I have little profound to add to the weeks biggest story, just a couple personal observations.
Michael Moore refreshed this memory: when Mandela walked out of prison in 1990, no one knew what he looked like. That face that is now the very symbol of his country, that gentle smile under that snow white hair, that man was a stranger. All we in the West had seen was a 27 year old photo, almost a mug shot. In South Africa even that was illegal.
How many of us roughly my age learned our first lessons about South Africa in the 80s from Peter Gabriel and Bono and Steve Van Zandt, and first heard the name "Nelson Mandela" from the Specials? Not to overstate the point, but apartheid was an issue where the artists actually made a difference, raising their voices when Mandela and his supporters were forcibly silenced. The pressure and education of popular culture strengthened the sanctions, the sanctions isolated the white government, and finally they gave in.
After that, after what little we in the rest of the world could do, the real work was up to South Africa. They could very easily have been Zimbabwe, with the corrupt, venngeful and inept Mugabe, still in power after three decades. South Africa has severe problems to this day. But the moral leadership and incredible forgiving grace that Mandela lived and set as an example set the country at least on the right path.
The image that stays with me the most is that line from the 1994 election, the people who had waited all their lives waiting final hours and even days to vote.
In this context, our local and Iowa struggles, while still important, feel small. But they're exactly the same kinds of rights Nelson Mandela fought for, and we honor his memory by not taking them for granted.
House 25 Democrats meet tonight to choose a special election nominee. Republicans nominated retiree Stan Gustafson last Monday, in the GOP leaning open seat; no Democratic names have emerged in public. That's unusual. While in the Spiker era the GOP is quick to call a nominating convention even if they end up nominating a volunteer from the audience, Democrats usually don't set one till and unless they have a candidate.
Look for a hot school board meeting Tuesday night, discussing the ID policy and the MLK holiday (or, rather, lack of) at the school district office on North Dodge.
At about the same time, 6:00pm until 6:15pm at City Hall Kingsley Botchway has his swearing in ceremony (though he doesn't take the seat till the new year).
Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:30pm Democrats are phonebanking for Bruce Braley at the Iowa City library.
The week ends with a couple fundraisers. Jack Hatch will be at the home of Dr. James & Mary Merchant, 329 Hutchinson Ave. from 5:30 to 7, with suggested donations starting at $100. Joe Bolkcom will also be on hand.
Friday Night Anesa Kajtazovic comes to the Sturgis Corner Hampton Inn (two blocks from Casa Deeth) from 6:30pm until 8:30pm. Zach Wahls will also be speaking. Suggested donations starts at $50.
And of course the BIG event, the Half Century of Deeth, is one week from today. What do I want for my birthday? Well, I'd pay good money to see a movie based on the P-FUNK universe. Sir Nose D'Voidofunk vs. Starchild on the Mothership. What say, George Clinton?