Gender and Sexuality

Living Up to 'The New Deal': Half the Nation Is Still Waiting

by Susan Feiner

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his fourth and final State of the Union Address in 1944 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16518). Because the defeat of fascism in Europe was in sight, FDR could frame a peacetime vision for the nation. He saw that the full realization of political freedom depended upon the elimination of material deprivation. FDR realized that the nation's future well being would be undermined if some fraction of our people -- whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

Roosevelt understood that true individual freedom can not exist without economic security and independence. 'Necessitous men are not free men.' People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. He saw these economic truths … as self-evident and called for an Economic Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.

Election 2012 and the Media: A Vast Rightwing Conspiracy of Stupid

by Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday night, the GOP's nominee for vice-president, Paul Ryan, delivered a speech loaded with pure, fundamental deceit on its core claims. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn has the clearest and most concise explanation of those falsehoods.
http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/106730/ryan-most-dishonest-convention-spee...

Reflecting the pure worthlessness and chronic failure of CNN, however, here is how that network's lead anchor, Wolf Blitzer, reacted after the speech was finished:

"So there he is, the Republican vice-presidential nominee and his beautiful family there. His mom is up there. This is exactly what this crowd of Republicans here, certainly Republicans all across the country, were hoping for. He delivered a powerful speech, Erin, a powerful speech. Although I marked seven or eight points, I'm sure the fact-checkers will have some opportunities to dispute if they want to go forward; I'm sure they will. As far as Mitt Romney's campaign is concerned, Paul Ryan on this night delivered."

In Order To Form a Less Perfect Union: The Politics Of Fear, Outrage and Distraction

by John Atcheson

Once again, the Republicans are managing to distract the country from their extremely unpopular economic positions – positions that help the uber rich and corporations at the expense of low and middle income wage earners.

While Ryan’s stance on rape is getting scrutinized with a micrometer, his nation raping budget is flying under the radar.

Look, Akin is an immoral idiot and rape is a terrible thing, and Ryan’s position isn’t any different. And yes, abortion should be an issue between a woman and her doctor – and perhaps her partner if she’s in a relationship.

And certainly, Romney should show his tax returns.

But these are symptoms of a much larger disease, and like any effective therapeutic intervention, you have to strike at the root of the problem if you want to solve it.

However, Republicans have been adept at preventing that kind of systemic approach, and Democrats have been complicit in letting them.

There is a fundamental question before us: What ought the role of government be in our lives?

We have two choices.

It's Information

Walking into a situation where you find yourself being harassed for discriminatory purposes, whatever they may be, can be difficult to contend with to say the least. It can feel as though you've been thrust into a situation you have no control over, and that you have become a victim with very few choices or positions of power. It may feel like suddenly the lights to rhyme and reason have been switched off and you're in the dark as to why things have become as they have. I once had a conversation with an NAACP lawyer specializing in helping victims of discrimination regarding this. She said that, unfortunately, most people just give up, leaving the situations knowing no other way out.

Smiley face

Two White Men Who Like to Cut Things: On Romney’s Nomination of Paul Ryan

by Pierre Tristam

Mitt Romney has picked Paul Ryan, the seven-term Wisconsin congressman, born during the first Nixon administration, and not old enough to have voted for either Ronald Reagan or the first Bush. It is a puzzling choice, more calculated than inspiring, more cautious than bold, and in some respects, just as strategically faulty as John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin.

In Ryan, Romney found the only congressional Republican who’s produced the semblance of an alternative to Obama’s economic and health care plans. But he’s also found a mirror of himself. No one will accuse Ryan of being compassionate, generous, warm or particularly caring, qualities Romney lacks, and needs, if he’s going to make inroads with women and middle class voters who so far mistrust him. Ryan is friendlier than Romney, but friendliness to colleagues and reporters isn’t the same thing as connecting with voters beyond Wisconsin (where he has been successful enough to win six of his seven elections with more than 60 percent of the vote).

A Model Democracy? Really?

by Dave Lindorff

We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?

Forget that only half of eligible voters typically vote in quadrennial presidential elections (less than 30% in so-called “off-year” elections for members of the House and a third of the Senate, and less than 25% in municipal and state elections). Forget that the government is increasingly trampling on the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, with a burgeoning surveillance program and a growing militarization of the police.

The US government doesn’t even do what the majority of the citizens want. In fact, these days it flat out ignores what we the people want.

Consider the polls, and what they show public sentiment to be on key issues, and then look at what the government, composed of supposedly elected representatives and an elected president, actually does:

What gun owners and gays can teach us about America

by Sam Smith

During Maine’s last referendum campaign for gay marriage, I argued that gays should form a lobby called Gays for Guns to help their battle. After all in a state with high gun ownership (and low murders) and whose largest city has been rated the 8th gayest in the country by the Advocate, it would have been a coalition that would have been hard to beat.

Of course, the idea went nowhere. After all, liberalism has become more obsessed with self-righteousness than with collective progress.

Yet gays and gun owners have a lot in common. They are classic cases of subcultures that the American Constitution was meant to protect but are constantly treated as a danger to the Republic, the former by the right and the latter by liberals.

Penn State, Democracy, and Modern Workplace Culture

by John Buell

Pundits will draw many lessons from the Penn State scandal, but the role and predicament of the janitor strikes me as in need of more attention. According to Louis Freeh’s detailed report on the university’s handling of the sexual abuse allegations: “A janitor spots Sandusky in the shower with a boy but is afraid to say anything because crossing Paterno ‘would have been like going against the president of the United States.’”

The report provides ample reason to suspect that the janitor was right. Football was synonymous with the university’s identity and the source of essential revenues for its programs and staff. Undermining the reputation of its leaders would be seen as analogous to an act of sabotage during war. And since football is often seen as the moral equivalent of war, critics of the program would be fortunate if being dismissed were their only fate.

(At Penn State, a student affairs administrator who challenged Paterno’s lax discipline of football players involved in an off campus brawl saw her house vandalized and her safety threatened. See http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/15/us/triponey-paterno-penn-state/)

Demonizing the Poor

by Margaret Kimberley

It is sad and, frankly, frightening when Americans explain away the harshness and lack of compassion in their country by vilifying individuals who manage to survive in difficult circumstances. A lack of class consciousness, racism, puritanism, and pure delusion about America’s purported superiority result in nonsense being passed off as social science and matters which should be political being made personal.

A recent New York Times article examined the lives of two Michigan mothers, one the married mother of two and one the unmarried mother of three. The unmarried mother struggles on an annual salary of $25,000 without health care benefits. She survives with the assistance of food stamps and the earned income tax credit.

The article, “ Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do,’” makes a big deal not about the single woman’s status as an hourly wage worker, or her lack of health benefits. Her marital status is made the central issue when in fact it is of secondary importance.

The Right to Vote Affects the Power to Choose: How Voter Suppression in 2012 Will Erode Reproductive Rights

by Charlene Carruthers

There is power in a woman’s right to vote.

Since 1984, women have been the majority of the total vote in every presidential election. This year, millions of women will stand in line and prepare themselves to decide who will serve in state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress. They will decide who sits on the local school board and who becomes the next President of the United States. They will also decide who shapes the future of reproductive health and rights for all women in this country. The power to preserve and expand reproductive rights is inextricably tied the right to vote.

But what is power if your ability to leverage that power is stripped away?

That’s just what Republican-led state legislatures across the country are poised to do. Since 2010 state legislatures with Republican majorities have introduced and passed restrictive laws with the potential -- and many argue the intent -- of forcing widespread voter suppression, and to disenfranchise women, people of color, students, the elderly, and low-income communities.

The overall strategy has included efforts to:

Pass laws that require voters to produce proof of citizenship;

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