Sunday Reads, and little bald gold men.Posted: February 27, 2011
It is Sunday and we are open for business…so grab your coffee, or cafe con leche, and let’s get this bus rolling. We finally heard our President mention Gaddafi by name, Obama and Secretary Clinton have finally said Gaddafi must step down. Boston Boomer put up a post about it last night.
Here are a couple updated links below:
I found this Opinion on the AJE site, it is written by Mark Levine, a professor at UC Irvine. I think what drew me to this commentary is that he seems to say what won’t be said in our own MSM. Here are some exerts of the article, however I think it best for you to read the entire thing.
Although she likely did not intend it, when Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, warned Arab leaders in early January that they must “reform” lest their systems “sink in the sand” her words were as relevant in Washington as they were in Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo or Sanaa. But Americans – the people as much as their leaders – are so busy dismantling the social, political and economic foundations of their former greatness that they are unable to see how much they have become like the stereotype of the traditional Middle Eastern society that for so long was used to justify, alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) supporting authoritarian leaders or imposing foreign rule.
A well known Egyptian labour organiser, Kamal Abbas, made a video telling Americans from Tahrir that “we and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support”. It is a good thing, because it is clear Americans need all the support they can get. “I want you to know,” he continued, “that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.”
Aren’t such lines supposed to be uttered by American presidents instead of Egyptian union activists?
The problem clearly starts from the top and continues to the grass roots. Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency on the slogan “Yes we can!” But whether caving in to Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on settlements, or standing by as Republicans wage a jihad on the working people of Wisconsin, the president has refused to stand up for principles that were once the bedrock of American democracy and foreign policy.
The American people are equally to blame, as increasingly, those without healthcare, job security or pensions seem intent on dragging down the lucky few unionised workers who still have them rather than engage in the hard work of demanding the same rights for themselves.
The top one per cent of Americans, who now earn more than the bottom 50 per cent of the country combined, could not have scripted it any better if they had tried. They have achieved a feat that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and their fellow cleptocrats could only envy (the poorest 20 per cent of the population in Tunisia and Egypt actually earn a larger share of national income than does their counterpart in the US).
The situation is so desperate that a well known singer and activist contacted me in Cairo to ask organisers of Tahrir to send words of support for union workers in Wisconsin. Yet “Madison is the new Tahrir” remains a dream with little hope of becoming reality, even as Cairenes take time out from their own revolution proudly to order pizza for their fellow protesters in Wisconsin.
Will Ibn Khaldun be proved right?
It now seems clear that hoping for the Obama administration to support real democracy in the Middle East is probably too much to ask, since it cannot even support full democracy and economic and social rights for the majority of people at home. More and more, the US feels not just increasingly “irrelevant” on the world stage, as many commentators have described its waning position in the Middle East, but like a giant ship heading for an iceberg while the passengers and crew argue about how to arrange the deck chairs.
Luckily, inspiration has arrived, albeit from what to a ‘Western’ eye seems like the unlikeliest of sources. The question is: Can the US have a Tahrir moment, or as the great Arab historian Ibn Khaldun would have predicted, has it entered the irreversible downward spiral that is the fate of all great civilizations once they lose the social purpose and solidarity that helped make them great in the first place?
It is still too early to say for sure, but as of today it seems that the reins of history have surely passed out of America’s hands.
Imagine, people in Egypt sending pizzas of support to those in Wisconsin, it tugs at my waning sense of idealism…On a side note, if you have never read Ibn Khaldun, please take a look at some of his writings.
HUMAN SOCIAL ORGANIZATION is something necessary. The philosophers expressed this fact by saying: “Man is `political’ by nature.”That is, he cannot do without the social organization…This is what civilization means…
When mankind has achieved social organization, as we have stated, and when civilization in the world has thus become a fact, people need someone to exercise a restraining influence and keep them apart, for aggressiveness and injustice are in the animal nature of man…
The truth one must know is that no religious or political propaganda can be successful, unless power and group feeling exist to support the religious and political aspirations and to defend them against those who reject them.
Human civilization requires political leadership for its organization.
We have mentioned before in more than one place that human social organization is something necessary. It is the thing that is meant by “the civilization” which we have been discussing. (People) in any social organization must have someone who exercises a restraining influence and rules them and to whom recourse may be had…Sometimes, (this rule is based) upon rational politics. People are obliged to submit to it in view of the reward they expect from the ruler after he has become acquainted with what is good for them.
Now, the afore-mentioned rational politics may be of two types. The first type of rational politics may concern itself with the (public) interest in general, and with the ruler’s interest in connection with the administration of his realm, in particular.
The second type (of rational politics) is the one concerned with the interest of the ruler and how he can maintain his rule through the forceful use of power. The general (public) interest is, here, secondary.
Speaking of Wisconsin, Wonk mentioned yesterday that WI was getting some support in the form of protest at the State Capital of all of the 50 states. Rallies in 50 states support Wisconsin protesters – CNN.com
MoveOn.org and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals. “Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C. The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison. There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.
The latest from NYT: Protesters Rally for Unions in Wisconsin and Around Country – NYTimes.com
Here is a link to FDL, where Dayen has some video taken at the Madison protest: VIDEO: 100,000-Plus in Madison for Rally for Workers’ Rights | FDL News Desk
From New Deal 2.0, now you may have already seen this because it was published yesterday afternoon. Report from Wisconsin: This is What Democracy Looks Like » New Deal 2.0
A ground report from a historic movement to fight Scott Walker’s bill and reignite justice for the middle class.
JUSTICE — GOVERNMENT — LEGISLATION — LIBERTY. Choose the order in which to recite them. Those are themes of the four murals that adorn the Capitol Rotunda in Madison, Wisconsin and surround the throngs of citizens who have gathered for many days now to protest and, we hope, block passage of the anti-labor, indeed, anti-democratic Budget Repair Bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker. It’s a bill that not only slashes public workers’ incomes, but also strips them/us of their/our democratic rights to bargain collectively.
The people braved a snow storm yesterday to stand up for what they believe is right. It looks like Walker is not budging, let’s see what comes of all these protest. As the opinion piece above shows, there is a solidarity between these protesters in Wisconsin and the people of Egypt. How do you all think it will end? My inherit Italian pessimistic attitude tends to feel that these people will lose their rights to Collective Bargaining. A right that, as the NYT article says, has been theirs for over 50 years. I hope I am wrong.
From the Minx Missing Link File: Here is the connection to the Cuban Coffee picture above. My father’s side of the family came to the US from Cuba in the late 1890’s. I have mentioned them before, so you all know I like to toss in some interesting Cuban news every once in a while. So here is something that I would guess many of you missed. My WikiLeaked interview with Bush’s Cuban envoy | Stephen Wilkinson | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Your Easy Like Sunday Morning Links: Well, tonight is the Academy Awards. Oscar – The official 2011 site for the 83rd Academy Awards I know that everyone has their favorites, I just thought I would highlight a few that I think should have gotten one of those little gold bald men.
The first is Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese. Oh, what can I say about this film…and to think that Dances with Wolves was the winner that year…excuse me while I gag. (As a side note, I hated Titanic as well, but that is another post altogether.) Anyway, here is an example of Scorsese’s masterful technique, it is all one long shot, no cuts or edits. It is magnificent!This was the last film he shot using actual film, everything since has been digital recorded. Personally, I think this film was when Scorsese hit his peak. Everything since then has been okay, but nothing like this. Enjoy the entire shot, over three minutes long.
On to another performance that should have gotten its actor a little golden man. Richard Burton never received on of these statues, and he should have for his masterpiece, playing George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I actually got a chance to see and touch the plaque that Burton received for his nomination, one of my film professors had it hanging in his office. Anyway, here is a great scene…where George plays the game, “Get the Guest.”
Here is one for Cinematography…it is George Barnes for the 1944 film Jane Eyre. Barnes was able to exactly portray the Gothic feel of the novel, with his use of shadow and fog, at a time when films were shot on a sound stage. The imagery he produced was extraordinary…and utterly beautiful. All in black and white.
Did you catch a very young Elizabeth Taylor?
And one more, this screenplay should have gotten a nomination at least. However, we all know Hollywood does not like to joke about themselves. So I end my little game with this one. Steve Martin outdid himself when he wrote the screenplay for the film Bowfinger. It is such a funny film, and has a very tight script. Here is a Roger Ebert review of the movie, so take a look.
So, what are you watching/reading today? Comment section is below…Get to it!