Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, 'Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.' Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.
We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.Cue the crazies. Here is a glimpse at the top-rated comments on the post:
By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal
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The Roosevelt Institute joins in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday. Mandela received the 2002 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal to honor his incredible legacy of civil rights work. You can read the citation written in his honor and his acceptance speech here.
Minimum Wage, Major Fight (Jansing & Co.)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren argues that raising the minimum wage won't cause the sky to collapse, despite messaging from McDonald's and the rest of the fast-food industry. Higher wages would instead reinforce and grow the middle class.
Raising Interest Rates Now Would Be a Tragic Error (U.S. News & World Report)
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick writes that our economy is still too fragile for the Fed to start raising interest rates. That would cause a cascade of other problems, including harming our already slack labor market.
Long-Term Unemployment is Still at its Highest Levels Since World War II (WaPo)
Brad Plumer points out that in the past, emergency unemployment benefits didn't end until the long-term unemployment rate was under half the current rate of 2.6 percent. But House Republicans don't seem to care that cutting benefits won't magically give people work.
Massachusetts Voters Will Weigh In On Guaranteeing Paid Sick Days (ThinkProgress)
Bryce Covert reports that activists turned in nearly four times as many signatures as needed to get paid sick leave on the ballot for 2014 in Massachusetts. They also delivered a petition for raising the minimum wage, but the state's legislature might beat them to it.
While Obama Talks Poverty, Stabenow Agrees to $8 Billion More in SNAP Cuts (The Nation)
Greg Kaufmann reports that while the President was giving his speech on economic inequality, the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee was agreeing to a deal on SNAP cuts. Never before has a Democratic-controlled Senate even proposed cuts to SNAP.
New on Next New Deal
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch examines President Obama's speech on economic inequality. He says the president is presenting inequality as a roadblock to the American Dream, and progressives should run with this story to inspire action.
Wall Street front group Third Way accomplished some good things with its recent op-ed attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and economic populism. It departed from its usual strategy of lobbying from the shadows to push elected Democrats to the right, drawing attention to the fight between those of us who want crazy stuff like taxing the rich and expanding Social Security and the Wall Street "Democrats" who want to cut Social Security and cut corporate taxes. It seems to have moved Warren to ask the big banks to disclose which think tanks they're funding. And it pointed to some media blind spots that need a little work. Case in point, a New York Times article headlined "Coalition of liberals strikes back at criticism from centrist Democrats."
Excuse me, now? Centrist? When the debate is over whether Wall Street has too much power over our economy, in what way can an organization with a board heavily stocked with investment bankers be identified as "centrist"? When the generation that is least likely to say it's more important to maintain Social Security benefits than reduce the deficit still has majority support for Social Security, how is cutting Social Security anywhere close to the center of that debate?
For that matter, "centrist Democrats"? Sure, Third Way exists to influence Democrats. And many of its adherents are surely Democrats of the variety that supports marriage equality and thinks contraception is good and abortion should be legal and would like to do something about climate change, at least if it could be done without pissing off corporations too much. But, as Lee Fang reports:
Some of the people at Third Way are Democrats. But none of them are centrist. They are conservative, corporatist Democrats trying to heighten inequality and give Wall Street ultimate power over the economy. If the media is going to report on this struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party, it needs to get that one right.
Between the driverless car, internet balloons and Amazon's delivery drones, it seemed like high time to take a closer look at the technology industry in a cartoon. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for the internet and technology-- it's how I've made my living for the past twelve years or so-- but I definitely have some luddite-induced skepticism in my bones.
Actually, it's not the various technologies and innovations themselves, but the hype that accompanies each shiny new technology that really gets my cartoon gears turning. I'm a huge fan of 60 Minutes, but their piece on Jeff Bezos and his drones made the days of Mike Wallace selling cigarettes look dignified. Technology companies seem to have perfected the art of getting various news outlets to sit up like excited puppies with each new release of some product. (See iPhone anything.)
Enjoy the cartoon and share it with your friends, and watch out for drone deliveries. I'll write more about this topic and this cartoon on my website, so stay tuned and thanks for watching the animation!
The seasonally adjusted 204,000 job gain the BLS reported for October was revised to 200,000. The September figures were revised from 163,000 to 175,000.
The BLS uses an alternative calculation—U6—to determine the number of workers who have given up looking for a job but still want one as well as those Americans working part-time even though they want full-time jobs, the underemployed. U6 fell from 13.8 to 13.2 percent in November.
The civilian labor force rose by 455,000 after having fallen 720,000 in October. The employment-population ratio rose to 58.6 percent in November. The labor force participation rate rose to 63 percent.
The BLS reported that the number of officially unemployed Americans is now 10.9 million. That tally leaves out millions of discouraged workers who have given up looking for employment and others who want full-time jobs but can only find part-time work.
The number of long-term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or more, remained unchanged at 4.1 million, accounting for 37.3 percent of the total unemployed.
While the situation has improved significantly in the past five years in overall jobs, the quality of many of those jobs leaves a good deal to be desired. Measured in "real" dollars, that is, inflation-adjusted dollars, the median wage of $27,519 in 2012 was $980 less than in 2007 when the Great Recession began. In fact, the median fell by $4 between 2011 and 2012. In fact, the median wage as measured by the Social Security Administration is at the 1998 level.
The reported gain may spur the Federal Reserve Board to begin tapering off its quantitative easing, its purchase of $85 billion in bonds each month.
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Friday clean-up time! This time I'll start on the Detroit bankruptcy backgrounder a little earlier, though. Lots in the queue, though. Maybe it's time to replace my Pocket app with a giant Wheel of Fortune or a dart board. Why are all you people doing, finding and writing about such interesting things? Cut it out! Take a vacation. Learn to meditate or something.
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• NRCC: Wow. This is some seriously nasty shit. Politico reports that senior Republican Rep. Randy Forbes has been waging a "lengthy crusade" to convince the NRCC not to support two prominent GOP House recruits, former Massachusetts state Sen. Richard Tisei and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, simply because they are gay. Yeah, you read that right. So let's unpack this bigotry.
First off, on a purely electoral level, Forbes is a raving idiot, because both DeMaio and Tisei could definitely win—yet he'd rather forego two pickup opportunities because he's personally squicked out by gay people. That's so insane I can't even. But then, of course, there's the whole GOP rebranding fail, for the eleventy millionth time. "Top House Republican doesn't want teh gay in his caucus" certainly sends an open and inclusive message, does it not? Whether it's minorities, women, or LGBT Americans, Republicans really keep doing an excellent job with their outreach.
There's also an internal subtext to this story, too. House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon looks likely to retire, and Forbes is angling for his post. So presumably some of his opponents shared this story with Politico to try to sabotage him, though Forbes hasn't denied anything. In fact, he reiterated his discomfort, saying, "There would be a different situation if they tried to force other members to give money" to DeMaio or Tisei.
So will any of this actually hurt Forbes? No one in his party denounced him; the furthest anyone went was NRCC chief Greg Walden, who said the committee would support candidates regardless of sexual orientation. So you really have to wonder how guys like Tisei and DeMaio feel, not only about getting dumped on by a top party leader, but about the fact that Forbes is walking away apparently unpunished for his prejudice. Then again, it's not like gay Republicans don't already know what their party is really like.
Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at age 95, fully deserved the legendary stature he enjoyed around the world for the last quarter-century of his life.
He was one of the most extraordinary liberation leaders Africa, or any other continent, ever produced. Not only did he lead his people to triumph over the deeply entrenched system of apartheid that enforced racial segregation in every area of South African life; he achieved this victory without the blood bath so many had predicted and feared.Over at CNN, guest columnist Kennedy Odede explains how Nelson Mandela saved his life:
I had many conversations with Nelson Mandela, although I had not met him.
In my family's tiny shack in Nairobi's Kibera slum, my one-way exchanges with the great man kept me going. Mandela survived 27 years of prison; maybe I would make it out, too. [...] Our lives in the slums seemed to take a friend every day. Police shot my friend Boi; they thought he looked like a criminal. My childhood friend Calvin hanged himself. His suicide note said what I felt: "I just can't take it anymore." Both of my sisters were raped and impregnated as teenagers. People seemed to fade and disappear. To live was the exception. I am now 29, and all but two of my closest childhood friends are dead.
It was Mandela who saved my life.Much more on Mandela's legacy below the fold.
We did not know then what we know now. We did not know that his statesmanship would be legendary, outstripped only by his forgiveness. We did not know he would be president, or that he could survive 27 years of imprisonment to walk free again. And in our nation, where athletes are superstars, we did not know that Americans would one day shower Nelson Mandela with ticker tape, like the Yankees fresh from winning the pennant.
When Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a 1986 resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and recognition of the African National Congress, Americans did know this man had been waiting decades for his freedom. In a larger sense, so had all black South Africans. The tenets of American democracy—one man, one vote—were denied to the majority of citizens, along with the most basic economic and educational needs.
Yet Republican vice presidential candidate Cheney still defends his vote, saying on ABC's "This Week'' that "the ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization. ... I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.'' What, then, does this tell us about what information Cheney considers before he takes a decision? And what the long-term consequences are likely to be, and on whom?
Mandela and his longtime friend and colleague, ANC Secretary General Oliver Tambo, reflected deeply before advocating violence as even a limited tactic of the ANC. In a 1958 conversation with economist Winifred Armstrong, they reflected on their belief that "if you sow violence, you reap violence.'' Armstrong, who has lived, traveled and written extensively about Africa, noted that "Mandela and colleagues thought ahead, and considered the impacts on all of the players, not just the home team.''
As South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has revealed, much to the consternation of all involved, the ANC's armed wing committed acts of violence, including bombings—as did the government. In fact, while the United States maintained diplomatic ties with South Africa, former President P.W. Botha ordered the 1988 bombing of the South African Council of Churches in Johannesburg. Twenty-three people were injured. For decades, other government operatives did far worse, killing and maiming everyone from political activists to infants.
Mandela made choices no man should ever have to make about whether to lead a people into bloodshed for a just cause. In an interview with Time magazine shortly before he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, Mandela said Chief Albert Luthuli, former ANC president and Nobel winner, believed in nonviolence as a way of life. But we who were in touch with the grass-roots persuaded the chief that if we did not begin the armed struggle, then people would proceed without guidance.''
Dick Cheney has had to make life-and-death choices of his own. His handlers are burnishing his star in large part based on his role in the Gulf War, a conflict that took on an elephant-and-flea aspect as American tanks rolled over fleeing Iraqi soldiers. Now, in the most American of parlays, Cheney has come back, briefcase in hand, to help Iraqi oil interests rebuild. Both partisan allies and veteran journalists call him a civil man, an intelligent man. But while people deride knee-jerk liberalism, there is such a thing as knee-jerk conservatism, as well, as evidenced by the laundry list of Cheney votes on issues from armor-piercing bullets to voting to cut funding for Head Start.
America prides itself on its just wars. World War II produced what many now call "the Greatest Generation,'' and the Revolutionary War gave us our birth. But every battle leaves scars, some deeper than others. Even America could not accomplish its revolution without a full-fledged war. Nelson Mandela, through a mix of the violence he loathed and hard-won prison diplomacy, accomplished that. Rather than calling him a terrorist, most Americans consider him a hero of democracy.
We should think clearly about how we define democracy, how inclusive it is and how far in the future our leaders must look to make the right choices for our nation, and the world.
If you have not seen them, here are two obituaries of Mandela published Thursday at Daily Kos: Farewell Madiba, Who We Once Called Nelson Mandela and 'Madiba' Nelson Mandela has left us.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Bountiful Justice:Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in yet another case concerning the right of men held at Guantánamo prison to appeal for their freedom. The Military Commissions Act, rushed through last year by the Republican Congress, was drafted so as to deny them the right. The Court has earlier ruled, in Rasul and again in Hamdan, that the prisoners had to be given the right to challenge their detention, which the Bush administration has sought to frustrate by various devices.
The MCA is only the latest such stunt. It denies the prisoners’ habeas corpus rights by stripping courts of jurisdiction to hear their appeals, and substituting a new ad hoc military court system. In these Military Commissions the accused has very limited rights and cannot appeal for his freedom even if the prosecution fails to win its case.
The appeal before SCOTUS today, backed by a broad coalition of liberal, conservative, and libertarian groups as well as many distinguished lawyers, represents a last attempt to force the Bush administration to permit the prisoners to seek justice.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin puts Harvard's millennial-riffic poll in perspective, updates us on the new Grassley amendment curveball, the New Haven gun-on-campus situation and Katie Couric's alarming HPV anti-vax segment. In other surprising TV commentary news: Martin Bashir! That draws Armando in, and he points us to Egberto Willies''s post on the subject, then segues into how terrible Third Way is. Chuck Schumer visits Daily Kos. Brian Beutler adds to our hedging on gov't shutdowns. Blackwater's founder wants you to know they're not about excessive force. And more from Demos on Detroit's fiscal crisis.