Wrong, stupid, and insensitive

I notice an uptick in the unrestrained criticism from the left of President Obama. He’s smugly and simply dismissed as an unreconstructed “neoliberal” and nothing more. This is wrong analytically, tactically stupid, and reveals some racial insensitivity.

Nowhere in such critiques do we find any examination of the balance of political forces at that time nor a critical look at the role of the left and progressive communities. Why do either when it’s so much easier to heap blame on Obama? But it’s very ease should give us pause.

Mourn and remember

The country will take a moment of silence at 8:46 this morning. And rightly so. It was awful day. But as we mourn the thousands of lives tragically lost when passenger jets crashed into the twin towers in NYC, we should also remember the disastrous response that followed with all of its intended and unintended consequences. It’s wasn’t the country’s first foreign policy disaster, but it ranks up their as one of the worst. We — and the world — are still feeling its baneful effects. I’m reminded that in a moment of crisis, one has to be mindful of which political bloc is positioned to exploit that crisis for good or ill.

Countless ways

The ways in which Second Wave feminism left its imprint on our politics, economics, and culture over the past half century have been greatly underestimated in many quarters. I still hear people dismiss it as a “middle class” movement that was preoccupied with “individualist” preoccupations. And yet this multi-centered, many layered movement changed our society in countless ways and on so many levels in the face of stiff resistance. And not only from the right, although its opposition to women’s equality was and is fierce and sustained. In its camp now is the brazen misogynist and reckless authoritarian in the White House.

A noble and purposeful life

Below is a moving appreciation and obit of Leon Wofsy. The authors knew him well. I only met Leon, and regretfully so, late in his (and my) life, but I will greatly miss him. On my last visit to the West Coast I sat down with him for a chat. In that conversation, we discussed Trump and what it will take next year to beat him, the status of the left and the much broader democratic movement, and, not least, our experiences in the Communist Party. He left the party more than a half century before I did, but for many of the same reasons. His life was noble and purposeful.

Leon Wofsy: The Organizer (1921-2019)

Doesn’t fit

“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” may sound like a cool turn of phrase, but it doesn’t fit this moment. Yes, great challenges exist. And none more important than the elections next year. But they aren’t insurmountable. A revitalized Democratic Party, an expansive, loosely knit, heterogeneous, and democratic minded coalition of millions, a revitalizing left, and favorable public opinion polls should give us more than a dollop of hope (and confidence) that we can, albeit with a lot of sweated labor, meet these challenges.

Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist leader, popularized this turn of phrase, but remember he did it, while sitting in a fascist prison and well aware of surging fascist governments in Italy and Germany. Both were beating down, to say the least, the opposition in their path.

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