John Heilemann talks with Bob Crawford, bassist for The Avett Brothers and creator of Concerts of Change: The Soundtrack of Human Rights, a new audio docu-series on SiriusXM. Through conversations with artists including U2’s Bono, Bob Geldof, and Joan Baez, historian Douglas Brinkley, and civil rights icon Andrew Young, Crawford explores the surge in humanitarian and political activism by musicians — particularly focused on Africa — in the seventies and eighties. Heilemann and Crawford discuss the rise of star-studded benefit shows from George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh to Live Aid; the genesis and behind-the-scenes stories of the chart-topping charity singles “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are The World”; the singular influence of Geldof in launching Band Aid and Live Aid; the role played by Steven Van Zandt’s “Sun City” in ending apartheid in South Africa; and how Bono institutionalized his activist impulses to help combat poverty and AIDS in Africa. They also reflect on Crawford’s career with The Avett Brothers, and how his daughter Hallie’s battle with cancer changed him and his band. (Posted in Cultural/Music)
Why the School Wars Still Rage, Jill Lepore.
From evolution to anti-racism, parents and progressives have clashed for a century over who gets to tell our origin stories… But across the past century, behind parents’ rights, lies another unbroken strain: some Americans’ fierce resistance to the truth that, just as all human beings share common ancestors biologically, all Americans have common ancestors historically. A few parents around the country may not like their children learning that they belong to a much bigger family—whether it’s a human family or an American family—but the idea of public education is dedicated to the cultivation of that bigger sense of covenant, toleration, and obligation. In the end, no matter what advocates of parents’ rights say, and however much political power they might gain, public schools don’t have a choice… READ MORE (Posted in Social/Education)
China’s Foreign Relations, Wang Yi. “The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era laid out in the report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a major theoretical innovation by our Party, and the latest achievement and a significant advancement of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context. It provides a strong theoretical framework and guideline for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.” READ MORE
How We Stopped Believing That People Can Change (behind paywall), Rebecca Solnit.
“…We as a society seem unequipped to recognize transformations, just as we lack formal processes — other than monetary settlements — for those who have harmed others to make reparations as part of their repentance or transformation… [B]eyond the individual cases comes the need for something broader: a recognition that people change, and that most of us have and will, and that much of that is because in this transformative era, we are all being carried along on a river of change.” READ MORE (behind paywall) (Posted in Personal/Personal Growth)
Democrats, You Can’t Ignore the Culture Wars Any Longer (behind paywall), Jamelle Bouie. (Posted in Social/Education)
Almost 60 years ago, the historian Richard Hofstadter described what he saw as the true goal of McCarthyism. “The real function of the Great Inquisition of the 1950s was not anything so simply rational as to turn up spies or prevent espionage,” he wrote, “or even to expose actual Communists, but to discharge resentments and frustrations, to punish, to satisfy enmities whose roots lay elsewhere than in the Communist issue itself.”…
…they are the foundation for an assault on the very idea of public education, part of the long war against public goods and collective responsibility fought by conservatives on behalf of hierarchy and capital. READ MORE (behind paywall)
There Is Joy in Struggle, Cornel West.
“What an honor to be here! What a privilege, what a blessing to salute the Class of 2019, Harvard Divinity School…. We know most of human history is a history of domination and oppression and exploitation and degradation. Most of human history is a history of hatred and contempt… As I look at myself, I can see the white supremacy in me. But oh, when I was at Charlottesville, looking in the eyes of those sick, neo-Nazi white brothers, gangsters, thugs, I didn’t lose sight of the gangster in me. (Posted in Systemic/Essays) READ MORE.
THE POWER OF BIG OIL. “FRONTLINE examines the fossil fuel industry’s history of casting doubt and delaying action on climate change. This three-part series traces decades of missed opportunities and the ongoing attempts to hold Big Oil to account.”
America Has Turned Its Back on Its Poorest Families (behind paywall), Ezra Klein
The expanded child tax credit. It gave parents $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under age 6. There were no strings attached. It was just money. It could be used for child care, for food, for clothes, for anything. It treated parents, even poor parents, as the experts on their family’s finances, a quietly radical idea in American social policy. It was a huge experiment, it was studied exhaustively, and we can now say this definitively: It worked…
The Biden administration added an extension in Build Back Better, but that bill died, and there’s no immediate hope of revival. Once again, we are accepting our prepandemic levels of child poverty as a permanent feature of our democracy.
And so the Biden administration’s single biggest policy success has turned, for now, into a signal political failure.
READ MORE (behind paywall)
On June 26, 1997 a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts that included former senators, retired military officers, diplomats and academicians, sent an open letter to President Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion. They said, “We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability… Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended… In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance [to arms control treaties]…”
On February 21, 2022, after Russia had invaded Ukraine, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman published “This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders” in which he reported:
On May 2, 1998, immediately after the Senate ratified NATO expansion, I called George Kennan, the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union. Having joined the State Department in 1926 and served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow in 1952, Kennan was arguably America’s greatest expert on Russia….I asked for his opinion of NATO expansion. [He answered]:
“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever… Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime…” (Posted in Political/Foreign Policy)
Day of Affirmation Address, University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
“…The second danger is that of expediency; of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities. Of course if we must act effectively we must deal with the world as it is. We must get things done. But if there was one thing that President Kennedy stood for that touched the most profound feeling of young people across the world, it was the belief that idealism, high aspiration and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs – that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities – no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hard-headed to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values, although we all know some who claim that it is so. In my judgement, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief; forces ultimately more powerful than all the calculations of our economists or of our generals. Of course to adhere to standards, to idealism, to vision in the face of immediate dangers takes great courage and takes self-confidence. But we also know that only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly…” (READ MORE)