What did y’all think?
Lest I violate any campaign finance laws by praising the many praiseworthy aspects of Barack Obama’s speech, I thought I would note something that’s been nagging at me throughout the convention, namely rhetoric that seems to have an oddly disproportionate emphasis on factory workers. People who work in factories deserve an economy that works for them, of course, but here’s the employment numbers (in thousands) I found on the BLS website:
– Government: 22,521
– Health and Education Services: 18,914
– Professional and Business Services: 17,919
– Retail trade: 15,309
– Leisure and Hospitality: 13,687
– Manufacturing: 13,501
There are some other, even smaller categories out there including construction (7,175) and natural resources and mining (778) but the point is that it’s been a long time since the typical person was working in a factory. And it’s not as if all these people in these other fields are hoity toity elitists, it’s just that the face of the contemporary working class isn’t primarily the face of a factory worker.
The text of Obama’s convention speech has been released. Here is what he said about energy:
And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation with these famous words: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Watch it:
Forty-five years later, though still incomplete, America has moved gradually towards realizing King’s dream. In Denver tonight, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will become the first African-American to accept the presidential nomination of a major party.
Okay, no more complaints the Dems aren’t talking climate change (see “Should you freak out at the lack of air time for climate change in Denver — or Minneapolis?“). Al Gore globally warmed the crowd in a terrific speech (be sure to read to the end where he compares Obama’s experience to Lincoln’s).
Gore pointed out that if he had won in 2000:
… we would not be denying the climate crisis; we’d be solving it.
Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again.
Hey, I believe in recycling, but that’s ridiculous.
Yesterday evening, ThinkProgress spoke with Lieut. Gen, Harry Soyster and Ret. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, at a Human Rights First reception honoring retired generals who have spoken out against President Bush’s torture policies. Soyster criticized Bush’s veto of a bill banning the CIA from waterboarding — a veto Sen. John McCain supported. Soyster said one clear standard on torture was needed:
SOYSTER: Our position is, all of us, that we need one standard for the United Sates. And because the Central Intelligence Agency has authorized torture, then Americans are torturing. It doesn’t matter where your paycheck comes from.
Taguba reiterated Soyster’s critique of Bush’s torture policies, and also slammed the Pentagon’s military analyst program, which the New York Times revealed in April. He said he found it “incredible” that generals would agree to be the Pentagon’s spokesmen, and said military “experts” should do their own research:
TAGUBA: You can probably provide an expert opinion, but you always have to preface that by saying, ‘Nobody told me to say these things.’
TP: What if someone did tell you to say those things? Then you shouldn’t be saying them?
TAGUBA: You shouldn’t be saying them. We should take bold measures to provide our own perspective through your own research. That’s why they call you an expert. They don’t call you an expert because they fed you information. That means you’re just a talking head. You don’t want to be a talking head. Do your own research.
In fact, the participants in the Pentagon program were explicitly prohibited from following Taguba’s urging: to say explicitly whether they were repeating someone else’s facts. As the Times report revealed, “The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”
A Washington law firm filed a lawsuit yesterday against Iraq contractor KBR, “alleging that the company and its Jordanian subcontractor engaged in the human trafficking of Nepali workers,” the Washington Post reported today. The suit states that 13 Nepali men were recruited for kitchen work in Jordan only to have their passports seized upon arrival and “told they were being sent to a military facility in Iraq.” TPM Muckraker notes that the complaint calls these actions “slavery“:
160. Defendants’ actions as set forth above constitute the torts of trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and slavery.
161. Trafficking in persons in a modern day form of slavery, and along with
involuntary servitude and forced labor constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations and/or in violation of treaties of the United States.
“I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore….” Okay, my 18-month-old daughter is an ABBA fan. Go figure.
But if I am preaching to the choir, as Brewster worries, then I must say, thank you for the music, for giving it to me.
I wouldn’t be blogging this much if you all weren’t tuning in and writing all your comments. I wouldn’t be adding new features like “Must have PPTs” if it weren’t for the response. And I’m hoping to add yet another feature, podcasts, in time for my brother to do interviews at the Republican National Convention.
As for preaching to the choir, well, last month alone, the choir was over 115,000 unique visitors (triple last year at this time) reading 3.3 pages each. I do get plenty of deniers and doubters, but I have no illusions that we change their mind and since I won’t put up with their posting long-debunked disinformation, I suspect most don’t stick around long. We also get some undecideds.
But I’ve long thought that giving progressives the best information and best arguments with a vigorous debate is about all you can do in our current political climate.
That said, I lot of the media read this — which is one of the reasons I do so many media critiques.
And so do a lot of young people. They get here through Google, unexpectedly enough, mainly researching reports on polar bears. In fact, here are my most widely read posts year to date (with # of views in parens):
One continues to be baffled by the extent to which John McCain’s national security messaging relies on denying obvious facts. Yesterday he was upset that Barack Obama said Iran was much smaller than the Soviet Union. Today he wants us to believe that Iraq is a “peaceful and stable country” even though over seventy people have died in suicide bombings this month alone. That countries in which dozens of people are killed in suicide bombings on a weekly basis doesn’t qualify as “peaceful” seems obvious.
I’m sure it’s inappropriate to accuse a former P.O.W. of misstating elementary facts, but it’s difficult to outline sound forward-looking Iraq policy when you not only don’t know this stuff but are so proud of your mastery of national security that you don’t bother to look anything up even though you keep making embarrassing errors.
In an interview with Time magazine this week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared that Iraq “is a peaceful and stable country now.” ThinkProgress spoke with Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Robert Wexler (D-FL) at the Democratic National Convention today, and asked them their response to McCain’s assertion. Wexler was incredulous, declaring, “He’s just dead wrong”:
WEXLER: Sen McCain’s judgment unfortunately has become so mistaken on so many things, and this is yet another example of his apparently not understanding the facts on the ground whatsoever. There still is a totally unacceptable level of killing in Iraq. There has been in effect ethnic cleansing in Iraq where religious groups are totally separated from one another. How he can call Iraq — what did you say he called it?
TP: A peaceful and stable country.
WEXLER: It is the furthest thing from a peaceful and stable country. And I guess if in fact he’s right then why do we have 150,000 troops there? We ought to bring them all home as quickly as possible even under his logic. He’s just dead wrong.
Ellison agreed, calling McCain’s assessment “ridiculous.” He noted that “the people of Iraq probably would not agree with that”:
ELLISON: I’d say the people of Iraq probably would not agree with that. Besides the ongoing warfare, death, destruction, people dying every single day…there still is no system of clean sewage, water, electricity. People are still living in dire circumstances. People are still suffering every day. … That’s ridiculous. It just goes to prove that this guy does not get it.