Tag Archives: American History

Steve parked in Rose’s space … InCity Book Review

But first:

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The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World

By Derek Chollet, (2016, Perseus Books, 262 Pages)

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

Journalism has often been called the first draft of history. With that in mind, former Obama administration official Derek Chollet has evaluated President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Chollett covers an enormous number of issues, personalities, and events in a short 262 pages, a concisely written book and that will be a valuable resource for future historians.

Unexpected foreign events often arise during a Presidency. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into World War II, and changing the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to the missile crisis and John F. Kennedy’s finest hour. 9/11 pushed George W. Bush into being a different President than the one he campaigned as. While Bush’s unexpected event was in his first year in office, two of Obama’s problems came late in his second term: the catastrophic insurgency of ISIS, and the ominous resurgence of Putin’s Russia.

Disasters inherited

Barack Obama inherited an America facing the abyss. As Wikipedia put it: “The bursting of the US housing bubble, which peaked at the end of 2006, caused the values of securities tied to US real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled subprime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making.”

America hovered on the edge of another Great Depression:

• By January 2009 the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs a month.

• American families were losing 100,000 homes a week as home values plummeted and entire neighborhoods, particularly in the inner cities, were devastated.

• The banking system seemed ready to implode, with major financial institutions like the Lehman brothers going bankrupt. Hard core conservatives urged the U.S. government to stay out.

• The automotive industry ran out of money. Cash burn was so bad that General Motors told the White House it had on hand only two weeks of money left to operate. The potential loss of jobs from this one problem alone could be counted in the millions.

Mitt Romney wrote a tome in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, saying the U.S. should not save the auto industry. That the “supply chain” – the subcontractors and factories manufacturing components for the auto industry, located mainly in the “Rust Belt” states that voted in 2016 for Donald Trump – would die and could not be revived, did not worry Romney.

The Long Game

It should be borne in mind that these were just the domestic issues Obama faced. It says nothing about the foreign affairs calamities facing the U.S., including ongoing wars tying up 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It is hard to think of a president who entered office facing more challenges of historic magnitude,” commented Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Obama set out to play the “Long Game.”

“The defining element of Obama’s grand strategy is that it reflects the totality of American interests – foreign and domestic – to project global leadership in an era of seemingly infinite demands and finite resources,” writes Chollet. “This is playing the ‘Long Game.’”

Chollet describes Obama as a political version of Warren Buffett, who became a billionaire by buying up companies with a strong market base but which were financially weak. When the economy got better, the values of these investments skyrocketed. Buffett made his billions by looking not at these companies’ value at the time he bought them, but what he expected these entities to be worth over time.

“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard,” observed Buffett.

Obama believed the U.S. overextended itself by pouring so much manpower, equipment, and money into Iraq, instead of hunting down Al-Qaeda and its leaders. Obama thought the U.S. should shift America’s focus from the Middle East to the Pacific Basin; rebalance America’s projection of power, putting as much emphasis on diplomacy and economic sanctions/assistance as Bush did on the use of military force; and reset America’s alliances with NATO and Russia.

To go into every topic Obama’s administration dealt with would fill up this entire newspaper. We’re going to look at some of Obama’s foreign policy successes, his failures, and draw some conclusions.

Disarming Iran

Historians are likely to regard the Iran nuclear treaty as a hallmark of Obama’s administration. When Bush left office, Iran was moving full speed ahead on its
nuclear program. Obama convinced the Russians, Chinese, British, and French to impose sanctions that devastated the Iranian economy. Since the July 2015 signing of the treaty, Iran has removed weapons grade uranium, reduced the number of centrifuges by two thirds, and removed the heavy water reactor at Arak and filled it with concrete. For the moment, Iran has been disarmed. That is no small achievement, and may be one a bellicose Trump could build upon.

Disarming Syria

In August 2013 Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against opposition held territory, killing 1,400 civilians, including women and children. Obama had warned Assad in 2012 that doing this would be crossing a red line. The only nation willing to back the U.S. in using military force was France (derided as the seller of “freedom fries” during the Bush era). Britain’s parliament voted against participation, and the American people overwhelmingly opposed involvement in a third Middle East conflict. Congress refused to authorize military action by Obama. The Republican Congressional war dogs made macho denunciations of Assad, but wouldn’t vote to authorize U.S. military action against the Syrian tyrant.

Chollet cited other problems related to using military force to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons. There were 50 sites containing 1,300 pounds of chemical weapons, dispersed around Syria. Neutralizing these would require heavy air and naval attacks along with 75,000 ground troops. There was a danger Assad’s military would collapse under such an assault, and hundreds of tons of chemical weapons fall into the hands of ISIS/Al-Qaeda. After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that the matter could be resolved by Assad giving up his weapons, the crisis was resolved diplomatically.

Chollet writes: “Without a bomb being dropped, Syria admitted to having a massive chemical weapons program it had never before acknowledged, agreed to give it up, and submitted to a multinational coalition that removed the weapons and destroyed them in a way that had never been tried before.”

Obama lost face because he drew the red line and didn’t take military action against Syria. But he achieved the maximalist objective of disarming Syria. Reagan faced a similar situation when 250 Marines were massacred in Lebanon by terrorists in 1982. Instead of doubling down, Reagan prevented America from getting dragged into a quagmire by “redeploying” the surviving Marines to ships offshore. Both Presidents did what was best for their country, even if it meant a personal loss of face.

Bin Laden and the drones

Obama’s Presidency reached its pinnacle in May 2011 when Seal Team Six descended upon Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed the Al-Qaeda leader. Few Americans knew that Obama had played a key role in planning the mission. The plan originally call for the Seals to go in without helicopter backups. Obama insisted that backup helicopters be situated in reserve not far from Abbottabad. These proved crucial when one of the Seal helicopters crashed while landing.

Obama used the same strategic approach to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan that Richard Nixon used to get the U.S. out of Vietnam: advance the air power while withdrawing the troops. Nixon used B-52s and laser guided ordinance to bomb North Vietnam into signing a peace treaty. Obama sent American drones on hundreds of missions to kill Al-Qaeda and associated terrorist leaders. Some criticized this because of the civilians killed in the drone strikes. However, by and large, it did disrupt Al-Qaeda’s ability to launch mass casualty attacks on the U.S. homeland.

The Russian Reset, Part I

With all the noise being generated over Trump and Vladimir Putin, Obama’s “reset” with Russia has been widely viewed as a failure. However, when the policy was first implemented in 2009, it did lead to some successes. This was due to the fact that Putin was not the Russian President; Dimitri Medvedev was, and he wanted to work with the United States. With Medvedev’s help, the U.S. organized the sanctions against Iran; agreed to destroy one third of Russia’s nuclear arsenal; supported setting up supply lines to Afghanistan that avoided a volatile Pakistan; and voted with the U.S. during the U.N. debate authorizing the use of military force against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Now, let’s look at some of shortcomings of Obama’s Presidency.

Syria

According to the mainstream media, upwards of 500,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war and millions have fled to Europe. Obama appears to have done what he could diplomatically to stop the carnage. But faced with the obduracy of Syrian President Assad, the lack of allies who supported intervening in Syria, the U.S. had no good choices. If it supported Assad, the U.S. would be siding with a blood thirsty dictator. If Obama opposed Assad, ISIS and Al Qaeda might take control of the country. His critics charged that he could have supported moderate Syrians earlier, but there was a problem with vetting these groups.

What Obama should have done is establish no fly zones in Syria where Syrians fleeing the conflict could be protected. This would also have stopped large masses of Syrians from fleeing to Europe.

Iraq

When America troops left in 2011, Iraq by and large was peaceful. The emergence of ISIS could not have been foreseen by any American President. It was with a few thousand guerillas that ISIS attacked and conquered huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, with its million residents, stated Wikipedia, “the Iraqi army had 30,000 soldiers stationed in the city, facing a 1,500-member attacking force.” With such favorable odds, the ISIS force should have been smashed. Instead, the 30,000 Iraqi soldiers abandoned their U.S. equipment and fled.

Few were clairvoyant enough to anticipate the total ineffectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, equipped with billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment. From a few thousand fighters, ISIS grew to an armed force of 30,000 men as wannabe Jihadists from Europe and the Middle East swelled their ranks. They were armed with the American weapons left behind by the fleeing Iraqi army.

Libya

In 2011 there was yet another U.S. intervention on “humanitarian” grounds in Libya that turned into a mission to overthrow Gaddafi. After Gaddafi was killed, Libya descended into anarchy as warring factions fought each other. The U.S. was prodded into action on Libya by its European allies; Obama should have insisted on a post-war NATO occupation force from these allies to assist Libyans in setting up a stable government.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed intervening in Libya, saying: “Can I just finish the two wars we’re already in before you go looking for new ones?”

The Russian Reset, Part II

In 2012 Vladimir Putin took back his old job of Russian President. Putin’s animus against Hillary Clinton stems from this episode; Putin apparently believes that Clinton ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to clandestinely block his return to the Russian Presidency. In any event, Obama’s measures to persuade Putin to stay out of Syria and the Ukraine were unsuccessful, and this must be regarded as another Obama shortcoming.

Closing thoughts

History will give a much fuller judgment on Obama when the facts become available. Since Obama’s foreign policy was set up with the intention of yielding long term benefits, a historical perspective will be necessary to evaluate Obama. The failures he had, particularly in the Middle East, rose from his fervent desire to keep the U.S. out of another war.

Obama may well be remembered by historians for two things that didn’t happen on his watch. First, he kept the economy from imploding. The car industry was saved, the banking system made solvent, and a slow but painful process of economic revival took place. Second, he didn’t get sucked into another quagmire like Iraq. The 175,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been reduced to 15,000. Yes, it wasn’t a perfect Presidency. But considering the near collapse of the economy in 2008, Obama did well in keeping America from falling into the abyss of a second Great Depression, and from being drawn into another grinding war. History is likely to view Barack Obama very kindly.

The Trump Report – “Celebrity Presidency”!

From Saturday Night Live:

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By Steven R. Maher

Many Americans are terrified of what Donald Trump will do as President.

Fifty years ago, American anti-war protesters chanted “Give peace a chance.” Nowadays, the anti-Trump crowd might want to say “Give Trump a chance.”
Trump won the election under the constitutional order in place.

The majority of voters found Trump distasteful.

Trump won in three electoral states by 88,000 votes – after Russian meddling and FBI meddling (director Comey’s Clinton email bugaboo just 10 days before the election). The fact that Trump would be Tweeting “RIGGED ELECTION! NOT HAPPY!!!” if Hillary Clinton had won this way is irrelevant.

Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States. Democrats, liberals, lefties and progressives need to adjust to this reality. At this point, everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down. I’ve noticed a tendency among Trump opponents to become unduly alarmed after reading dire Internet warnings about what Trump will do. This recalls what happened after 9/11, when Americans sat watching over and over reruns of the terrorists ramming jet aircraft into the Twin Towers. Millions of people became paranoid about what Al-Qaeda would do next. But it did not mean the end of the world. Nor does Trump’s election.

Reagan example

I had the same reaction when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. I was sure President Reagan was a war monger who would quagmire us into another Vietnam.

House Speaker Tip O’Neil recalls in his memoirs: “Alexander Haig hadn’t been Secretary of State more than three weeks when he told me over breakfast that we ought to be cleaning out Nicaragua.”

But when Haig tried to raise the issue of Soviet subversion in Central America he was told to leave it alone – the White House didn’t want to divert attention from the economy at that point.

Reagan, in fact, showed himself to be extraordinarily reluctant to get involved in long-term military conflicts. He pulled the Marines out of Lebanon after 241 Marines were murdered by Hezbollah. Reagan didn’t “clean out,” i.e. invade Nicaragua, which would have destabilized Central America the way George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq destabilized the Middle East. Instead, Reagan cleaned out Grenada, where he sent 16,000 American military personnel to beat the bejabbers out of 800 or so Cuban construction workers. Grenada was too small for a guerilla insurgency.

Trump has evidenced a similar reluctance to get involved in long-term military struggles. While he has talked loudly of attacking ISIS, he has also mentioned the expense of going to war, wants to bill America’s allies for the cost of defending their countries and has appointed Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, who lost a son to Bush’s Iraq disaster. Having experienced the agony of losing a child due to Bush’s stupidity, it is unlikely Kelly will be urging Trump to engage in Bush-style acts of imbecility.

Haig and Regan

Trump has appointed people to his cabinet with no experience in their new jobs. Foremost among these is Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor, Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator.

Many of Trump’s designees fall into two categories: former generals and wealthy entrepreneurs. Reagan did the same thing – and experienced public embarrassment when the political neophytes he appointed self-destructed.

Haig is a good example. When Reagan was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt, Haig destroyed himself politically by going on the air and saying: “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him.”

As Haig said this, he came across as anything but reassuring, and his political career was dead from that point on.

Likewise, Donald Regan as the White House Chief of Staff, proved disastrous. Regan was a brilliant Wall Street trader before becoming part of the Reagan administration. “This was one of the President’s [Reagan’s] worst mistakes: Don Regan may have been a financial genius, but he knew nothing about politics,” wrote O’Neil.

Trump not Reagan

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan. As a President, Reagan hated firing people. Trump tried to copyright “You’re fired!” as his signature line!

Trump’s tolerance of the fools he has appointed to his cabinet will end the moment they start embarrassing him.

We are talking about a man who fired two campaign managers before settling on personnel best suited to his management style.

If Trump had appointed Rudolph Giuliani as attorney general and John Bolton as secretary of state, I’d be damn worried. But Trump seems to have kept the most severe political right-wing nuts out of his cabinet.

After Trump won, ICT published my election analysis, in which I wrote that Democrats underestimated Trump the same way they had underestimated Reagan. I quoted George Santana’s adage that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Trump is about to learn the same harsh lesson, repeating Ronald Reagan’s mistakes of appointing to his cabinet financial wizards whose private-sector acumen is not necessarily transferable to political office.

We can expect many firings during Trump’s Celebrity Presidency.

Election Day is today! … Worcester, America decides!

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THE FUTURE: Chef Joey’s baby girl – Gigi!   pic: Chef Joey

By Rosalie Tirella

Dear Worcester and America:

Today’s the day – ELECTION DAY! We all make the somber, joyful, vindictive?, salutary amble to our local churches, neighborhood centers, senior centers to pull the lever, color in the ovals – X marks the spot! – in our hearts! No bludgeon-wielding thug can coerce us into saying how we voted or make us vote for this one or that one! This is America! The grand land of Lincoln – not Putin!

Today, Election Day, every American 18 or older can partake in the ultimate American  pot luck dinner: a FREE, NONVIOLENT, OPEN election! An election whose results are accepted by this sea-to-shining-sea country of millions and millions of people who show the rest of the world what true day to day, cheek by jowl DIVERSITY is – a people – and we are “WE THE PEOPLE” – who accept election results in peace … go back to the drawing board to get our guy or gal or point of view in next time. Our elections do not trigger beheadings, civil wars, coups d’etat.

Remember: We are the land of Lincoln – not Putin!

Today we can choose as our next president: A brilliant, seasoned stateswoman, a public servant who’s advocated for women, children and families her entire political life – which spans decades – OR we can choose a megalomaniac, racist, sexist nut job whose most substantial and consistent character trait is his fake goldy-locks-comb over. Republican nominee Donald Trump was all over the place this election cycle – but his hair, each and every follicle – never wavered!

Do we want a bad comb-over as our next president?

Do we want to empower Donald Trump to make that 3 a.m. phone call that could end the world as we know it? Madness! Choosing between Hillary Clinton, a former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady and Donald Trump, a bloviating, mentally unstable blow hard reality TV show star WHO HAS ZERO GOVERNING/POLITICAL experience and who loves only himself. We are all just tools or toys with which Trump can play to feel GREAT about himself and all his other delusions. He is a vulgarian who has criminally assaulted women, ogled naked 15-year-old girl models, a man who, at the slightest puerile provocation (like, hey, Donald you’re a wimp!) would blanket the Mid East with bombs – children and women be damned.

Of course, Trump wouldn’t have gotten this far if the Republican Party weren’t a shambles. The Republicans have dismissed, forgotten, NEVER SERVED, the people who’ve given them their electoral prowess ever since Tricky Dick: the white working class, the lower middle class with high school degrees and God on their side. Their wages have been depressed for years, they’ve been down sized without new free training for the global economy, they visit food pantries after working all day at Wal Mart. THEIR VOICES MUST BE HEARD!

The Republican political elite got their votes and closed their ears and hearts. Now the slumbering have awoken!  American democracy, the Republican hoi polloi have puked up Donald Trump.

Good. The Republican Party deserves it. Now it will be forced to retool itself for 21st century America: a land of young people, immigrants, people of color, the LBGT community, the working poor, the poor, women, women, women… the majority of whom will not be white in a generation. THE FUTURE!

Today! PLEASE VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON AS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT!

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Referendum Questions:

YES ON Q 3 – So that Mass doesn’t accept animals or their bounty from places where the animals live in quarters where they cannot lie down and fully extend their legs, stand up or turn around in.

HUMANE LIVING QUARTERS FOR VEAL CALVES, PIGS, CHICKENS now!!!

YES ON Q 2. Poor parents stuck in the inner city without academic choices for their kids…NEED TO BE EMPOWERED TO MAKE CHOICES, to send their kids to the schools they think will most benefit them – academically, socially, emotionally. On this website I wrote of my wonderful, late mom and why she would vote YES ON Question 2.  She was a loving person who adored little kids. She always wanted the best for them. She would take union politics and paycheck bullshit right out of the equation and see a YES on 2 as  a YES for  Mass kids!

YES ON Q 4. Legalize Mary Jane! I’ve come around on this issue: Arresting half the young men in our inner city ‘hoods for a non-gateway drug is folly. We’re destroying young lives – especially black, brown and poor young lives.

NO ON Q 1. NO MORE CASINOS IN MASS. We’re the smart state. We can innovate our way to a gangbusters economy! Go, Massachusetts, go!

And You! GO OUT AND VOTE TODAY!

Steve parked in Rose’s space … State of the Race: CLINTON DEPENDING ON “GROUND GAME” FOR VICTORY

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Rah, rah, rah, Worcester! Get out and VOTE, THIS TUESDAY, NOV. 8! …(Go, Steve M., go!!!) pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

In the see-saw battle for the American presidency that has raged since the summer of 2016, Hillary Clinton is putting her faith in a well-organized effort to get out the vote, generically dubbed the “ground game” by observers. Clinton has set up a well-oiled machine to knock on doors, make phone calls, and use the Internet to the full extent possible, to turn out another 1% to 2% more voters in the so-called “battleground states.”

Politico.com (we’ve linked to it on this website! check out POLITICO.COM) has posted an excellent story on this subject. The website sent out questionnaires to a sizable group of functionaries from both parties. All the respondents answered anonymously.

“Democratic insiders are most confident in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin,” reported Politico. “They express more uncertainty in Florida and Iowa. Republicans, meanwhile, were split across these early voting states.” Republican insiders said 40% thought the GOP was doing the better job, 31% of the GOP said the Democrats had a better ground game, and 29% of the GOP said neither party’s ground game was superior to the other’s.

55,000 volunteer shifts

The Washington Post reported that Clinton had 55,000 volunteer shifts across the nation this weekend to get 3 million people to register or commit to vote before Election Day. “The Democratic nominee’s campaign is holding more than 1,000 events this weekend in Pennsylvania, 900 in Virginia, 500 in North Carolina, 250 in Ohio and 200 in Wisconsin,” said the Post.

Trump’s failure to set up a strong organization to register and get out to vote his key core constituency – noncollegiate white males – may rank, after his failure to prepare for the debates, as the second worst decision of his campaign. Dave Wasserman, an expert at the Cook Political Report, told the New York Post that 47 million noncollegiate whites, “more than half of them men”, didn’t vote in 2012. Wasserman noted: “There are no indications they are registering for Trump in any real numbers.”

Let’s look at the trends on a state-by-state basis:

North Carolina

During his November 4, 2016, broadcast of the “O’Reilly Factor”, Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly conceded to a political panel that if Clinton takes North Carolina, Clinton wins the election.

“Democrats have a plan and are executing it,” one North Carolina Democrat told Politico. “Republicans have no plan and frankly, no clue.”

Not exactly. Trump did start late in organizing his North Carolina infrastructure, but local Republicans have 24 offices across the state, 170 paid staffers, and an additional 700 trained organizers leading thousands of volunteers” the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. “She [Clinton] has 34 offices across the state and has hired hundreds of staffers,” the Journal article reported.

“Polls have long shown a tight race in North Carolina,” continued the Journal. “But a new Elon University survey of likely North Carolina voters shows Mrs. Clinton opening up a lead of 6 percentage points in the state.”

Florida

The sunshine state is the mother lode with 29 electoral votes. Trump must win Florida to have a pathway to 270 electoral votes. If Clinton wins Florida, it’s all over.

“Florida insiders in both parties say that, generally, Democrats and Republicans have fought to a draw thus far in early voting,” reports Politico. “One Florida Democrat conceded that Republicans have been stronger than expected. ‘My side did underestimate the GOP’s operation,’ the Democrat said. Among Republicans, the verdict was mixed.”

“’I think the [Clinton] effort is just slightly ahead of the built-in party apparatus Trump has working for him,’ said a Florida Republican to Politico. ‘However, Trump did begin hiring today for field — a little too late, of course — but at least he realizes what he is lacking.’”

Ohio

Ohio is another “must win” state for Trump. The buckeye state is demographically ripe for Trump: a large noncollegiate white male voting segment, with comparatively fewer minorities than other battleground states, and wracked by the loss of manufacturing jobs during the great recession.

“But Clinton is counting on chipping away at Trump’s lead with a campaign organization that dwarfs the Republican’s operation,” reported Bloomberg Politics in October 2016. “She started building a political infrastructure in the state months earlier than Trump and now counts 64 offices with campaign staff across the state compared, with 31 offices that Trump has jointly with the Republican National Committee and local county party organizations.”

Trump spent less money than Clinton in Ohio on the all-important television buys. “Trump is focusing on building volunteers through rallies and maximizing enthusiasm from television coverage and social media,” said Bloomberg.

During a panel discussion Saturday on MSNBC, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean disputed that Democrats turning out in a largely Democratic county may be good for Clinton, as that county’s working class demographics favored Trump.

More Democrats have participated in early voting than Republicans in Ohio.

“Democrats have technically turned out more, but not to the level they’ll need,” one GOP organizer told Politico. “They’ll lose.”

Colorado

Colorado, which voted for Obama in the last two elections, is another battle zone.

“The Clinton campaign has been very engaged in building a ground game and turnout operation and have a great deal of existing liberal infrastructure in the state to rely upon,” a Colorado Republican told Politico. “The Trump campaign, in contrast, has almost no ground game, has engaged in very little traditional campaign organizing, has done little direct mail or canvassing efforts, and seems to think a handful of rallies and last-minute television commercials can take the place of the hard work of actually asking individual voters to vote for him, and the state party has done very little to fill the void.”

Nevada

Another campaign theater Trump needs to hit 270 electoral votes is Nevada.

“Democrats are slightly ahead of Republicans as a percentage of registered voters, but that is very typical for Nevada elections,” commented one Republican to Politico. “More Dems than Republicans vote early, while Republicans tend to prefer voting on Election Day. Also, in Nevada, we have a large percentage of independents and nonpartisan voters, which makes the raw number of Democrats and Republicans voting less predictive of the final results.”

Georgia

Although this political chaos is enough to leave the head reeling, there is one more state which merits a look: Georgia, the home state of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“Five days before the election, it’s probably not a good sign that the Republican nominee has to worry about Georgia,” writes Sean Colarossi on the politicususa.com website. “[T]he NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll conducted totally after the FBI fiasco, the two major candidates are in a virtual dead heat in the state. Trump gets 45 percent of the vote against 44 percent who prefer Clinton.

“With Trump’s operation far worse than Romney’s was four years ago and certainly inferior to Clinton’s, it’s conceivable that the Democratic nominee could outperform the polling by even more,” continued Colarossi. “If the latest poll of the Peach State is accurate, her GOTV [Get out the Vote] operation could be all she needs to steal the deep red state from Trump and put the election away early next Tuesday.”

Trump, with the self-assuredness that has characterized his persona during the entire campaign, scornfully noted the reports he might be in trouble in Georgia, and said at a campaign rally that of course Trump would take Georgia.

The impact

The impact a get out the vote organization can have been noted by Sasha Issenberg, author of “The Victory Lab: the Secret Science of Winning Campaigns,” and a consultant to Bloomberg Politics, in comments to the New York Post.

“The evidence we have is there is a big gap on resources and planning between the two sides, favoring Clinton,” said Issenberg. In states where the polls showed the two candidates deadlocked at 45%, asserted Issenberg: “Clinton is best positioned to turn that into 47 percent, while Donald Trump would end up at 44 percent.”

Main South: Clark University to host talk, book discussion on history of Atlantic slave trade and loss of “home”

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Professor Saidiya Hartman

Clark University

950 Main St.

FREE!

Clark University will host Saidiya Hartman, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, for a reading and conversation about her book “Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route” …

… at 7 p.m.

… Tuesday, October 4

… in the Higgins Lounge on the 2nd Floor of Dana Commons

This free, public event is part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ fall dialogue symposium, Home (De) Constructed.

It is also part of our on-going African American Intellectual Culture Lecture Series.

Hartman’s book traces both the history of the Atlantic slave trade by recounting a journey she took along a slave route in Ghana.

In it, she follows the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast, reckons with a virtual ‘blank slate’ of her own genealogy and examines the effects of slavery on three centuries of African and African American history.

The slave, Hartman observes, is “a stranger — torn from family, home and country.”

A book review published in the New York Times states tthe author “makes us feel the horror of the African slave trade, by playing with our sense of scale, by measuring the immense destruction and displacement through its impact on vivid, imperfect, flesh-and-blood individuals.”

Hartman’s research interests include African American and American literature and cultural history, slavery, law and literature, gender studies and performance studies.

She is on the editorial board of Callaloo, a journal of African diaspora arts and letters.

She has been awarded numerous fellowships through the Fulbright Program, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the University of California.

She is also author of “Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth Century America.” Hartman has published essays on photography, film and feminism.

This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Office of the Provost, the Bland-Lee Fund of the Department of History and Clark’s new Concentration in Africana Studies.

Edith parked in A.I. … After the Fourth …

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Ward Street … pic: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It’s over for another year: the fireworks, the music, the celebrations and, of course, the pay off from work for many, though not all. Time to look more closely at what is behind all the excitement.

We all love a great celebration, one that gets us all together in a patriotic fervor and enables us to rub elbows with so many of our fellow citizens in a shared celebration. Since I am now older, I tend to avoid huge crowds and big noises and prefer to see all these spectacles from the relative peace and quiet of my living room. And so I was able to see the celebrations in Washington, D .C., New York and Boston and enjoy three distinctively different sets of fireworks in three different settings via TV. Of course they had certain commonalities: patriotic songs and the inevitable “1812 Overture” – the use of which I have always found somewhat problematic, given the fact that it does not commemorate an American event … But it does contain wonderfully stirring music and, of course, the opportunity to fire off shots.

It always brings me back to the document – the Declaration of Independence – whose origins we celebrate on the Fourth of July. I wonder how many of us have actually read or re-read it recently and pondered its historical context and the real meaning of the words? It is a very well written work, beautifully clear and simple and very inspiring. And it details, even for today, the aspirations of all of us. Because the language is so all-inclusive, we interpret it as containing far more than the writers of the time could have imagined. And it is its very applicability to today that makes it so gripping a document.

But we also need to remember that it was written and signed by a group of well educated white men, whose world was considerably more limited than is ours today. And of course, at that time, there was no intention to extend the benefits of their victory to “all men” as we understand that phrase today. But we have come a long way from those days, and we have now extended the idea that “all men are created equal” to include truly everyone, though there are still some amog us who are not totally convinced that this really means EVERYONE, regardless of sex, color or any other of the many variations of the human species.

And we are still working on the definition of everyone’s “inalienable rights “ as the present presidential political campaign demonstrates.

And finally, there is one group that has little reason to celebrate this holiday: the original inhabitants of this continent, whose treatment at the hands of our forefathers amounted to a terrible, bloody and cruel conquest and, in some ways, was perhaps close to an attempt to exterminate them.

Perhaps someday we will recognize that we too are living on land we acquired by bloody means – and that we are not after all so different from so many nations around the world who owe a lot to those whose land we took.

In A.I: InCity Times book review by Steve Maher

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America, land of the whacky

“Killing Reagan” a controversial look at 40th President

By Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Reviewed by Steven R. Maher

Ronald Reagan remains a great hero to many Republicans. One understands, after reading this “killing” book by Fox talk show host Bill O’Reilly, why this account of the 1981 assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley Jr. is so controversial among Reagan admirers.

The Ronald Reagan this books portrays was not the genial “family values” conservative Republicans like to nostalgically recall, but a prolific womanizer before and after his marriage to Nancy Davis. The book also asserts that Reagan spent much of his Presidency in pajamas watching TV reruns, and details concerns among his Presidential staff that Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s the last several years of his Presidency. After Reagan left the White House, he got $2 million from a Japanese company for giving a lecture, a la the Clintons. No wonder Reagan partisans are angry with this book.

Very readable

The first adjective that comes to mind in describing this text is “readable.” Like O’Reilly’s other books, such as “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Jesus,” the chapters are short, pithy and written in plain but concise English. While supposedly a look at the 1981 assassination attempt, this is in fact an episodic recounting of Reagan’s life. The tale jumps from one part of Reagan’s life to another, but it all seems to flow comfortably. Footnotes are used frequently but effectively. Liberal or conservative, if you’re a political junkie or history buff, this 289-page book can be absorbed in one weekend day.

As a literary device, “Killing Reagan” jumps back and forth from Reagan to the would-be Presidential assassin. The story tracks both individuals through their lives, up to the point where they disastrously intersect on March 30, 1981, when Hinckley shoots Reagan and wounds several others.

Jodie Foster

Hinckley’s motive for shooting the President sounds bizarre even today – to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley had seen the movie “Taxi Driver,” where Foster played a twelve-year-old prostitute who comes to know deranged taxi driver Travis Bickle, played by Robert DeNiro. Bickle tries to assassinate a Presidential candidate to impress a woman, but is prevented from doing so by the secret service. The movie ends with Bickle rescuing Foster from her pimp, shooting the procurer to death in a dramatic finale.

Hinckley was a loner most of his life. “He has some form of schizophrenia, a mental disorder that causes the mind to distort reality,” says O’Reilly. Hinckley drops out of college, traveling from city to city following Foster, calling her up to ask Foster out on dates, proposing to Foster at one point. Foster rebuffs Hinckley. He then decides to assassinate some political figure to impress her, like the Bickle figure in Taxi Driver.

Carter and Kennedy

Hinckley’s first choice is President Jimmy Carter.

“Losing the election may have saved Carter’s life,” writes O’Reilly. “[Hinckley] will either take the train to New Haven and shoot himself dead in front of Jodie Foster, or he will murder Ted Kennedy, if only to add his name to the notorious list of assassins who have stalked and killed a member of that political dynasty. If that target is not available, he might enter the U.S. Senate chamber and try to kill as many lawmakers as possible. And there is another scenario in Hinckley’s mind: assassinating President Ronald Reagan.”

Hinckley read in the Washington Star that Reagan will be at the Washington Hilton and goes to the hotel. When Reagan emerges, Hinckley is able to pierce the protective cordon around Reagan and wound the President because of two happenstances. First, Reagan would normally be wearing a bullet proof vest, which he was not asked to do on this occasion because his exposure to the public was limited to walking to the Presidential limousine from the hotel exit. It was during this exit that Hinckley put one bullet into Reagan’s torso. Second, two DC policemen acting as Presidential bodyguards were not trained by the secret service to watch the crowds at such events. They were watching Reagan and not the crowd when Hinckley shot Reagan. The point is made that had the two men been trained properly, they would have intercepted Hinckley before he shot Reagan.

Particularly disturbing was O’Reilly’s depiction of Hinckley’s jailhouse communications with serial killer Ted Bundy and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. Hinckley reportedly tried to get mass murderer Charles Manson’s mailing address from Fromme. This was all kept secret from his jailors, as well as the hidden photographs of Jodie Foster in his cell that Hinckley was ordered by the court not to have.

Aftermath

The aftermath of the assassination has become the focal point of some discussion among Presidential historians and Reagan biographers. Reagan apparently developed a messianic belief that he was saved by God because he had a special destiny as President. O’Reilly writes Reagan went back to his church after recovering, and become reliant on his wife Nancy for political as well as personal advice.

O’Reilly’s book is a good starting point for anyone looking to experience the life and times of America’s 40th President.

A LETTER TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

I’m re-posting this wonderful column ICT contributing writer Parlee wrote last year in honor of MLK, Jr. – prophet of PEACE. Enjoy!
– R. Tirella

By Parlee Jones

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– MLK, Jr.

Dear Dr. King,

As we prepare to celebrate your 8[7]th birthday, and also, the 5[1]st Anniversary of the Selma marches, I thought I would write you a letter, to let you know what’s been going on.

I have been thinking a lot about the civil rights movement and the protests that have been happening since the no indictment verdicts came in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown and in the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD.

Some people are asking, why are they protesting, what do they want? What do they think protesting and shutting down city streets will do?

My response: What did Dr. King and his supporters think a bus boycott would do? What did they think a 50-mile march would do?

The bus boycott lasted 381 days. For one year and 16 days Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, did not use public transportation! Needless to say, that hit the city in the pocket-book. City officials resisted a long time. Them good old boys did not want those Black folks in the front of their buses. Really!

“Initially, the demands did not include changing the segregation laws; rather, the group demanded courtesy, the hiring of black drivers, and a first-come, first-seated policy, with whites entering and filling seats from the front and African Americans from the rear.

Although African Americans represented at least 75 percent of Montgomery’s bus ridership, the city resisted complying with the demands. To ensure the boycott could be sustained, black leaders organized carpools, and the city’s African-American taxi drivers charged only 10 cents-the same price as bus fare-for African-American riders. Many black residents chose simply to walk to work and other destinations. Black leaders organized regular mass meetings to keep African-American residents mobilized around the boycott.”

This is so powerful!

And then Selma, 10 years later!

Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama .

In early 1965, you and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a voter registration campaign.

As you well know, Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives. As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (300 out of 15,000) had managed to register.

You won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and you drew international attention to Selma during the eventful months that followed.

On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the nearby town of Marion. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator. In response to Jackson’s death a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away was planned. A group of 600 people set out on Sunday, March 7, but didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.

You also led another attempt to march on March 9, but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road.

That night, a group of segregationists beat another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, to death.

Alabama state officials (led by Walllace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it. President Lyndon Johnson also backed the marchers, going on national television to pledge his support and lobby for passage of new voting rights legislation he was introducing in Congress.

Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control.

After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.

Nearly 50,000 supporters-black and white-met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear you and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.

“No tide of racism can stop us,” you proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.

A movie based on the events of SELMA [was released last year]. Can’t wait to see it with my children, family, friends and their children. Because this is a piece of history from which we need to learn.

“We are faced with marches, protests and boycotts as we face the continued brutality of the police force against young people of color, who end up dead instead of in jail. Not only people of color, but the majority are.
We are developing a network of organizations and advocates to form a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US. We are demanding, that the federal government discontinues it’s supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. We are advocating for a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those federal departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.” www.BlackLivesMatter.com

Dr. King, the exposure of the injustices via the internet is world wide. It is so hurtful when these police officers are not found guilty of murder, when the murder took place in front of millions of people.

We are still striving to do this non-violently, but the blind are still so blind. We have our demands and are voting and trying to work through the system. A lot of our friends are still silent. We are trying to help our White allies understand their privilege. We are tired of burying our children. Things have improved since the 1950s and 1960s but, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Your words still ring true in this day and time. We need your spirit with us, to help guide us, more than ever! Please stay near.

Peace and Blessings,

Parlee Jones

Wednesday! Learn about America’s Buffalo Soldiers!

Worcester Public Library

3 Salem Square

5:30 PM – 8:30 PM

in the Saxe Room

Black Culture Movie Night: The Buffalo Soldiers

Contact: Parlee Jones

The Buffalo Soldiers (documentary).

From the Indian War to the Spanish-American War, relive the heroism, drama and adventure of the legend of the Buffalo Soldier.

This outstanding documentary, which won the CINE Golden Eagle Award and the Bronze Cindy Award, chronicles the history and accomplishments of the all-black cavalries and infantries during the last half of the 19th century. Named the “Buffalo Soldiers” by their Cheyenne enemies, these brave and proud soldiers played an important role in the pacification and settlement of the American West, as well as many other military adventures in the 1800’s.

Filmed on location where it actually happened 100 years ago, and utilizing a rare collection of authentic Buffalo Soldier photographs — the largest collection of its kind ever assembled — the amazing story of the Buffalo Soldier is brought to life for the enjoyment of generations to come. This production also includes the speech by General Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dedicating the Buffalo Soldier Memorial at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, finally recognizing the substantial contribution to our national heritage.

Trooper Joe Glover will do a live presentation about the Buffalo Soldiers and a skit before the documentary.