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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries since November 2010

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Midterm Election Recap and Lessons Learned

November 4, 2010 ·

Was it Obama that caused Democrats' major midterm losses? Racism? The economy? Why was the Democratic base demoralized--failure to take on Wall Street or immigration reform? And which constituencies did come out to vote? These are all questions worth answering the morning after the Republicans take back the House with little more than inchoate rage and promises of "smaller government."

IPS Senior Scholar Steve Cobble joined GritTV for their special live coverage with Free Speech TV , Democracy Now! and more, and provided this morning-after analysis--and a warning for 2012: Obama better keep his eyes on his left flank as well. Cobble appears at the 14 min mark.

Buck Up People...Progressives WON!

November 4, 2010 ·

No, I am not playing the popular elementary school game of Opposites Day. It's true. Progressives won in the 2010 mid-term elections.

As touching as it was to see Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) choke up over the retelling of his hard-knock life story of having to be a waiter in his dad's bar, tears are not so attractive on the faces of Progressives this morning. Did we all miss the news flash? PROGRESSIVES WON! Two significant exceptions are of course the tragic defeat of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and the sad loss of prinicpled Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). But, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members.

By constrast, the conservative Blue Dog Democratic caucus was more than sliced in half from 54 members to only 26. Further, of the 34 conservative Dems who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform, a mere 12 won re-election.

Dead weight gone. Good Riddance. The blame for the stalemate to come can now fall squarely where it belongs...on the anti-progressive, anti-democratic, anti-populist Republican members of Congress.

Our work is now finally beginning. The veil of a happy Democratic governing majority is finally lifted. We didn't have it then; We don't have it now. But what we do have now is a more solidly progressive bunch of Dems in Congress and a president presumably less encumbered by the false illusion that playing nice will get him a date with the other team.

Let's thank Grayson, as well as Reps. John Hall (D-NY) Phil Hare (D-IL) for their principled time in office. Let's get Feingold on the ticket as Obama's runningmate in 2012. Let's throw our support unabashedly behind the Congressional Progressive Caucus and let's push Obama to finally do the right thing through as many Executive Orders as we can present to him.

People...Progressives WON!!! Republicans are all over the map. They're a mess and won't be able to wreak the havoc they seek. We should be energized. We must be energized. Too much is at stake. The road ahead isn't so bad as long as we have the big picture and the fighting spirit spurring us on. Progressives will be the heroes in 2012. Let's make Obama one too.

This is an edited version of an item that originally appeared on HuffingtonPost, where it drew hundreds of comments. Follow Karen Dolan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karendolan

Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Jaime Lee Jarvis

November 3, 2010 ·

Aral

"Forty years ago, Muynak was a busy fishing port ... Today the waters have receded so much that there is not a drop as far as the eye can see. ... Cancers, lung disease and infant mortality are 30 times higher than they used to be ... The children of Muynak have made a playground out of the wrecks of ships ..." -BBC News, March 16, 2000


Was it the rush of words in that language
we understood only when we cocked our heads,
speaking on the slant, slurring our way
through the grammar of another way of life?

Was it the whirr of metal shards the ragged
children hucked at our heads
the way they delivered their greeting

hellofuckyou

obscenity blunted by effervescence but
still bearing that cutting edge?

Was it the slow groan of the abandoned barges
that sheltered them, crumbling through
geologic time, salted and sharp-jointed
like the people living among them
--their desiccated hope?

Or the whoosh of power as we hurled
words back at them in their own language,
mouths stretching and puckering to make
the sounds they sang? Our speech waxed formal
and the children

armed to their rotten teeth with the remnants
of a fishing industry--brandishing scythes torn
from the rotten hulls--laughed at the village accents
we'd worked so hard to own.

Maybe it was knowing
they were doomed
to die from the inside out,
that their empty sea was brimming with
what had already killed them.

Maybe it was the shimmer in the distance,
the heat shining like water, mocking us
with what we had come to see, mocking us
with what we would never learn to see.

-Jaime Lee Jarvis

Used by permission.

Jaime Lee Jarvis is a professional editor, trained technical writer, and environmental activist. She visited the ship graveyard in the town of Muynak in 1999, when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan. A decade later, news about the ongoing ecological disaster and human tragedy surrounding the shrinking Aral Sea has largely disappeared from public view.

Jarvis was volunteer coordinator for the first Split This Rock Poetry Festival in 2008, and now serves on Split This Rock's board.

Glimpse Into the Book Signing and Adventures of Unemployed Man

November 3, 2010 ·

Dress up for this year’s Halloween took a uniquely creative and progressive twist last Sunday at theman dressed as Zilch Busboys & Poets on 14th and V Streets.  People were asked to wear their favorite political superhero or super villain costume for a contest and also a spectacular art show that was part of the book signing event for a new book by Erich Origen and Gan Golan, New York Times bestselling authors of Goodnight Bush.

Golan and Origen’s new book is entitled The Adventures of Unemployed Man, an adventure comic book “that brings comic relief to the millions of heroes struggling through the great recession”. The event was sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies’ Cities for Progress, Jobs with Justice, and the DC Puppet Underground.

Origen and Golan are on a national tour for their book and you can get more info about their tour here. The two gave a jovial and fun talk that included a Power Point presentation, which we thought we’d give you a taste of through these photos and this montage of audio clips from the event.

event slide show

Glee and the Dems Get in a Funk

November 3, 2010 ·

Tonight, my politico side wanted to watch every painful second of election returns. But tonight is also my fifth grader's favorite show, Glee. So I had to watch the returns during the commercials of Glee. I found it confusing to remember which was which.

The theme of tonight's election was "Funk"...No...wait, I mean the theme of tonight's Glee was "Funk."  Either way, I knew I was headed for Funky Town...I had to watch them both through the same lens.

Mr. Shue is the lovable teacher who leads the gloriously talented if geeky Glee Club kids to heights of song, dance and morality plays each week. Imagine they are the Dems—liberal, diverse, idealistic, talented, tolerant. And Sue Slyvester, the mean-spirited, socially conservative Cheerleader Coach who hates Shue and Glee Club and diversity and tolerance represents the Republicans. Not a stretch, really.

Glee Club, in tonight's Funk Episode is being obstructed once more by Sue Sylvester as they attempt to compete in a regional Glee competition with other schools. Mr. Shue has tried compromise, reason, and bipartisanship to get the evil Sue to leave them alone. Hasn't worked. So he decides to play hardball. Says "I tried playing nice with you. But nothing seems to work." President Obama would have done well to have learned this some time ago.

Then Glee tells us "Fasten your seatbelt, everyone. It's going to be a funky ride."  And it has been. Boy it has been. The Dems held West Virginia as Gov. Joe Manchin easily won that Senate seat. But lunch-counter-rights-doubter Rand Paul won in Kentucky. Christine O'Donnell proved to be not much of a witch, losing badly in Delaware. But Indiana, Ohio, and Florida went down the road of funk. Looks like the suspiciously well-tanned Boehner will become the next Speaker of the House.

As a Glee member lamented, "Is it that bad Mr. Shue? That we're doing the wrong songs? We're in a deeper funk than ever..."

Yes, we are. It seems the Obama administration and the Dems are doing the wrong songs. What if we had sung potential hits like Universal Healthcare, Direct Public Job Creation, and Ain't Gonna Fund War No More?

Then perhaps we wouldn't have to say tomorrow, as Sue said to Mr Shue after his dirty tricks, "Have you come to gloat?" Perhaps we wouldn't have to endure the injustice suffered by Glee Star "Rachel", who gets egged as she naively runs to former BFF from the opposing team, thinking he loves her again.

Two years ago, the glee was ours to squander. Squander we did and now we have to wipe the egg off our faces, buck up and fight. The Glee kids still have the talent, the good intentions, diversity, idealism, tolerance on their side. Obama still does too. Progressives still do too.

The question is, will the anti-democratic forces take the country down the dismal road to Funky Town or will we fight back? I still say Yes We Can, Yes We Will. Look to be gleeful again in 2012.

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