Posts Tagged ‘Yorker



16
Apr
11

‘the emotional, intellectual nourishment we’ve been craving’

Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker): One of the mysteries of the Obama Presidency has been Obama’s inability – or disinclination, I’m not sure which – to give sustained emotional sustenance to a certain slice of his supporters. I don’t mean the “Democratic base” … I don’t mean the disillusioned left, which is easily, almost perpetually disillusioned because it has such an ample supply of illusions.

(A lot of lefties, notwithstanding their scorn for “the system”, seem to have an implicit naive faith in the workability of the mechanisms of American governance. Hence their readiness to blame the disappointments of the Administration’s first two years mainly on Obama’s alleged moral or character failings – cowardice, spinelessness, insincerity, duplicity, what have you.)

Mainly, I guess, the slice I’m talking about is of people like me: liberals who continue to respect and admire Obama; who fully appreciate the disaster he inherited and the horrendous difficulty of enacting a coherent agenda even when your own party “controls” both Houses of Congress; who think his substantive record is pretty good under the circumstances; who dislike some of the distasteful compromises he has made but aren’t sure we wouldn’t have done the same in his shoes … but who are puzzled that our eloquent, writerly President seems to have done so little to educate the public about his own vision and to contrast it with that of the Republican right – which is to say, the Republicans.

I don’t know how many people watched Obama’s speech (on Wednesday) but those who did, and who share my general outlook, got a dose of the emotional (and intellectual) nourishment we’ve been craving.

…Obama spoke powerful words, and spoke them with real feeling. As we all know by now, our President doesn’t “do” anger … (on Wednesday), though, he did sternness; he did dignified exasperation; best of all, he did argument.

…By the time the President got to his own four-step proposal, which calls for higher taxes on the rich … the Republican alternative was a smoking ruin. Given the position his own reluctance, until now, to stake out a clear ideological divide had left him in, Obama succeeded in constructing a reasonably solid fortification for the fiscal battles to come. Even Paul Krugman was pleased. Me, too.

Full article here

22
Feb
11

‘the billionaire koch brothers’ war against obama’

I thought I knew a lot about the Koch brothers until I read this (very long) New Yorker article – it’s just staggering to read the scale of their interference in democracy. These are just a few extracts, but if you have the time it’s worth reading it all:

New Yorker: …David and Charles Koch … longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry — especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests.

In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts .. named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial”.

….from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies — from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program — that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

….Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

….the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (started by David Koch in 2004) has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception..….The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West who (on her site) described Obama as the “cokehead in chief”.

…The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement….

….In 1977, the Kochs provided the funds to launch the nation’s first libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. … its experts and policy papers are widely quoted and respected by the mainstream media … When President Obama, in a 2008 speech, described the science on global warming as “beyond dispute,” the Cato Institute took out a full-page ad in the Times to contradict him….

…Soon after Obama assumed office, Americans for Prosperity launched “Porkulus” rallies against Obama’s stimulus-spending measures … also created an offshoot, Patients United Now, which organized more than three hundred rallies against health-care reform. At one rally, an effigy of a Democratic congressman was hung; at another, protesters unfurled a banner depicting corpses from Dachau. The group also helped organize the “Kill the Bill” protests outside the Capitol, in March, where Democratic supporters of health-care reform alleged that they were spat on and cursed at.

…last summer’s raucous rallies were pivotal in undermining Obama’s agenda … they discouraged deal-makers — Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama…

…Charles Koch, in a newsletter sent to his seventy thousand employees, compared the Obama Administration to the regime of the Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez….

Full article here

This Mother Jones article is also worth reading (here): ‘Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros’

08
Feb
11

from the archives….

“An Intimate Conversation with Michelle and Barack Obama” was conducted in 1996 for a book about American marriages …. the interview took place only four years after they married and two years before their oldest daughter Malia was born.

ABC and The New Yorker (extracts):

Michelle Obama: “It was strange, that excitement over this first-year student,” then-32-year-old Michelle recalls when describing the buzz about a new summer associate at the law firm Sidley and Austin. “So smart, so good-looking, so intelligent, everyone was talking about Barack. I’m more of the skeptical kind, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, he’s probably an idiot, whatever.’

…then on the first day, he showed up late. He was late because it’d been raining! And then he walked into the office and we got along right away because he was charming and very good-looking, at least I found him good-looking. I think we were attracted to one another because we didn’t take ourselves too seriously, like some others did. He liked my dry humor and my sarcastic comments. I thought he was a good man, interesting, and I was fascinated by his personal story, so different from mine… our relationship was first a friendship. It took off from there.”

…Barack has helped me loosen up and feel comfortable with taking risks, not doing things the traditional way and sort of testing it out, because that is how he grew up. I’m more traditional; he’s the one in the couple that, I think, is the less traditional individual. You can probably tell from the photographs — he’s just more out there, more flamboyant. I’m more, like, “Well, let’s wait and see. What did that look like? How much does it weigh?

….There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.

When you are involved in politics, your life is an open book, and people can come in who don’t necessarily have good intent. I’m pretty private, and like to surround myself with people that I trust and love. In politics you’ve got to open yourself to a lot of different people. There is a possibility that our futures will go that way, even though I want to have kids and travel, spend time with family, and like spending time with friends. But we are going to be busy people doing lots of stuff. And it’ll be interesting to see what life has to offer.”

Barack Obama: “All my life, I have been stitching together a family, through stories or memories or friends or ideas. Michelle has had a very different background—very stable, two-parent family, mother at home, brother and dog, living in the same house all their lives. We represent two strands of family life in this country—the strand that is very stable and solid, and then the strand that is breaking out of the constraints of traditional families, travelling, separated, mobile. I think there was that strand in me of imagining what it would be like to have a stable, solid, secure family life.

Michelle is a tremendously strong person, and has a very strong sense of herself and who she is and where she comes from. But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman. There is a part of her that is vulnerable and young and sometimes frightened, and I think seeing both of those things is what attracted me to her.

And then what sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”

(Lovely blog post on the top photo here)

10
Jan
11

‘it doesn’t matter why he did it’

George Packer (The New Yorker): …. maybe the gunman had no idea why he was aiming for Giffords either, maybe he didn’t know how she voted on health care or what her position on Arizona’s draconian immigration law was …

…but even so, the tragedy wouldn’t change this basic fact: for the past two years, many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale. Instead of “soft on defense,” one routinely hears the words “treason” and “traitor.” The President isn’t a big-government liberal—he’s a socialist who wants to impose tyranny. He’s also, according to a minority of Republicans, including elected officials, an impostor….

This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right … and it has gone almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders. Partisan media encourages it, while the mainstream media finds it titillating and airs it, often without comment, so that the gradual effect is to desensitize even people to whom the rhetoric is repellent. We’ve all grown so used to it over the past couple of years that it took the shock of an assassination attempt to show us the ugliness to which our politics has sunk.

The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America’s political frequencies are full of violent static.

Full article here

13
Dec
09

1996

May 26, 1996, The New Yorker




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