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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).
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:
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.
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/)
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.
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;
by David Michael Green
Last week America engaged in one of its perennial paroxysms of constitutional cogitation – this time over the Obama health care bill – with (mostly) predictable results.
Four of the great legal priests on our High Temple’s Council of Scriptural Interpretation said that, yes, the Affordable Care Act was within the boundaries of what a small collection of men riding horseback to a meeting in Philadelphia one summer two-and-a-quarter centuries ago allow us to do today as a continent-wide superpower society of 300 million people in the age of atom bombs, space travel, heart transplants and genetic engineering. George and John and Thomas say it’s okay, we can have health care. Whew. That’s a relief.
But then four other priests insisted, “Oh, no, this is fundamentally not allowed. Not at all.”
And one apparently went both ways, voting against it before he was for it.
A string of key decisions decided by 5-4 split effectively makes it a 'court of one'. It's time to debate a less dysfunctional future
by Jonathan Turley
This week, the country awaits the blockbuster ruling of the supreme court on the future of national healthcare in the United States. Citizens have waited anxiously every Monday morning for weeks for the next pronouncement – whether on immigration, free speech or, now, healthcare – to be handed down from the highest court. It has left many uneasy about the hold that such a small number of unelected jurists have on the nation.
Once again, many important decisions were the result of a court of one – 5-4 decisions, with "swing Justice" Anthony Kennedy deciding the issue for the nation. Healthcare is just one of a litany of cases that are reshaping the country in an image dictated often by just five members of the court. This has included sweeping changes in the political process from the Bush v Gore decision in 2000 (where the supreme court effectively chose the next president), to the Citizen's United case (where the court struck down campaign finance limits for corporations).
Rethinking Schools Editorial
As we go marching, marching,
we’re standing proud and tall
The rising of the women means
the rising of us all.
Our lives shall not be sweated
from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies:
bread and roses, bread and roses.
The song “Bread and Roses” and the 1912 strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where the phrase originated, remind us how important women’s struggles have been in U.S. history, and that the liberation of women is central to progress toward social justice.
There hasn’t been much talk about women’s liberation lately. Women have the vote; more than half the students at universities are women; rape is classified as a crime; there are women doctors, lawyers, soccer players, and secretaries of state. A lot of young professionals—and a lot of our students—would say that the whole idea of women’s liberation is passé, a non-issue.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for her seminal work on shared resources
by Jay Walljasper
Elinor Ostrom, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her lifelong work studying how communities share resources, died June 12. She was 78.
The only woman out of 69 Nobel Laureates in economics honored since 1969, Ostrom taught political science at Indiana University.
In research conducted throughout the world, she increased our understanding of how commons function in a wide variety of communities. Ostrom’s work also debunked the Tragedy of the Commons—the widespread idea that shared resources inevitably end in environmental and economic ruin (http://www.onthecommons.org/nobel-prize-milestone-commons-movement).
This international acclaim for her work was heralded in many developing nations as evidence that their commons-based traditions of cooperation and communal resources was not a violation of basic economic common sense, as many Western economic advisers warned. Kenyan economist Korir Sing’Oei predicted that Ostrom’s prize would prove more significant for Africans than that of Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan father who won the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.