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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries since February 2012

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Kaul's New Super PAC Draws Donor

February 7, 2012 ·

Photo by Basil Gilbert.Laurie Kittle of Springfield, Missouri really gets Donald Kaul's sense of humor. In response to his hilarious Destroy Our Future column, she published this letter to the editor in the Springfield News-Leader. It began by providing him with a "sweet scented rose." Thanks, Laurie!

"I’m on board, Kaul, with your “Destroy Our Future” Super PAC and am willing to donate 5 bazzillion dollars to your unlofty cause. (I don’t have 5 bazzillion dollars, but let’s not let that dissuade us.)

"You, sir, are a man who knows my own mind! I long for a revisitation to the 18th century and am currently fitting myself for a whale bone bodice, long wool skirt and itchy bloomers, of course I’ll have to grow my short hair cut out to waist length so I can mandatorily pin it up so it will not offend. I’ll pretty much look the same I figure.

"You said it masterfully and swift.May the sweet smell of unsuccess waft into the nostrils of the GOP this fall, breathe deep the unclean air and think how much more unclean it’ll be if they win and further deregulate or do away with the EPA completely. I can’t wait. Oh wait, yes I can."

Police Can't Raid Our Dreams

February 6, 2012 ·

McPherson Square after the raid. Photo by Rick Reinhard.This past weekend, I stood in the rain at Occupy DC as police in riot gear trampled through the camp at McPherson Square. I ran as they charged the crowd with police horses. I watched as they grabbed clothing, books, tents, shoes, and other personal property, and tossed it all into dumpsters.

Some are asking how the Occupy movement will accomplish anything now. I say, it already has. It has already changed our world.

I marched through New York in September of last year on the first day of Occupy Wall Street. I laid down my sleeping bag in the open air in Zuccotti Park on the first intense nights of the occupation. Then, I brought my sleeping bag back to Washington DC, where I live. With some hopeful companions, I began occupying McPherson Square on K Street, home to some of the most corrupt lobbyists in the world. We held meetings in the cool October air, not yet the biting chill of winter. And we went to work building a library, a clinic, a kitchen, a media center — a small village. A second camp quickly emerged in another part of town, within sight of Congress.

I occupied because the rich are too rich, because Wall Street and the corporations control too much, and because all of our governments won’t even begin to seriously address some of the biggest challenges of our time, like climate change. I occupied because, like so many in the 99 percent, I am fed up with the status quo. I occupied because people are suffering all over the country and all over the world, while the power to build a better future is in our hands.

Now, most of Occupy DC has been emptied. Many occupiers were made homeless. Miraculously, the cops spared my humble little tent, with a newly broken pole, but sleeping in the park would now likely get me arrested. (I hadn’t slept at the park recently anyway. Another occupier was staying in my tent.)

Was it all worth it? Yes, and I’ll do it again.

This week, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing about inequality and social mobility, hearing from experts like Sarah Anderson at the Institute for Policy Studies, who has published studies on the CEO-worker pay gap for 18 years. Would the Senate be doing this before Occupy? Probably not.

Mitt Romney is struggling to shed the stigma of being a “one percent candidate,” because his Richie Rich image continues to harm his campaign. Even Newt “Huge Tiffany’s Tab” Gingrich is making jabs at Romney’s wealth. Would this have happened before Occupy? Probably not.

One of President Barack Obama’s favorite stump speeches these days is on making the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share, which would reduce inequality in this country. Would this have become a favorite presidential refrain before Occupy? Probably not.

A thousand plans are afoot to “re-occupy” this spring. But even if the camps were to end now, the Occupy movement has made millions of Americans think harder about our economic, environmental, and political realities, and that has the potential to change everything. It has created spaces for us to bring a bold new world to life. It has sparked conversations and ideas that no police barricade can hold back. And it has opened dreams that we are all still dreaming — whether we campers are allowed to sleep or not.

Lacy MacAuley wears two hats, which isn’t always easy. She is the media relations manager at the Institute for Policy Studies and a participant in the Occupy movement. www.ips-dc.org

The Lineup: Week of Feb. 6-12, 2012

February 6, 2012 ·

This week, OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul and New Priorities Network coordinator Mike Prokosch make the case for deep military spending cuts and Tiffany Williams reality-checks "The Help." On our blog, Lacy MacAuley explains why the Occupy movement "has the potential to change everything." Get all this and more in your inbox by subscribing to our weekly newsletter. If you haven't signed up yet, please do.

  1. Those Bad Old Days Are Still with Us / Tiffany Williams
    "The Help" is drawing attention to today's domestic workers.
  2. Fracking Perils / Daphne Wysham
    The ongoing bonanza in the U.S. hydraulic fracturing industry marks a dangerous misstep on the road to U.S. energy independence.
  3. Distorting Civil Rights History / Marc Morial
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has insulted the generations of men and women who put their lives on the line for equal rights.
  4. Playing with Fire / Mike Prokosch
    Instead of firing teachers, closing libraries and senior centers, and cutting bus routes, let's put the Pentagon on a diet.
  5. Profiting from the Pentagon / Donald Kaul
    A two-war strategy is like a two-car garage -- you'll own two cars sooner or later.
  6. Save the Babies / Jim Hightower
    GOP lawmakers are howling to overturn the EPA's mercury regulations.
  7. Whistle-Blowing Takes Guts / William A. Collins
    Bringing war crimes, diplomatic treachery, and animal abuse to light is dangerous.
  8. Planned Parenthood / Khalil Bendib

Planned Parenthood, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

Karen Dolan Weighs in on Romney's Latest Gaffe

February 2, 2012 ·

Karen DolanKaren Dolan, an IPS expert on poverty and the nation's frayed safety net, has published an op-ed on CNN's website in response to GOP presidential hopeful's latest "oops" moment:

"I'm not concerned about the very poor." Oops. Mitt Romney messed up. Again. This was a bigger "oops moment" for Romney than when he said a few weeks ago that the $374,327 he earned in speakers' fees over the course of 12 months amounted to "not very much." It was bigger than "I like being able to fire people." It was the biggest since he blurted out that "corporations are people, my friend" at the Iowa State Fair.

Call it a Freudian slip, call it overconfidence emerging from a big win in the Florida Republican primary, call it a classic, out-of-touch-sounding "Rich Romney" gaffe. It may be all of those things, but this comment represents a scripted piece of the Romney campaign strategy. He hopes to co-opt an Obama campaign message aimed at appealing to the middle-class voters each will need in the general election.

Due to CNN.com's editorial policies, we're unable to post the whole thing here. But please read it on their website, and check out some of the 1,800 comments logged so far. Since too many of them are unsympathetic toward the poorest among us, be sure to weigh with your two cents, and spread the word via Facebook and Twitter.

Update: Many conservatives are attacking Romney in the wake of this gaffe. The Daily Kos has a fantastic summary. Here's a sample quote from National Review's Jonah Goldberg: "His language makes him seem like a caricature of a conventionally stiff country club Republican."

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