where trouble was needed

November 6, 2008

what now?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 6:37 pm

We wished success for Barack Obama not because we were impressed with his record, nor even his speeches [at least not the ones touted as impressive], but because we believed he could unseat Bush II.  That he did, and he did decisively and with a substantial number his voters actually positively voting for him and for Joe Biden and not only against John McCain and Sarah Palin.

If I were in a swing state, I honestly do not know for whom I would vote.  On the one hand I see the point Bill Clinton made, when he posited two candidates, one with whom you agree 100% and one with whom you disagree 50% … but if you feel the latter candidate is more likely to deliver on the other 50%, he asked, “for whom would you vote?”

At the same time I feel the two-party dominance is dangerous and destructive to the democratic fibre of this country and I have read and seen too much about the internal politics within the parties to believe that all of their compromises, or even 10% of them, are for the sake of the common good and the broader agenda.  These two parties are just way too powerful.

And what is the point of criticizing the government for bailing out Wall Street when Obama voted FOR the bailout?  Why did he do it?  Why didn’t anyone ask him this question?  Why did he vote for FISA?  Why did he not clearly state that Gay Marraige should be legal?  Why did he have to bring religion in to avoid taking a clear stand.  Why are we now in a situation where California delivered 55 electoral votes for Obama, yet banned gay marriage in the same breath?

Yet, it may be that if Obama supported gay marriage he might not have been elected.  Then we would be facing McCain AND ban on gay marriage.  Maybe he will use the politician’s flair for saying politically expedient things while working for justice behind the scenes.  I am not sure how far we can accept this kind of public policy and public discourse, but if we are accepting it, let us at least acknowledge that that is what we are doing.

A friend wrote to me, “Who could have imagined that a country that incarcerates black youth at such high rates would also vote a black man into office? that is something exciting, interesting, etc.”

What I wonder is, will the incarceration rate fall under Obama’s administration or will it remain steady, or even increase?  The economic crisis, throwing millions out of jobs and out of homes, will drive up crime.  Obama is talking about helping “not only wall street but main street” but what about people who are out on the street? Who have no job, no home, and certainly no legally recognized small business … what is in his economic plan for them?  Reactions to Obama’s victory have been dominated on the one hand by assumptions that he will raise the living and working standards of the poor, the minorities, and the marginalized and on the other hand by calls for the end of affirmative action since we have now proved that a black man can be president.  This combination really threatens to leave the folks on the street, the 40 million ininsured, the __ million unemployed and the growing millions of homeless, with even fewer resources.

We do not yet know whether he will change gears from doing whatever it takes to unseat Bush II, to doing what it takes to move towards peace and justice.  This is the question Nader posed, and of all people Fox News tried to look holier than thou with an appalled look that Nader could even pause the celebration of the first black president and ask the key question about how he would use his good offices.  Why is it that everyone could question Sarah Palin on her feminism but Ralph Nader got a lecture from Shep Smith for asking whether Barack Obama would champion the causes of the black community, as well as the poor and marginalized white and other minority communities.  When has he ever voted in their favor?


November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel (1912 – 2008)

Filed under: Memories — Aravinda @ 8:00 pm

Studs Terkel passed away.

I am so grateful to Amy Goodman and Steven Sackur for interviewing him last year – at age 95 he was alert and lucid. It was a great gift to hear those interviews.

Celebrated Author Elevated Listening to an Art

Excerpts from above article:

Terkel was an artist of conversation who once described his work as “listening to what people tell me.”

From 1949 to 1952, he had a television interview show, “Studs’ Place,” which was canceled after the House Un-American Activities Committee raised questions about Terkel’s earlier political associations.

Studs Terkel at a universal health care rally, 2007

Studs Terkel at a universal health care rally, 2007


“Terkel understands that what people need … and what they perhaps will never find, is a sympathetic ear.”

Here is an interview he did last year at age 95, where he said he wanted to be remembered as “someone who made trouble where trouble was needed.”

Some older interviews from the archive of Democracy Now are here.

Studs Terkel (age 95) at a 2007 Rally promoting Universal health care. Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studs_Terkel

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