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Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (4290)

by Michael Winship

Whether you're Democrat, Republican or Mugwump, you look at Tuesday night's remarkable election results and the nationwide reaction and can't help but wonder at how far our young country has come -- and, at the same time, how long it's taken.

You probably saw those photos of the big Obama rally in St. Louis, Missouri, a couple of weeks ago -- 100,000 people attended. If you looked closer, in the background, you could see an old building with a copper dome turned green with age.

That used to be the courthouse. Slaves were auctioned from its steps, and in 1846, 162 years ago, Dred Scott and his wife, two slaves, went there to appeal to the court for their freedom, arguing that they had lived in states and territories in which slavery had been outlawed and so should be let go.

They were, briefly, but soon were returned to slavery. When their appeal reached the United States Supreme Court in 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney refused to free them. He ruled that slaves did not have the rights of citizens because Dred Scott and his wife were, quote, "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

Friday, 07 November 2008 05:04

Senator Bernie Sanders: The Road to Recovery

by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

As the Bush administration sputters to an end, the official unemployment rate rose from 6.1 to 6.5 percent in October, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 603,000 to 10.1 million -- a 14 year high. In the last year alone of the Bush Administration, unemployment has increased by 2.8 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 1.7 percentage points. The news is deeply disheartening.

And these figures are conservative. They do not include workers who want a full-time job but are working part-time or workers who have given up looking for work completely. The number of involuntary part-time workers rose by 645,000 last month to 6.7 million. The figures do not include another half million workers so discouraged they have stopped looking for work. If we total these numbers, the unemployment and underemployment figures are very stark: almost 17 million Americans are jobless or unable to find the full-time employment they want.

by Peter Michaelson

Leaders of 20 nations meet next week in Washington to discuss the global financial crisis. If they're serious about reform, they'll discuss ways to replace the debt-based monetary system in use worldwide. More of us need to be educated about the anti-democratic and wealth-destroying aspects of this flawed system so we can hold politicians to account if they try to avoid needed change.

These leaders had better be up to facing the grim reality of our financial predicament. The dollars, euros, pounds, yen, pesos, rubles, rupees, and francs of the world are the paperwork of a rigged accounting system that favors the wealthy elite and cunning speculators.

In the United States, our dollars are loaned into existence. They have purchasing power and can certainly buy things of real wealth. However, a dollar bill in itself is just a measure of national debt. How many Americans understand that if the last dollar were to pay off the last debt in the economy, the money supply would disappear? Zilch, kaput!! Not a blank token left! What kind of wealth is that!

by Bill Berkowitz

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank, which celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this year, sensed an Obama victory and got a head start on trolling for money.

These days, the missiles launched by the Heritage Foundation are coming in the form of pre- and now post-election fundraising appeals. After years of exclusively playing offense, one of the biggest and most important Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tanks is gearing up for a massive defensive stand.

Five days before the election, the Heritage Foundation sent out a fundraising letter that appeared to indicate that the think tank recognized that an Obama victory was in the offing. To understand just how much the Heritage Foundation felt that they were in for an ideological mugging of historic proportions, check out the e-mail sent out on Thursday, October 30 by the Foundation's Ed Fuellner.

Monday, 03 November 2008 02:22

Lee Cohen: Remembering Studs Terkel

by Lee Cohen

Studs Terkel died Friday in Chicago at age 96. Certainly, a respectable time to go and those who loved his work and contributions to our society have no reason to mourn, but to embrace his memory and spirit.

I guess a lot of people today don't know him -- especially if you weren't a Chicagoan at some point in your life. But his oral histories, Division Street, Hard Times, Working, and all the others are landmark sociological and psychological studies and will unquestionably survive him.

I encountered Studs for a few memorable moments in my youth and they have always stayed with me. I grew up in Chicago listening to his radio program and seeing him interviewed on local television; he was one of the quintessential voices of justice and reason in a city where those qualities were not always in great supply.

So -- it was a kind of awestruck honor when I did meet him in the 1970s. I was fresh out of college and while attempting to be a writer, I was working at the Discount Records store in downtown Chicago -- the one on Wabash, right across the street from the Lyric Opera.

Monday, 03 November 2008 01:16

Larry Beinhart: The New Know Nothings

by Larry Beinhart

It was Jesus Christ, if Matthew is to be believed, who said, "Love thine enemy." It is in that spirit that I write this belated valentine to Sarah Palin.

Sarah, I love you for having revealed unto the media the snarling heart of the beast that is the base (and the soul) of the Republican Party. Yes, you have the lipstick and the heels, not to mention the calves and bosoms that send Republican men into swoons, but you have more; the pit-bull snarl that rouses your supporters to cry out, "Traitor!" against Obama, and "Kill him!"

George Bush kept those folks in their kennels, ran as a "compassionate conservative," and always masked his most heinous plans in double speak. Bush the Elder, Ronald Reagan, and even Richard Nixon never explicitly ran on hate and fear of "the other." They used words that were coded enough that it was possible to pretend that they were true.

But now the beast is loose.

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Our Manhattan offices are in a building that also houses the New York City Board of Elections. So this is the season when we hear above our heads, the sounds of heavy objects rolling across the floor into freight elevators. The moving men have arrived -- and what they're transporting are voting machines being carted off to polling places.

It's reassuring, the sound of those big metal boxes being rolled out so we can cast our votes, but all too often in our fair city (as no doubt where you live, too), we are confronted by an end run on the part of a political elite, many of whom don't really trust what comes out of the ballot box on Election Day unless they've fixed what goes in.

by Larry Beinhart

Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat, America! Your choice, an African American President, or the Great Depression.
Costume! Put on your banker suit, get a box of apples, crayon a sign on cardboard, "Brother can you spare a trillion?"
George Bush has a 25% approval rating. Who are those people? Got to be ... zombies.
Media People, attention! Before you speak, look to the left, look to the right, make sure you don't say anything the rest of your pack of ... zombies? ... are saying.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 04:42

John McCain in Crisis

by Burt Hall

John McCain's response to 9/11 showed Americans all they should need to know about his "crisis management" abilities and foreign policy judgment. Early on, McCain embraced false intelligence and advocated blaming Saddam for al Qaeda's actions. 

Soon after the 9/11 catastrophe, McCain announced that Iraq would be the "second phase" of the war on terror -- adding that it might even be the source of our anthrax attacks. In December 2001, McCain joined a few Senators in a letter to the White House saying Saddam had to be removed from power because there was "no doubt" that he intended to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and its allies. In January 2002, aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, McCain told sailors and airmen: "Next up, Baghdad!" He repeated these thoughts on CNN.

by Bill Berkowitz

Although the California-based PAC is coming to the end of its less-than-magical and less-than-mystical bus 'Tour' -- which drew tens of people to rallies -- it is running hundreds of thousands of dollars of television ads in battleground states smearing Obama.

Our Country Deserves Better PAC is in its final stages of motoring about the country in a bus plastered with photos of Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and the words "Stop Obama Tour," emblazoned on it. Armed with a portfolio of pro-McCain television advertisements, the Tour -- a 6,000 mile pro-McCain/Palin bus tour with rallies in 40 cities -- is still in search of a receptive audience. Strangely enough, Our Country camped out in Michigan during a recent three-day period, a state the McCain campaign abandoned earlier this month. The Detroit Free Press reported that the group was "trying to whip up enthusiasm for the Republican ticket." At a stopover in Troy, Michigan, the Tour apparently whipped up a crowd of about 50 people!

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