Articles, excerpts Feb 6 to 15

Obama’s Budget Lays Out an Ambitious Evidence-Based Policy Agenda by Elaine Kamarck, brookings.edu, February 5, 2015

Obama Condemns ‘Distorted’ Faith at National Prayer Breakfast by Adelle M. Banks, God’s Politics Blog, Sojourners, 02-05-2015 President Obama on Feb. 5 called for an emphasis on what is just about the world’s religions as a way to counter the ways faith has been distorted across the globe. “We see faith driving us to do right,” he said to more than 3,500 people attending the annual National Prayer Breakfast. “But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or worse, sometimes used as a weapon.” He urged believers of all faiths to practice humility, support church-state separation and adhere to the Golden Rule as ways to keep religion in its proper context. “As people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends,” Obama said. “Here at home and around the world we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom: freedom of religion, the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”

America’s Billionaires Are Turning Public Parks Into Playgrounds for the Wealthy By Inga Saffron, New Republic,  February 2, 2015

Climate Change Is Violence By Rebecca Solnit, Trinity University, February 5, 2015  Book Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness - essay, “Climate Change Is Violence” – Climate change is global-scale violence against places and species, as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values….People revolt when their lives are unbearable. Sometimes material reality creates that unbearableness: droughts, plagues, storms, floods. But food and medical care, health and well-being, access to housing and education— these things are also governed by economic means and government policy. That’s what the revolt called Occupy Wall Street was against….In every arena, we need to look at industrial-scale and systemic violence, not just the hands-on violence of the less powerful. When it comes to climate change, this is particularly true. Exxon has decided to bet that we can’t make the corporation keep its reserves in the ground, and the company is reassuring its investors that it will continue to profit off the rapid, violent, and intentional destruction of the Earth. That’s a tired phrase, the destruction of the Earth, but translate it into the face of a starving child and a barren field— and then multiply that a few million times….Climate change is global-scale violence against places and species, as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality.

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Majority of Americans Want Lawmakers to Take Action on Climate by Sarah Lazare commondreams.org, January 30, 2015 ‘The American people seem far more unified than our political leadership on the need to address climate change

Poll by Politico: Minnesota Is Best State In The Nation January 20, 2015 Minnesota was tied with New Hampshire for the top spot, with Minnesota trumping its rival in lower levels of unemployment and obesity, and more home ownership, high school graduates and better life expectancy.

Hating Good Government by Paul Krugman, New York Times, Jan 19, 2015 …Evidence doesn’t matter for the “debate” over climate policy… at this point it’s hard to think of a major policy dispute where facts actually do matter; it’s unshakable dogma, across the board…If evidence mattered, supply-side economics would have faded into obscurity decades ago. Instead, it has only strengthened its grip on the Republican Party…On issues that range from monetary policy to the control of infectious disease, a big chunk of America’s body politic holds views that are completely at odds with, and completely unmovable by, actual experience. And no matter the issue, it’s the same chunk….And why do these issues go together, with the set of people insisting that climate change is a hoax pretty much the same as the set of people insisting that any attempt at providing universal health insurance must lead to disaster and tyranny?…the immovable position in each of these cases is bound up with rejecting any role for government that serves the public interest…And why this hatred of government in the public interest? … most self-proclaimed conservatives are actually reactionaries. That is, they’re defenders of traditional hierarchy — the kind of hierarchy that is threatened by any expansion of government… the fact is that we’re living in a political era in which facts don’t matter. This doesn’t mean that those of us who care about evidence should stop seeking it out…

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