sorry they're just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow

Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
This land fed a nation This land made me proud
And Son I'm just sorry they're just memories for you now
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow
Rain on the scarecrow Blood on the plow

- Pink Houses (user created video tribute to New Orleans)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Media Consolidation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Motherhood Movement: A New Feminism

I came across this piece in the NY Times by Katharine Seelye, "Women, Politics and the Internet."

What really caught my attention was the mention of Momocrats, a progressive community blog of online mothers who are pulling their resources to effect political change.

Momocrats was started last month by a group of mothers who are all noted bloggers in their own right and who cross-post on each other’s blogs (CityMama, TechMama, LawyerMama, PunditMom and the Silicon Valley Moms Blog), which are generally about daily life with a dose of politics.

“We belong to this community of mothers who blog and we see the need to bridge the gap between the campaign and the community,”

Many argue that American society is overly skewed towards the masculine. By marginalizing the feminine, the argument goes, society becomes overly militaristic, and individualistic, creating a society in a state of disequilibrium.

Lawyer Mama has a very telling post, "Don't Call Us Traitors".

Things have changed in the last year. The situation in Iraq has worsened. More friends of friends or relatives and loved ones of co-workers have died. Now, in a few months my husband will be leaving the reserves after twenty years of service. It doesn't take a giant intellectual leap to figure out why. T doesn't want to leave our boys, ages 1 and 3. T is afraid, not for himself, but for our family.

This kind of honesty isn't often found in any mainstream discourse. Yet it must be how a great many men must feel but would not express outside their immediate families, for fear of being seen as weak and unpatriotic. She goes on;
Many of the people making our foreign policy decisions over the last seven years have distanced themselves from the human face of war. Those who disagree with the administration's policies have been called traitors and supporters of terrorism. But those who wrap themselves in the flag and stand on a pedestal and preach to us about the righteousness of military action have forgotten about the soldiers and their families. Every soldier that dies, and every Iraqi hurt as "collateral damage," is someone's child. They are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our wives and husbands.

This message is powerful, and especially powerful when voiced from mothers. That's effectively why Cindy Sheehan's message was so influential. It was a mother's voice who first gained traction and legitimacy as a voice of dissent and protest. We all know the history of how the establishment moved in every possible way to discredit her, but now, a multitude of mothers, many like Lawyer Mama who also have family in the military are joining voices and speaking out against the war.

However, the Motherhood Movement represents much more than opposition to the Iraq war. Mom’s Rising, a political action group co-founded by Joan Blades, founder of, represents this kind of women/mother driven progressive advocacy;
Started this May 2006, MomsRising already has over 120,000 citizen members--and is growing by 500 to 4,000 per week lately, as well as more than eighty (and growing) aligned national organizations, working together to create positive solutions for the future.
The members of MomsRising are moving important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness, and are working to break the logjam that’s been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades. MomsRising is doing this by providing grassroots support to leaders and organizations addressing key issues such as paid family leave; flexible work options; after-school programs; healthcare for all kids; excellent childcare; realistic, fair wages; and paid sick days for all.

American men, as compared to other Western societies tend to be the least enlightened towards womens issues, and ultimately, how women's issues effect society as a whole. But these women, who are part of a "Motherhood Movement", are our wives, mothers, and sisters. Progressive mothers, and women in general, empowered with online communication and organizational tools are not only creating political power, but may also help bridge the gap between feminism as a female ideology and feminism as an important element to a progressive society. I think this movement will be the linchpin of any sustainable progressive socio-political realignment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weekend Music Cafe with The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant...

The Beach Boys - I Get Around

Gore Shares Peace Prize for Climate Change Work

New York Times

OSLO, Oct. 12 — Former Vice President Al Gore, who emerged from his loss in the muddled 2000 presidential election to devote himself to his passion as an environmental crusader, was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Labor union not endorsing in Democratic primaries

None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get the endorsement they have been fervently seeking from the Service Employees International Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

This is actually quite surprising. Edwards has been courting the SEIU for several years and is clearly the most pro-union candidate running. This is probably the death nail for the emerging populist movement. It was expected that if Edwards won Iowa (which was pretty likely) that the SEIU, which is the largest Union in the country, would help him through NH and Nevada. Labor has been in steady decline for 30 years.
"Any one of these candidates would help create a new American dream for workers and their families," SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger said.

This is just not leadership. I can't see how this decision leverages Labor's remaining strength. Of course the SEIU will endorse any Democratic candidate in the general election because there's nowhere else to go. Sure, Edwards candidacy was not inevitable with Labor behind him, but at a minimum, any of the other Democratic candidates (read HRC) would understand that they could not take the Labor block for granted. The next president will "owe" nothing to Labor. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is largely considered to be the largest contributer to the erosion of manufacturing jobs and Labor in recent history. NAFTA passed a Democratic House and Senate, and was signed into law by a Democratic president. Does the SEIU really believe that all of the candidates will be equally responsive to the needs of Labor?

The SEIU (and the AFL-CIO who are also not endorsing) may not have had the strongest hand, but they just folded and walked away from the table without ever playing a single hand.

On a side note, I wonder if the dynamic would have been different had there been clear support for one candidate by the leadership within the "Democratic Netroots."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Morning Music Cafe

Johnny Cash-I Walk The Line

performing at San Quentin Prison

I ran into Jan Gretlund earlier this week, he was screening "I Walk the Line" for his class on contemporary Southern writers, I presume. Any time's a good time for some Johnny Cash but I thought today was especially appropriate as I have been looking into the 2008 presidential candidates' narratives. John Edwards is tapping into two long standing narrative traditions in America, the Attorney fighting for justice and democracy through the legal system, and the disaffected Southern/rural white voice. I'll be writing something on this later, but for now just enjoy the music.

Ring of Fire

Bonus Track
Social Distortion performing Ring of Fire

Social Distortion made their mark in the early 80's growing out of the early American Punk Scene. There music might be classified as rockabilly punk. What's interesting from a cultural studies standpoint is that they represent the marginalized white working class male. Even though Social Distortion is from California, their image and the themes of their lyrics are very much Southern in origin.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sy Hersh on the possibilities of war with Iran

Keith Olbermann talks with Sy Hersh of The New Yorker Magazine about the intensifying sabre rattling from the Bush administration toward Iran.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Media is The Message

This is not what McLuhan meant by "the media is the message" but I found these two articles both and interesting and perhaps telling;

John Edwards banks on sincerity

By Walter Shapiro

Despite D.C. cynicism about his motives and his political persona, Edwards woos voters in New Hampshire and Iowa with authenticity.
Going After Gore
Evgenia Peretz

Al Gore couldn't believe his eyes: as the 2000 election heated up, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other top news outlets kept going after him, with misquotes ("I invented the Internet"), distortions (that he lied about being the inspiration for Love Story), and strangely off-the-mark needling, while pundits such as Maureen Dowd appeared to be charmed by his rival, George W. Bush. For the first time, Gore and his family talk about the effect of the press attacks on his campaign—and about his future plans—to the author, who finds that many in the media are re-assessing their 2000 coverage.

Google: Search and Data Seizure

from The Nation

Google is far more than the digital incarnation of Madison Avenue in the twenty-first century. It is the engine driving us into a new communications era, in which interactive marketing will significantly shape our lives.
Google's message to Madison Avenue, as expressed at the OMMA Expo in New York this week is that its technology can leverage tremendous insights about global consumers of products and information, and can deliver the right interactive marketing messages to consumers at precisely the right moment.

Epic 2015?