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Noted with Interest, March 2012

Mar 24, 2012

* NEW * Education woes linked to national security
By Kimberly Hefling. Seventy-five percent of our young adults are disqualified from military service because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or have been inadequately educated. That's three out of four. And we're "Number One"? From Associated Press, Mar 20, 2012. Accessed Mar 23, 2012.

The White Savior Industrial Complex
By Teju Cole. He's not dissing Kristof so much as reminding the rest of us why Kristof is necessary: Because the worst excesses of colonialism are still with us, today delivered by such as the IMF and World Bank. And Kristof and other White Saviors (read Jolie, Clooney, Farrow, et al.) are missing, or ignoring, that point. From The Atlantic, Mar 21, 2012. Accessed Mar 21, 2012.

Age of Ignorance
By Charles Simic. Read the Comments. They are almost as good as the article. From New York Review of Books, Mar 20, 2012. Accessed Mar 20, 2012.

The Difference Between Private and Public Morality
By Robert Reich. Get distracted enough about irrelevant social issues (It's none of your business, Buddy!) and you won't notice them picking your pocket. From The Huffington Post, Mar 14, 2012. Accessed Mar 14, 2012.

Dennis Kucinich and “wackiness”
By Glenn Greenwald. Our Congress has lost its last sane voice, and as he fades from view, so-called liberals nip at his heels. From Salon.com, Mar 10, 2012. Accessed Mar 10, 2012.

Realities of a Syrian Intervention
By Col. Gian P. Gentile. A sober assessment of the consequences of intervention in Syria. From The National Interest, Mar 2, 2012. Accessed Mar 3, 2012.


tags: Noted with Interest

The Coming of the Candidates: Jeanne van den Hurk

Mar 24, 2012
You don’t have to guess where Jeanne van den Hurk stands on the issues. This grassroots candidate for the 3rd Congressional district of South Carolina lays it all out for you at BeYourGovernment.org. This web site aggregates information on a variety of Independents and what I might call new-age Democrats, that is, Democrats not under the sway of the corporatocracy.

Van den Hurk supports universal health care, an end to the misbegotten war on drugs as well as our other militaristic misadventures, a green energy policy, restoration of Constitutional rights, and other issues of increasing importance to an increasingly alarmed electorate. As with the other candidate I have written about in this series, David Levitt, van den Hurk pays less attention than I think she should to employment issues. In time, I hope she will develop and deliver progressive positions toward alleviating the inequality which has exploded over the past thirty years and to the crisis in employment which is not going away soon. In that regard, I recommend she read over the entries I have posted here under the tag New Political Party.

[All the information about van den Hurk in this piece is taken from the above-referenced web page. If you are able to refute anything there or here, citing reliable sources, please email us with that information and we will post corrections to this piece.]

Van den Hurk accepts no corporate money and is therefore dependent on small and medium-sized contributions from—you. Yes, you, if you are reading this and are of the same mind as so many today who know we must find a means of wresting our country back from runaway capitalism and a bought-and-paid-for Congress. If continuous war isn’t to be the legacy we hand down to the next generation; if we are not to consign them to a standard of living significantly below that of our parents; if we are not to condemn them to a crippled planet and one in which the coming water wars will make the current oil wars seem like peace rallies: if this is not the world we are handing on to our children, then something needs to be done now, because this is the world where we are headed, as all the empirical evidence indicates.

Van den Hurk, like many of the doughty candidates who are stepping out of peaceful, private, middle-class lives to expose themselves to the cauldron of partisan politics, is married with children and is an entrepreneur with a jewelry design and antique business. I am a long way from South Carolina and only follow van den Hurk in her Twitter and Facebook capacities. I hope more is going on in her campaign than is evident in this social media. You can bet the Mainstream Media will avoid providing her with much coverage until and unless she makes dramatic inroads into the territory of the first-term Republican incumbent. And BeYourGovernment provides the minimum of campaign exposure.

So how are van den Hurk and these other candidates going to be elected? They will be elected by you. Your dollars, your word-of-mouth, your volunteer efforts, your votes. And if, come November, we find ourselves once again with a neo-liberal Democrat in the White House, a far-right Republican majority in the House, and a lame, old-age Democratic majority in the Senate—or worse, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

I contributed to van den Hurk’s campaign, and I will do so again if it maintains its viability. This is the very least you can do, and it is something you can do it right now.
tags: New Political Party | Congress

The Coming of the Candidates: David Levitt

Mar 06, 2012
David Levitt is opposing California Senator Dianne Feinstein, and will run in the non-partisan primary there on June 5. According to his web page, http://www.levitt2012.org, he has a doctorate degree from MIT and was a researcher at the MIT Media Lab before becoming a Silicon Valley scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur. This is his first foray into politics.

[All the information in this piece is taken from Levitt’s web page. If you are able to refute anything there or here, citing reliable sources, please email us with that information and we will post corrections to this piece.]

In California’s “non-partisan” primary, the top two vote getters will appear on the ballot in November, even if both are from the same party. Since Feinstein’s leading Republican contender is one Orly Taitz, known as “Queen of the Birthers,” it is not at all unreasonable to hope Levitt may face Feinstein in the fall.

Levitt’s major gamble—and innovation—is the Free Campaign. He intends to establish a credible candidacy with a tiny fraction of the money typically poured into Senate races. He will do so by exploiting the Intranet and its social networking tools. Of course, no campaign can be entirely free, and Levitt, like other progressive candidates coming forth, solicits small contributions from individuals and does not accept corporate money.

Levitt’s Issues and Solutions section of his web site is heavily weighted—perhaps too heavily—toward social issues (pro-choice, marijuana legalization, marriage equality), and is less attentive to economic issues. In time, I hope he will develop and deliver progressive positions toward alleviating the inequality which has exploded over the past thirty years. In that regard, I recommend he read over the entries I have posted here under the tag New Political Party.

Our country is on the cusp of becoming a police state inside of a banana republic. Mlitarism is rampant. The rule of law has been set aside. We are distracted by divisiveness over social issues that have nothing whatever to do with our well-being or our common interests. If we are to regain our greatness as the moral leader of the world, we must defeat a corporatocracy which has kidnapped our body politic. The only way I can see our doing that, short of armed rebellion, is by supporting a new “citizen congress.” Occupy Wall Street has shown us that we still have the ability to muster a widespread, grassroots social movement in this country, similar to the ones that brought about a measure of racial justice in the 50s and 60s and the end of a futile, illegal, and immoral conflict in the 70s. Such a social movement is needed more than ever today.

David Levitt, and others I will be writing about in this series, have stepped forth into the light—and the cross-hairs of an establishment that will stop at nothing to stop them—to offer themselves as a first generation of candidates for that citizen congress. We owe them our attention and, if their candidacy proves to our satisfaction to be a worthy effort, our financial support, our voices, and our votes.
tags: New Political Party | Congress

The War on Women, by Sarah Wolfe

Mar 04, 2012
Is anyone not familiar with Rush Limbaugh’s comments following Rep. Darryl Issa’s refusal to allow a third-year, Georgetown law student to testify before his committee about insurance coverage for contraceptives? Limbaugh decided to conflate her testimony (which she presented, but not to the whole Congress) with “loose” sexual mores. Interesting that someone married four times feels he can play the “morality card.”

In any event, Limbaugh wasted no time in calling the law student, Sandra Fluke, a slut and a prostitute. Predictably, people on the left or in the center denounced his breath-taking misogyny, while those who hope to trounce Obama in November either seconded Limbaugh’s remarks (Pat O’Reilly, for instance) or made tiny bleating sounds they hoped would be interpreted as criticism by the angry women whose votes they want. The only Republican who used strong language was Scott Brown and he’s running against Elizabeth Warren. His handlers told him what to say.

Let’s shove aside the extraneous: the manufactured kerfuffle over contraception, the manufactured kerfuffle over religious rights (hard to be Catholic? Try establishing a voice as an atheist in this theocracy), and the warp speed employed by Republicans to attack the president for telephoning Fluke.

The situation (Rep. Issa’s turning Fluke away, saying her testimony wasn’t significant; who cares what women think about contraception?) elegantly reflects the way in which the powerful (men) cut the powerless (we know who we are) off at the knees, leaving us voiceless and ashamed. By refusing to allow Fluke to speak they did what men have done for centuries: marginalized us, shut us up, ignored our concerns, slammed the door in our faces and said, “Get outta here.”

And then, as though that weren’t enough, they trivialized Fluke (and, by extension, women in general) by equating her thoughtful analysis of why contraception should be covered by employers with the desire to have endless amounts of sex. That contraception is necessary even if you have sex one time, that the need for it is a public health issue, that the vast majority of women of child-bearing age use contraceptives, that abstaining women also take birth control pills was all thrown by the wayside. In essence, both men and their supporters were saying that women have no right to talk about sex in public, that the expression of a need for contraception by an unmarried woman is shameful and shouldn’t be allowed. Yea, even unto the 21st century doth this continue!

Every few years, civilized people who had begun to believe that things had gotten better are shocked when troglodytes trot out the same, tired sexist and racist beliefs. It’s depressing. Still, this time there was an uproar. And though we figure that Rush will never be thrown off the radio so long as he provokes and has listeners, we can’t but feel that he will be a trifle less careless, a bit more self-conscious about what he says. And for someone as reckless as he is, I imagine that’s a burden. In addition, it must have been inconvenient and time-consuming for his employer to have to deal with angry advertisers pulling their spots. In this mixed-up world, we have to draw consolation from small things.

tags: Human Rights | Domestic Unrest | Health

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