The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: The federal and state investigations of what caused and who is behind the water crisis in Flint. In an already economically beleaguered city, the latest outrage is the contamination of its water supply system. And the finger of responsibility points to the Republican governor and state officials. If that turns out to be true, impeachment and resignations are in order as are criminal trials. For more info, I highly recommend:

The Bad: The continuing instability of the Chinese economy. Everyone agrees that it will have a negative impact on the global economy, but the unsettled question is to what degree. And here is where opinions differ. Some believe that the impact will be shallow and fleeing; others that it could be much worse. If the latter are right, everything becomes unpredictable.

The Ugly: once again the Republican Party presidential debate where New Jersey Governor Christie said of President Obama, “The American people have rejected your agenda and now you are trying to go around it? That is not right and it is not constitutional and we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall.” Could he have forgotten that the American people twice elected the president twice by substantial margins. No, this guy is a punk, a bully, and a demagogue, although those qualities hardly separate him from the Republican Party presidential front runners – Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.

State of the Union

President Obama’s SOTU was very impressive in many ways. He set the table for this year’s elections, appealed to people’s better angels, and spoke of some of the longer term challenges that we face. Is there anyone better at puncturing the ideological balloons of the extreme right? The President isn’t a radical, but he isn’t a centrist Democrat pure and simple either, as some suggest. He possesses a deep democratic sensibility and soberness that were once again evident last night.

Looking back, glancing ahead

Biggest footprint on world stage: Pope Francis, for his speeches on economic justice, poverty, and climate change; modesty and modest lifestyle; appeals for peace and non-violence; lifting up the people and crisis of the Global South; role in facilitating diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba and, last but not least, willingness to challenge the profit making and growth logic of capitalist development.

Biggest splash on sports scene: Who else but Steph Curry, the basketball point guard extraordinaire of the Golden State Warriors. He’s a magician on the court and, with his team mates, is reconfiguring the game.

Happy New Year

A brief observation on the Obama Presidency

In assessing the Obama Presidency from a progressive and left perspective, two questions I would argue loom large: First, what was the concrete relationship of political and social forces – the balance of power – in the capital and country during his presidency? Second, is a transformative presidency a realistic possibility without a movement that possesses transformative power and a Congress that is disposed to social change?

The answers to each question isn’t the end of any assessment of his presidency. But both have to figure into any judgement of the Obama years. Otherwise, hollow and abstract pronouncements become the result. And, generally speaking, they do little to expand our political understanding of the achievements and limits of Obma’s presidency, nor do they shine much light on our own insufficiencies and what needs to be done going forward.

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