Tuesday December 10, 2013
Archive - 2013
It wasn't always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.
It was only a matter of time before our polarized politics threatened to destroy a president's authority and call into question our country's ability to act in the world. Will Congress let that happen?
Are we really going to do this? Are we going to wade into a struggle we don't really want to fight? Are we going to mire ourselves in a senseless, grinding conflict whose possible outcomes range from bad to worse?
I'm talking about the upcoming budget battles in Washington, of course. (What, you thought I meant something else?)
Could this Labor Day mark the comeback of movements for workers' rights and a turn toward innovation and a new militancy on behalf of wage-earners?
Suggesting this is not the same as a foolish and romantic optimism that foresees an instant union revival. What's actually happening is more interesting.
Ever since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009, his foreign policy has been driven in large part by a determination to reverse that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who put the United States on a reckless course of interventionism abroad.
Obama from the outset vowed to extract the U.S. from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq he inherited, and to channel American foreign policy engagements back through international diplomatic institutions of collective action, effective during the long Cold War.
Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech, one thing is certain: Racial segregation has receded; racial suspicions have not.
A half-century after the first March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I was moved emotionally by the history-making sight of this nation's first African-American first family waving to a cheering crowd under the serene gaze of my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln.
Fresno, Calif., is not a town known for wealth, elegance or great urban planning. It's in an area of California's Central Valley known for some of America's most concentrated poverty. It has many low-wage industries, few high-wage ones.
A striking contrast between the 1963 March on Washington and Wednesday's 50th anniversary celebration of it, and of Martin Luther King's historic "I have a dream" speech, was the visible unity and nonpartisanship of the first and the scarcity of both in the second.
If it quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.
And if it barks like a dog? It's probably not an "African lion."
Cathy Lanier's early life plays like a season of MTV's "Teen Mom."
Skipping school at 13. Pregnant at 14. Married at 15. Separated at 17, on food stamps and back with her mother on a working-class block by a railroad in suburban Maryland; her mother had also relied on welfare and donated food to feed Cathy and her brothers after her husband split when Lanier was a toddler.