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November 7, 2012 · By Karen Dolan
It was the nail-biter that wasn't
...not even close.
By just after 11,
the GOP gave up the ghost.
Turns out voters are smart —
they knew just what to do.
They knew who was for many
and who was for few.
The tea party is over,
the real work is at hand.
And we all gotta push
whoever's in command.
You can get high,
you can marry your mate,
you can get an education,
we can overcome hate.
But the job's just beginning
to transform how we live.
What we do to the planet,
what we take, what we give.
Don't make a grand bargain,
that slashes and burns
a safety net that we need,
so our kids eat, thrive and learn.
Tax Wall Street, cut waste,
end wars, tax the rich.
Turn green with great haste,
Frankenstorms are a bitch.
The people have spoken,
we've chosen our path.
Now get to work Mr. President,
look at the math.
America's not broke,
the resources are there.
We've gotta be bold,
and create for all a fair share.
Among other things, Karen Dolan is the Institute for Policy Studies' deadline poet. IPS-dc.org
November 6, 2012 · By Lacy MacAuley
Join the Election Night Party with the Institute for Policy Studies to hear from our team of experts for thought and analysis that you won’t hear in the mainstream media. IPS invites you to tune into the livestream of our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET.
We’ll feature a discussion with IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree on the marijuana legalizations initiatives and how legalization will impact the drug war and our drug policy toward Latin America. You’ll hear a rundown with IPS inequality and economy guru Sarah Anderson on the “inequality vote,” the pro-99-percent candidates versus those whose Congressional actions favor the rich. We’ll have a frank and informative talk with IPS organizer Netfa Freeman on the private polling service that is used by most major broadcast news stations to forecast election winners, and how electronic voting machines may affect democracy.
And we’ll have discussion on much, much more. We'll talk about Proposition 37, the California ballot initiative that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food. We'll break down how marriage equality initiatives are faring four states. We'll review the presidential candidates’ foreign policy positions. And there will be more.
You won’t hear our experts repeat the same old phrases or analysis that you get on network news. The Institute for Policy Studies is a Washington-DC-based think tank speaking truth to power for 50 years. Tonight, we’ll be speaking the truth on livestream.
Join us for our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET, on our UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-at-ips
November 5, 2012 · By Janet Redman
My relationship with President Obama has been getting a bit strained lately. I really like Obama, and I know he likes me, too. But I feel like he’s taking me for granted… as a climate voter.
I know it sounds like something out of an afterschool special, but back in 2008 it looked like we were headed somewhere significant. Obama the presidential candidate said he cared about the environment. He wooed me with his talk about rebuilding the U.S. economy with a combination of renewable energy and clean manufacturing, and vowed to be a global leader in the international fight to halt climate change. He won me over as a green voter and a progressive. Obama was my guy.
But ever since Super Tuesday, when Republicans cast their ballots for Governor Mitt Romney as presidential favorite, Obama’s been acting funny. The more Romney veered from his climate protecting past — and the more supporters cheered when he did — the further Obama distanced himself from me and my friends.
By the time debate season rolled around six months later he was pretending he didn’t even know me. And I didn’t feel like I knew him either.
Obama and Romney were almost indistinguishable on climate and energy policy, practically going to the mat to prove who loved dirty coal more than the other guy. Romney’s energy platform rested on expanding extreme energy like deepwater oil drilling, toxic natural gas fracking, and tar sands production. Obama said he wanted to do all that, too, and throw in some wind and solar. It was the first time since the 1980s that neither the right or left candidate talked about climate change.
Where was my guy?
Some of my friends said I shouldn’t be so hard on him. They hinted that it might even be my fault that Obama’s been acting like he doesn’t know me. He told us when he won the election four years ago that he wanted to fight for clean energy and community resilience, but that we needed to make him do it.
Many of us tried. We rallied our friends and families — and members of congress — behind a comprehensive climate bill, shut down dirty power plants in major cities like his home town of Chicago, and got arrested outside his front door demanding that he reject permits for the Keystone XL pipeline to pump in tar sand oil from Canada. Environmentalists and climate change activists waited patiently during health care reform, the financial crisis, bank bailouts, immigration discussions, and fights over taxes. And we’re still waiting.
I admit, we weren’t perfect. We didn’t build enough public pressure to keep king coal and big oil from turning the American Clean Energy and Security Act into Swiss cheese, for example, but Obama didn’t exactly walk boldly into the political space that we did make for him either.
And now he wants my vote again.
Call me a sucker, but I know Obama really cares about me. I’m convinced he believes the science of climate change, knows that we have to reduce America’s greenhouse gas pollution (just look at the new vehicle standards and coal power plant rules put in place during his first term) and wants to do right by people in the United States who care about climate. I also know that he’s trying to play to the middle of the road in a country where a third of the population still doubts the existence of global warming.
So the choice seems to be between Governor Romney, who’s promising to lead the nation as a climate denier, and President Obama, who’s been doing his best impression of one.
I may be a glutton for punishment, but I will cast my vote for Obama tomorrow because from inside the beltway the political optics signal a concrete difference for the state of the environment if we have a second Obama administration or four years of Romney.
Still, I’m not going to let Obama hold my hand in public until he starts acting like the man who courted the climate community before the last election.
November 2, 2012 · By Karen Dolan
Don't count on the latest round of good economic news to have much of an impact on the elections. There are very few undecided voters left and these minor changes aren't likely to change anyone's mind.
But it's still worth noting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the country gained 171,000 jobs and that unemployment inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent. Both numbers are good. Unemployment only edged up because so many jobless Americans became confident enough to look for work again.
President Barack Obama can rightly brag about improved economic numbers in recent months. There are more jobs. Gas prices are down. The economy is modestly expanding. Consumer confidence has bounced to a four-year high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently hit an all-time high. Clearly, the economy is faring well under his leadership.
But, let's be honest. As tough a row as Obama has had to hoe — inheriting a deep recession and a giant budget deficit — our nation knows how to create jobs at a much greater pace and grow our economy more equitably. It's up to us, we the people, to create a better society by electing better policymakers and lawmakers.
In the 1950s, with a top marginal tax rate of about 90 percent, we had the necessary revenue to help veterans get college diplomas, to create good jobs, and to grow a middle class.
Yes, racism was an even-bigger problem then than it is now. However, the progressive taxation we had at that time generated enough revenue that most of the country's residents regardless of race, gender, or economic status could have been brought into the middle class had it not been for rampant discrimination.
The same potential exists today, even more so because we're an even wealthier country now. We can greatly expand the number of good-paying, full-time jobs with a fair and economically sound approach to our federal budget priorities and long-term debt reduction. It's time our leaders stopped cow-towing to corporate interests by masquerading as adherents to the ideology of government minimalism.
If we cut wasteful Pentagon spending, restore top marginal tax rates to Reagan levels, close corporate tax loopholes, end tax breaks that benefit only the wealthy, cancel subsidies to polluting oil and gas companies, and impose a tiny tax on speculative Wall Street transactions, we will have the revenue we need to rebuild our infrastructure, create sustainable energy sources, improve public schools, expand access to health care, and build a sustainable economy that provides all Americans with a decent standard of living.
Then, not only will we see an expansion in our economy, but the right kind of expansion — one measured by something like a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), rather than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We need to measure not just general economic expansion but our overall wellbeing.
Either Obama or Romney can do this. Either a Democratic or Republican House and Senate can do this. It's not about politics. Or ideology. This isn't rhetoric and this isn't short-term analysis of monthly jobs numbers. This is common sense. And it's the transformational approach we need.
Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (www.ips-dc.org), where she's studying alternative metrics to the GDP, such as Maryland's Genuine Progress Indicator.
October 31, 2012 · By Emily Schwartz Greco
It's a relief to keep the OtherWords editorial service running on schedule when so little is going as planned. At my house, we just had an unexpected four-day weekend and a downed fence. And our little ladybug and cop trotted back to school in time to celebrate Halloween.
While I'm concerned about the damage from this extreme weather, I'm also thankful that my loved ones are safe and sound. I hope that the same holds true for you, your friends, and relatives.
Thanksgiving is when we contemplate everything we take for granted, and "Frankenstorm" Sandy made that holiday arrive early this year. In addition to being thankful that the neighbor's towering tree didn't crush my house, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your continued support.
I'd also like to thank the editors who make it possible for OtherWords commentaries and cartoons to appear in 310 newspapers that reach more than 6.5 million readers. And thanks to the editors that enable us to run on dozens of websites too.
I also want to thank everyone who reads our work online and in other publications and to the many organizations and individuals who write (or draw) for OtherWords. And thanks to anyone who has made a donation to support this important work. With the dizzying number of media alternatives out there, we need your help more than ever to keep our progressive and newsroom-ready perspectives on everything from nuclear dangers to health care challenges in the conversation.
This editorial service is free of charge for editors to use in newspapers and new media outlets under a Creative Commons license. If you know anyone who might want to become an OtherWords subscriber or run our work in their opinion section or website, I'd really appreciate it if you could let them know about us.
This week in OtherWords, we're emphasizing military and foreign policy priorities. Miriam Pemberton explains how rebalancing our national security spending would make our embassies safer. Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert G. Gard outlines the next administration's top foreign policy challenges. Khalil Bendib's cartoon can accompany either of those commentaries, as well as William A. Collins' column summing up his take on Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
- How to Make our Embassies Safer / Miriam Pemberton
Paul Ryan's spending plans call for slashing the money the State Department can use to protect diplomats.
- The Next Administration's Top Five Foreign Policy Challenges / Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert G. Gard
The next administration's top short-term challenge will undoubtedly be to end U.S. involvement in combat operations in Afghanistan.
- Isolation on Both Ends of the Line / Chancellar Williams
In a complete distortion of free-market economics, the phone companies that secure contracts with prisons are often the ones that charge more than their competitors.
- A Nuclear Strike on States' Rights / Deb Katz
Vermont's Yankee reactor would have closed this year had a power company kept a decade-old promise.
- The Dead-End Servant Economy / Sam Pizzigati
We're going down the road toward becoming a nation of servants.
- Politics Creep to a New Low / Jim Hightower
Both presidential campaigns are going overboard with their snooping into voters' lives.
- Dining with Mahmoud / William A. Collins
That night, he left out his signature anti-Semitic rhetoric.
- The Horses and Bayonets Strategy / Khalil Bendib