Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Obama Code
by George Lakoff
In the wake of President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress, what can we expect to hear?
The pundits will stress the nuts-and-bolts policy issues: the banking system, education, energy, health care. But beyond policy, there will be a vision of America--a moral vision and a view of unity that the pundits often miss.
What they miss is the Obama Code. For the sake of unity, the President tends to express his moral vision indirectly. Like other self-aware and highly articulate speakers, he connects with his audience using what cognitive scientists call the "cognitive unconscious." Speaking naturally, he lets his deepest ideas simply structure what he is saying. If you follow him, the deep ideas are communicated unconsciously and automatically. " The Code is his most effective way to bring the country together around fundamental American values.
For supporters of the President, it is crucial to understand the Code in order to talk overtly about the old values our new president is communicating. It is necessary because tens of millions of Americans--both conservatives and progressives--don't yet perceive the vital sea change that Obama is bringing about.
The word "code" can refer to a system of either communication or morality. President Obama has integrated the two. The Obama Code is both moral and linguistic at once. The President is using his enormous skills as a communicator to express a moral system. As he has said, budgets are moral documents. His economic program is tied to his moral system and is discussed in the Code, as are just about all of his other policies.
Behind the Obama Code are seven crucial intellectual moves that I believe are historically, practically, and cognitively appropriate, as well as politically astute. They are not all obvious, and jointly they may seem mysterious. That is why it is worth sorting them out one-by-one.
1. Values Over Programs
The first move is to distinguish programs from the value systems they represent. Every policy has a material aspect--the nuts and bolts of how it works-- plus a typically implicit cognitive aspect that represents the values and ideas behind the nuts and bolts. The President knows the difference. He understands that those who see themselves as "progressive" or "conservative" all too often define those words in terms of programs rather than values. Even the programs championed by progressives may not fit what the President sees as the fundamental values of the country. He is seeking to align the programs of his administration with those values.
The potential pushback will come not just from conservatives who do not share his values, but just as much from progressives who make the mistake of thinking that programs are values and that progressivism is defined by a list of programs. When some of those programs are cut as economically secondary or as unessential, their defenders will inevitably see this as a conservative move rather than a move within an overall moral vision they share with the President.
This separation between values and programs lies behind the president's pledge to cut programs that don't serve those values and support those that do -- no matter whether they are proposed by Republicans or Democrats. The President's idealistic question is, what policies serve what values? -- not what political interests?
2. Progressive Values are American Values
President Obama's second intellectual move concerns what the fundamental American values are. In Moral Politics, I described what I found to be the implicit, often unconscious, value systems behind progressive and conservative thought. Progressive thought rests, first, on the value of empathy--putting oneself in other people's shoes, seeing the world through their eyes, and therefore caring about them. The second principle is acting on that care, taking responsibility both for oneself and others, social as well as individual responsibility. The third is acting to make oneself, the country, and the world better--what Obama has called an "ethic of excellence" toward creating "a more perfect union" politically.
Historian Lynn Hunt, in Inventing Human Rights, has shown that those values, beginning with empathy, lie historically behind the human rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Obama, in various interviews and speeches, has provided the logical link. Empathy is not mere sympathy. Putting oneself in the shoes of others brings with it the responsibility to act on that empathy--to be "our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper"--and to act to improve ourselves, our country, and the world.
The logic is simple: Empathy is why we have the values of freedom, fairness, and equality -- for everyone, not just for certain individuals. If we put ourselves in the shoes of others, we will want them to be free and treated fairly. Empathy with all leads to equality: no one should be treated worse than anyone else. Empathy leads us to democracy: to avoid being subject indefinitely to the whims of an oppressive and unfair ruler, we need to be able to choose who governs us and we need a government of laws.
Obama has consistently maintained that what I, in my writings, have called "progressive" values are fundamental American values. From his perspective, he is not a progressive; he is just an American. That is a crucial intellectual move.
Those empathy-based moral values are the opposite of the conservative focus on individual responsibility without social responsibility. They make it intolerable to tolerate a president who is The Decider--who gets to decide without caring about or listening to anybody. Empathy-based values are opposed to the pure self-interest of a laissez-faire "free market," which assumes that greed is good and that seeking self-interest will magically maximize everyone's interests. They oppose a purely self-interested view of America in foreign policy. Obama's foreign policy is empathy-based, concerned with people as well as states--with poverty, education, disease, water, the rights of women and children, ethnic cleansing, and so on around the world.
How are such values expressed? Take a look at the inaugural speech. Empathy: "the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child..." Responsibility to ourselves and others: "We have duties to ourselves, the nation, and the world." The ethic of excellence: "there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of character, than giving our all to a difficult task." They define our democracy: "This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed."
The same values apply to foreign policy: "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and make clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds." And to religion as well: By quoting language like "our brother's keeper," he is communicating that mere individual responsibility will not get you into Heaven, that social responsibility and making the world better is required.
3. Biconceptualism and the New Bipartisanship
The third crucial idea behind the Obama Code is biconceptualism, the knowledge that a great many people who identify themselves ideologically as conservatives, or politically as Republicans or Independents, share those fundamental American values--at least on certain issues. Most "conservatives" are not thoroughgoing movement conservatives, but are what I have called "partial progressives" sharing Obama's American values on many issues. Where such folks agree with him on values, Obama tries, and will continue to try, to work with them on those issues if not others. And, he assumes, correctly believe, that the more they come to think in terms of those American values, the less they will think in terms of opposing conservative values.
Biconceptualism lay behind his invitation to Rick Warren to speak at the inaugural. Warren is a biconceptual, like many younger evangelicals. He shares Obama's views of the environment, poverty, health, and social responsibility, though he is otherwise a conservative. Biconceptualism is behind his "courting" of Republican members of Congress. The idea is not to accept conservative moral views, but to find those issues where individual Republicans already share what he sees as fundamentally American values. He has "reached across the aisle" to Richard Luger on nuclear proliferation, but not on economics.
Biconceptualism is central to Obama's attempts to achieve unity --a unity based on his understanding of American values. The current economic failure gives him an opening to speak about the economy in terms of those ideals: caring about all, prosperity for all, responsibility for all by all, and good jobs for all who want to work.
I think Obama is correct about biconceptualism of this sort -- at least where the overwhelming proportion of Americans is concerned. When the President spoke at the Lincoln Day dinner recently about sensible Midwestern Republicans, he meant biconceptual Republicans, who are progressive and/or pragmatic on many issues.
But hardcore movement conservatives tend to be more ideological and less biconceptual than their constituents. In the recent stimulus vote, the hardcore movement conservatives kept party discipline (except for three Senate votes) by threatening to run opposition candidates against anyone who broke ranks. They were able to enforce this because the conservative message machine is strong in their districts and there is no nationwide progressive message machine operating in those districts. The effectiveness of the conservative message machine led to Obama making a rare mistake in communication, the mistake of saying out loud in Florida not to think of Rush Limbaugh, thus violating the first rule of framing and giving Rush Limbaugh even greater power.
Biconceptual, partly progressive, Republicans do exist in Congress, and the president is not going to give up on them. But as long as the conservative message machine can activate its values virtually unopposed in conservative districts, movement conservatives can continue to pressure biconceptual Republicans and keep them from voting their conscience on many issues. This is why a nationwide progressive message machine needs to be organized if the president is to achieve unity through biconceptualism.
4. Protection and Empowerment
The fourth idea behind the Obama Code is the President's understanding of government--"not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." This depends on what "works" means. The word sounds purely pragmatic, but it is moral in operation.
The idea is that government has twin moral missions: protection and empowerment. Protection includes not just military and police protection, but protections for the environment, consumers, workers, pensioners, disaster victims, and investors.
Empowerment is what his stimulus package is about: it includes education and other forms of infrastructure--roads, bridges, communications, energy supply, the banking system and stock market. The moral mission of government is simple: no one can earn a living in America or live an American life without protection and empowerment by the government. The stimulus package is basically an empowerment package. Taxes are what you pay for living in America, rather than in Congo or Bangladesh. And the more money you make from government protection and empowerment, the more you owe in return. Progressive taxation is a matter of moral accounting. Tax cuts for the middle class mean that the middle class hasn't been getting as much as it has been contributing to the nation's productivity for many years.
This view of government meshes with our national ideal of equality. There needs to be moral equality: equal protection and equal empowerment. We all deserve health care protection, retirement protection, worker protection, employment protection, protection of our civil liberties, and investment protection. Protection and empowerment. That's what "works" means--"whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified."
5. Morality and Economics Fit Together
Crises are times of opportunity. Budgets are moral statements. President Obama has put these ideas together. His economic program is a moral program and conversely. Why the quartet of leading economic issues--education, energy, health, banking? Because they are at the heart of government's moral mission of protection and empowerment, and correspondingly, they are what is needed to act on empathy, social and personal responsibility, and making the future better. The economic crisis is also an opportunity. It requires him to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the right things to do.
6. Systemic Causation and Systemic Risk
Conservatives tend to think in terms of direct causation. The overwhelming moral value of individual, not social, responsibility requires that causation be local and direct. For each individual to be entirely responsible for the consequences of his or her actions, those actions must be the direct causes of those consequences. If systemic causation is real, then the most fundamental of conservative moral--and economic--values is fallacious.
Global ecology and global economics are prime examples of systemic causation. Global warming is fundamentally a system phenomenon. That is why the very idea threatens conservative thinking. And the global economic collapse is also systemic in nature. That is at the heart of the death of the conservative principle of the laissez-faire free market, where individual short-term self-interest was supposed to be natural, moral, and the best for everybody. The reality of systemic causation has left conservatism without any real ideas to address global warming and the global economic crisis.
With systemic causation goes systemic risk. The old rational actor model taught in economics and political science ignored systemic risk. Risk was seen as local and governed by direct causation, that is, buy short-term individual decisions. The investment banks acted on their own short-term risk, based on short-term assumptions, for example, that housing prices would continue to rise or that bundles of mortgages once secure for the short term would continue to be "secure" and could be traded as "securities."
The systemic nature of ecological and economic causation and risk have resulted in the twin disasters of global warming and global economic breakdown. Both must be dealt with on a systematic, global, long-term basis. Regulating risk is global and long-term, and so what are required are world-wide institutions that carry out that regulation in systematic way and that monitor causation and risk systemically, not just locally.
President Obama understands this, though much of the country does not. Part of his challenge will be to formulate policies that carry out these ideas and to communicate these ideas as well as possible to the public.
7. Contested Concepts and Patriotic Language
As President, Barack Obama must speak in patriotic language. But all patriot language in this country is "contested." Every major patriotic term has a core meaning that we all understand the same way. But that common core meaning is very limited in its application. Most uses of patriotic language are extended from the core on the basis of either conservative or progressive values to produce meanings that are often opposite from each other.
I've written a whole book, Whose Freedom?, on the word "freedom" as used by conservatives and progressives. In his second inaugural, George W. Bush used "freedom," "free," and "liberty" over and over--first, with its common meaning, then shifting to its conservative meaning: defending "freedom" as including domestic spying, torture and rendition, denial of habeus corpus, invading a country that posed no threat to us, a "free market" based on greed and short-term profits for the wealthy, denying sex education and access to women's health facilities, denying health care to the poor, and leading to the killing and maiming of innocent civilians in Iraq by the hundreds of thousands, all in the name of "freedom." It was anything but a progressive's view of freedom--and anything but the view intended in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.
For forty years, from the late 1960's through 2008, conservatives managed, through their extensive message machine, to reframe much of our political discourse to fit their worldview. President Obama is reclaiming our patriotic language after decades of conservative dominance, to fit what he has correctly seen as the ideals behind the founding of our country.
"Freedom" will no longer mean what George W. Bush meant by it. Guantanamo will be closed, torture outlawed, the market regulated. Obama's inaugural address was filled with framings of patriotic concepts to fit those ideals. Not just the concept of freedom, but also equality, prosperity, unity, security, interests, challenges, courage, purpose, loyalty, patriotism, virtue, character, and grace. Look at these words in his inaugural address and you will see how Obama has situated their meaning within his view of fundamental American values: empathy, social and well as personal responsibility, improving yourself and your country. We can expect further reclaiming of patriotic language throughout his administration.
All this is what "change" means. In his policy proposals the President is trying to align his administration's policies with the fundamental values of the Framers of our Constitution. In seeking "bipartisan" support, he is looking beyond political affiliations to those who share those values on particular issues. In his economic policy, he is realigning our economy with the moral missions of government: protection and empowerment for all.
It's Us, Not Just Him
The president is the best political communicator of our age. He has the bully pulpit. He gets media attention from the press. His website is running a permanent campaign, Organizing for Obama, run by his campaign manager David Plouffe. It seeks issue-by-issue support from his huge mailing list. There are plenty of progressive blogs. MoveOn.org now has over five million members. And yet that is nowhere near enough.
The conservative message machine is huge and still going. There are dozens of conservative think tanks, many with very large communications budgets. The conservative leadership institutes are continuing to turn out thousands of trained conservative spokespeople every year. The conservative apparatus for language creation is still functioning. Conservative talking points are still going out to their network of spokespeople, who still being booked on tv and radio around the country. About 80% of the talking heads on tv are conservatives. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are as strong as ever. There are now progressive voices on MSNBC, Comedy Central, and Air America, but they are still overwhelmed by Right's enormous megaphone. Republicans in Congress can count on overwhelming message support in their home districts and homes states. That is one reason why they were able to stonewall on the President's stimulus package. They had no serious media competition at home pounding out the Obama vision day after day.
Such national, day-by-day media competition is necessary. Democrats need to build it. Democratic think tanks are strong on policy and programs, but weak on values and vision. Without the moral arguments based on the Obama values and vision, the policymakers most likely be unable to regularly address both independent voters and the Limbaugh-FoxNews audiences in conservative Republican strongholds.
The president and his administration cannot build such a communication system, nor can the Democrats in Congress. The DNC does not have the resources. It will be up to supporters of the Obama values, not just supporters on the issues, to put such a system in place. Despite all the organizing strength of Obama supporters, no such organizing effort is now going on. If none is put together, the movement conservatives will face few challenges of fundamental values in their home constituencies and will be able to go on stonewalling with impunity. That will make the president's vision that much harder to carry out.
The Obama Code is based on seven deep, insightful, and subtle intellectual moves. What President Obama has been attempting in his speeches is a return to the original frames of the Framers, reconstituting what it means to be an American, to be patriotic, to be a citizen and to share in both the sacrifices and the glories of our country. In seeking "bipartisan" support, he is looking beyond political affiliations to those who share those values on particular issues. In his economic plan, he is attempting to realign our economy with the moral missions of government: protection and empowerment for all.
The president hasn't fooled the radical ideological conservatives in Congress. They know progressive values when they see them -- and they see them in their own colleagues and constituents too often for comfort. The radical conservatives are aware that this economic crisis threatens not only their political support, but the very underpinnings of conservative ideology itself. Nonetheless, their brains have not been changed by facts. Movement conservatives are not fading away. They think their conservative values are the real American values. They still have their message machine and they are going to make the most of it. The ratings for Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are rising. Without a countervailing communications system on the Democratic side, they can create a lot of trouble, not just for the president, not just for the nation, but on a global scale, for the environmental and economic future of the world.
© 2009 Huffington Post
Published on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 by The Nation
Obama Offers a Comprehensive 'Yes, We Can!'
by John Nichols
Barack Obama's not-a-State of the Union address sounded precisely like a State of the Union address, as the president offered a sober assessment of a recession that "is real and (is being felt) everywhere," and a dramatic vision of the multi-tiered approach he proposes to renew the American economy.
Obama's Tuesday night speech to Congress and the American people sketched the battlelines for coming weeks and months of wrangling over immediate and longer-term economic policy in the United States -- going out of his way to make the debate over what to do about health care central to the discussion. And the Democratic president's Republican critics bit.
As such, the night was distinguished by two competing themes:
1. Obama's determination to portray the economic crisis as a daunting challenge that can only be met with a comprehensive approach that includes both emergency responses -- as represented by the stimulus bill be signed last week -- and structural shifts involving health care, energy and education reform.
2. The Republican Party leadership's determination -- despite evidence of genuine division among Republican governors and even among congressional Republicans -- to counter the president's every suggestion by just saying "no."
Through much of his speech, Obama sounded a little like an emergency-room surgeon turning away from the operating table to explain what he had done and what he was about to do.
Yes, the patient is very sick, "But," the physician-in-chief counseled, "while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."
Obama outlined the steps he was taking to treat the immediate crisis, beginning with the $800-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he painted it as a something-for-everyone measure that will save or create 3.5 million jobs, provide just about everyone with a tax cut and somehow remain fiscally responsible along the way. He reviewed his proposals to ease credit with a Financial Stability Plan that his office says "will guarantee that money is safe, that banks start lending and that if they do receive taxpayer funds, they will not be allowed to use them for perks and bonuses." And he described his housing agenda with a new emphasis on the notion that, while the legislation will help work-hard, play-by-the-rules families stay in their homes, it will also keep interest rates low and enables millions of homeowners who aren't in deep trouble to negotiate lower mortgage rates.
This was not new material, although Obama and his team have wisely recognized that, in order to sell their housing scheme, they will need to reposition it as a populist response to the economic downturn rather than a taxpayer-funded assist to the hardest hit.
What was new was the president's emphasis on the need to make "transformative investments" to:
Remake the health care system in a manner that reduces costs and increases coverage. (On this issue, where so many presidents have tried and failed, Obama said, "reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.")
• Make the United States energy independent by creating a sustainable and clean energy economy.
• Modernize the country's education system in order to foster economic growth and competitiveness.
The final word on what such reforms are likely to look like will rest with Congress, and Obama only began to detail his agenda during the course of a speech that lasted the better part of an hour.
But the president's Republican critics filled in the blanks by denouncing the Obama's approach as too ambitious, too expensive and too reliant on the power of government -- and its ability to incur massive amounts of debt.
Obama was still preaching bipartisanship, but the Republicans were echoing some of the rhetoric.
But for all the conciliatory language, the Republican response to the president's speech was always going to slap rather than shake the open hand of political friendship.
This was telegraphed by the opposition party's choice of a respondent to the president.
While most Republican governors are grabbing for federal stimulus payments, the party turned the microphone over to the most prominent refuser of federal largesse, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Jindal came across better than his Washington-based counterparts would have. He is not so freakishly emotional as House Minority Leader John Boehner nor is he so crudely uncaring as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yet, the message from Jindal, who is positioning himself as a 2012 GOP presidential prospect, was every bit as negative as that of his partisan allies.
If Obama said "stimulate," Jindal said "wait."
If Obama said "invest," Jindal said "cut taxes."
If Obama said "Roosevelt," Jindal said "Reagan."
One of the great lies in American politics is the claim that responses to presidential addresses are never of any consequence. In fact, they invariably tell us what how serious a fight the president has on his hands.
The selection of Jindal was telling, indeed.
On Tuesday night, Barack Obama offered a comprehensive "yes, we can" promise.
Bobby Jindal responded with a narrow "no, we can't" threat.
The battlelines could not be any more clearly drawn.
The choice could not be any more dramatic -- or vital to the nation's future.
While Jindal fretted Hoover-like about the new Democratic president's "irresponsible" response to an old Republican crisis, Obama took the nothing-to-fear-but-fear itself position, telling Americans that, "The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more."
© 2009 The Nation
John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. A co-founder of the media reform organization Free Press, Nichols is is co-author with Robert W. McChesney of Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy - from The New Press. Nichols' latest book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
By PAUL KRUGMAN
What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?
A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.
Even if the original Obama plan — around $800 billion in stimulus, with a substantial fraction of that total given over to ineffective tax cuts — had been enacted, it wouldn’t have been enough to fill the looming hole in the U.S. economy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will amount to $2.9 trillion over the next three years.
Yet the centrists did their best to make the plan weaker and worse.
One of the best features of the original plan was aid to cash-strapped state governments, which would have provided a quick boost to the economy while preserving essential services. But the centrists insisted on a $40 billion=2 0cut in that spending.
The original plan also included badly needed spending on school construction; $16 billion of that spending was cut. It included aid to the unemployed, especially help in maintaining health care — cut. Food stamps — cut. All in all, more than $80 billion was cut from the plan, with the great bulk of those cuts falling on precisely the measures that would do the most to reduce the depth and pain of this slump.
On the other hand, the centrists were apparently just fine with one of the worst provisions in the Senate bill, a tax credit for home buyers. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research calls this the “flip your house to your brother” provision: it will cost a lot of money while doing nothing to help the economy.
All in all, the centrists’ insistence on comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted will, if reflected in the final bill, lead to substantially lower employment and substantially more suffering.
But how did this happen? I blame President Obama’s belief that he can transcend the partisan divide — a belief that warped his economic strategy.
After all, many people expected Mr. Obama to come out with a really strong stimulus plan, reflecting both the economy’s dire straits and his own electoral mandate.
Instead, however, he offered a plan that was clearly both too small and too heavily reliant on tax cuts.=2 0Why? Because he wanted the plan to have broad bipartisan support, and believed that it would. Not long ago administration strategists were talking about getting 80 or more votes in the Senate.
Mr. Obama’s postpartisan yearnings may also explain why he didn’t do something crucially important: speak forcefully about how government spending can help support the economy. Instead, he let conservatives define the debate, waiting until late last week before finally saying what needed to be said — that increasing spending is the whole point of the plan.
And Mr. Obama got nothing in return for his bipartisan outreach. Not one Republican voted for the House version of the stimulus plan, which was, by the way, better focused than the original administration proposal.
In the Senate, Republicans inveighed against “pork” — although the wasteful spending they claimed to have identified (much of it was fully justified) was a trivial share of the bill’s total. And they decried the bill’s cost — even as 36 out of 41 Republican senators voted to replace the Obama plan with $3 trillion, that’s right, $3 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years.
So Mr. Obama was reduced to bargaining for the votes of those centrists. And the centrists, predictably, extracted a pound of flesh — not, as far as anyone can tell, based on any coherent economic argument, but simply to demonstrate their centrist mojo. They probably w ould have demanded that $100 billion or so be cut from anything Mr. Obama proposed; by coming in with such a low initial bid, the president guaranteed that the final deal would be much too small.
Such are the perils of negotiating with yourself.
Now, House and Senate negotiators have to reconcile their versions of the stimulus, and it’s possible that the final bill will undo the centrists’ worst. And Mr. Obama may be able to come back for a second round. But this was his best chance to get decisive action, and it fell short.
So has Mr. Obama learned from this experience? Early indications aren’t good.
For rather than acknowledge the failure of his political strategy and the damage to his economic strategy, the president tried to put a postpartisan happy face on the whole thing. “Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands,” he declared on Saturday, and “the scale and scope of this plan is right.”
No, they didn’t, and no, it isn’t.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Organizing in the Style of the Obama Campaign and Cesar Chavez (Organizing to Change NCLB), Duane Campbell, Democratic Socialists of America
Youth Rising – Radical Healing and
Activism in the Post Civil Rights Era
Saturday, February 21, 2009
8:30 am – 2:00 pm
University Union, Sacramento State
Keynote Speaker: DR. Shawn Ginwright. Associate Professor. San Francisco State University.
15th. Annual Multicultural Education Conference.
Free. Open to the Public.
8:30 AM. – 2 P.M.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Tom Daschle has, under his usual cloud of scandal, withdrawn as President Obama's nominee to serve in the critical Cabinet position of Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Republicans think they have dealt the new president a blow.
In fact, by opposing Daschle so strenuously, and appropriately, Republicans and a handful of principled Democratic senators (who had quietly let the White House know they were not going to back the nomination) have done the new president and the nation a favor.
The scandal over Daschle's lavish lifestyle and failure to pay taxes simply emphasized why the former Senate Majority Leader was exactly the wrong choice to serve in the administration of a Democratic president who aspires to make a break with the worst of the compromises that characterized his party during the Bush-Cheney era.
No top Democrat did more to undermine opposition to the Republican regime than Daschle, who as the majority leader during the first years of George Bush's presidency put so much emphasis on the "loyal" part of the term "loyal opposition" that he failed his party and his country.
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Daschle schemed with the White House to organize a bailout for the domestic airline industry -- for which Daschle's wife was a lobbyist -- that made last fall's Wall Street bailout look like a model of fiscal accountability.
Then, Daschle worked with the Bush administration to undermine opposition to the Patriot Act in 2001 -- preventing Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold from introducing amendments that would have addressed vital civil liberties concerns.
A year later, Daschle worked in lockstep with the administration to secure congressional authorization in 2002 for an attack on Iraq.
By GLENN R. SIMPSON
WASHINGTON -- The White House's nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, has earned more than $700,000 in speaking and consulting fees since the beginning of 2008, with some of the payments coming from troubled financial firms and from a firm that invests in contractors for federal national security agencies, according to financial disclosures released Wednesday.
Mr. Panetta received $56,000 from Merrill Lynch & Co. for two speeches and $28,000 for a speech for Wachovia Corp., according to disclosures released ahead of Thursday's scheduled Senate hearing on Mr. Panetta's nomination.
Both Merrill and Wachovia reported big losses last year and were acquired by larger firms. The Wachovia honorarium was dated Oct. 30, and the last Merrill Lynch honorarium was dated Oct. 11, according to disclosure forms filed by Mr. Panetta in connection with his nomination. At the time, Bank of America had agreed to a rescue of Merrill Lynch; Wachovia had agreed to be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co.
Read the entire story at the Wall Street Journal