tagged w/ political expedience
It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people. Official Washington continues to see poverty with tunnel vision – “out of sight, out of mind.”
And we’re not speaking just of Paul Ryan and his Draconian budget plan or Mitt Romney and their fellow Republicans. Tipping their hats to America’s impoverished while themselves seeking handouts from billionaires and corporations is a bad habit that includes President Obama, who of all people should know better.
Remember: for three years in the 1980’s he was a community organizer in Roseland, one of the worst, most poverty-stricken and despair-driven neighborhoods in Chicago. He called it “the best education I ever had.” And when Obama left to go to Harvard Law School, author Paul Tough writes in The New York Times, he did so, “to gain the knowledge and resources that would allow him to eventually return and tackle the neighborhood’s problems anew.” There’s a moving line in Dreams from My Father where Obama writes: “I would learn power’s currency in all its intricacy and detail” and “bring it back like Promethean fire.”
Oddly, though, for all his rhetorical skills, Obama hasn’t made a single speech devoted to poverty since he moved into the White House.
Five years ago, he was one of the few politicians who would talk about it. Here he is in July 2007, speaking in Anacostia, one of the poorest parts of Washington, D.C.:
“The moral question about poverty in America — How can a country like this allow it? — has an easy answer: we can’t. The political question that follows — What do we do about it? – has always been more difficult. But now that we’re finally seeing the beginnings of an answer, this country has an obligation to keep trying.”
Barack Obama the candidate said he wanted to spend billions on a nationwide program similar to Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children Zone in New York City, widely praised for its focus on comprehensive child development. In the last three years, only $40 million have been spent with another $60 million scheduled for local community grants.
Obama’s White House team insisted their intentions were good, but the depth of the economic meltdown passed along by their predecessors has kept them from doing more. And yes, billions have been spent on direct aid to families in the form of welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and other payments. What’s needed, as Paul Tough at the Times and others say, is a less scattershot, more comprehensive program that gets to the root of the problem, focusing on education and mentoring. Not easy to do when a disaffected middle class that votes says hey, what about us? — and the wealthy one percent who lay out the fat campaign contributions simply say, so what?
Just a few days ago, The Chronicle of Philanthropy issued a report on charitable giving. Among its findings: “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.” Responding to that study, social psychologist Paul Piff told National Public Radio, “The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become.”
Those few who dedicate themselves to keeping the poor ever in sight realize how grave the situation really is. The Associated Press reports that, “The number of Americans with incomes at or below 125 percent of the poverty level is expected to reach an all-time high of 66 million this year.” A family of four earning 125 percent of the federal poverty level makes about $28,800 a year, according to government figures.
That number’s important because 125 percent is the income limit to qualify for legal aid, but although that family may qualify for help, budgets for legal services have been slashed, too, and pro bono work at the big law firms has fallen victim to downsizing. So it’s not surprising, the AP goes on to say, that there’s a crisis in America’s civil courts because people slammed by the financial meltdown — overwhelmed by foreclosure, debt collection and bankruptcy cases – can’t afford legal representation and have to represent themselves, creating gridlock in our justice system — and one more hammer blow for the poor.
We know, we know: It is written that, “The poor will always be with us.” But when it comes to our “out of sight, out of mind” population of the poor, you have to think we can help reduce their number, ease the suffering, and speak out, with whatever means at hand, on their behalf and against those who would prefer they remain invisible.
Speak out: that means you and me, and yes, Mr. President, you, too. You once told the big bankers on Wall Street that you were all that stood between them and the pitchforks of an angry public. How about telling the poor you will make sure our government stands between them and the cliff?It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no... more
How much more proof do we need?
Few scientists doubt that Earth's climate is changing and growing warmer. Only a small number of skeptics dispute that humans are a prime cause of the problem.
But still, as a nation, we dither. The United States is among the world's top three emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, along with China and India.
And yet our so-called leaders continue to tiptoe around the issue as if they might wake a sleeping baby.
At least some people are awakening. They've slept late, but they're awakening nonetheless.
UC Berkeley physics Professor Richard Muller has joined the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is real, and that human-caused pollution is a major culprit.
Describing his "total turnaround," Muller wrote in a Sunday column for The New York Times: "Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. "I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause."
This summer offers a sense of the consequences of inaction. We've seen massive drought, Colorado on fire, and the hottest day in Atlanta in its recorded history. While it's impossible to tie specific events to climate change, these are exactly the kinds of extremes predicted by the climate models scientists have been developing for decades. And we will witness increasingly dramatic and dire climate calamities unless emissions are brought under control.
On the campaign trail, there is plenty of vague talk about "energy independence" or "clean energy," with both presidential candidates ducking what policies they will pursue to reduce greenhouse gases.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has been a major flip-flopper, depending on the audience, providing little confidence that he knows where he stands.
In 2003, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney said climate change "is beginning to affect our natural resources and that now is the time to take action." In 2005 he supported the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system among Massachusetts and eight other states, calling it a "great thing" for Massachusetts' jobs and economy.
Then he got cold feet and withdrew his support.
Fast forward to the current campaign, and Romney has been all over the map.
In June 2011, he said, "I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you're seeing."
A few months later, he said the opposite: "My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course."
Obama made climate change a priority in running for president in 2008, saying future generations would look back and say, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
But he has backed off in the face of Republican opposition in Congress. On the campaign trail this year, he talks about "energy." Addressing climate change is a promise Obama has failed to deliver upon.
Both candidates must be pressed on what policies they would pursue, nationally and globally. If Muller can change his tune on climate change, Obama and Romney can at least discuss the issue and offer solutions. The stakes involved couldn't be higher.
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/08/01/2308493/presidential-contenders-cant-duck.html#storylink=cpy
http://disasterandemergencysurvival.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Global-Warming.jpgHow much more proof do we need?
Few scientists doubt that Earth's climate is... more
In May 1998, at the urging of the state's coal industry, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and forbidding state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Barack Obama voted "aye."
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee now calls climate change "one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation," and proposes cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050. But as a state senator, from 1997 to 2004, he usually supported bills sought by coal interests, according to legislative records and interviews.
Obama is not the only politician whose public stance has shifted on global warming, which a scientific consensus says has been caused chiefly by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who now backs limits on carbon emissions, was among 95 U.S. senators who voted in 1997 to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions reduction scheme that had been negotiated by then-vice president Al Gore.
Still, Obama, who touts his independence from special interests, made a point of embracing the coal industry as part of his quest for statewide office. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was flanked by mine workers to proclaim that "there's always going to be a role for coal" in Illinois.
Obama's other votes on coal in the state Senate included:
• In 1997, he voted to divert sales taxes to a fund for grants to help reopening closed coal mines and "incentives to attract new businesses that use coal."
• In 2001, Obama voted for legislation that offered $3.5 billion in loan guarantees to build coal-fired power plants with no ability to control carbon emissions.
• In 2003, he voted to allow $300 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to build or expand coal-fired power plants.
"You know, I am a strong supporter, I think, of downstate coal interests and our need to prop up and improve the outputs downstate," Obama said on the Senate floor before voting on the 2001 bill.
I expect to see this from a Republican. I expected better from a Democrat. In May 1998, at the urging of the state's coal industry, the Illinois Legislature... more
"I am of two minds about this." ...idiot.
5 years ago
Read the full text of the remarks of Senator Barack Obama
"A More Perfect Union"
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations . . .
Read the full text of the remarks of Senator Barack Obama
"A More Perfect... more
5 years ago