Looking forward to Tuesday's State of the Union address, we are seeing a somewhat bolder Barack Obama. The White House has already pre-announced or leaked several "fourth-quarter initiatives," in the president's words. Some of these can be accomplished by executive order; most will require legislation. The measures that can be achieved by presidential order include reducing the down-payment or interest on federally insured mortgages to stimulate home ownership. Among the measures requiring legislation is a tax plan that would increase taxes on the wealthiest in order to finance the tuition help for community college students and more generous child tax credits for working families. Obama also wants an excise tax on large banks and he is calling on Congress to pass a law giving all workers seven days of annual sick leave. All this amounts to a salutary whiff of class warfare, of the sort that identifies the president with most Americans, against the one percent. And there will probably be a few more surprises in the actual address that have not yet been leaked.
Just took a routine flight from Chicago to Boston. No rain. No snow. Only a 30-minute delay going there due to a "typographical error on the pilot's checklist." (What on earth is that?) So why am I complaining? Well, air travel has become a metaphor for the overall lack of caring and civility we see around us every day.
Memories don't just spring up from nowhere; they are shaped and controlled by power. Those in power desire to keep their power. This is why the loss of the public sphere in America since the Reagan era in the '80s has introduced an anti-public logic that gave birth to privatizing schools, prisons, and institutions in the public sectors.
The Boston Globe about Wall Street's secretly purchased influence in Washington, D.C. was somewhat mistitled as being about the "struggle for the Democratic Party's Soul." It's also about how Wall Street's virtually unlimited cash secretly influences the key debates as well as the policy outcomes in the nation's capital.