Instead, it was Democrats’ loss of his seat that sent the Senate’s health care bill through the House of Representatives mostly unchanged yesterday, causing, among other things, a hissy fit by a clique of older white men who decided that their right to rant about the unborn babies that might possibly be aborted by women with health insurance was more important than the rights of born (and grown up and working) people to have health insurance. Continue reading →
Americans constantly worry about public education. There is a mantra that we keep repeating: “Our Schools Are Failing!” But have our schools, in fact, failed? And if so, who or what is really to blame? Continue reading →
We have a tendency to refer to members of the African Diaspora as a community, despite the fact that it is filled with people that have wildly different perspectives and experiences. Race supposedly unites all Blacks, but the hierarchy within the so-called community means that there will always be some voices that are louder than others. The master’s tools are omnipresent in every social justice movement.
I am deeply concerned for the future of American democracy. The Senate’s failure to function threatens the nation’s long democratic history. The government’s system of checks and balances require that all branches of government work. The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency are all operating along traditional lines.
But the rise of the filibuster as the normal modus operandi in the Senate sticks a wrench in government machinery that will be very difficult to remove. Continue reading →
I skipped the State of the Union. I’ve been fed up with Obama speeches for a bit—strange, considering he’s the best political speaker of my lifetime, certainly. But I just couldn’t take another scolding like the one he delivered in his health care speech.
I read the speech the next day. It was better—but still a stump speech. Talk of a spending freeze that doesn’t include defense spending leaves me more angry than impressed. But I had to turn on the TV (well, the YouTube) two days later and watch a rather different kind of Obama event, one that’s since been dubbed “Question Time” after the British tradition of letting the opposition party at the Prime Minister for some unbridled fun—er, questioning. Continue reading →
The future of journalism: it’s the subject of books, panel discussions, and countless blog posts and news articles, most of which revolve around the ways we can fund media after the shift to the Web. Tracy Van Slyke is the former publisher of In These Times magazine, and is the project director at The Media Consortium, where she works to connect and strengthen progressive voices in the new media age. Van Slyke co-authored, with Jessica Clark of American University’s Center for Social Media, the book Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media, where they examine how the age of the Web has opened up opportunities for media makers to not only continue to produce quality journalism, but expand their reach and impact to effect political change.
She took some time to talk to Sarah Jaffe about the progressive media in the age of Obama, media’s role in social justice efforts, and the changes she still hopes to see. Continue reading →
Listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address and the ensuing response by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, I was struck by the near absence of substantive policy differences. It seems the magnitude of our nation’s problems – both foreign and domestic – have left little room in the policy sauna to sweat the small stuff. And even less for Gingrich-esque visionaries. Accordingly, despite a time of unprecedented partisan rancor, the nation listened to two men advance essentially the same ideas on fiscal policy, energy, and national security. The only real differences were the timbre of the vague platitudes and the direction of the thinly disguised barbs. Continue reading →
In my recent piece on activism as labor, I briefly touched on the connections between art and street activism, and promised to get back to that soon. I do think that in a discussion of art as labor, we need to look at other purposes art is supposed to serve and ask if that feeds Western culture and especially the United States’s devaluing of art as vocation.
Earlier this year, the second target of FOX News pundit Glenn Beck’s modern-McCarthyist campaign against Obama staffers was Yosi Sergant, director of communications at the National Endowment for the Arts. Sergant came out of the Obama campaign and was responsible for the Shepard Fairey HOPE poster and many other collaborations with the campaign and young, hip artists. Continue reading →
There’s plenty of blame to go around for Martha Coakley’s defeat at Scott Brown’s hands in the Massachusetts Senate race. Let’s start with Coakley herself. She ran a pathetic campaign. Starting out with overconfidence Ted Kennedy never would have allowed himself, Coakley did virtually no campaigning after the primary. Assuming the primary was a coronation, she never let the voters get to know her. And when Scott Brown came out of nowhere to challenge her, she proved utterly tone deaf to her potential constituents, calling Red Sox legend Curt Schilling a YANKEE fan of all things. She may be a good public servant, but is utterly uninspiring. Almost any Democrat could have won this race, but she blew it. Continue reading →
Media images appear to be prime motivation this week in a collective, mobilized response underscored by Western guilt. Bombarded with dust-covered corpses, blood and broken bones, and bodies rotting in the hot sun, millions around the world have donated their money to various relief organizations in support of Haiti. The United States has even organized a text message campaign which allows cell phone users to donate as little as ten dollars by texting the word “Haiti” to a central national phone line. However, this feel-good effort fails to address the circumstances which created this catastrophe. Haiti cannot afford to the typical, Western, Bono-style activism: here today and gone tomorrow, even as its citizens continue to endure the effects of enormous national debt and unfair trading practices which have historically impoverished the nation. Continue reading →