This week both The New Yorker and The New York Times released their editorial choice for president (here and here). It’s certainly no surprise that they picked Barack Obama. Both articles are devastating in their criticism of George W. Bush and the conservative politics he and John McCain endorse. It’s too bad the media didn’t do a better job documenting the excesses and evils over the last eight years; now it’ll be up to the historians to uncover exactly how we got where we are today.
At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both changes and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.
The New Yorker Editors, 13 Oct 2008
I remember being very excited when Clinton was elected in 1991 after twelve years of Reagan / Bush, wondering to myself whether it would actually make any difference. I wasn’t initially convinced, but after eight years, we had peace and prosperity, and federal budget surpluses offered the possibility of universal health care, fixing our crumbling infrastructure, and shoring up Social Security and Medicare for the retirement of the Baby Boomers. And where are we today, eight years later? In ruin.
Let’s hope Barack Obama will be our next president and that he’s given a chance to bring our country back to where we were before it was hijacked by the fundamentalist, free-spending, for-the-rich, fascists of Bush / Cheney.
The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.
As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.
The New York Times Editorial Board, 23 Oct 2008
In the spirit of the spiteful nature of the McCain / Palin campaign, I offer this (undoctored) photo from the last debate:
My friends, it’s an easy choice.
Riding Toward Everywhere is a meandering memoir of William T. Vollmann’s experiences “catching out” (stealing rides) on freight trains across America. There’s almost no chronology here, and in total, the book seems more like a series of digressions than the subject of riding the rails. But no matter: it’s Vollmann. There’s always something interesting going on.
From pages 97-98:
Every time I surrender, even necessarily, to authority which disregardingly or contemptuously violates me, so I violate myself. Every time I break an unnecessary law, doing so for my own joy and to the detriment of no other human being, so I regain myself, and become strong in the parts of me that the security man can never see.
I’m not one to break laws, but having passed through TSA’s “security” checkpoints at the Fairbanks and Chicago airports recently, I certainly understand the notion of violation that’s a big part of the process.
I got my first Baffler in the mail yesterday from dusty groove america, Issue No. 17, Superslayer Storybook. The cover shows an armored guy standing over another decapitated guy. Strange.
Then I started reading it, beginning with The Gilded Mean by Thomas Frank. It’s an indictment of the centrist philosophy that has strangled the Democratic Party (no, not the Democrat Party you nitwit) since Reagan was in office. Here’s a fantastic section, taken from his review of David Harvey’s Brief Review of Neoliberalism:
His new book achieves the effect it does through the simple device of speaking plainly about the momentous economic and political change that, beginning in the seventies, swept over America and then the rest of the industrialized world.
It is a story we all know instinctively, and it’s not a very centrist affair. We have loosed the forces of the market, and this is what the market has done to the United States: It has destroyed manufacturing and enthroned finance; beaten organized labor almost to death; demanded round after round of tax cuts; defunded public services while raising the price of education and health care to inaccessible levels; decoupled wages from productivity, allowing wages to erode to a level lower today than in the early seventies despite all the advances in worker efficiency. We are often told that we live in a time of otherworldly prosperity, but what has changed the most, Harvey tells us, is distribution, not production. Our new economy is a banker’s triumph, not an engineer’s. Today the nation’s affluent areas glitter, it’s blue-collar neighborhoods crumble, and its rich people are richer, as measured by their percentage of the national income, than they have been since the twenties. The class divide has returned with a vengeance, with one class consistently getting what it wants while another just as consistently loses out. (Page 7)
I haven’t read much of the second essay yet, but it’s equally strong-worded and honest about how screwed up industrialized society is today:
Consider this single fact: It took ten years, almost all of the nineties, for the median family income to get back to the same level that it was, in real terms, in 1989. But in 1999, when we got to the same income level we had in 1989, this same “median” family had to work…six more weeks a year. (Page 14)
I think I’m really going to enjoy (and really not enjoy, if you know what I mean) reading this magazine.