Articles and excerpts Nov/Dec 2014

Organizer in Chief? by Peter Dreier, first posted on The Huffington Post, posted on BillMoyers.com, 12/13/14  re: Barack Obama after 2016

Coalition Launches to Lead Global Fight For Open Internet and Digital Democracy By Nadia Prupis, staff writer, Common Dreams, November 26, 2014 – ‘Net neutrality is not an American issue, or a European issue, or an African issue. It is increasingly a global human rights issue.’ – As a movement crystallizes around the future of the Internet, more than 35 human rights and technology organizations from 19 countries have come together as a new coalition to define and protect the idea of ‘net neutrality’ as they lead what they say is a global battle to protect the Open Internet and online freedom. The numerous and diverse groups—coming together as the ‘This Is Net Neutrality’ coalition—released a joint statement (made available in eleven languages) expressing their shared purpose…The open Internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation and access to knowledge and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe.

Pope Francis And Other Religious Leaders Sign Declaration Against Modern Slavery By Guilia Belardelli, L’Huffington Post,  12/02/2014,  Empathy, love, respect, equality: these are the common denominators which caused the leaders of the world’s major religions to sign a declaration committed to the elimination of slavery and human trafficking by the year 2020 today at the Vatican..For the first time in history, major Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Christian authorities, along with leaders of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim religions, met to sign a shared commitment against modern slavery, which is considered a crime against humanity. “We consider any action which does not treat others as equals to be an abhorrent crime,” Pope Francis said. “God is a love that is manifested in every human being; everyone is equal and ought to be afforded the same liberty and dignity.”

Persons, People, and Public Policy by Ron Cebik, Psychotherapist and Teacher, HuffingtonPost.com, 10/20/2013 …The tragic truth is that an angst-driven minority can dominate a well-meaning progressive majority through threats of disrupting the structures designed to maintain a stable social system. The answer to this threat is enough people to maintain a posture of non-anxious reaction to the chaos engendered by the frightened angry minority. The future of American and global well-being is dependent on raising the level of self-aware conscientious independent citizenry who ultimately consider their highest allegiance to be humanity itself.

Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet, December 2, 2014

Why Millions of Christian Evangelicals Oppose Obamacare and Civil Rights By Daniel Silliman, Religion Dispatches, December 8, 2014 

New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution By Joseph Stromberg, smithsonian.com, October 23, 2012  …grandmothering helped us to develop “a whole array of social capacities that are then the foundation for the evolution of other distinctly human traits, including pair bonding, bigger brains, learning new skills and our tendency for cooperation.”… From an evolutionary perspective, it makes more sense for older females to increase the group’s overall offspring survival rate instead of spending more energy on producing their own….the social relations that go along with grandmothering could have contributed to the larger brains and other traits that distinguish humans…“Grandmothering gave us the kind of upbringing that made us more dependent on each other socially and prone to engage each other’s attention.”...The theory is by no means definitive, but the new mathematical evidence serves as another crucial piece of support for it. This could help anthropologists better understand human evolution—and should give you another reason to go thank your grandmother.

The Real Origins of the Religious Right By RANDALL BALMER, Politico.com, May 27, 2014  They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation. Posted on Facebook by the Christian Left, 12-9-14 with commentary: We’ve been aware of this for some time but we were recently reminded of it. The “Christian” Right was originally brewed up to defend racism parading as “Religious Freedom.” When the founders realized they couldn’t flaunt racism in the open they threw up abortion instead. They would use whatever issue was handy, and they had tried most of them before. Abortion was their golden egg and they ran with it.

Jeb Bush’s Damning Secret History By Joe Conason, AlterNet, December 4, 2014  

Progressives to Dems on Budget Deal: ‘We Will Remember This Betrayal’
by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, December 12, 2014 – “People are fed up and they are watching for any sign of betrayal. No more backroom deals that help Wall Street, the giant corporations, the 1 percent, the polluters, the fraudsters, the vote-riggers, the haters, the tax-dodgers, the outsourcers, the union busters, the wage-thievers, the pension-cutters and the rest of those who are rigging the system against the rest of us.” Dave Johnson, Campaign for America’s Future

America’s Obscenely Rich Know Full Well That They Are Destroying America By Jim Sleeper, AlterNet, December 9, 2014  …more than a few of these writers resigned and these students marched because they’re indignant as citizens. The eerie dislocations of journalism and criminal justice are only the most recent developments since the passage of the USA Patriot Act, the perpetration of the Iraq War, the capitalist predation and regulatory defaults that have thrown millions of Americans out of their homes and jobs, the revelations about Orwellian state and corporate surveillance that have coalesced into a crisis of legitimacy for the American constitutional system and capitalist republic. Hannah Arendt described the importance of “speech acts” in politics, warning against letting words and deeds get so far apart that the words become empty and the deeds become brutal. Consider first today’s journalistic vortex of increasingly empty words…transformation of American news and opinion outlets into what his CEO Guy Vidra calls “vertically integrated digital media companies.” These ventures break down voices of the American republic into market-driven metrics and repurpose them …to maximize profit, not public deliberation…The answer isn’t that they misread what journalism, politics and capitalism in America are becoming. They read it only too well. The answer is that, like so many other young, market-molded Americans, they don’t understand how the perversion of public life by tsunamis of marketing, financing and technological innovation has decontextualized and overwhelmed thoughtful writing, reading and the habits of mind and heart that sustain republican deliberation and institutions. It is impossible to exaggerate the physical as well as moral danger we are in as a result. We’ve been sleepwalking or dancing up the garden path into it. The American republic – and therefore our expectation that we can express controversial political opinions without going to prison – depends on those habits.…their own lives are spun so finely around commodification that they’ve become its creatures. They may crave a token or two of civic credibility…they lack the civic grounding, the nerve ends, the viscera and the body scars that enable most people to distinguish surface gestures from substantive struggles, and bought speech from real political speech…Although we like to think of ourselves as free men and women, many people’s pressing needs and fears prompted a foot-shuffling deference to power…Leadership to interpret and address the crisis of legitimacy that’s upon us will have to come from people who’ve shared their neighbors’ experiences of expediency and dependency and have found the strength and talent to see past the usual snares and delusions. But in a republic, some citizens have to uphold codes of honor and civic loyalty that are strong enough to keep power responsive to social purposes that can’t be met by markets and can’t be bought off or finessed by them. If capitalism becomes predatory and insinuating, citizens’ codes and trust of one another become empty, the stuff of slick videos and click-bait that lead to slavery. And the predators lose their ability to tell the difference: “Few tricks of the unsophisticated intellect are more curious than the naïve psychology of the business man, who ascribes his achievements to his own unaided efforts, in bland unconsciousness of a social order without whose continuous support and vigilant protection he would be as a lamb bleating in the desert.” That was written by the British economic historian R.H. Tawney in May 1926, in the New Republic — whose present owner is bewildered and bleating. But journalism isn’t justice. It would take a lot more disciplined defiance to make prosecutors and police officers bleat, too. From Nathan Hale and Thomas Paine to Jonathan Schell and Edward Snowden, some Americans have always emerged to announce the need and others to lead in breaking ties that had to be broken and framing new understandings and courses of action that had to be tried.  

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