I'm reading Robert Fisk's, "The Great War for Civilization" right now, particularly the opening chapters where he is stationed as the (pre-Murdoch) London Times correspondent in Afghanistan in 1979-80. He describes in detail what it felt like there as Pashtun nationalism merged with the then anti-Kamal insurgency, all spurred on by the growing Soviet involvement. It's eerie how quickly things got out of hand for the Soviets and it's easy to see how that's happening now for the U.S.
Interesting whether there has been a corresponding increase in gun violence. Have more spouses been killed by guns? Have more people died as a result of guns being used in road rage incidents? Have more kids shot each other with guns they found around the house?
Calling it the Great Compression works with what Paul Krugman has written.
But let's give credit where credit is due. Lyndon Johnson -- in spite of Vietnam -- was the second greatest U.S. president-- after Lincoln -- ever. As a kid I participated in marches where I yelled, "Hey hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today!!"
But when it comes down to it, Great Society programs really did help us in the working class to get our credentials and to retire with dignity. And as Justice Brennan said at the 200th anniversary of the Constitution, the Constitution is really about human dignity.
Getting affordable credentials for working people was done via income redistribution that LBJ -- believe me -- understood.
Republican reaction to that income redistribution has worked its course. It's up to us Democrats to recognize what need to be done, but also to execute that.
If you want the full measure of how much has changed for the working class since Ronald Reagan was elected, compare my experience to the way things are now.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1980 -- before Reagan was even the Republican nominee. Tuition the year I started was $280 a semester. I spent four years in Madison, none of it paid for by either of my parents. I supported myself by delivering pizzas and got Pell grants, Basic Educational Opportunity Grants and other grants that are long forgotten remnants of the Great Society.
I graduated with NO student loan debt and even managed to save $3,000, which I used to finance a year in Taiwan polishing my Chinese.
My two brothers had basically the same experience, at least financially.
My public school teacher parents were able to put toward their retirement the money that today they would have had to spend financing the education of their three kids.
U.S. bases in Japan weren't there to defend Japan. What country was a credible threat to Japan? Those bases were there to threaten China, Japan and North Korea. They were also there as rear bases to defend South Korea and, once upon a time, Taiwan.
Japan has grown weary of being a platform the U.S. uses to menace the rest of the world.
Some years ago -- on my way to a meeting at the NRDC offices in SF -- I was getting a ticket at the Ashby BART Station. A complete stranger walked up to me muttering, and then spit full-on into my face. It was unbelievably disgusting and disconcerting, humiliating, but at least it didn't physically hurt me. The worst part was what it said about the possibility of simple random crazy violence coming out of nowhere.
I cleaned myself off as best I could, rode the BART to the meeting and washed off in NRDC's bathroom.
I put off watching it for years. When I finally watched a couple of first year episodes I was hooked. Hard to imagine, but The Wire is actually better than the Sopranos. I have lost sleep over some of the fourth year episodes; they were that disturbing and heart breaking.