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Archive for mars, 2013

The New Yorker cartoon. .

Bild: The New Yorker. Fler skämtteckningar med politiska teman finns här.

Annonser

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FILM | Att försöka utläsa sina egna favoritbudskap i populära filmer är alltid lockande. Speciellt om man har en politisk agenda.

Steven Spielberg Lincoln - poster

I USA har mycket handlat om Steven Spielbergs film Lincoln. I Sverige är det Kristina Lindström och Maud Nycanders dokumentär om Palme som fått politiska redaktörer och kritiker att vässa pennorna.

De översvallande recensionerna för filmerna gör det intressant att se vilka godbitar skribenterna har plockat fram för att kunna användas i den dagaktuella debatten.

Karin Petersson i Aftonbladet citerade t.ex. Anna Lindh:

Olof Palme visade att politiken ska vägledas av idéer, moral och känsla. Att politik är så mycket mer än teknik och administration.

Peter Akinder i Östra Småland hade ett liknande nostalgiskt resonemang (även om han inte vill kännas vid att han är just nostalgisk):

[D]et skulle inte skada om svensk politik mera präglades av den attityd och ideologiska spänst som [Olof Palme] representerade, för att skapa engagemang kring politiken som demokratins kraft att förändra. 

Frank Rich, tidskriften New York, har tittat lite på hur det politiska etablissemanget i Washington valde att tolka budskapet i Lincoln. Och i bara farten placera sig själva bland änglarna.

The rousing reception that has greeted Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in Establishment Washington—an enclave not generally known for its cinema connoisseurship—tells another story, about the state of play of domestic politics in the Obama years. Tony Kushner’s screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance depict a president who, during the movie’s monthlong time frame of January 1865, is unyielding in his zeal to win ratification of the constitutional amendment outlawing slavery. Yet the Washington punditocracy’s praise distorts Lincoln, selling short the movie and its hero to draw another moral entirely: The only way good can happen in the nation’s capital is if you strike a bipartisan compromise. This supercilious veneration of bipartisanship is the Beltway Kool-Aid that Obama drank during his first term, much to his own grief, given that the Party of No was abstaining from it altogether. Those in Washington who are now repackaging it under the brand of Lincoln are the same claque that tirelessly preaches that the ­after-hours nightcaps shared by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, or commissions like Simpson-Bowles, are the paradigms for getting things done.

The Beltway cheerleading for Lincoln as a parable of bipartisanship makes much of the fact that Obama screened it at the White House for a small invited group of congressional leaders.

[…]

The film demonstrates “the nobility of politics” (in David Brooks’s phrase) by depicting a president who would strike any bargain he could, however ugly, to snare the votes he needed to free the slaves. Lincoln’s political dealmaking with a deadlocked, lame-duck House just after his reelection is, ipso facto, the Ur-text of Obama’s push to make a deal with Congress in the postelection “fiscal cliff” standoff of 2012.

Leaving aside the moral obtuseness of equating the imperative of abolishing slavery in the nineteenth century with reducing budget deficits in our own, there are other fallacies in this supposed historical parallel. If any of today’s apostles of bipartisan compromise had bothered to read the five pages of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals that are the springboard for Kushner’s screenplay, they would have learned that Lincoln not for one second compromised his stand on the abolition of slavery while rounding up congressional votes for the Thirteenth Amendment. (He doesn’t in the film either.) Lincoln’s compromises were not of principle but of process. He secured votes with the mercenary favors catalogued by Goodwin—“plum assignments, pardons, campaign contributions, and government jobs for relatives and friends of faithful members.” Few, if any, of these bargaining chips are available to Obama or any modern president who doesn’t want to risk impeachment.

[…]

The one significant ideological compromise in the movie is that made by the Radical Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), who tables his insistence on full equality for African-Americans to hasten the slavery-ending amendment’s passage.

There are no figures like Stevens willing to cut deals in the radical GOP House caucus of today. The good news about the newly rebooted Obama, as seen both in his tough dealings with the lame-duck Congress and his second inaugural address, is that he recognizes this reality. He at last seems to have learned his lesson about the futility of trying to broker a serious compromise with his current Republican adversaries. He held to his stated principles in both the “fiscal cliff” and debt-ceiling fights, and both times the GOP backed down. Nor is he deluding himself that his congressional opponents might embrace flexibility and compromise if they saw ­Lincoln—not least because he couldn’t even corral them to see the movie in his presence. The president did invite Mitch ­McConnell and John Boehner to his White House screening, and both said no.

Läs mer: Abraham Lincolns betydelse för Barack Obama.

Bild: Den amerikanska affischen till filmen Lincoln.

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NEW YORK | Ed Koch, som var borgmästare under tre perioder (1978-1989) i New York, avled i februari i år.

Chris Smith, tidskriften New York, skriver:

Egomania is a requirement in politics. Ed Koch turned the condition into an art form. He was far more interesting, and more complicated, than the common narcissist. His towering self-­confidence was central to his triumphs and failures as mayor, because it enabled Koch to do what ever he thought necessary to save the city, whether that meant clowning for the cameras or betraying allies or berating political bullies. He was smart and funny and tough. But Koch’s real power was that he poured his selfishness into a wholly unselfish devotion to his city.

He started out as a reformer with conventionally leftish views: against the Vietnam War, in favor of civil rights. But Koch understood, and agreed with, the growing centrist Democratic revulsion against government bloat, drugs, and crime. He had no time for victimology. As the city careered toward chaos during Abe Beame’s term at City Hall, Koch saw his chance: Dubbing himself “a liberal with sanity,” he ran for mayor in 1977 and beat Mario Cuomo, on the strength of his personality and by appealing to the white outer-borough ethnic voters who were angry and scared. Koch had core beliefs and principles, but the ’77 campaign also established a template: To win, the former reformer was willing to embrace both corrupt Brooklyn political boss Meade Esposito and beauty queen Bess Myerson, the latter in the service of a fake romance concocted by his campaign wizard, David Garth.

[…]

Eventually, though, his confidence metastasized into arrogance, with tragic costs: Koch’s nasty reaction to criticism from AIDS activists weakened the city’s response to the fatal epidemic. And his long-running hostility toward black leaders, coupled with the murder of teenager Yusuf Hawkins, helped Koch lose the 1989 election.

[…]

The scars of seventies New York are invoked every campaign season, with each candidate promising he or she won’t let us slide back to those bad old days. The crucially effective parts of Koch’s tough-love response to New York’s troubles, particularly his never-back-down-to-criticism attitude, became, for better and worse, fundamental pages in the playbooks of Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg. Koch rescued the city in his first term and nearly split it in his third. He will forever be an object lesson in the cold-blooded calculations necessary to thrive in New York politics, and of the joys and dangers of personality-driven politics.

Koch var också en förnyare av politiska valkampanjer.

På 1970-talet kunde kampanjstaberna inte använda egna datorer för att analysera resultaten från opinionsundersökningar och reklamkampanjer. Man fick istället gå via datorena på olika universitet.

För att råda bot på detta köpte och monterade Mark Penn, som anlitats av Kochs politiska konsult David Garth, en egen dator för att kunde få feedback redan dagen efter en undersökning.

Penn skulle senare komma att arbeta för både Bill Clinton och Hillary Clintons presidentvalskampanj.

Läs mer: Evan Cornog, en av Kochs pressekreterare skrev artikeln “Ed Koch sweated the details för Newsday.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch dead at age 88” av Larry Celona (New York Post).

61 “Memorable quotes (and Tweets!) from late New York mayor Ed Koch”.

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IDEOLOGI | Centerpartiet är det senaste i raden av partier som vill inmuta en variant av liberalismen.

Bondeförbundet valet 1956

För första gången vill man öppet deklarera att man är ett liberalt parti.

Centerpartiets liberalism är social, decentralistisk och grön. Den är jordnära och frihetlig. Den bygger på rättvisa och hållbarhet. Den ser samhället som större än bara staten, som en gemenskap där alla behövs.

Om detta kan anses som en klar och tydlig beskrivning av partiets ideologi är lite av en smaksak. Kanske är det klart som korvspad för varje centerpartist.

För alla andra ser det nog mer ut som om man bara har staplat en rad positiva epitet ovan på varandra.

Men beskrivningen får i alla fall anses som ett fall framåt för partiet. Tidigare kallade man sin ideologi för ”ekohumanism”.

Centerpartiets ideologi kan sammanfattas i begreppet ekohumanism. Den förenar humanismens respekt för människovärdet och tro på varje människas möjligheter, med ekologins insikter om de villkor naturen ger för människa och samhälle. Centerpartiets samhällssyn präglas av en stark tilltro till individer i samverkan.

Maud Olofsson däremot brukade kalla partiet för socialliberalt.

Av allt detta blev väljarna knappast mycket klokare av. Men det är kanske också här som man skall söka förklaringen till partiets ideologiska förvirring.

Partiet har aldrig byggt sin existens på en ideologisk vision för hur man vill att Sverige skall se ut.

Historiskt sett har man snarare sett sig som ett intresseparti för människor på landsbygden och inom jordbruket. För det behöver man inte nödvändigtvis en ideologi.

Per Schlingmann, Moderaternas gamla chefstrateg, är inne på samma spår när Johan Såthe intervjuade honom för Veckans Affärer.

Vi lever i en tid när kommunikation tycks vara svaret på allt. När Centern får dåliga opinionssiffror i valet säger Annie Lööf: ”Vi måste bli ännu tydligare med vad vi står för”. Kan det inte vara så att folk förstår exakt vad Centern står för?

”Utan att ta just Centern som exempel så tror jag att du har helt rätt. De företag och aktörer som försöker att klä sig i något som man inte är kommer att avslöjas nu. Människor bedömer företag och organisationer utifrån vad man gör, inte utifrån vad man säger. De flesta lösningar på kommunikationsproblem handlar inte om kommunikation utan att ändra sitt agerande”, säger Per Schlingmann som ändå inte kan låta bli att reflektera över hur bilden av Centern sett ut medierna.

”De säger att det är bra att ‘vi har initierat en bred idédiskussion’. Jag har inte sett en enda millimeter idédiskussion. Debatten handlar bara om Centern, det blir ett slags metadiskussion där alla försöker föra fram just sin agenda. Det bli en kamp om verklighetsbeskrivningen.”

Samma kritik kan riktas mot Centerpartiets liberalism.

Det ursprungliga nyliberala förslaget till idémanifest var ett uppenbart försök att klistra på partiet en ideologi som man vare sig var redo för eller som det ens fanns en historisk tradition av.

När man nu har bestämt sig för att anamma liberalismen blir resultatet av nödvändighet en kompromiss.

Tydligare kan det inte bli att man inte har vana att hantera frågor om ideologi.

Bild: Valaffisch från Bondeförbundet 1956. Läs på professor Bengt Johanssons blogg om affischen.

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ROM | Att försöka förstå katolska kyrkan är inte det lättaste ens för personer som gjort det till sin livsuppgift.

St Francis - ©iStockphoto.com by Mark Strozier

Ibland påminner kyrkan om äldre målningar vars symbolspråk inte längre är helt lätt att tolka för den moderna människan.

Mer träffande är kanske en jämförelse med ritualerna i monarkier. Här är regalier, kläder och poser aldrig valda slumpmässigt. Idag skulle vi säga att allt kommunicerar.

Professor Candida Moss har skrivit en intressant artikel i Newsweek där hon försöker utröna varför kardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio valde just namnet Franciskus som påve.

Namnet förknippas kanske främst med helgonet Franciskus av Assisi och hans arbete bland fattiga och utslagna.

Men minst lika viktig signal är att namnet också indikerar ett ökat intresse för att evangelisera och sprida det kristna budskapet.

Papal names chart a course for the future by summoning up the past. The new pope assumes either the mantle of religious heroes and leaders from days gone by or the virtues of the Innocents and the Piuses. The selection of the name both forges a new identity and signals how the pope wishes to be seen and remembered. It is, in essence, not only the answer to the classic question “Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ but also a way of preemptively writing one’s own reviews.

[…]

St. Francis of Assisi himself is one of the more famous and beloved saints. The son of a medieval cloth merchant, he joined the military after the clichéd misspent and hedonistic adolescence of the type favored by wealthy young Italian men of the era. Having left the military after a period of imprisonment and sickness, Francis underwent a spiritual conversion. He had a famous vision in the Church of St. Damian in which Christ came to life three times on the cross and instructed Francis to repair his ruined church. The commission was, according to Benedict XVI, an instruction to rebuild a church undermined by “superficial faith.”

Francis of Assisi is known for his stigmata—the wounds on his body that mimicked the wounds suffered by Jesus during the crucifixion—but even more so for his humility and assistance to the sick and poor.

[…]

It is precisely to this history of care for the poor coupled with cultivated humility and deliberate evangelization that Pope Francis appeals. According to Vatican spokesman Thomas Rosica, Pope Francis selected his new name because he “had a special place in his heart and his ministry for the poor, for the disenfranchised,” and “for those living on the fringes and facing injustice.” His episcopal motto while in Buenos Aires was “Lowly, but chosen.” Perhaps the selection of the name Francis says that though chosen, he remains lowly.

[…]

Saints have many sides, however. St. Francis is less renowned for his pioneering interfaith dialogue and bold efforts to evangelize, but given attrition in the Catholic churches in Europe and the pressing need for conversations with non-Christian political regimes, this aspect of his biography is at least as relevant as any other. Legend maintains that St. Francis traveled to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade in a brazen (and unsuccessful) attempt to convert the sultan.

The same interest in courageous witness to God is evident in some of Cardinal Bergoglio’s views. In 2001 he stated that the witness of the encounter with God was the critical element in communicating the central components of Christianity. Persuasion, he said, would never be able to achieve the same results. A real encounter with Catholicism and God is required. His opening speech as pontiff struck the same chord. He restated his belief in the need for Catholic evangelization, saying that he hoped the journey begun with his ascension to the papacy would be “fruitful for the evangelization of [Rome].” Such statements are very much in keeping with the New Evangelization movement of John Paul II, of which Pope Francis is a proven leader, and would place him in continuity with the mission of his two immediate predecessors. That both Benedict XVI and Francis selected the names of the founders of religious orders suggests that they both see the need for religious reform and renewal.

Läs mer: ”Social rättvisa bärande tema för Fraciskus” av Ulla Gudmundson, Sveriges ambassadör vid den Heliga Stolen (Kyrkans Tidning).

Bild: ©iStockphoto.com/Mark Strozier

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SJUKDOM | Det är ingen hemlighet att Winston Churchill led av återkommande perioder av depression. Han t.o.m. döpte dem till ”The Black Dog”.

History Today, februari 2013

Men Churchill är naturligtvis inte den enda personen i historien med någon form av psykisk ohälsa. Andra berömdheter är Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin och Abraham Lincoln.

Frågan är om det idag skulle vara möjligt för någon att bli vald till president eller regeringschef om han eller hon led av någon forma av psykisk ohälsa, oavsett hur lindrigt. 

Ett avslöjande skulle i USA genast sätta igång diskussioner om lämpligheten av att t.ex. ansvara för USA:s kärvapensystem.

Men som Jerome Carson och Elizabeth Wakely skriver i History Today är det inte bara elände:

[I]t may also be that, despite some hindrances and setbacks, the mental suffering experienced by Lincoln, Darwin, Nightingale and Churchill actually facilitated and contributed to many of their successes and achievements. Such a theory of a creative malady is well known in its application to those in the creative arts but less so for those in other disciplines and in public life. At the outset it is important to bear in mind the caveat expressed by the psychiatrist Anthony Storr: ‘In a subject in which so much is controversial, it behoves the psychiatrist and the historian to be modest in their claims to psychological understanding.’

In a conversation with his personal physician, Lord Moran, during the war years, Churchill commented:

Black depression settled on me … I didn’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train was passing through … I don’t like to stand by the edge of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything.

Lord Moran in turn informed Churchill:

The Black Dog business you get from your forebears. You have fought against it all your life … You always avoid anything that is depressing.

Rather like Lincoln, Churchill was also quite successful in battling his depression episodes. His coping strategies included cerebral and artistic pursuits, such as writing and painting, and more physical ones, such as bricklaying, along with over-indulgence in food, alcohol and cigars.

While there is little disagreement that Churchill suffered from depression, there is more dispute over whether he may have had bipolar disorder.

[…]

Resentment of authority and difficulty in dealing with hostility or animosity often leads depressives to seek out opponents in the external world and Hitler was the man upon whom Churchill could release his aggression. He had, too, an unwavering belief in his own invincibility and his own destiny:

This cannot be accident, it must be design. I was kept for this job.

This is perhaps a bipolar blurring of the line between fantasy and reality. As Lord Moran said:

It was the inner world of make-believe in which Winston found reality.

When Churchill told Lady Violet Bonham Carter, ‘We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm’, he encapsulated self-abasement and self-glorification in a single phrase.

Seemingly never given to introspection, it may also be that Churchill’s own experience of depression enabled him to understand and sympathise with the deprivation and hardships the people suffered during the war years. His radio broadcasts to he nation certainly appear, on the whole, to have given hope and the will to endure. However Anthony Storr is convinced that it was manic aspects of Churchill’s mental illness that were critical to his success:

Had Churchill been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgement might well have concluded we were finished.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är History Today, februari 2013. Fotot på Churchill är taget av den berömda fotografen Margaret Bourke-White.

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Så här skall en kampanjvideo se ut! Bättre än så här kan det inte bli.

Många organisationer vill väl men få lyckas slå igenom i mediebruset.

In honor of our Centennial Year in 2013, the Anti-Defamation League launched the “Imagine a World Without Hate” video and action campaign, and we invite you to participate.

Take just 80 seconds of your time to watch this powerful video, which imagines a world without racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism — a world in which the hate violence that took the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Daniel Pearl, Matthew Shepard and others did not happen. Imagine what these individuals could have continued to contribute to society if bigotry, hate and extremism had not cut their lives tragically short.

After 100 years of fighting bigotry and fostering respect, we are celebrating our successes, while at the same time recognizing that we still have a long way to go to achieve the reality of a world without hate. Join us by watching, sharing and taking steps every day to create a world without hate. Thank you for stepping up to create a world without hate as an individual, community, school or corporation.

ADL is most grateful to the families of those featured in the video, whose commitment and participation made this campaign possible, and to the Estate of John Lennon for granting us the rights to use his beautiful and iconic song.

Imagine a World Without Hate™. We do. Join us.

Mer: Läs om Anne Frank, Yitzhak Rabin och de övriga personerna i videon.

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