Photo: US Soldiers and Iraqi 'Detainee'
By Tom Hayden
What does the US-Iraq Pact mean for the anti-war movement? It certainly may cement an American perception that the war is finally over, stranding the peace movement as public opinion turns its attention to the economy and the Obama administration.
The agreement forces the Bush Administration and Pentagon to back down from long-held positions, especially over deadlines. The barracking of American troops in remote areas by June 2009 will be a retreat from offensive operations. More important, the language of the agreement in Arabic stipulates that all American forces, not merely combat units, will be withdrawn by 2011.
If these terms are maintained, President-elect Obama will be acquiescing in a doubling of his 16 month deadline for withdrawal of combat troops, but also for the first time accepting a date for removal of the so-called residual American forces – since “all” means all counter-terrorism units, advisers, trainers and back-up forces that could total 50,000 or more.
Because shrugging off treaty obligations is a custom of state, only informed publics and alert parliamentarians in Washington and Baghdad can ensure that these agreements are implemented.
This is not “out now”, but that was never possible politically or militarily. It’s not literally “ending the war in 2009” as Obama promised. But this pact is officially known as “the withdrawal agreement” to all proud Iraqis. Read carefully, it is an agreed 2009 timetable for ending the war, the occupation, the troop presence and closing the military bases in three years.
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, it is too slow. Only a few weeks ago Prime Minister al-Maliki was praising Obama’s 16-month timetable. Obviously something or someone got to him. American embassy officials, according to press accounts, were button-holing Iraqi parliamentarians in the hallways in the days before the final voter. There are no registered lobbyists or even lobbying laws in Baghdad.
Second, one can predict with certainty that there will be pressures to extend the occupation despite the pact, using “instability” as justification. Fully and truly ending the occupation is simply not an option in the mentality of the national security bureaucracy.
The reason for this goes beyond a chronic mendacity and trail of broken treaties. The balance of forces in Baghdad rests entirely on the American occupation, and always has. Described by Stephen Biddle, an adviser to Gen. Petraeus, in 2006 articles in Foreign Affairs, the US occupation purports to protect the Iraqi Shi’a regime of former exiles from a coup d’etat while also presenting itself to the insurgent Sunnis as the only protection against the vengeful repression of the majority Shi’a.
“The Sunnis are roadkill.” – American official in Diyala province.
It is unpredictable how a gradual American withdrawal might alter this balance of power. It could simply leave a US-backed sectarian Shi’a police state in Baghdad, holding 40-50,000 Sunnis in detention. “The Sunnis are roadkill”, according to an American official quoted last week in the Los Angeles Times. That is why the non-binding side agreement pledging amnesty for Sunni political detainees is of great importance – if it is enforceable. The continued granting of funds and relative autonomy to the 99,000 former Sunni insurgents who the Americans currently pay not to shoot our troops is equally important, as are restored employment opportunities for former Baathists.
The provincial elections now set for January could consolidate Sunni power bases in at least three provinces where they have been disenfranchised since 2005. The referendum on the pact scheduled in six months provides greater leverage for two opposite poles of discontent with the occupation – the minority Sunnis and the much larger number of Shi’a followers of Moktada al-Sadr whose demand is to accelerate the withdrawal.
Here at home, the agreement will force the anti-war movement into careful consideration of a broader agenda. Unless the pact is violated, it is difficult to imagine hundreds of thousands demonstrating to bring the troops home in 2010 instead of 2011. There will be continued attention to implementing the pact and pressuring for human rights standards in Baghdad, but the steady return of thousands of American soldiers will send a powerful message to most Americans that the Iraq War is ending, perhaps not soon enough, but ending nonetheless.
But it is possible to imagine broad and intense public support for a movement questioning Obama’s multiple wars – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, not to mention Iran and the Israel-Palestine conflict – as unwinnable quagmires which alienate countless Muslims and cost over $200 billion annually that taxpayers cannot afford amidst a collapsing economy. In this different framing, the anti-war movement could include the Iraq withdrawal and diplomatic solutions in Afghanistan and Pakistan within a new progressive agenda demanding a turn away from policing a world of quagmires to addressing our spiralling economic, trade, health care and energy crises.'
[Tom Hayden is a founder of Progressives for Obama]
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Photo: Katrina vanden Heuvel
By Katrina vanden Heuvel
November 25, 2008 - A There are some heated conversations under way in the progressive blogosphere, including some at thenation.com, in which our own writers as well as people like Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, David Sirota and Digby are debating why Barack Obama has so far appointed few progressives to his cabinet. It's worth checking them out.
I think that we progressives need to be as clear-eyed, tough and pragmatic about Obama as he is about us.
President-elect Obama is a centrist at a time when centrism means energy independence and green jobs and universal healthcare and massive economic stimulus programs and government intervention in the economy. He is a pragmatist at a moment when pragmatism and the scale of our financial crisis compel him to adopt bold policies. He is a cautious leader at a time when, to paraphrase New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, cautious is the new risky. The great traumas of our day do not allow for cautious steps or responses.
At 143 years old (that's the The Nation's age, not mine), we like a little bit of history with our politics. And while Lincoln's way of picking a cabinet has seized the public imagination during this transition, it's worth remembering another president's template for governing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was compelled to become a bolder and, yes, more progressive president (if progressive means ensuring that the actual conditions of people's lives improve through government acts) as a result of the strategic mobilization and pressure of organized movements.
That history makes me think that progressives must avoid falling into either of two extremes--reflexively defensive or reflexively critical. We'll be wiser and more effective if we follow the advice of a Nation editorial board member, who shared these thoughts at our recent meeting:
1. It will take large-scale organized movements to win transformative change. There would have been no civil rights legislation without the movement, no New Deal without the unions and the unemployed councils, no end to slavery without the abolitionists. In our era, this will have to play out in two ways: organizing district by district and state by state to get us to the 218 (House) and sixty (Senate) votes necessary to pass major legislation; and harnessing the movement energy that can create a new narrative and thus move the elites in Washington to shift away from failed free-market orthodoxies.
2. We need to be able to play inside and outside politics at the same time. This will be challenging for those of us schooled in the habits of pure opposition and protest. We need to make an effort to engage the new administration and Congress constructively, even as we push without apology for solutions on a scale necessary to deliver. This is in the interest of the Democratic Party--which rode the wave of a new coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, young people, women and others. But the party has been beaten down by conservative attacks, so the natural impulse will be caution.
3. Progressives must stick up especially forcefully for the most vulnerable members of the coalition--poor people, immigrants, etc.--those who got almost no mention during the campaign and who are most likely to be left off the bus.
As a former community organizer, Obama has spoken of how "real change comes from the bottom up." It comes about by "imagining and then fighting for and then working for--struggling for--what did not seem possible before." That is the charge we should embrace. Let's mobilize to achieve what "did not seem possible before."
If you like this article, consider making a donation to The Nation.
[Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor and Publisher of The Nation. She is the co-editor of Taking Back America--And Taking Down The Radical Right (NationBooks, 2004). She is also co-editor (with Stephen F. Cohen) of Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev's Reformers (Norton, 1989) and editor of The Nation: 1865-1990, and the collection A Just Response: The Nation on Terrorism, Democracy and September 11, 2001.]
Monday, November 24, 2008
Photo: Steve Cobble
The GreatestBy Steve Cobble
I’ll Ever See
Progressive Democrats of America
*A relevant Barack Obama quote: “Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.”
(1) This was a once-in-a-lifetime election.
*Barack Obama won a smashing victory, in historical terms. His 53% is one of the third highest percentage any Democrat has ever won (counting FDR as one Democrat, since he went over 53% all 4 times; LBJ was the only other Democrat to do so).
*Obama’s vote percentage is about the same as Bush ’88, and higher than Reagan in 1980, W, Carter, Kennedy, Truman, Clinton (twice), “Gore” and Nixon ’68.
*Obama’s 66 million votes (and counting) is a record for the most ever.
Type rest of the post here*The turnout this year is also the highest ever, more than 125 million.
*Obama’s 365 electoral votes is a landslide, in the same range as both Clinton races, and higher than Truman, JFK, Nixon, Carter, “Gore” & W.
*Obama’s victory margin is now over 8 million votes (compared to W’s 2.5 M “mandate” in 2004). His victory margin percentage-wise is higher than Clinton ’92, Truman, W, Carter, Nixon ’68, JFK & “Gore”.
*The Republicans claimed a right-wing revolution in 1980, when Reagan won with only 44 million votes—Obama right now has 50% more than that.
*The entire voter turnout in 1960 was only a little over half of this year’s voter turnout—that’s how much the country has grown since then.
*The Democrats big win in both the House & Senate in ’06 & in ‘08, two cycles in a row, marks the biggest back-to-back Democratic wins since the Great Depression; this was almost literally a once-in-a-lifetime election, even without considering the historic victory of an African-American!
(2) The 2008 vote is potentially a long-term, center-left realigning election.
*Young voters went more than 2-to-1 for Obama, their organizing was superb, and their turnout, especially in battleground states, was excellent. In fact, if only people 30 and over had voted, McCain might have won.
*Obama lost among those who claimed to have voted in 2004. He won with a big margin among those who had not voted in 2004—newly-registered voters, young voters, and lapsed voters coming back into the polling booths.
*White voters went for McCain (though the White gender gap still exists, since White women, especially single women, voted more for Obama than White men).
*African-American voters not only increased their share of the electorate to 13%, they went 19-to-1 for Obama, erasing the White voter gap.
*Obama’s margin of victory was essentially provided by Latino voters, who cast 9% of the votes, with more than a 2-to-1 margin for Obama.
*The Latino vote helped flip 3 Southwestern states, New Mexico, Nevada & Colorado, from red-to-blue, all by big margins. In addition, Puerto Rican voters in central Florida, along with young Cuban-Americans no longer bound by their hatred of Castro, combined to win the Latino vote with 55% for Democrats, and help win the Sunshine State for Obama, by a big enough margin it couldn’t be stolen again.
*The combination of 2-to-1 margins among both young voters and Latino voters is an extremely positive sign for a center-left realignment. These are the building blocks of any future Democratic coalition, especially in combination with the winning rainbow coalition of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Jewish & Arab voters, secular voters, union members, gays & lesbians, and single women.
*The “Black/Brown” coalition which provided the victory margin made up over 1/5 of the voters this year. (To update Jesse Jackson’s wonderful phrase, “the hands that picked the cotton, and the hands that picked the lettuce, just picked a new President”!)
*By 2050, it is projected that the Black/Brown piece of the voting electorate will be twice that, in the neighborhood of 45%. The demography of the future should be a source of great worry to the GOP, though perhaps not so much in Wasilla…
*The South/Border states went for McCain by 9%–and since half of all the nation’s African-Americans live in the South, and voted heavily for Obama, this means that much of the White vote in the South was heavy for McCain.
*The rest of the nation — East + Midwest + West — went for Obama by 15%.
(3) Earlier reforms in the system won by progressives set the stage for the “change” election that the Obama campaign ran so brilliantly. The work that progressives did in the past did matter; the work we are doing now will matter to future generations.
[On November 13, 2008, the Institute for Policy Studies provided post-election analysis by some of the nation's leading progressives: Steve Cobble, John Cavanagh, and Bill Fletcher, Jr., moderated by Karen Dolan. This from from part of Cobble's presentation]
Friday, November 21, 2008
Come First in
By Mike Davis
America's "Futurama" is defunct. The famous walk-through diorama of a car-and-suburb world, imagineered by Norman Bel Geddes for General Motors at the 1939 New York World's Fair, has weathered into a dreary emblem of our national backwardness. While GM bleeds to death on a Detroit street corner, the steel-and-concrete Interstate landscape built in the 1950s and 1960s is rapidly decaying into this century's equivalent of Victorian rubble.
As we wait in potholed gridlock for the next highway bridge to collapse, the French, the Japanese, and now the Spanish blissfully speed by us on their sci-fi trains. Within the next year or two, Spain's high-speed rail network will become the world's largest, with plans to cap construction in 2020 at an incredible 6,000 miles of fast track. Meanwhile China has launched its first 200 mile-per-hour prototype, and Saudi Arabia and Argentina are proceeding with the construction of their own state-of-the-art systems. Of the larger rich, industrial countries, only the United States has yet to build a single mile of what constitutes the new global standard of transportation.
From day one, Barack Obama campaigned to redress this infrastructure deficit through an ambitious program of public investment: "For our economy, our safety, and our workers, we have to rebuild America." Originally he proposed to finance this spending by ending the war in Iraq. Although his present commitments to a larger military and an expanded war in Afghanistan seem to foreclose any reconversion of the Pentagon budget, he continues to emphasize the urgency of an Apollo-style program to modernize highways, ports, rail transit, and power grids.
Public works, he also promises, can put the public back to work. His "Economic Rescue Plan for the Middle Class" vows to "create 5 million new, high-wage jobs by investing in the renewable sources of energy that will eliminate the oil we currently import from the Middle East in 10 years, and we'll create 2 million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges." Of course, Bill Clinton entered the White House with a similarly ambitious plan to rebuild the derelict national infrastructure, but it was abandoned after Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin convinced the new president that deficit reduction was the true national priority. This time around, a much more powerful and desperate coalition of interests is aligned to support the Keynesian shock-and-awe of major public works.
Rolling Out the Dozers
Since the Paulson bailout plan has become so much expensive spit in the wind, and with bond spreads now premised on the possibility of double-digit unemployment over the next 18 months, massive new federal spending has become a matter of sheer economic survival. As innumerable influentials -- from New York Times columnist David Brooks to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi -- have argued, a crash program of infrastructure repair and construction, likely to include some investment in the new power grids required to bring more solar and wind energy online, is the "win-win" approach that will garner the quickest bipartisan support.
It has also been portrayed as the only lifeboat in the water for the ordinary steerage passengers in our sinking economy. The emergent Washington consensus seems to be that those five million green jobs can actually come later (after we save GM's shareholders), but that infrastructure spending -- if resolutely pushed through the lame-duck Congress or adopted in Obama's first 100 days -- can begin to pump money into the crucial construction and manufacturing sectors of the economy before the end of next winter.
Unlike Comrade Bush's "socialist" efforts to save Wall Street, a public-works strategy for national recovery has had broad ideological respectability from the days of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln to those of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. If Democrats can brag about the proud heritage of the Works Progress Administration and the Public Works Administration from the era of the Great Depression (ah, those magnificent post offices and parkways), there are still a few Republicans who remember the Golden Age of interstate highway construction that commenced in the 1950s with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Indeed since the national shame of Hurricane Katrina, Americans have become outspokenly nostalgic about competent federal governments and magnificent public achievements.
If one accepts the reasonable principle of supporting the new president whenever he makes policy from the left or addresses basic social needs, shouldn't progressives be cheering the White House as it rolls out the dozers, Cats, and big cranes? Aren't high-speed mass transit and clean energy the kind of noble priorities that best reconcile big-bang stimulus with long-term public value?
The answer is: no, not at this stage of our national emergency. I'm not an infrastructure-crisis denialist, but first things first. We are now at a crash site, and our priority should be to save the victims, not change the tires or repair the fender, much less build a new car. In the triage situation that now confronts the president-elect, keeping local schools and hospitals open should be the first concern, rebuilding bridges and expanding ports would come next, and rescuing bank shareholders at the very end of the line.
Inexorably, the budgets of schools, cities, and states are sinking into insolvency on a scale comparable to the early 1930s. The public-sector fiscal crisis -- a vicious chain reaction of falling property values, incomes, and sales -- has been magnified by the unexpectedly large exposure of local governments and transit agencies to the Wall Street meltdown via complex capital lease-back arrangements. Meanwhile on the demand side, the need for public services explodes as even prudent burghers face foreclosure, not to speak of the loss of pensions and medical coverage. Although the public mega-deficits of California and New York may dominate headlines, the essence of the crisis -- from the suburbs of Anchorage to the neighborhoods of West Philly -- is its potential universality. Certainly, in such a rich country, wind farms and schools should never become a Sophie's choice, but the criminal negligence of Congress over the past months should alert us to the likelihood that such a choice will be made -- with disastrous results for both human services and economic recovery.
Saving Schools and Hospitals
Congress naturally loves infrastructure because it rewards manufacturers, shippers, and contractors who give large campaign contributions, and because construction sites can be handsomely bill-boarded with the names of proud sponsors. Powerful business lobbies like the National Industrial Transportation League and the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors stand ready to grease the wheels of their political allies. In addition, if the past century of congressional pork-barrel methods is any precedent, infrastructural spending typically resists coherent national planning or larger cost-benefit analyses.
Yet saving (and expanding) core public employment is, hands-down, the best Keynesian stimulus around. Federal investment in education and healthcare gets incomparably more bang for the buck, if jobs are the principal criterion, than expenditures on transportation equipment or road repair.
For example, $50 million in federal aid during the Clinton administration allowed Michigan schools to hire nearly 1,300 new teachers. It is also the current operating budget of a Tennessee school district made up of eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools.
On the other hand, $50 million on the order book of a niche public transit manufacturer generates only 200 jobs (plus, of course, capital costs and profits). Road construction and bridge repair, also very capital intensive, produce about the same modest, direct employment effect.
One of the most likely targets for a Congressional stimulus plan is light-rail construction. Street-car systems are enormously popular with local governments, redevelopment agencies, and middle-class commuters, but generally they operate less efficiently (per dollar per passenger) than bus systems, and at least 40% of the capital investment leaks overseas to German streetcar builders and Korean steel companies.
Personally, I would love to commute via a sleek Euro-style bullet train from my home in San Diego to my job in Riverside, 100 grueling freeway miles away, but I'll take gridlock if the cost of rationing federal expenditure is tolerating the closure of my kids' school or increasing the wait in the local emergency room from two to ten hours.
Obama, unlike his predecessor, has a bold vision, shared with his powerful supporters in high-tech industries, of catching up with the Spanish and Japanese, while redeeming America as the synonym for modernity. Lots of new infrastructure will, however, become so many bridges to nowhere (especially for our children) unless he and Congress first save human-needs budgets and public-sector jobs.
A good start for progressive agitation on Obama's left flank would be to demand that his health-care reform and aid-to-education proposals be brought front and center as preferential vehicles for immediate macro-economic stimulus. Democrats should not forget that the most brilliant and enduring accomplishment of the Kennedy-Johnson era was Head Start, not the Apollo Program.
If, after saving kindergartens and county hospitals, we someday hope to ride the fast train, then we need to rebuild the antiwar movement on broader foundations. The president-elect's original proposal for funding domestic social investment through downsizing the empire offers a brilliant starting point for basing economic growth on an economic bill of rights (as advocated by Franklin Roosevelt in 1944) instead of imperial over-reach and Pharaonic levels of military waste.
[Mike Davis is the author of In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire (Haymarket Books, 2008) and Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (Verso, 2007). He is currently working on a book about cities and poverty.]
Thursday, November 20, 2008
New Start / mogallery.com.
'Millions have been newly engaged and motivated as a result of the recent electoral process and most are not traditional players who automatically buy in to the traditional assumptions.'
By Thorne Dreyer
The Rag Blog
November 20, 2008 - History has taken an unexpected turn and, astounding as it may seem to those of us made numb by decades of disappointment, the possibility of building a viable progressive movement is before us.
Millions have been newly engaged and motivated as a result of the recent electoral process and most are not traditional players who automatically buy in to the traditional assumptions. Add to that the critical and tantalizing fact that these people need not fall back into the woodwork thanks to the unprecedented communications networks that we now have at our disposal.
The emergence and consolidation of a serious progressive movement is nowhere near a given, and we certainly have a tradition of blowing it -- especially through turning in on ourselves rather than intelligently identifying and directing our energies at the real enemy -- but we'd be fools not to bust our butts trying to make it happen.
We must recognize and be tolerant of our differences in ideology and approach, but we must also recognize that our only power is in unity. It is not only our right but our responsibility to address the Obama presidency with a critical eye; we must always hold Obama accountable to a progressive vision.
But we must likewise be supportive and leave the Obama-bashing to those who are best at it -- the rabid right. The resurgent clout of the racists and the fear-mongers will be underestimated only at our serious peril.
The crises we face now scream of catastrophic potential and there may not be another chance.
Rag Blog reading list on the task at hand (much more to come):
I highly recommend that everyone read Carl Davidson’s Bumpy Road Ahead: Obama and the Left posted on The Rag Blog Nov. 18, 2008.[Thorne Dreyer was a pioneering underground journalist in the sixties and seventies and was active with SDS in Texas and nationally. He lives in Austin where he works with MDS/Austin and Progressives for Obama. A writer, editor and bookseller, he is a contributing editor to Next Left Notes and is co-editor of The Rag Blog.]
Few of us will agree with every word, but I believe it to be a bold and thoughtful beginning. Please join in the discussion by clicking the “comments” at the end of this (and every) post.
Other articles recently published on The Rag Blog that analyze the election from a left perspective and address the question of the day: what do we do now?
Robert Jensen : Real Hope: Facing Difficult Truths About an Uncertain Future by Robert Jensen / The Rag Blog / Nov. 18, 2008
'Two Party' or Not 'Two Party' : A Rag Blog Discussion on Change with articles by David P. Hamilton and Scott Trimble / The Rag Blog / Nov. 16, 2008
Bert Garskof on the Obama 'Movement' : Shoot Where the Ducks are by Bert Garskof / The Rag Blog / Nov. 10, 2008
Paul Buhle : The American Elections of 2008: A First Take by Paul Buhle / The Rag Blog / Nov. 8, 2008
Makani Themba-Nixon : A Black Woman Looks at the Election by Makani Themba-Nixon / The Rag Blog / Nov. 8, 2008
Obama Presidency : What the Left Should Expect by David P. Hamilton / Nov. 8, 2008
Ayers Seems Relieved That the Election is Over by Bill Ayers / Nov. 7, 2008
The Crash of 2008 : More 'Washington as Usual' Under Obama? by Dr. S. R. Keister / The Rag Blog / Nov. 7, 2008
Ron Ridenour on Obama : Conditional Hope from Across the Seas by Ron Ridenour / The Rag Blog / Nov. 6, 2008
Tim Wise : Tuesday Night Obama Made History; Now the Work Begins by Tim Wise / Nov. 5, 2008
Paul Buhle : FDR, Obama and a new Popular Front by Paul Buhle / The Rag Blog / Nov. 5, 2008
Michael Moore : Pinch Me! by Michael Moore / Nov. 5, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Photos: It can be done: Neil Young's 100mpg 'LincVolt' and Honda's Hydrogen Car
Rx for 'Ailing'
Take it Over
By Carl Bloice
Left Margin via Portside.org
It is hemorrhaging fast and no end to the bloodletting seems to be insight. No question something has to be done about the auto industry. But what? As usual, the preferred answer depends your vantage point. As usual, when courses of action are proposed on matters like this the people be adversely affected are passed off as mere numbers. Bankruptcy on the part of any of the Big Three automakers would cost the U.S. economy $175 billion the first year after it went into effect and tens of thousands of workers would be laid off. The cost of a General Motors takeover of Chrysler could be as much as $10 billion and mean dismissing over 30,000 workers. Behind these sterile statistics are real live individuals and families.
It may be that Chrysler and GM are 'too big to fall.' (Although letting them go down is what some pundits are -- with clinical calmness -- advising) But what about the workers?
Over the past four decades or so, the deindustrialization of vast areas of the country has left once relatively prosperous communities in dire straits and vast numbers of young people on the street with little hope for a future of gainful employment. It has hit very hard at cities that are home to stable working class African American populations, often referred to as a 'black middle class.'
The potential devastation of bankruptcies in any part of the auto industry is being understated. There are a couple of million retired autoworkers whose pensions and health care coverage are at stake. Many of them have yet to reach the age for receiving Social Security and yet would be severely disadvantaged in today's labor market. Then there are the millions employed in auxiliary services dependent on auto making.
It's hard to think about the additional pain that will befall cities like Detroit in the face of the current crisis in the auto industry and the prescriptions being offered up to address it. The area, once the world center of auto manufacturing, is now being told that whatever happens over the coming months it's going to have to absorb a another heavy blow.
So, what is to the done about the ailing auto industry? Here's one answer: nationalize it.
Don't get your alimentary system in an uproar; it's been done before. We could simply takeover the industry with understanding that thousands of engineers and technicians would be mobilized to design and make functional and efficient 'green' cars. And, tens of thousands of autoworkers could be put to work building them. Of course, this would not employ all of those about to be laid off. They could be retrained to work in other new green industries building wind turbines, solar panels, mass transit lines and recycling factories. It would provide jobs for hundreds of thousands and provide new hope for young people entering the workforce in Michigan, Kentucky and elsewhere.
This will require a lot of central planning and that's the last thing the people now running the economy want to hear. Horrors. But let's face it; radical innovation and planning is the only thing that could get us out of the current mess and lay the base for a healthy economic future. An endless series of bailouts and stimulus packages is unlikely to do the trick. There is a lot of talk from the experts these days about what a 'recovery' would look like. Estimates of when one is likely to take place range from the end of 2010 to never.
Economists are now talking about a 'jobless recovery.' That is, Wall Street will get back up to speed and corporate profits begin to rise again while high joblessness continues and the legions of the poor grow even larger.
A government organized effort to consolidate, refurbish, and refinance the auto industry will surely be denounced as 'socialist' but, actually it wouldn't be anything a traditional socialist would recognize as such. It could be a public-private collaborative project. Yet, its central prerequisite would be a political decision -- reached democratically -- to pursue a policy of guaranteed employment to those who want to work and an economic strategy premised on full employment, innovation rooted largely in green technology and a commitment to preserve our communities' health and that of planet.
The employment statistics for September are in -- the official ones that are always understated . The country's unemployment rate is 6.5 percent. That's up from 4.8 percent a year ago. It is expected to climb above 8 percent. For teenagers it's 20.6 percent; that's up from 4.3 percent in September 2007. Latino unemployment stands at 8.8 percent; it was 5.6 percent this time last year. African American joblessness has risen steadily this year to 11.1 percent from 8.5 percent a year ago. Claims for unemployment insurance broke a new record last week. Most economists say it's only going to get worse as we move toward the holidays.
The incoming Obama Administration is being offered all kinds of advice these days on what to prioritize. Way up there on the list has got to be a program to save jobs and create new ones. Save GM? Yes, but not because of the corporate heads and financiers whose greed and errant business judgment got us into this fix but for the workers and their communities.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Photo: US Soldier on Afghan-Pakistan Border
By Steve Weissman
Nov 11, 2008- If state officials across the country ever count all the absentee and provisional ballots, Obama's popular vote might equal his landslide victory in the Electoral College, adding weight to his overwhelming mandate to fix the economy, end our dependence on foreign oil, create green jobs, provide health care and mend our broken schools. But how much will all our votes count if, at a time of reduced resources, the Obama administration allows foreign conflicts to sink his promises on the home front?
Warfare or health care - this could become the defining choice for the new president, far more decisive than whether he will govern from the left or the center.
Will Obama keep America's military commitments and military spending in check? Or will he see his best hopes for America lost in an ever- deepening quagmire in Afghanistan, an unnecessary war with Iran and an absurd arms race with the Russians?
Afghanistan and the frontier areas of Pakistan could prove Obama's biggest test.
During his presidential campaign, he strongly advocated sending in more troops, arguing that we had to finish the war against al-Qaeda that George W. Bush had abandoned in his rush to war against Iraq. This allowed Obama to defend withdrawing troops from Iraq without sounding like a dove, especially when he added that he would attack Osama bin Laden in Pakistani even if the Pakistanis refused to give us permission.
Now, the crunch has come. In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban are showing new strength and the small escalation that Obama wanted looks like only a down payment on a major, ongoing commitment of blood and money. Worse, no one who knows anything about Afghanistan believes that a foreign military occupation has any chance of success. To the contrary, the more troops and inevitable killing of civilians, the more the country's Pashtun majority will turn to the Taliban as their national saviors.
So, why play out a losing hand? Obama's answer is that we need to finish off Osama bin Laden and deny al-Qaeda a sanctuary from which to plan future terrorist attacks? Think that through. Making a martyr of Osama will hardly reduce the very real threat of Islamist terrorism, while our current effort could easily drive a nuclear Pakistan into chaos. In any case, those who attacked us on 9/11 did most of their planning in Hamburg, Germany, throwing into question whether remote sanctuaries are the key to the terrorist problem.
For Obama and the rest of us, a better strategy might be to stop thinking like would-be warriors, relying instead on our security services to stop the terrorists while greatly reducing our military footprint in Muslim lands. Add to that an unstinting effort to forge a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, and the Osama bin Ladens of this world will find dwindling support for their blood-thirsty jihad.
Iran poses a different kind of problem, and one that Obama handled at his first press conference with less than his normal aplomb. Asked how he would respond to Iranian president Ahmadinejad's congratulatory message, he stiffly parroted the current policy that an Iranian nuclear weapon and their support of terrorist groups were "unacceptable." So they are. But Obama would have done much better to smile broadly and say that he had received many nice messages from foreign leaders and would reply to them all in due course.
The catch here is that Tel Aviv, the American Israel Political Action Committee and the neocons are trying to force Obama into a corner from which they can push him into a military strike on Iran. His response only encouraged them in their effort while sending Ahmadinejad into another useless tirade. Neither helps deter a disaster in the making.
On one last threat, Obama did much better. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev repeated last week his threat to place nuclear missiles on the border with Poland if the United States insisted on placing anti-missile missiles in that country. Here were the seeds of a costly new nuclear arms race that would benefit neither Russia nor the United States. Obama responded with a simple statement from an adviser that the president- elect had made "no commitment" to plans for a missile defense program in Eastern Europe.
Obama and his team clearly understood the importance of reducing tensions with Russia without needlessly brandishing our military might. Hopefully, they will similarly come to see that "keeping all options on the table" militarily threatens Iran and encourages those Iranians who think they need nuclear weapons to defend their country. That sending more troops into Afghanistan will only fuel a nationalistic resistance. That sending rockets into Pakistan's frontier lands will turn Ahmed No-Pack against his own government. And that all these foreign conflicts will take resources away from the domestic changes Obama has promised American voters.
Not being an isolationist or pacifist, I understand the need for overseas military action in some situations.
But having learned from the war in Vietnam, I also understand the limits of military force against people who do not want to be ruled by a foreign power. That's a lesson of the 1960s that Obama would do well to remember, especially at a time when we can no longer afford both guns and butter.
[A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France.]
Friday, November 7, 2008
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
I found myself facing a peculiar choice. Because I was taking Election Day off to do election work, I could have submitted an absentee ballot. In fact, that would probably have been the most logical thing to do. It would have saved me a lot of time. I kept procrastinating in filing for such a ballot until it was too late.
On Election Day I realized why I did not file the absentee ballot. Like millions of other voters, and particularly African Americans, I had to physically touch the voting machine. In my case, it was a touch-screen computer, but it would not have mattered whether it was that or an old-style lever that I had to push. November 4, 2008 was a moment when I had to make physical contact with the voting machine and actually see my vote counted. I had to know that it was actually happening. And I needed to stand on line - in our case for 2 1/2 hours - with hundreds of other African Americans and wait patiently for a moment to influence history.
Irrespective of any reservations one might have regarding the proposed policies of President-elect Obama (yeah, I get a kick out of writing and saying “President-elect”) there is no question but that the election victory had a profound emotional impact on Black America specifically, but this country generally. I can honestly say that I never expected to see a liberal Black person elected President of the USA, and I was not sure that a conservative Black person would be elected either. As the election returns were coming in, my stomach was tied up in knots unlike anything I have experienced since my daughter was born. I did not make predictions and I do not trust polls. More importantly, I did not trust the white electorate.
What to make of the election?
In reviewing the stats from the election, the results are quite interesting. Obama won the popular vote by 52% compared with McCain’s 46%. This is extremely significant and has not been replicated by a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson won the Presidency in 1964. Nevertheless, what it also shows is that the USA is quite divided. That 46% of the vote McCain won represented more than 55 million people. What is noteworthy is that while Obama won only 43% of the white vote, whites under the age of 30 backed him by a 66-32% margin. Latinos voted with Obama at a rate of 67% (an important increase over those who went with Kerry in 2004). Women voted with Obama at a rate of 55%, though he lost white women by 5% points (although this was better than Senator Kerry in 2004). It is also noteworthy that although Obama only received 45% of the veteran’s vote, compared with McCain’s 54%, this remains significant in light of the red-baiting and terrorist-baiting that was being targeted at him. Additionally, union voters went with Obama at 60% compared with McCain receiving 38%, a lower percentage than should have sided with Obama in light of the current economic crisis but that probably reflects racial divisions within the house of labor.
The election reflected several important concerns and tendencies:
The economy: there is no question but that the economic crisis had a significant impact on the electorate. 63% of voters indicated that the economy was a priority issue. McCain was never successful in crafting a message on the economy that resonated with the public.
A concern about the perception of the USA overseas: There was a sense among Obama supporters that there needed to be a change in the relationship of the USA to the rest of the world. This was, however, very unfocused.
A decline in the importance that voters attached to both the Iraq war and terrorism: With regard to Iraq this probably reflects a growing sense that the Iraq war is coming to an end and that the Occupation is not a critical issue.
The next Supreme Court appointments: For 47% of the electorate this was a critical issue. This was a hot-button issue with liberals and progressives who have been watching the Supreme Court make increasingly indefensible decisions that reflect its right-wing course.
Race matters...sort of: Particularly among younger voters, race was a less significant factor in influencing voter behavior than among older voters. It is also apparently the case that the economic meltdown led many white voters to put racial concerns on the back burner. That said, the “racial neutrality” of the Obama campaign took matters of racist oppression largely off the table for any significant discussion, a fact that may return to haunt the incoming administration.
Without question, the Obama victory needs to be understood as a tribute to exceptionally good organization; the initial positioning of Obama as, at least in the primaries, an anti-war candidate; the onset of the economic crisis; the candidate’s continuous message of optimism; and Obama’s ability to remain cool under fire.
Act II: Beginning right now
The implications of the Obama victory will need to be unpacked over the coming weeks and months. That said, there are a few points worth noting because they will have strategic implications:
Obama’s mandate is vague, yet identifiable: the mandate he has received is to (1) address the economic crisis immediately in a manner that favors regular working people. This is evident from the polls and from plenty of anecdotal information. In addition, the mandate involves (2) changing the relationship of the USA to the rest of the world. This particular point is very unfocused but it is evident that the US voters are increasingly concerned about the perception of the USA overseas and what that means for matters of national security.
Most people were unfamiliar with the actual programmatic steps Obama is advocating on the economy, yet they were unwilling to be swayed by the red-baiting rhetoric of McCain/Palin. This may offer an opportunity for progressives to advance one or another variant of a redistributionist approach toward the crisis.
With regard to foreign policy, this is extremely complicated and quite troubling. While Obama has emphasized the need for negotiations as a first step in international relations, when confronted by forces to his Right, he has tended to back down and often suggest highly questionable military and crypto-military options in handling crises, e.g., unilateral attacks on Al Qaeda bases in Pakistan. Some people around Obama seem to be advocating a get-tough approach toward Iran, which itself could lead to hostilities. While the people of the USA, by and large, are not looking for more war, the ability of the political Right to manufacture the ever-present threat from right-wing Islamists (including but not limited to targeting Iran) has successfully promoted a climate of fear. This will, more than likely, be a weak point for the President-elect and a place where pressure must be placed by anti-war forces.
The world is expecting a great deal from an Obama administration: All corners of the Earth erupted in glee upon news of the Obama victory. Obama will more than likely reach out to traditional US allies in order to repair the damage done by the eight years of the Bush administration. There will more than likely be outreach to Africa, though the character of that outreach is as yet to be determined. Obama, while Senator, expressed a great deal of interest and concern with Africa, and developed legislation focusing on the on-going crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He will probably try to alter the relationship of the US to Africa, though it is not entirely clear thorough how such an alteration will be. One should expect outreach to the African Union to offer support in cases of humanitarian disasters and crises, but unless Obama is prepared to break with the whole “war against terrorism framework” there may be continued militarization of the continent (through vehicles such as AFRICOM and the Trans-Sahel Military Initiative).
Progressives will need to perfect an approach of “critical support” towards the Obama administration: The corporate backers of President-elect Obama have no interest in a transformative agenda. They are interested in stabilizing capitalism generally, but especially stabilizing the financial sector. They are open to selective nationalizations as long as such nationalizations do not bring with them significant popular accountability. In light of this, progressive forces will need to be organized in such a way as to mount a challenge from the left side of the aisle. President Obama will need to be pushed on many areas, including foreign policy; healthcare; housing; jobs; and in general, the need for a pro-people approach to addressing the economic crisis. Taking this approach of critical support means, tactically, pointing out what has NOT been accomplished in the Obama agenda on the one hand, and, on the other, challenging the new Administration when it advances policies that are regressive, e.g., threatening Iran or Cuba and compromising with the insurance companies on healthcare.
Critical support also means raising issues that the Obama administration may tend to shy away from or avoid altogether, such as race/racism. Race is fused into the US system. Racist oppression and the differential in treatment between people of color and whites remains a major part of the US reality. For that reason, progressives must push the Obama administration to address the continuing impact of racist oppression. This may lead to clashes that at one and the same time appear to be tactical, i.e., matters of timing, but are actually quite fundamental, i.e., about whether there needs to be a systemic challenge to racist oppression.
None of this happens in the absence of organization. Those who rallied to the Obama campaign came from various political tendencies and experiences, and many of them will seek to return to their “everyday life.” At the same time, there are those who mobilized that are looking to be part of implementing the “dream” and they will be unable to do this as individuals operating alone. If one really wants to advance an approach of critical support for the incoming Administration, it will mean creating the grassroots organizational structures around the country that are capable of educating and mobilizing the millions of people who are seeking a new direction. This approach, what I have described elsewhere as a neo-Rainbow approach, can be used to exert pressure to ensure that the incoming Obama administration lives up to its full potential.
So many of us cried with joy and amazement on the evening of November 4th with this historic breakthrough. Our excitement cannot rest with the electoral success but must be fused with a genuine effort to create a new politics.
[BlackCommentator.com Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA.]
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Photo: Victory in Chicago
By Tom Hayden
Friends, the lesson I draw from tonight's election returns is that everything really counts.
Look at the results at this point: Obama gets a huge electoral college victory because that's where he threw his resources [for example, $40 million into Florida, outspending McCain 4-to-1 in Virginia, etc]. He wins a bunch of battleground states by two percent, losing none. His popular vote is 51-48 percent. The best presidential campaign ever run, the Wall Street collapse in the foreground, and Barack sweeps – by two and three percent margins.
I think of Jessica Levy, a grad school dropout in North Carolina who took on the reddest part of the state, raised her own money, opened an office, set voter registration records, established a goal of running up Barack's numbers in an area still influenced by the KKK tradition.
Type rest of the post herePeople like Jessica made North Carolina 50-50 and, collectively, they made the difference for Barack in the key states. They are the foundation of our movement now and in the future.
It was everything they did - the 23,000 people who went through Obama's training, the millions poured in from MoveOn.org, AFSCME and SEIU, the quiet volunteers who worked the phones 24/7, and of course, the presence of an incredible candidate and superior campaign team.
Unfortunately, many of our progressive friends did little or nothing for the Obama campaign while spending so much of their time on his shortcomings. Many of them seemed more comfortable with a scenario where they could blame him for losing than credit him for winning.
I heard one of our friends tonight actually claiming that the election protection movement forced Karl Rove's minions to "throw in the towel" just this week rather than risk rigging another national election.
What a strange idea! The election protection movement was definitely an important factor in making theft more difficult, but the point is that there was an election worth protecting, and that's what made thousands of lawyers and ordinary citizens drop everything and become observers and litigators at sites around the country.
In my experience, only good things happen when 96 percent of the African American community is united, when two-thirds of Latinos are united, when unprecedented numbers of young voters are turning out, when thousands of activists are becoming a new generation of organizers. I am more interested in what these energized throngs of people throw themselves into next than what the sidelined Left proposes that they do.
I haven't heard any of the Obama grass-roots supporters proposing that we expand the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, extend NAFTA or tinker around with global warming. They are our newest best hope for creating the climate and the pressure necessary to achieve social change, and we need to listen, follow and work with them. A new New Left is at hand, and we need to avoid the irony of becoming the Old Left.
Great job fighting against racism, the war and for green jobs out there in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Carl! You are one of the most practical theoreticians I know.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Photo: Sign in Grant Park
President-elect Barack Obama's Speech in Grant Park, Chicago, IL
November 4, 2008 - If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.
I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead.
For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep.
We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our
ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved.
Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see?
What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
[Barack Obama is the President-elect of the United States of America.]