RIP Howard Zinn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn - American hero - died today. He was 87.  The smartest obit I've read is here.   Here's a tribute to Zinn from Democracy Now, which will also appear on the Tendown Sunday.  And here is the Nation from February 1

In recent days, he was asked his thoughts about Obama's first year.  Here they are:

I' ve been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama's rhetoric; I don't see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies.

As far as disappointments, I wasn't terribly disappointed because I didn't expect that much. I expected him to be a traditional Democratic president. On foreign policy, that's hardly any different from a Republican--as nationalist, expansionist, imperial and warlike. So in that sense, there's no expectation and no disappointment. On domestic policy, traditionally Democratic presidents are more reformist, closer to the labor movement, more willing to pass legislation on behalf of ordinary people--and that's been true of Obama. But Democratic reforms have also been limited, cautious. Obama's no exception. On healthcare, for example, he starts out with a compromise, and when you start out with a compromise, you end with a compromise of a compromise, which is where we are now.

I thought that in the area of constitutional rights he would be better than he has been. That's the greatest disappointment, because Obama went to Harvard Law School and is presumably dedicated to constitutional rights. But he becomes president, and he's not making any significant step away from Bush policies. Sure, he keeps talking about closing Guantánamo, but he still treats the prisoners there as "suspected terrorists." They have not been tried and have not been found guilty. So when Obama proposes taking people out of Guantánamo and putting them into other prisons, he's not advancing the cause of constitutional rights very far. And then he's gone into court arguing for preventive detention, and he's continued the policy of sending suspects to countries where they very well may be tortured.

I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.


Blog said...

I thought you were picking all of the NFL games this season. So who do you like in the Pro Bowl?

Jim said...

I didn't pick preseason games, I can probably take a pass on the Pro Bowl. I don't have any formulas for exhibition games, I'd just be guessing.

Blog said...

By guessing, you have a 50% chance of being right. How is this different from your regular formula?

Jim said...

Hey, I'm 2 above .500 now, thanks.

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