On the domestic front, Social Security has been the big story. Bush has proposed one of the worst pieces of legislation in history, a naked attempt to kill the remaining social net of the New Deal. Josh Marshall, Matt Yglesias and Brad DeLong have lead the way on this one, exposing the lies and hidden agenda of the administration, the right-wing circuit and all the privatizers. Paul Krugman's Times piece today serves as a nice reminder to those Dems looking to compromise (Sens. Lieberman and Carper, you can't hide). More than anything, this seems like an issue that should serve as a catalyst for the Left, a chance to save one of the great government iniatives, energize its base, and make ground in red states that have ignored the real conservative agenda. I love Matt Yglesias' take on compromise here, as the title of his post is the best ever: No Mercy, No Retreat, No Surrender. So gangsta, so trill. Actually, this whole quote is real nice:
The party's goal should be to smash the stuck members. Once, in Maine, I went to a big lobster cook on the rocky coast where you had to break the shells by putting the cooked crustacean down on the rocks, then picking up a smaller rock and slamming it into the lobster. Bam! Bam! That's how it should be.
Now, this is what I want to hear. Liberals are finally taking their cues from my heroes, like Mobb Deep, going after the shook ones (Joementum, read these lyrics and get your mind correct or else). I can see it now, an Obama-Jay-Z '08 ticket (he's retired, dating Beyonce, what else is there left to accomplish?), with the Diplomats (Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones) running the State Department, Cash Money Millionaires at Treasury, Geto Boys at Housing and Urban Development (Pound for Pound would accept this position if offered, fyi) and Suge Knight ruling the Pentagon (you thought Rumsfeld was scary, wait til Suge beats up Kim Jong Il with a baseball bat and hangs out him out some 40th Floor window in Pyongyang). Maybe Nas as speechwriter, as the first speech would be one of the greatest ever heard, and then everyone would wait around for the next two terms for something half as good. Oh, and I would have Lil' Jon as press secretary, answering "Yeeeeaaaaaahhhh"s "Whhhhuuuuutttt?"s to every question. This seems like the logical extension of the lies, half-truths and deception that Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan have been feeding us for the past 5 years, as information and transparency are for suckas. Plus, if he could make Usher seem cool, there is no telling what he could for Obama.
Anyway, The Nation has even risen to the occasion of late, in spite of its inane columnists like Andrew Cockburn. David Sirota has an interesting piece, pushing for a liberal agenda on a national scale. His poll numbers are interesting, and news to me, showing an opportunity for the party and liberals to just be themselves. Has the centrist wing gone too far and made the Democrats too Republican? An interesting idea, especially in the context of Thomas Frank's book, which details how the red states became red states in spite of their best interests. This debate also was at the core of the one over who should lead the Democratic National Committee.
Liza Featherstone's piece on Wal-Mart not only chronicles the sexist and exploitative nature of the corporation, but also lays out a strategy for a progressive movement in this country. Her brief look at the rise of the 'consumer' is fantastic, exposing the degradation of the terms 'labor' and 'democracy' in our society. We are a country that cares more about buying cheap things, than worker's rights or liveable wages or justice. Featherstone also looks at the challenge for union organizing with regards to Wal-mart, and why this is a priority for the labor movement. Another excellent piece from a voice we should hear from alot more.
Finally, Dissent magazine had a wonderful special series in its Fall 2004 issue, titled "Rethinking the Politics of the Family". Arlene Skolnick starts it off, looking at the ways in which the Right has dominated the debate "about gender, family, and sexuality", and what progressives need to do to change this situation. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein looks at the attacks on working mothers recently. Kathleen Gerson examines the notion of time and overwork, while Myra Strober argues that children should be seen as a public good. I highly recommend these articles, as they delve into women's issue, an area that I am shamefully lacking in knowledge.
I hope that people can find some interesting stuff here, and that it helps stir some more thinking. These are brilliant people, cosmopolitan, intellectuals in the finest sense and tradition of the word. They are striving to make a better society, to speak truth to power, and to speak for those who have no voice today. I hope that they make you think about new ideas and about old ideas differently, but most of all I hope they inspire you to not give up hope and to know that there are many of us fighting through these dark times.
I will come back to these inter/national issues periodically, but only to highlight much smarter people who know what's up. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Obama-Jigga in 2008, ya hear!