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Books, Literature & Ideas

The liberals’ lament: “Why won’t Obama fight?”

The pundits also assume that there is some fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties, an assumption that several decades of bipartisan support for war, budget cuts, and social reaction should have put to rest.

David Walsh, World Socialist Web Site

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor John Stoltenberg

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Mike Thompson

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It is difficult for anyone who observes the American political scene not to notice the spinelessness of President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in the face of the Republican right and its media fronts. The Democrats’ capitulation all along the line is a glaring fact of daily life and one of the defining features of the current administration.

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In their latest cave-in, White House spokesmen and Democrats in Congress have indicated their willingness to cede to Republican demands for an extension of the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

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This has provoked another round of handwringing from members of the official liberal media who, in one fashion or another, all lament Obama’s latest surrender and ask if or when the president will summon the internal fortitude to begin fighting. The collective wailing has become a virtual genre of political commentary.

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Let's make lemonade this Thanksgiving

I am also grateful that Vice President Dick Cheney -- that little ray of sunshine, that bouncing ball of light and happiness spreading joy where'er he goes -- is so well prepared for a brilliant second career. He's perfect to play the heavy in films. Not since Jimmy Cagney was a gangster have we seen a sneer like that. In the remake of "Jaws," Cheney can play the shark.

November 24, 2005

Molly Ivins, Syndicated Columnist, Free Press

Since the political world ranges from poor to icky these days, you may think we are gratitudinally challenged this Thanksgiving. But a mere soupcon of sunny optimism goes a long way toward getting us to dwell on how lucky we are. We are abundantly blessed with lemons. Let us make lemonade.

I am grateful for the extraordinary number of readers who sent along their ideas on How to Fix All This. The ideas ranged from the sublime to the practical, from the universal and global to the price of milk. The country is teeming with good ideas, all of which we need.

I was particularly intrigued by this thought from peace activist Gen Van Cleve: It's 2009 and the Bush people are gone, leaving in their wake fury, suspicion, distrust -- basically, our name is mud, whether we've left Iraq by then or not. Most of the rest of the world considers us: A) insane, B) imperialist and C) morons. What to do?

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Racism Is Hardly a Thing of the Past

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  • Is Jim Crow back? Are African Americans, particularly African American men, once more suffering systematic discrimination on the basis of race -- a discrimination that locks them out of equal rights and basic citizenship?
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  • Listen to the hard logic offered by Michelle Alexander, a law professor and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness.
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Rev. Jesse Jackson, Huffington Post

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Mr. Fish

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Is Jim Crow back? Are African Americans, particularly African American men, once more suffering systematic discrimination on the basis of race -- a discrimination that locks them out of equal rights and basic citizenship?

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The question is incendiary -- and seems unreal. This is the post-racial America, where an African American can be elected president. Overt expression of racism is no longer socially acceptable. So, how could anyone allege the revival of Jim Crow laws, the laws that locked blacks into a permanent underclass under segregation?

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Listen to the hard logic offered by Michelle Alexander, a law professor and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness. Professor Alexander makes the following points:
• More African Americans are under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
• More black men were disenfranchised in 2004 than in 1870, the year the 15th Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
• More than half of working-age African-American men in major urban areas -- according to one report, as much as 80 percent in Chicago -- have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination.

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Barack Obama: A Reason for Sadness or the Sadness of Reason?

Instead of dwelling on the unreasonableness of his situation and the unfairness of history, Obama should reach deep inside and offer what the country wants emotionally.

Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post

As bruising as the midterm elections were for President Obama, he is facing the real winter of his discontent in the coming months. The most poignant aspect of the let-him-eat-crow press conference on Nov. 4 was Obama's plea that he never intended to be this kind of president. He came into office promising change, but that optimistic crusade ran into the buzz saw of the recession and the two wars. Within six months he owned those problems. By the summer of 2009 his own agenda, which had health care as its centerpiece, was being reviled at town meetings.

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It's not clear whether history really does repeat itself, but people's memories do. Another president elected to bring change, Jimmy Carter, was done in by crises he never asked for. Like Carter, Obama relies on sweet reason. It was reasonable for Carter to ask the American people to cut down on heating their homes as a way of reducing our dependency on foreign oil -- the price of crude had skyrocketed when OPEC suddenly acquired teeth in the early seventies -- but the public hated the idea of energy conservation. Nobody cared if it was virtuous; they didn't want to shiver through winter in their own homes. Today it is reasonable for Obama to insure the millions of Americans who have no health coverage. But the average American hates the idea of paying higher taxes, and his opponents successfully tagged the new health care plan as a new tax.

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A Lame and Spineless Duck?

Imagine a Congress still controlled by Democrats passing an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires but leaving the unemployed out in the cold. If this happens, laugh out loud the next time a Democrat claims to be on the side of working people.

E.J. Dionne, Jr., TruthDig.com

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

The lame-duck session of Congress that kicks off this week (Nov 14-20) will test whether Democrats have spines made of Play-Doh, and whether President Obama has decided to pretend that capitulation is conciliation.

Congress faces an enormous amount of unfinished business, largely because of successful GOP obstruction tactics during the regular session. Republican senators who declare themselves moderate helped block action on important bills, objecting either to provisions they didn’t like or to Democratic procedural maneuvers.

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