For weeks now, I’ve been metaphorically lugging Steve Jobs around with me. I bought Walter Isaacson’s biography shortly after Jobs died, but I got side-tracked by the controversy over hazardous working conditions at the plants in China where Apple products are manufactured.
Once I started reading, I was again wowed by Jobs’ early vision for personal computers and how his interest in both Zen Buddhism and calligraphy, not to mention the influence of LSD, shaped his sensibilities. They seemed to explain the elegance and grace that Apple products have always communicated.
But then I would come across a passage in which Jobs treated a friend, relative or worker with such unspeakable cruelty that I’d have to put the book down before finishing a chapter. The more familiar Jobs was with the object of his abuse, the meaner he permitted himself to act.
What can I tell you about the Iowa Republican Primary that you don’t know already? That Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were neck and neck for most of the evening? That Romney “won” by only eight votes? That libertarian Ron Paul was close on their heels? That Newt Gingrich seemed dead in the water, having missed the deadline for the South Carolina primary, but announced he was headed for New Hampshire? That Michelle Bachman dropped out today after her poor showing and that Rick Perry probably should? That Jon Huntsman got a whopping one percent of the vote?
Years ago, when I was in a quandary about the direction of my career, I got some sound advice: Never fall in love with a corporation, because it’s constitutionally unable to reciprocate.
This week, the Supreme Court created a limited redress to that issue in Citizens United v the Federal Elections Commission, giving corporations unfettered permission to spend their general funds on the campaigns of politicians they favor, and turning them into “a real live boy” as Slate put it. Who says money can’t buy you love? If the Rehnquist court handed Republicans the presidency in 2000, it’s hard to believe the Roberts court hasn’t handed them the Congress in 2010.
It’s not the New Deal. Or the New Frontier. Or the Great Society. Or, heaven help us, the Reagan Revolution. But I’m hoping after last night’s news conference, the passage of a stimulus package in the Senate and today’s rollout of a new TARP bailout that this is the Real Deal—a viable plan to restore some rationality to our economic life together as a nation.
Perhaps after the debacle of the last presidency it’s too easy to give President Obama high marks for engaging in a fruitful discussion of economics, foreign policy and, yes, even A-Rod’s steroid use. (He’s concerned about the message it sends to children.) For showing his understanding of the dynamics of Congressional politics, for using one of his vice president’s gaffes to make a point that no program’s perfect. This give and take went on for a full hour before he thanked the media and a heavy foot could be heard coming down from the podium as he strode off.
The California cognitive scientist George Lakoff http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/08/25_lakoff.shtml has urged Democrats to resist Republican attempts to influence policy by “framing” it in language that obscures its true nature—death tax rather than inheritance tax, entitlement programs rather than veterans’ benefits and social security, and, of course, “pro-life” to cover a whole lot of issues that are less than life-enhancing to many sentient beings.
Democrats attempted this with some success, but most of the time, the Democratic problem has been a lack of imagination and courage. As Team Obama gears up for a new beginning, here are some of my ideas for them:
Random reflections on politics, the media, political activism, women's lives and spirituality, often inspired by travel, cultural events or what I read.
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