Nelson Mandela on Day After Release

As I mentioned yesterday, Nelson Mandela has died. As usual, Frontline has a fabulous documentary on the life of Nelson Mandela. If you are truly interested in how this man survived 27 years in prison and how he pulled off what was a magnificent tap dance between multiple different factions in South Africa, this documentary is for you.

It seems that whenever somebody like Nelson Mandela grabs the media spotlight, those ultraconservatives get kind of weird. First up on the crazy train is Rush Limbaugh. He simply can’t help himself. Now, we have the mayor of DC comparing Nelson Mandela’s struggle to the struggle of DC. Not so much. Finally, President Obama has ordered the nation’s flags to fly at half mast honoring the life of Nelson Mandela. Of course, there’s some sheriff in South Carolina who feels this is simply wrong. Psst, we know that he isn’t an American, but we are honoring his greatness anyway. Why do you have a problem with that? (The US flag was flown at half-staff for Pope John Paul II (2005), King Hussein of Jordan (1999), Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel (1995) and Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt (1981).) On a more positive note, Maya Angelou wrote a tribute poem for Nelson Mandela.

The latest job numbers have come out. There was an increase of 203,000 new jobs in the month of November. This was a lot better than expected. Many people, not me, did the happy dance. I know that there are still almost 8,000,000 Americans who’ve yet to get back to work from the great recession. Let’s be honest. These numbers are a lot better than we thought they were going to be. The fact that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.0% is actually something to smile about. It is the first time in a long time that the jobs rate dropped because people are being hired instead of people dropping out of the workforce.

A couple of days ago, I talked about Merrill Newman. He is the 85-year-old Korean War veteran who decided to visit North Korea and has been detained for over a month by the North Korean government. Unfortunately, this 85-year-old veteran was forced to read a confession of his “wrongdoings” as well as sign a statement confessing his sins. Well, it looks like North Korea has actually done the right thing. Mr. Newman has been released. I have no idea how this has happened but I’m happy nonetheless. This is actually invoked a little Christmas spirit in my bah humbug soul!