It’s a new day….

This, too:

*

I woke up this morning
Feeling alright
I’ve been fightin’ for tomorrow
All my life

h/t my friend Chris Savage, aka Eclectablog, who wrote a great little post about the results of the election and in particular the defeat of Michigan’s heinous and deeply undemocratic Emergency Manager law, a law which Chris has advocated tirelessly against.

Indiana, “right to work” laws, and “Power in a Union” – Fridays with Billy

This week, my neighboring state of Indiana became a “Right to Work” state — which sounds oddly like it’s now a better place to work, rather than part of a larger, nation-wide effort to gut unions and strip away the rights that the labor movement has battled for decades to establish (and from which we all benefit, whether or not we are union members – as but one example: Planning to enjoy a two-day weekend this week? Thank a union).

Are unions perfect vessels of workers’ better angels? No. Nothing humanity does is. But I figure unions are an awful lot like democracy: A terrible mess that is immeasurably better than anything else on offer.

My great-grandfather Carl (married to great-grandma Emily) was a union organizer in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and I have never felt anything but deepest pride in that fact. It breaks my heart that working men and women are having to fight so hard to hold on to, or entirely re-establish, the kinds of rights that I’m sure he wanted to see made permanent — such as the simple right to organize, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23, sec 4).

And so, given the ongoing assault on workers’ rights (Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, anyone?), it’s time to allow my beloved Billy Bragg to be his most rabble-rousing socialist self, and remind us that there is, indeed, power in a union.

Which is precisely why the right doesn’t want unions to survive.

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union.

full lyrics;What is Fridays with Billy?

Whither humanity? I have no idea.

I find myself struck by the enormity of the times we’re living in.

I don’t know what will happen next, but when my grandchildren learn about the early twenty-teens, it’s clear they’ll be taught that this was a time in which humanity — turned.

Of course, there’s the ongoing upheaval in Middle East and North Africa (MENA), while here in the United States, we have the right’s astonishing over-reach on unions. In both cases, I don’t think anyone on the ground has a clear sense of the direction we’re all going, but given the sheer quantity of dynamics and cross-dynamics, both here and abroad, I believe we’re likely to wind up in some pretty unexpected places.

In terms of workers’ rights and the American electorate, I genuinely believe that this is one of those moments in which people are woken from their slumber, and the GOP’s business-led right-wing will face tremendous push-back in the coming years. You don’t try to tell Americans that teachers, cops and firefighters are our enemies — are what stand between this country and fiscal security — and expect it to fly for long.

In MENA, well, who knows? Forty-one percent of Egypt’s eligible voters (the highest turnout in history) just voted to accept constitutional changes that some credible opposition voices wanted to see rejected. Good for Egypt? Bad for Egypt? I don’t know, and I would suggest that anyone who says they know for sure has delusions of grandeur. Issandr El Amrani (who blogs at the always interesting The Arabist) wrote a really helpful piece for Time : Egypt’s Referendum: What the Nation’s Historic Vote Means, concluding “This time, even if it was far from perfect, it meant something.”

And Libya? Truly: No one knows. It bears repeating: No one knows, no one knows, no one knows. The sheer cacophony of controversy surrounding the decision to declare a No Fly Zone should serve as our most powerful indicator that no one knows what the future holds in that part of MENA (though I will grant you that there are some, such as POTUS, who should surely have a better grasp on it than the vast majority of us).

I hold out real hope that the NFZ is preventing another Rwanda, but even if that proves correct — then what? Preventing slaughter doesn’t necessarily translate to the establishment of liberty and justice. Not to mention: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, and Iran. So, yeah: In ten years, we’ll all be able to see what happened in that part of the world, but right now? No one knows. (If you, like me, find yourself constantly trying to catch up on the MENA goings on, here’s a terrific interactive feature at the New York Times, “Arab World Uprisings: A Country-by-Country Look” ).

And finally: Japan.

It’s easy, and perhaps tempting, to think that the multiple disasters that have struck Japan affect only Japan — it’s population, economy, future.

But we forget: Japan is a global power-house, the third largest economy in the world. Whither Japan goes, we will all follow, to one degree or another.

If Toyota’s recovery isn’t quick, that means something for the many workers at Toyota’s American plants, and the American businesses that supply them. If Sony suffers a serious set-back, that means something for Sony’s competition, and the potential for some other firm to stake a bigger international claim. If Japan, a highly industrialized nation, proves incapable of controlling a potential nuclear disaster, that means something for the future of the world’s energy supply.

Far beyond the normal ripple effect (every action having a positive and equal reaction, every change bringing change to something else), the level of catastrophe that unfolded and continues to unfold in Japan has the potential to create enormous change across the globe.

Of course, it bears remembering that whatever happens, it actually started a while ago, on all these fronts.

If the GOP has over-reached, it’s only because it’s been reaching so far for so long that all those governors — and the Koch brothers, and Koch brother-analogues, behind them — thought they could keep going. No matter the results of the revolutions across MENA, they clearly didn’t spring up out of nowhere in January. And Japan only recently slipped behind China economically, falling from second to third place, meaning that there’s been some serious geo-economic shifting going on for awhile (one outcome I expect is that the fear-China noise will start getting much louder before the summer dawns).

But be that as it may, humanity tends to look back at certain moments, certain events, and say: “There! That’s when it all changed.” We just don’t always recognize those moments at the time.

This time? I think we can be pretty sure.

You might want to take notes — because in 30 years, some enterprising youth is going to want to ask you all about 2011.

And, as folks keep reminding us, it’s only March.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

Don’t ever make me go back there! Unless you carry me.

I spent all of last week writing/thinking/emoting about terrible things and while the Awful has hardly abated, I’ve decided that this week, I won’t write about it. I’ll tweet, I may well comment elsewhere, but this space will be largely Awful-free — except at the end of each post, where I will provide a few links to Your Day In Horrible, should you feel the need.

*************

All told, I’m pretty happy to be an adult.

We get to vote, drive, and keep our own hours, more or less, not to mention that the pay is better.

I remember (I mean: really, really remember, visuals and the whole thing) being a four year old, being ooh-ed and ahh-ed over by a group of third or fourth graders, and just thinking “Can you not see the book in my hands? I want to read.”

I never wanted to be cute. I wanted to be taken seriously. Which is, let’s face it, kind of tall order for a tow-headed girl who is, in fact, totally cute and, moreover, the youngest of three children. I wasn’t taken seriously nearly anywhere, and if I tried to demand it? Well, wasn’t that just the cutest thing! (Which goes a long way toward explaining how I deal with my own, undeniably adorable children, but that’s another post all together).

So mostly I like being an adult because adulthood is a prerequisite, in most circles, to being taken seriously.

However. And yet. Regardless (and even irregardless, if irregardless were a word): There are a few pieces of childhood that I really I miss. Not the sorts of things that we’re told to miss by cultural gatekeepers who appear to forget what childhood actually is, once they’re out of it themselves, but other stuff, stuff that comes largely from being kind of new to the world, kind of fresh out of the box.

Such as:

  1. Pre-birthday excitement. These days, about every other year, my birthday is more irritant than celebration. It falls in September, after a nearly endless round of summer birthdays (the husband, the daughter, and the son — all of them — plus lots of other family). In a perfect world, a week before my birthday, the husband would inform me that all and sundry have come together, made a plan, I need not worry my pretty head, and — oh hey! He just got a surprise bonus, and he’ll be using it to shower me with fabulous gifts! Which is, frankly, kind of what happens when you’re a kid. Someone else makes great plans, and then you get showered with gifts. What’s not to love about that? Who wouldn’t miss that? Today, on the other hand, I know exactly what we can and can’t afford — and “fabulous gifts” tend to be the latter.
  2. The absolute certainty that if I have chosen to take up an activity, I will be awesome at it. Late 1970s skateboarding, anyone? As but one example. When I asked for a skateboard, and got it — dude. I was going to whale! When I got a smidge of style and bought a few particularly attractive items — I was going to be my school’s fashion plate! A bit earlier, when I decided that I was going to work with the blind — I was going to be my generation’s Annie Sullivan! The realization that, in fact, none of that would happen was slow in coming, and arrived hand-in-hand with the understanding that perhaps I didn’t really enjoy the skateboard very much, nor was I all that interested in Braille, and while being a fashion plate might be fun, being lower middle class in a patently wealthy community was going to serve an understandable barrier. Which is to say, it’s not like this knowledge shattered me or anything. But that kind of confidence is fun when you feel it — and there are days when having access to it now would, it must be said, be an altogether delightful thing.
  3. Being carried places. The husband (who is quite genuinely as adorable as his kids) has offered to do this for me. But I’m not particularly small, and he’s not particularly large, and anyway, to be carried as a child is — arms wrapped around, head drooped, nose against the warm scent of a beloved and trusted neck — he would have to be, what, nine feet tall? Something like that, surely. And that would be a most inconvenient height differential for almost any other purpose, not least, furniture buying. But I do wish that he could stretch now and then, magically grow big enough to take me in his arms, carry me upstairs, lay me gently on the bed, and pull the sheets up. He does sometimes pull the sheets up for me, and tuck me in. And it makes me smile, and burrow into my pillow, and tell him I love him. For I do. He is, after all, one of the best perks of adulthood I’ve found to date.

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Your Day In Horrible:

  1. The battle over workers’ rights – Michigan edition.”In Michigan,” Talking Points Memo tells us, “new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has just passed a bill through the legislature to allow state-appointed financial managers to void municipalities’ union contracts.”
  2. U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High’ and Urges Deeper Caution in Japan. “The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” we learn in the New York Times, “gave a significantly bleaker appraisal of the threat posed by Japan’s nuclear crisis than the Japanese government, saying on Wednesday that the damage at one crippled reactor was much more serious than Japanese officials had acknowledged and advising Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant than the perimeter established by Japan.”
  3. Curfew follows deadly Bahrain crackdown. Al-Jazeera reports (and provides a suitably distressing, brief round-up video): “At least six people are reported dead and hundreds injured after security forces in Bahrain drove out pro-democracy protesters from the Pearl Roundabout in the capital, Manama. A 12-hour curfew came into force at 4pm in areas of the city including the roundabout, the Bahrain Financial Harbour, and several other buildings which have recently been targets of protests. By then, most of the area had been cleared after troops backed by tanks and helicopters stormed the site – the focal point of weeks-long anti-government protests in the tiny kingdom – early on Wednesday, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.”
  4. Libya: Red Cross pulls out of Benghazi, fearing attack. “The organisation said it feared an attack by forces loyal to the country’s leader Col Muammar Gaddafi may be imminent,” the BBC reports. “Government forces say they have captured Ajdabiya, the last town before Benghazi, but the rebels deny this.”

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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