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Entries since August 2010Page 1 • 2 Next
August 30, 2010 · By Tamar Abrams
I am haunted by the sight of Glenn Beck on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial exhorting his followers to “turn back to God.” It is clear which God he means – the one that mainstream Christian faiths pray to. His vision of returning to the old days leaves little room for Jews, Blacks, Asians, Latinos, gays, and immigrants. I don’t doubt for a moment that the thousands of white people hailing his vision of “the good old days” over the weekend believe that America was a better country 40 or 50 years ago. Perhaps it was for their families.
But I recall seeing a billboard on the interstate highway at the border of North and South Carolina that said, “Welcome to Klan Country” in the late 1960s. I don’t want to return to those days. There were swimming pools and clubs that my family wasn’t allowed to join because we were Jewish. I don’t want to return to those days. Marian Anderson was denied a chance to sing to an integrated audience at Constitution Hall and so stood on the very spot which Glenn Beck commandeered to sing to more than 75,000 people on Easter Sunday 1939. I don’t want to go back to those days.
America has grown great because of its progress, because we are forward thinkers. Our gift to our children and our grandchildren is to offer them a world that is better than the one we were given. Glenn Beck is preying on the fears and paranoia of millions of people who are much more willing to longingly look back with nostalgia than ahead with hope. Shame on him. One of his followers carried a sign that read, “I want an America that my dad remembers.” My dad, at 81, wants a world that has learned from the one he remembers and is even better. It’s a shame that Glenn Beck is stuck on rewind and is urging so many to remain stuck with him.
August 25, 2010 · By Jennifer Doak
It turns out that the outrage against the proposed NYC Islamic cultural center is far from unanimous.
A study released by Pew (via Wiretap and Campus Progress) shows that a majority of people between the ages of 18-29 are okay with the center's proposed location two blocks from ground zero. Fewer people in that cohort had a favorable opinion of Islam, but those numbers too increased amongst college graduates, who are more likely to have met people of other cultures and religions. Unsurprisingly, college graduates are also more likely to know something about Islam -- actual information, presumably, and not whatever informed this tragedy.
It's unfortunate, though, that Pew called the center a "mosque." As Anushay Hossein points out in her Huffington Post article, "this Community Center plans to house a culinary school, an auditorium, a swimming pool, a basketball court, and yes, space for prayer. But it is not a mosque, so we all need to stop calling it that. Calling this Center the "Ground Zero Mosque" not only makes people think up dramatic images of an actual mosque right on the site of Ground Zero, but it also misconstrues the entire debate."
On the bright side, maybe younger people would have approved the center's construction in higher numbers had the right terms been used. Or if Jon Stewart's bit on Fox's coverage of the "terror mosque" had come out earlier.
August 12, 2010 · By Miriam Pemberton
Quiz: Who said this? “Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China.”
And this: “As we learned last year, you don’t necessarily need a billion-dollar guided missile destroyer to chase down and deal with a bunch of teenage pirates wielding AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.”
And this: “Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?”
Would you believe, the current Secretary of Defense?
Such musings have led him to mount the most serious effort to restrain his own budget of any Defense Secretary since the post-Cold War period. He deserves credit for this.
But look at what he said when asked about his carrier talking point: “I may want to change things, but I’m not crazy. I’m not going to cut a carrier, okay?”
So what we seem to have is an “Aspirational Gates,” who wants to cut weapons systems we don’t need, and an “Operational Gates,” who knows he needs to keep such aspirations in bounds.
What the Operational Gates isn’t doing is cutting his budget. The $100 billion he wants to cut is a lot less than it sounds, because:
- It’s spread over five years.
- All but $7 billion of it will be “done” after he is likely no longer around to see that it actually is done.
- Most importantly, his plan is to shift any savings to other programs within his own budget.
And, the longest unbroken surge in military spending in U.S. history will continue. Gates’ plan to slow its rate of growth is being redefined as budget cutting.
But since, as he has also mentioned, we are spending nearly as much on the military as the rest of the world put together. And since we are seriously in need of money, we need to do better than this.
Today the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget releases its blueprint for $75 billion in cuts that can be made safely--increasing Gates’ plans for military cuts next year by a factor of 10.
The Aspirational Gates could really get behind this.
August 11, 2010 · By Isaac Arnold
Recalled from a shorter-than-expected summer recess, the House of Representatives passed legislation (247-161) securing 300,000 public jobs including those of teachers and policemen. On Tuesday H.R. 1586, commonly referred to as "the State Bailout Bill, allocated $26 billion to states desperate for relief. The funding of the bill, however, makes a bold statement about America's priorities.
With a strong resolve amongst the Democrats in the face of Republican adversity, the bill itself may have taken a severe blow from the onset. In recent months, tension within Congress has grown high regarding the level of the deficit: Democrats contend that the deficit has to grow in order to promote job and economic growth, while Republicans fear an oversized deficit will become too large a burden. With an economy in distress, Democrats pandered to the Republican view. The proposed legislation receives paid-for funding from both closed corporate tax loopholes and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, funds are distributed on four criteria: countable resources ($2,000 if under 60 years old), income level (under $1984 per month for a family of 3), immigration status, and special rules for elderly and disabled. For a family of three earning under $1984 monthly, the maximum allotment is $526 where the poverty line for the same family is an annual income of $17,285.
Given current economic distress, Congress has further alienated an entire class of citizens. Aside from limited resources, recipients of SNAP are not only disadvantaged, they lack adequate access to food and basic needs. With recent debate aimed at the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2011, Congress can avoid adding $700 billion dollars to the deficit. At a time when America sees its greatest disparity of wealth, an exponential increase in membership of its lower class, and a depleting middle class, America cannot afford to renew these tax cuts. Additionally, Congress cannot continue to recruit funding from the have-nots, or those facing real barriers.
On Tuesday, a divided House of Representatives displayed that it can produce positive action that affects Americans, the economy, and prevents a major destabilization of infrastructure by protecting hundreds of thousands of jobs.
But can Americans without access to the basics of food, shelter, and even jobs afford to pick up a tab for the richest?
August 11, 2010 · By Sarah Browning
A weekly featured poem of provocation and witness. You can find more poetry and arts news from Blog This Rock.
America, don't we love like oil?
Don't our slippery arms
Pave the pores of those who need us?
Don't we suffocate with our embrace?
Hasn't our sheen of pink slips
And half-hearted hand outs
Sucked the air from blue collared lungs?
Aren't cardboard boxes as porous
As dollar bills?
Don't we infiltrate?
Isn't our heart amorphous?
Aren't we a slow build
And a tight grip?
Don't countless dumb animals
Struggle their way from our grip?
Doesn't Europe's fur still glisten
From the crude of our aid?
Doesn't the Middle East smell like us?
Aren't we just like oil?
Is it any surprise when it leaks from our bowels
Into once pristine oceans
Don't we muddy the waters?
Don't we smear our babies' asses
With petroleum jelly,
Don't we air commercials for coal
Isn't oil us?
Isn't it slippery
But insistently vital,
Isn't it the only black thing
We're not afraid of?
Isn't it us?
Isn't it symbolic how it slips out,
How it once was life,
How we need it,
How it kills us?
Don't we love symbolism?
A great white nation
With no control of dark things,
Dirty things, moving things
Isn't it what we know?
Isn't it what believe in?
Two press conferences too late,
A wellspring of good intentions
Strangling the seascape,
Isn't it angry,
Isn't it unstoppable,
Isn't it us?