Recent articles — titles with links to content

Values

The Distortion And Decline Of Christianity by Robert De Filippis TheBig Slice.org, February 27, 2013

5 Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand By Sean McElwee, AlterNet, July 30, 2013 

Reason

A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Education by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, HuffingtonPost.com, 08/15/2013

Devaluing the Think Tank by TEVI TROY, National Affairs, Winter 2012

The Violence of Organized Forgetting By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout, 22 July 2013

United States of Paranoia: How the FBI Spied and Lied So Conspiracy Theorists Would Sound Crazy By Jesse Walker, August 20, 2013  |

World

A Republican Case for Climate Action By WILLIAM D. RUCKELSHAUS, LEE M. THOMAS, WILLIAM K. REILLY and CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, New York Times,  August 1, 2013

America

8 Shocking Ways America Leads the World By Lynn Stuart ParramoreAlterNet, July 29, 2013

Crumbling American Dreams By ROBERT D. PUTNAM, New York Times,  August 3, 2013   

United States of Paranoia: How the FBI Spied and Lied So Conspiracy Theorists Would Sound Crazy August 20, 2013  |

Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet, July 30 2013

Culture

A Different Kind of Division (race) By ROSS DOUTHATAugust 24, 2013 

Are Humans Hard-Wired for Racial Prejudice? Robert M. Sapolsky, Los Angeles Times, Alternet.org, July 31, 2013   

Economic Justice

Capitalism and Christianity by Peter Montgomery, ReligionDispatches.org, July 19, 2013

CATO Institute Report Says Poor Americans Have It Too Good by Joshua Holland, BillMoyers.com August 21, 2013

God Favors Supply-Side Economics, Post by Gordon Haber, ReligionDispatches,org, August 2, 2013

How Corporations Are Subverting Attempts to Rein in Their Power By Thomas Mc Donagh, AlterNet, May 23, 2013 |

Wall Street, a Culture of Greed Won’t Let Go Ethics. Values. Integrity By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, July 15, 2013

We’d All Be Much Wealthier If We Acted Like a Society—Instead We Prop Up the Private Wealth of a Small Number of Elites By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog, August 23, 2013

Why Elites Want to Mask the Suffering of Poor Whites by Chauncey DeVega, Daily Kos, August 1, 2013  

The 5 Biggest Obscenities of Capitalism Today By Paul Buchheit, AlterNet, July 14, 2013 

Education, Humanities, Science

Public Policies, Made to Fit People By RICHARD H. THALER, New York Times August 24, 2013

Who’s Afraid of Zinn’s Radical History? by Sonia Murrow and Robert Cohen, The Nation, August 7, 2013, posted on CommonDreams.org

Media/Communications

15 things everyone would know if there were a liberal media by akadjianFollow, Daily Kos, Aug 07, 2013

Big Media Is Raking in Billions on Political Ads — Here’s a Way to Take Back the Airwaves That Belong to All of Us by Bill Moyers, Alternet.org, March 30, 20132012  |

Rush Limbaugh’s Reputation as King of Right-Wing AM Radio Has Come Crashing Down, Eric Boehlert, Media Matters, posted by Alternet.org, August 8, 2013

The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You’ll Never Hear About It in Our ‘Free Press’ By Noam Chomsky, AlterNetAugust 15, 2013

Democracy

Chaos Looms By Paul Krugman, New York TImes blog,  August 1, 2013

Happiness and Well-Being are NOT the same thing… huge implications for public policy! Cognitive Policy Works – August 2013

Hollywood Legend Ed Asner Has Outraged Republicans Over This Animated Short VIDEO December 05, 2012

Politics

Obama isn’t as ‘lawless’ as the GOP alleges By Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, August 20, 2013

Raising The Minimum Wage Is A Political GoldmineBy Ruy Teixeira, Guest Blogger on ThinkProgress.org, August 23, 2013

The Nudge Debate By DAVID BROOKS , New York Times, August 8, 2013

Why Republicans Are Disciplined and Democrats Aren’t By Robert Reich 07/24/2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Money in politics

O Little Town of Washington by Michael Winship, Bill Moyers.com, August 23, 2013  excerpt

Conservatives/Republicans

5 Reasons Republicans Are Beginning To Worry They Could Lose The House In 2014 by Jason Sattler, nationalmemo.com, August 19, 2013

American Right-Wingers Are No Longer Conservative — They’re Extremists – excerpt By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, April 17, 2013

Conservatives once ridiculed Ayn Rand  By Michael Lind, Salon.com, Aug 8, 2013

Departure of GOP operatives could imperil debt-limit talks By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post, August 8, 2013 

Has the G.O.P. Gone Off the Deep End? By THOMAS B. EDSALLJuly 17, 2013

Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a “30 Front War” By David Corn | Thu Jul. 25, 2013

Republicans Against Reality By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, August 4, 2013  

The Neocon Revival By DAVID BROOKS, New York Times, August 1, 2013

Movement

Cynicism Is Corporate America’s Greatest Weapon. Disarm It. Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America’s Future, 08/20/2013

Don’t Wait for the Revolution — ‘Be the Change’ and Live It By Andrew Boyd, YES! Magazine August 6, 2013 

Movements Without Leaders – What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet by Bill McKibben, Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com, 8/18/2013  

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action by Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, August 16, 2013

Moral politics

5 Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand by Sean McElwee, AlterNet, July 30, 2013  |

A Religious Legacy, With Its Leftward Tilt, Is Reconsidered By JENNIFER SCHUESSLER, New York Times, July 23, 2013

Religion challenges left and right By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, August 4 

Religious progressives hold stronger appeal among Millennials By Robby Jones, Washington Post, July 18, 2013 The Washington Post Company

Six challenges for organizing a progressive religious movement By Robert P. Jones, Washington Post, August 2, 2013

Transformation

Political Dreaming in the Twenty-First Century  Where Has It Gone? By Ira Chernus  

The End Game for Democracy

 by Bill Moyers, billmoyers.com August 23, 2013

We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below.

The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible. That’s the real joke.

Sometimes I long for the wit of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. They treat this town as burlesque, and with satire and parody show it the disrespect it deserves. We laugh, and punch each other on the arm, and tweet that the rascals got their just dessert. Still, the last laugh always seems to go to the boldface names that populate this town. To them belong the spoils of a looted city. They get the tax breaks, the loopholes, the contracts, the payoffs.

They fix the system so multimillionaire hedge fund managers and private equity tycoons pay less of a tax rate on their income than school teachers, police and fire fighters, secretaries and janitors. They give subsidies to rich corporate farms and cut food stamps for working people facing hunger. They remove oversight of the wall street casinos, bail out the bankers who torpedo the economy, fight the modest reforms of Dodd-Frank, prolong tax havens for multinationals, and stick it to consumers while rewarding corporations.

We pay. We pay at the grocery store. We pay at the gas pump. We pay the taxes they write off. Our low-wage workers pay with sweat and deprivation because this town – aloof, self-obsessed, bought off and doing very well, thank you – feels no pain.

The journalists who could tell us these things rarely do – and some, never. They aren’t blind, simply bedazzled. Watch the evening news – any evening news – or the Sunday talk shows. Listen to the chit-chat of the early risers on morning TV — and ask yourself if you are learning anything about how this town actually works.

William Greider, one of our craft’s finest reporters, fierce and unbought, despite a long life in Washington once said that no one can hope to understand what is driving political behavior without asking the kind of gut-level questions politicians ask themselves in private: “Who are the winners in this matter and who are the losers? Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?”

Perhaps they don’t ask these questions because they fear banishment from the parties and perks, from the access that passes as seduction in this town.

Or perhaps they do not tell us these things because they fear that if the system were exposed for what it is, outraged citizens would descend on this town, and tear it apart with their bare hands.

http://billmoyers.com/segment/bill-moyers-essay-the-end-game-for-democracy/

The Billionaires Behind The Hate

RADICAL RIGHT – by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Lee Fang, and Alex Seitz-Wald, progress@americanprogressaction.org, December 8, 2009

Excerpt

Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are the wealthiest, and perhaps most effective, opponents of President Obama’s progressive agenda…are also responsible for a vicious attack campaign aimed directly at obstructing and killing progressive reform. Over the years, millions of dollars in Koch money has flowed to various right-wing think tanks, front groups, and publications…In addition to its efforts to misinform the public, Koch Industries has spent nearly $9 million dollars so far on direct lobbying, much of it on climate change legislation…In their quest to block health care reform, Koch-funded groups have fostered extremism…part of their opposition stems from a long family tradition of funding conservative movements to shift the country to the far right. Fred Koch, father of Charles and David and the company’s namesake, helped to found the John Birch Society in the late 1950s. The John Birch Society harnessed Cold War fears into hate against progressives, warning that President Kennedy, Civil Rights activists, and organized labor were in league with communists. By presenting progressive reform as a capitulation to the Soviet Union, Fred Koch and the other industrialists bankrolling the Birch Society were able to galvanize hundreds of thousands of middle class people into supporting their narrow agenda of cutting corporate taxes and avoiding consumer regulations.

Full text

Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are the wealthiest, and perhaps most effective, opponents of President Obama’s progressive agenda. They have been looming in the background of every major domestic policy dispute this year. Ranked as the 9th richest men in America, the Koch brothers sit at the helm of Koch Industries, a massive privately owned conglomerate of manufacturing, oil, gas, and timber interests. They are best known for their wealth, as well as for their generous contributions to the arts, cancer research, and the Smithsonian Institute. But David and Charles are also responsible for a vicious attack campaign aimed directly at obstructing and killing progressive reform. Over the years, millions of dollars in Koch money has flowed to various right-wing think tanks, front groups, and publications. At the dawn of the Obama presidency, Koch groups quickly maneuvered to try to stop his first piece of signature legislation: the stimulus. The Koch-funded group “No Stimulus” launched television and radio ads deriding the recovery package as simply “pork” spending. The Cato Institute — founded by Charles — as well as other Koch-funded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, produced a blizzard of reports distorting the stimulus and calling for a return to Bush-style tax cuts to combat the recession. As their fronts were battling the stimulus, David’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP) spent the opening months of the Obama presidency placing calls and helping to organize the very first “tea party” protests. AFP, founded in 1984 by David and managed day to day by the astroturf lobbyist Tim Phillips, has spent much of the year mobilizing “tea party” opposition to health reform, clean energy legislation, and financial regulations.

 

 

STOPPING CLEAN ENERGY: David Koch presents himself as a champion of science. Next year, because of his donations, a wing of the Smithsonian will be named after him. Nevertheless, Koch has done more to undermine the public’s understanding of climate change science than any other person in America. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, funded in part by Koch foundations, has waged an underhanded campaign to falsely charge that a set of hacked e-mails somehow unravels the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring. Koch finances the “Hot Air” tour, a nationwide roadshow using a balloon to depict climate change science as “hot air.” Despite the brothers’ extravagant wealth, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has run populist ads mocking environmentalists as spoiled brats more concerned about their “three homes and five cars” than about economic conditions. In addition to its efforts to misinform the public, Koch Industries has spent nearly $9 million dollars so far on direct lobbying, much of it on climate change legislation. With a team of Koch-funded operatives going as far as attempting to crash the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this week, the brothers may succeed in scuttling any prospect for addressing climate change.

 

 

STOPPING HEALTH REFORM: Much of the fierce opposition to health reform can be credited to Koch organizations. As the health care debate began, AFP created a front group, known as “Patients United,” dedicated itself to attacking Democratic health care reform proposals. Patients United has blanketed the country with ads distorting various provisions of the health reform legislation, particularly the public option. Patients United even centered a media campaign around Shona Robertson-Holmes, claiming she had a brain tumor the Canadian system refused to treat. However, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Patients United has been exaggerating Holmes’ case, and that she in fact had a benign cyst. In their quest to block health care reform, Koch-funded groups have fostered extremism. A speaker with the roving Patients United bus tour repeatedly compared health reform to the Holocaust while an eight-by-five foot banner at an AFP health care rally with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) read, “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany” superimposed over corpses from a concentration camp. Although many were surprised at the level of anger AFP channeled into Democratic healthcare town halls in August, it wasn’t the first time Koch groups have helped to hijack the health reform debate. Back in 1994, Americans for Prosperity, then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy, worked closely with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to bring mobs of angry men to health reform rallies with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.

 

 

 

A LONG HISTORY OF STOPPING PROGRESS: The Koch brothers clearly have a financial stake in blocking reform. Koch Industry oil refineries are major carbon dioxide polluters, and George-Pacific, a Koch Industries timber subsidiary, is one of the largest contributors to the loss of carbon-sink capacity. According to the EPA, Koch Industries is responsible for over 300 oil spills in the U.S. and has leaked three million gallons of crude oil into fisheries and drinking waters. So there are clear business-related reasons why Koch would want to block regulatory enforcement, clean energy, labor, and other reforms. But part of their opposition stems from a long family tradition of funding conservative movements to shift the country to the far right. Fred Koch, father of Charles and David and the company’s namesake, helped to found the John Birch Society in the late 1950s. The John Birch Society harnessed Cold War fears into hate against progressives, warning that President Kennedy, Civil Rights activists, and organized labor were in league with communists. By presenting progressive reform as a capitulation to the Soviet Union, Fred Koch and the other industrialists bankrolling the Birch Society were able to galvanize hundreds of thousands of middle class people into supporting their narrow agenda of cutting corporate taxes and avoiding consumer regulations.

 

Why We Must Reclaim The Bible From Fundamentalists

by John Shelby Spong, Retired American Bishop of the Episcopal Church, HuffingtonPost.com, 10/13/2011

Excerpt

The contrast between the way the Bible is understood in the academic world and the way it is viewed in our churches is striking…issues and insights, commonplace among the scholars, are viewed as highly controversial and even as “heresy” in the churches. The result has been that the majority of people who have remained in the church have become more and more rigid and fundamentalist, while those who have left have become more and more dismissive of everything, good or bad, about Christianity… there are other ways to view Christianity.

In the world of Christian scholarship, for example, to read the Bible literally is regarded as absurd. To call the words of the Bible “the Word of God” is more than naïve…There are some biblical facts that cannot and should not be ignored, if Christians really value truth… Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. It is not about closed minds, supernatural interventions, a fallen creation, guilt, original sin or divine rescue. I am tired of seeing the Bible being used, as it has been throughout history, to legitimize slavery and segregation, to subdue women, to punish homosexuals, to justify war and to oppose family planning and birth control. That is a travesty which must be challenged and changed…

Full text

The contrast between the way the Bible is understood in the academic world and the way it is viewed in our churches is striking. I know because in my life as a priest and a bishop I have both served typical congregations and been privileged to study and to teach in some of the best known Christian academic centers in the world. In academia I discovered that issues and insights, commonplace among the scholars, are viewed as highly controversial and even as “heresy” in the churches. The result has been that the majority of people who have remained in the church have become more and more rigid and fundamentalist, while those who have left have become more and more dismissive of everything, good or bad, about Christianity. We also now have a crop of writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchen, who have totally demolished the fundamentalist approach to God with their clever and penetrating books, yet they are seemingly unaware that there are other ways to view Christianity.

In the world of Christian scholarship, for example, to read the Bible literally is regarded as absurd. To call the words of the Bible “the Word of God” is more than naïve. No modern person can still believe that a star can wander through the sky so slowly that wise men can keep up with it, that God actually dictated the Ten Commandments — all three versions, no less — or that a multitude can be fed with five loaves and two fish. No modern person understanding genetics and reproduction can believe that virgins conceive, nor can those who understand what death does to the human body in a matter of just minutes still view the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body after three days. Biblical scholars know that the accounts of the crucifixion read in Christian churches on Good Friday are not eye witness reports, but developed interpretations of Jesus’ death based on a series of Old Testament texts selected to convince fellow Jews that Jesus “fulfilled the scriptures” and thus really was the “messiah.” These issues and many others are assumed in the world of biblical scholars, but are viewed by many church-goers, together with the vast majority of television evangelists and radio preachers, as attacks on divine revelation that must be resisted in order to save Christianity. They thus, knowingly or unknowingly, join in a conspiracy of silence, ignoring truth when they feel they can and viewing biblical scholars, strangely enough, as the church’s ultimate enemy. At the same time secular critics attack what Christian scholars know is nonsensical about both the Bible and Christianity and act as if they have discovered something new.

There are some biblical facts that cannot and should not be ignored, if Christians really value truth. For example, the time separating when Moses lived (ca. 1250 BCE) from when the stories of Moses were written in the Bible (ca. 950 BCE) is about 300 years, representing 15 generations of oral transmission. Can anyone knowing this continue to be a literal believer? The gospels were written 40 -70 years after the crucifixion, which means that most of what we read about Jesus in the Bible was handed down orally for two to three generations before one word of it achieved written form. The gospels were also first written in Greek, a language which neither Jesus nor his disciples spoke or wrote! How can anyone claim “inerrancy” for such material? Other facts well-known in the academy, but seemingly unknown outside by either believers or critics, are that scholars can find no evidence that miracles were associated with the memory of Jesus before the 8th decade of the Christian era, that there is no mention of the virgin birth anywhere before the 9th decade and that the narratives of the ascension and Pentecost did not appear until the 10th decade. The New Testament does not agree on such basic issues as the identity of the twelve disciples or the details of Easter. Why has none of this been made available in churches or been discovered by those who pose as the church’s secular critics?

The New Testament also introduces us to a group of characters who are far more likely to be literary creations than they are to be literal. Was Judas Iscariot a figure of history? I do not think so. There is no mention of him in any source before the 8th decade. Paul, writing between 51 and 64 CE, appears never to have heard of the tradition that one of the twelve was a traitor. In addition to that, every detail of the New Testament portrait of Judas can be located in other traitor stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. If a major figure like Judas is not real then what about such lesser characters as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, Lazarus, miraculously raised from the dead four days after being buried, or even the “Beloved Disciple?” All of them, I now believe, were created to illustrate a theme.

It was fascinating for me in writing this book to explore the scriptures from these perspectives by journeying through the entire biblical landscape from Genesis to Revelation. That enabled me with both integrity and conviction to challenge the literal assumptions of the past and to open the biblical story to new levels of understanding that I believe are profoundly real. Who would have thought, for instance, that Hosea’s domestic life would illumine his understanding of the love of God; or that Amos, a keeper of sycamore trees in the village of Tekoa, would be the one to redefine God as justice? The book of Jonah is seen as a readable mythological tale, deliberately designed to hook its audience emotionally in order to break them out of the bondage of prejudice. The book of Job explores the universal theme of why innocent people suffer. There is great stuff in the Bible that needs to be opened in new ways.

Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. It is not about closed minds, supernatural interventions, a fallen creation, guilt, original sin or divine rescue. I am tired of seeing the Bible being used, as it has been throughout history, to legitimize slavery and segregation, to subdue women, to punish homosexuals, to justify war and to oppose family planning and birth control. That is a travesty which must be challenged and changed.

I wrote “Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World” to do precisely that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shelby-spong/why-i-wrote-re-claiming-t_b_1007399.html

Poll Conducted for Aspen Ideas Festival Shows ‘American Dream’ Unreachable for Most Americans 2006

US Newswire | July 6, 2006

Excerpt

…a new survey conducted by Dr. Douglas E. Schoen finds that a majority of Americans say they are not living the American Dream…Some of the key findings of the survey are as follows:– While 81 percent agree that America is the land of opportunity, the idea is not something that is being realized, it is simply an abstract concept. — Today, 61 percent of Americans say they are not living the American Dream.

Full text

Aspen, Colo., Jul 6, 2006 (U.S. Newswire via COMTEX) — With Americans having just celebrated their nation’s independence, a new survey conducted by Dr. Douglas E. Schoen finds that a majority of Americans say they are not living the American Dream. Dr. Schoen’s findings were presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival, a weeklong exploration of ideas across an array of timely topics that is being co-presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic magazine.

Some of the key findings of the survey are as follows:

– While 81 percent agree that America is the land of opportunity, the idea is not something that is being realized, it is simply an abstract concept.

– Today, 61 percent of Americans say they are not living the …

http://business.highbeam.com/1208/article-1G1-147885220/poll-conducted-aspen-ideas-festival-shows-american

Democrats

…the fundamental debate we should be having is not the size of government but what the goal of government should be: What should government’s central mission be?…for both policy and political reasons, the Democrats need to firmly pick the side of middle class and low income Americans, and not worry so much about preserving and protecting the establishment. The Mission of Government by Mike Lux

We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving…The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including oursA system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few… Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing. Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson, Common Dreams, June 18, 2012

Want to know how our political discourse got so mind-numbingly stupid? Well, we can start with this little fact:  The press is so enamored with “balance” that they’ll treat even the most ignorant, shallow, fatuous movement – a [Tea Party] movement composed of the selfish, the self-obsessed, the angry, the bigoted, and the blissfully ignorant – as if it were a serious movement.…At one time this kind of foolishness would have been laughed off the national stage. Now it dominates one of our major political parties, thanks to the media’s embrace of balance and false equivalence and the Democrats’ silent complicity….the press is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporations, and too many Democrats feed at the corporate trough. And that’s not funny, but it is stupid. Our Dumb Democracy: Why the Untied States of Stupid Still Reins Supreem by John Atcheson

… cov­er­age in 2012 was a par­tic­u­larly calami­tous fail­ure, almost entirely miss­ing the sin­gle biggest story of the race: Namely, the rad­i­cal right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Repub­li­can Party, both in terms of its agenda and its rela­tion­ship to the truth… Democ­rats were hardly inno­cent but…the Repub­li­can cam­paign was just far more over the top.”…exposed how fab­u­lists and liars can exploit the elite media’s fear of being seen as tak­ing sides… if the story that you’re telling repeat­edly is that they’re all…equally to blame — then you’re really doing a dis­ser­vice to vot­ers, and not doing what jour­nal­ism is supposed to do…How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign by Dan Froomkin

The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left 

…the debacle of the last ten years didn’t just happen. And, yes, plenty of people did see it coming. Their warnings were ignored. What followed, then, didn’t “just happen,” but was the consequence of conscious choice…it is important to discuss and determine the causes of the various messes we find ourselves in. (Even if we find along the way the fingerprints of some Democrats Who Should Have Known Better™.) It was a decade during which conservatives controlled both Congress and the White House, and could thus enact much of their agenda. … The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure by Terrance Heath

80-year study: Democrats better at economics by Paul Bedard

Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama? By Rick Ungar

Government’s moral authority

Why the Government Shutdown Is Unbiblical by Jim Wallis, Sojourners, posted on Huffingtonpost.com, Oct 3, 2013 – the poorest and most vulnerable who are always hurt the most in a crisis like this…that is our job in politics — to talk about what happens to them…The biblical purpose of government is to protect from evil and to promote the good.That vision of “common good” is what we have lost, and there is nothing more important in our public life than to find it again…To be opposed to government per se, especially when that opposition serves the ultimate power of other wealthy and powerful interests, is simply not a biblical position. Transparency, accountability, and service are the ethics of good government. “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” is still a good measure and goal of civil authority…

Conservatives With a Cause: ‘We’re Right’ By ASHLEY PARKER, New York Times,  September 30, 2013 — …what gives House Republicans the idea that they can triumph in their push to repeal, or at least delay, the Affordable Care Act when so many veteran voices in their party see it as an unwinnable fight? “Because we’re right, simply because we’re right,” said Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa…Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico, described the task facing his colleagues as perhaps quixotic, but ideologically critical…

Channeling the Populist Rage by Charles Colson and Catherine Larson, Christianity Today, April 7, 2010 …Americans have by and large lost faith in their institutions…at the beginning of the new millennium, 45 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing most of the time. Now less than a quarter do so…In some respects, the distrust is justified…people feel overwhelmed and powerless…
I think we are on the verge of witnessing, is a populist revolt….a massive wave of anti-government sentiment could shatter the political consensus, which may well leave the country virtually unmanageable. The inevitable consequence of all of this should deeply trouble Christians, who, of any segment of our society, understand the necessity of a strong government.
The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives.
Why is this? God recognizes that even a bad government is better than no government. No government leads to chaos and mob rule. When order breaks down, justice is inevitably undermined. As Augustine of Hippo argued, peace flows from order, and both are necessary preconditions to the preservation of liberty and some measure of human dignity and flourishing.
…We Christians are to be the best citizens, praying for our leaders and holding them in high regard, even as we push for the reforms desperately needed to keep representative government flourishing. Only when we funnel frustrations into constructive reformation can we expect a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. full text

Obama Returns to His Moral Vision: Democrats Read Carefully! by George Lakoff,GeorgeLakoff.com, April 17, 2011 -The policy topic happened to be the budget, but he called it “The Country We Believe In” for a reason. The real topic was how the progressive moral system defines the democratic ideals America was founded on, and how those ideals apply to specific issues. Obama’s moral vision, which he applied to the budget, is more general: it applies to every issue. All politics is moral. Political leaders put forth proposals on the assumption that their proposals are the right things to do, not the wrong things to do. But progressives and radical conservatives have very different ideas of right and wrong.
The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment. 

The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis, Huffington Post, November 9, 2012…The results of the presidential election showed how dramatically a very diverse America is changing; people are longing for a vision of the common good that includes everyone.…people of faith aren’t going to be entirely happy with any political leader, and they shouldn’t be. Many of them feel politically homeless in the raging battles between ideological extremes. But they could find their home in a new call for the common good — a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan. That requires a political engagement that emphasizes issues and people above personalities and partisanship.…Whether government is serving its biblical purpose of protecting from evil and promoting good, is more important than ideological debates about its size. How can we move from an ethic of endless growth to an ethic of sustainability, from short-term profits to longer term human flourishing, from the use and consumption of the earth to stewardship and creation care? Protecting “life” can no longer be restricted to a few issues, but must be consistently applied to wherever human life and dignity are threatened. The failure of strident and partisan efforts by people like Franklin Graham and Ralph Reed to narrow those issues in the final stages of this election was very evident and significant. More and more Christians, especially younger ones, now believe our congregations will be finally evaluated not merely by their correct doctrines, but by whether their missions are serving the “parishes” of this whole world; here and now, not just for the hereafter. The prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.

Ideas – Worldview – faith/values, reason

- work in progress 8/15/13

Worldview

…A person’s way of thinking and being is influenced by their worldview – the unique combination of attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions that inform how they personally understand and make sense of their place in the world…Toward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness by Richard Harmer,

Worldview – contrast progressive and conservative

… the great divide in our politics isn’t really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work bestThis deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development….A Tale of Two Moralities By Paul Krugman

Worldview – progressive

… the progressive moral system defines the democratic ideals America was founded on, and how those ideals apply to specific issues…All politics is moral….But progressives and radical conservatives have very different ideas of right and wrong. The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment. Obama Returns to His Moral Vision: Democrats Read Carefully! by George Lakoff

Con­science is at the heart of pro­gres­sivism…Con­science is the way our moral sense and our moral for­ma­tion come together to inform our actions in the world…in the pro­gres­sive view, con­science is not only inward and indi­vid­ual but is also directed toward cre­at­ing a more just and equi­table soci­ety The Progressive Conscience in Action by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, April 6, 2009

Worldview – conservative

….Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government… This is a long way from the conservatism I used to respect. Although I often disagreed with conservatives, I admired their prudence, their affection for tradition and their understanding that the intricate bonds of community are established with great difficulty over time and not easy to reweave once they are torn asunder. At their best, conservatives forced us to think harder….where’s the outrage about a conservatism that is losing both its intellectual moorings and its moral compass? The real conservative scandal By E.J. Dionne Jr

Religion trends

… the rise of secular spirituality in this country, a liberated set of values that exists largely outside organized religion… Religion was hijacked for political gain by the right wing beginning as far back as the Nixon era, yet there is a much stronger current of secular spirituality running through our history…..secular spirituality…now includes the following principles…– A spiritual duty to be benign stewards of the Earth and to preserve the ecology. — A responsibility to revere Nature and to be humble before it.– A duty to further peace among nations.– A pledge of nonviolence that will lead finally to total nuclear disarmament in our lifetime. — A refusal to use America’s super power for militaristic ends.– A sense of compassion for the poor and wretched beset by pandemic disease, lack of political influence, and denial of basic human rights….Nothing about secular spirituality is radical. Most of its principles are articles of belief for millions of average Americans who have largely been shut out of politics for eight years…. But secular spirituality isn’t limited to the left or the progressive movement in general. It is a national phenomenon, one that will swell steadily in the coming years, particularly among the young. Born after the divisive culture wars that gave the right wing its main chance, the younger generations yearn for new values….Nothing less than spiritual renewal is needed across the board… Obama And the Rise of Secular Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Dave Stewart, Beliefnet.com, January 18, 2009

A New Religious America — How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck

Moral authority

Moral quandaries often pit concerns about principles against concerns about practical consequences…we can encourage consistency in moral reasoning by viewing issues from many angles, discussing them with other people and monitoring our emotions closely…

The moral judgment system—the set of cognitive, emotional, social and motivational mechanisms responsible for producing our perceptions of right and wrong…If climate advocates and communicators want people to perceive climate change as a moral imperative—and they should given that our moral intuitions are powerful motivators of action—then they’ll need to develop creative, evidence-based ways of confronting the challenges discussed above.… Why Few Americans View Climate Change as a Moral Problem by Ezra Markowitz

Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts by Matthew Hutson, New York Times, March 30, 2013 -

Wisdom

Wis­dom means hav­ing the moral will to do right by other peo­ple, and to have the moral skill to fig­ure out what doing right means. This is not a new idea; it is some­thing that Aris­to­tle taught in ancient Greece…A wise per­son takes the overview…Com­pas­sion­ate action – the out­flow of wis­dom – hap­pens when we stop being the cen­ter of our concern. Then we can open up to a wider view of real­ity that includes the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers, as well as our own – and  respond with compassion. /wisdom/ Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension?  by Mary Jaksch

Higher level thinking

… a loose but growing collection of thinkers, activists, academics, and social entrepreneurs who are searching for the “unthinkable”—the new ways that we can’t see because of our old ways of looking… Systems of all kinds are breaking down and will continue to do so. In response, they champion ways of seeing and acting that acknowledge that the world is a chaotic, deeply interdependent place, a place that won’t yield to attempts to overpower it. We must come to understand…the nature of complexity, chaos, and interconnectedness—and to train ourselves in ways of acting that embrace this unmistakable reality. /why-we-need-new-ways-of-thinking-by-barry-boyce/ Why We Need New Ways of Thinking by Barry Boyce

Critical thinking or ignorance

...about 37 percent of Americans are just are not very bright…reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span…The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become…37 Percent of People Don’t Have a Clue About What’s Going on By Mark Morford

…the habit of asking critical questions can be taught. However, if you do not have a knowledge base from which to consider a situation, it is hard to think critically about it.  So ignorance often precludes effective critical thinking even if the technique is acquired… loyalty comes from myth-making and emotional bonds. In both cases, really effective critical thinking might well be incompatible with the desired end…The truth is that people who are consistently active as critical thinkers are not going to be popular, either with the government or their neighbors. The Decline of Critical Thinking, The Problem of Ignorance by Lawrence Davidson

Anti-intellectualism

…There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running think tanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologies…they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses…former Republican ideologues, David Frum warns that “conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics”. The result is a “shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology” which has “ominous real-world consequences for American society”… wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism. Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid…The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left by George Monbiot, The Guardian/UK, February 7, 2012

Truth and lies

A basic intent to be truthful, along with an assumption that people can be generally taken at their word, is required for all sustained civilized dealings…No civilization can tolerate a fixed expectation of dishonest communications without falling apart from a breakdown in mutual trust.… Our serious problem today is not simply that many people routinely tell lies…The problem now is that we seem to be reaching a dysfunctional tipping point in which an essential commitment to truthfulness no longer seems to be assumed in our society. If this is indeed the case, the danger is that the bonds of trust important in any society, and essential for a free and democratic one, will dissolve so that the kinds of discourse required to self-govern will become impossible. …As the Founders of our republic warned, the failure to cultivate virtue in citizens can be a lethal threat to any democracy. The Death of Honesty by William Damon

The Brain

… the current research suggests not only that having a particular brain influences your political views, but also that having a particular political view influences and changes your brain…Simply by living our lives, we change our brains. Our political affiliations, and the lifestyles that go along with them, probably condition many such changes… The Surprising Brain Differences Between Democrats and Republicans By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones,  February 15, 2013


 

Ideas – Crisis/Opportunity – Compassion – Empathy

Overview – Crisis/Opportunity

“The only answer can be denial. When you are sur­rounded by some­thing so big that requires you to change every­thing about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the nat­ural response. We are head­ing for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow col­lapse to over­take us or develop a new sus­tain­able eco­nomic model. We will choose the lat­ter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.” Paul Gild­ing

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves… The question is: What are people doing about it?It’s not because the population doesn’t want itIt’s institutional structures that block change.  Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one…It’s not that there are no alternatives.  The alternatives just aren’t being taken. That’s dangerous.  So if you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture.  Unless people do something about it.  We always can. Humanity Imperiled – The Path to Disaster by Noam Chomsky, Huffington Post, June 4, 2013

Two-thirds of people around the world think the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethical values that calls for more honesty, transparency and respect for others, according to a World Economic Forum poll. Almost as many named business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world, said the poll…Global economic crisis also values crisis - Davos poll by Tom Henegan, New Frontiers, Reuters, January 27, 2010

Compassion and Empathy

…before we can save ourselves from climate change we have to break a vicious circle and embrace a new model of society based on scientists’ new understanding of human nature…We have to think deeper, to think as a human family… Empathy is the invisible social glue that allows a complex individuated society to remain integratedThe Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin

Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you…. The Power of Compassion – Karen Armstrong

The moral judgment system—the set of cognitive, emotional, social and motivational mechanisms responsible for producing our perceptions of right and wrong …If climate advocates and communicators want people to perceive climate change as a moral imperative—and they should given that our moral intuitions are powerful motivators of action—then they’ll need to develop creative, evidence-based ways of confronting the challenges discussed above.…Why Few Americans View Climate Change as a Moral Problem by Ezra Markowitz BigThink.com, June 15, 2012

Common Good

peo­ple are long­ing for a vision of the com­mon good that includes every­one…a vision drawn from the heart of our reli­gious tra­di­tions that allows us to make our faith pub­lic but not nar­rowly par­ti­san. That requires a polit­i­cal engage­ment that empha­sizes issues and peo­ple above per­son­al­i­ties and partisanship…The pre­req­ui­site for solv­ing the deep­est prob­lems this coun­try and the world now face is a com­mit­ment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the com­mon good.… The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wal­lis

Government – economic policy

We’re Not Broke — We’ve Been Robbed, by Richard Kirsch, Other Words, November 27, 2013  www.CommonDreams.org

The Abject Failure of Reaganomics by Robert Parry, Consortium News, posted on CommonDreams.org October 18, 2013

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and MIKE McINTIRE, New York Times, October 5, 2013

Many in G.O.P. Offer Theory: Default Wouldn’t Be That Bad byJONATHAN WEISMAN, New York Times, October 8, 2013

Ignore the Spin: This Debt Ceiling Crisis is Not Politics as Usual

Trickle-Down Cruelty and the Politics of Austerity by Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed , July 11, 2011 …Any society that allows the market to constitute the axis and framing mechanisms for all social interactions has not just lost its sense of morality and responsibility; it is given up its claim on any vestige of a democratic future. Market fundamentalism along with its structure of extreme inequality and machinery of cruelty has proven to be a death sentence on democracy. The time has come…to rethink what a real democracy might look like and to consider what it will take to actually organize collectively to make it happen.

Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?   By Rick Ungar, Contributor, Op/Ed, Forbes.com, May 24, 2012…Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower…So, how have the Republicans managed to persuade Americans to buy into the whole “Obama as big spender” narrative?…

Four Deformations of the Apocalypse by David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, New York Times, August 31, 2010  .…Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.  This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy…debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party’s embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don’t matter if they result from tax cuts……it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.

80-year study: Democrats better at economics by Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner, August 17, 2012 – When it comes to which party is better for the economy, Republicans talk the talk, but it’s Democrats who deliver the goods according to an unusual 80-year study of the impact presidents have on growth, personal wealth, the stock market and even 401ks…according to Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box [by]  financial planner Bob Deitrick… CPA and educator Lew Goldfarb. Goldfarb blamed the conventional wisdom that Republican presidents are better economic managers on the inability of Democrats to tell their story. “Democrats stand on their message so poorly,” he said. “Republicans, on the other hand, win the salesmanship merit badge every single year.”..

The Big Picture: A 40-Year Scan of the Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America By Don Hazen and Colin Greer, AlterNet, October 3, 2011…They want to control and privatize government resources. Capitalism is exhausted here. It needs more public money. It’s always needed public money, it needs more now. When you look at the growth of capitalism in America from railroads all the way to the computer, it’s publicly funded…So the reinvention of capitalism is the issue, and the reinvention of government is what is happening. So capitalism is directly claiming public investment now…Charter schools are a very good case study for the [privatization] impulse.… forget whether or not they work, because they don’t. But even if they did they are not cheaper. Charter schools are simply the transfer of public money to profit-making activity. That’s the system they are steadily building — prisons, schools, public parks, there’s a conversion of the whole system into an investment of capital which is a major extension of what’s always been true. …

Battles of the Budget

Profits of World’s 100 Wealthiest Could End Poverty Four Times Over: Report

The Big Fail

The real deficit argument

Life, Death and Deficits

Add It Up: Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit by Paul Buchheit

60 Years of American Economic History, Told in 1 Graph

65 Years of Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Created Record ‘Inequality’ Not ‘Prosperity,’ says Report —  September 17, 2012 by Common Dreams — Common Dreams staff — A new study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which reviewed nearly 65 years of US tax policy and its impact on the overall economy, has found that though cutting the effective tax rate for the nation’s wealthiest is a great way to increase undesireable economic inequality, it does not—as Republican rhetoric so frequently claims—do anything to boost employment or fuel economic growth.……a one percent of GDP tax cut for the bottom 90% GDP growth, business investment, and a host of other economic indicators were all stronger during the 1990s, after taxes were raised on the rich, than during the supply-side eras of Presidents George W. Bush and Reagan

Numbers, Analysis Show 30 Years of Failed US Economic Policy

Lest We Forget: Why We Had A Financial Crisis by Steve Denning, Leadership| Forbes, November 22, 2011

Ten Years Of The Bush Tax Cuts By Pat Garofalo, The Progress Report, June 6, 2011

Behind Battle Over Debt, a War Over Government by Jackie Calmes, OpEd — New York Times, July 14, 2011

Understanding Bushonomics: How We Got Into This Mess In the First Place by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, Ryan Powers, and Igor Volsky„ The Progress Report for the Center for American Progress, August 7, 2008

Deficit Predators: Everything You Need to Know About the Twisted, Dangerous Debt Ceiling Fight By James K. Galbraith, New Deal 2.0, July 11, 2011