Obama's America

Whatever Happened to “The Vision Thing?”

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When I was in elementary school, I remember reading about the remarkable transformations that the future would bring: Flying cars, manned colonies on the moon, humanoid robotic servants. Almost half a century later, none of these promises of the future – and many, many more – have come to pass. Yet, in many respects, these visions from the future served their purpose in allowing us to imagine a world far more wondrous than the one we were in at the time, to aspire to something greater.  read more »

Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration

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As the financial bailout fiasco worsens, President Obama may want to consider a do-over of his whole approach towards economic stimulus. Instead of lurching haphazardly in search of a "new" New Deal symphony, perhaps he should adapt parts of the original score.

Nothing makes more sense, for example, than reviving programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA), started in the 1935, as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), begun in 1933. These programs, focused on employing young people whose families were on relief, completed many important projects – many still in use today – while providing practical training to and instilling discipline in an entire generation.  read more »

Throwing Rocks At History

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My wife and I spent last Saturday afternoon with our three children exploring the famous and exotic art works on display at the LA County Museum of Art. Yet what caught the attention of our twin 10-year-old girls was a grainy oversized poster of two youths on a Berlin street heaving rocks at Russian tanks.

Why, Lucia and Antonia wanted to know, were they throwing stones? Wouldn’t the tanks fire on them? What happened to the young men in the photo?  read more »

Subjects:

Anger Could Make Us Stronger

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The notion of a populist outburst raises an archaic vision of soot-covered industrial workers waving placards. Yet populism is far from dead, and represents a force that could shape our political future in unpredictable ways.

People have reasons to be mad, from declining real incomes to mythic levels of greed and excess among the financial elite. Confidence in political and economic institutions remains at low levels, as does belief in the future.  read more »

The New Business Ethos

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My only post-graduate employment lasted 3 months. I worked for a small political consulting firm drafting online strategy for a well-funded land-use initiative. After the success of the measure, the firm’s founder sat me down, told me he loved my work but that the firm was not interested in continuing its web-based consulting. He had to let me go. It was in that same meeting that I decided to start – and pitched to my boss – my own business.  read more »

Don't Mess With Census 2010

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The announcement last week that Congressional Black Caucus members plan to press President Obama to keep the 2010 census under White House supervision, even if the former Democratic Governor of Washington, Gary Locke, is confirmed as Commerce Secretary, brought back memories of a movie I’d seen before — a bad movie.  read more »

Urban Inequality Could Get Worse

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President Obama's stated objective to reduce inequality, as laid out in public addresses and budget plans, is a noble one. The growing income gap – not only between rich and poor, but also between the ultra-affluent and the middle class – poses a threat both to the economy and the long-term viability of our republic.

But ironically, what seems to be the administration's core proposal, ratcheting up the burden on "rich" taxpayers earning over $250,000, could have unintended consequences. For one thing, it would place undue stress on the very places that have been Obama's strongest supports, while providing an unintended boost to those regions that most oppose him.  read more »

Democrats Could Face an Internal Civil War as Gentry and Populist Factions Square Off

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This is the Democratic Party's moment, its power now greater than any time since the mid-1960s. But do not expect smooth sailing. The party is a fractious group divided by competing interests, factions and constituencies that could explode into a civil war, especially when it comes to energy and the environment.

Broadly speaking, there is a long-standing conflict inside the Democratic Party between gentry liberals and populists. This division is not the same as in the 1960s, when the major conflicts revolved around culture and race as well as on foreign policy. Today the emerging fault-lines follow mostly regional, geographical and, most importantly, class differences.  read more »

Chevy Chase Circle Fountain: A Call To Rededicate A Memorial To Racism

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On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, C-SPAN watchers nationwide saw an especially poignant symbolic moment. Assembled on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, along with House and Senate members, were hundreds of guests. Behind every speaker stood the marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, bending benignly, holding in his outstretched hand a folded Emancipation Proclamation.  read more »

What Does “Age of Hope” Mean in the Mississippi Delta?

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It was during the inaugural days that an article appeared in The Washington Post about the predominantly black Mississippi Delta going for Obama – no surprise! But juxtaposed in the same time period there appeared in a Kentucky newspaper the story of predominantly white Menifee County, my birthplace – deep in the heart of Appalachia – defying the red sea of Kentucky all around it and also going for Obama.  read more »