America Has Turned Its Back on Its Poorest Families

  • America Has Turned Its Back on Its Poorest Families (behind paywall), Ezra Klein

    The expanded child tax credit. It gave parents $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under age 6. There were no strings attached. It was just money. It could be used for child care, for food, for clothes, for anything. It treated parents, even poor parents, as the experts on their family’s finances, a quietly radical idea in American social policy. It was a huge experiment, it was studied exhaustively, and we can now say this definitively: It worked…

    The Biden administration added an extension in Build Back Better, but that bill died, and there’s no immediate hope of revival. Once again, we are accepting our prepandemic levels of child poverty as a permanent feature of our democracy.

    And so the Biden administration’s single biggest policy success has turned, for now, into a signal political failure.

    READ MORE (behind paywall)

Opposition to NATO Expansion

  • Opposition to NATO Expansion

    On June 26, 1997 a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts that included former senators, retired military officers, diplomats and academicians, sent an open letter to President Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion. They said, “We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability… Because of these serious objections, and in the absence of any reason for rapid decision, we strongly urge that the NATO expansion process be suspended… In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance [to arms control treaties]…”

    On February 21, 2022, after Russia had invaded Ukraine, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman published “This Is Putin’s War. But America and NATO Aren’t Innocent Bystanders” in which he reported:

    On May 2, 1998, immediately after the Senate ratified NATO expansion, I called George Kennan, the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union. Having joined the State Department in 1926 and served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow in 1952, Kennan was arguably America’s greatest expert on Russia….I asked for his opinion of NATO expansion. [He answered]:

    “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever… Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime…” (Posted in Political/Foreign Policy)

Dr. Cornel West: Philosophy in Our Time of Imperial Decay (Video)

  • Dr. Cornel West: Philosophy in Our Time of Imperial Decay. American philosopher, political activist, social critic, and educator public lecture.

    “SirFortesque: Is any living human being gonna try to tell me that you couldn’t listen to Dr West talk about any topic for hours on end and just feel better about your life and want to hug somebody? Who else can seamlessly meld Philosophy, Literature, History, Music, Religion, Politics, and Ethics together in such a manner that you smile for no reason while challenging your beliefs. The vast knowledge from so many diverse fields and a computer-like memory mixed with the outpouring and nonjudgmental LOVE just envelops me every time i hear this world treasure speak. This is the sort of Christian warrior that even as an Atheist I find so mesmerizing. He can critique anything without being condescending or mean-spirited. I feel honored to be able to watch this man.” (Posted Systemic/Videos)

Day of Affirmation Address, RFK

“…The second danger is that of expediency; of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities. Of course if we must act effectively we must deal with the world as it is. We must get things done. But if there was one thing that President Kennedy stood for that touched the most profound feeling of young people across the world, it was the belief that idealism, high aspiration and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs – that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities – no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hard-headed to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values, although we all know some who claim that it is so. In my judgement, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief; forces ultimately more powerful than all the calculations of our economists or of our generals. Of course to adhere to standards, to idealism, to vision in the face of immediate dangers takes great courage and takes self-confidence. But we also know that only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly…” (READ MORE)

Why Cultures of Care?

  • Why Cultures of Care?

    Cultures of Care celebrates people that practice collective care in unconventional and insurgent ways. Care is an essential, immediate and practical way to create belonging. Perhaps most vitally in our urgent times, at the heart of each profile you will find provocations that are seeds for reshaping society and how we relate to each other and the world.

    Cultures of Care was initiated in the fall of 2020 as we faced a deepening pandemic and economic inequality, popular uprisings against state-sanctioned violence against Black people, an expanding border wall and a deluge of traumatic climate events. These conditions continue to grow today. In the chaos, isolation and fear of these multiple storms, we also witness beautiful points of shelter. These practices center an ethos of collective care in the face of multiple forms of overlapping othering and oppression. Some of these are new and emergent, like harnessing technology to adapt to social isolation. Others are long-standing, such as stewarding ancestral lands through fire. Most, if not all, are an evolving mix of new and old ways to practice collective care. Cultures of Care are practices that create belonging in the context of othering. A Culture of Care is an affirmative, generative form of resistance and adaptation…. (Posted in Systemic/Articles)

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The Enemies of Liberalism Are Showing Us What It Really Means

The Enemies of Liberalism Are Showing Us What It Really Means

By Ezra Klein

“After three decades of dominance, liberalism is losing its hold on Western minds,” Matthew Rose writes in his powerful new book, “A World After Liberalism.”

Rose does not mean liberalism in the way we typically use the word. This is not about supporting universal health care or disagreeing with Justice Samuel Alito. Rose means liberalism as in the shared assumptions of the West: a belief in human dignity, universal rights, individual flourishing and the consent of the governed.

That liberalism has been battered by financial crises, the climate crisis, checkered pandemic responses, right-wing populists and a rising China. It seems exhausted, ground down, defined by the contradictions and broken promises that follow victory rather than the creativity and aspiration that attend struggle.

At least, it did.

READ MORE

The Shame Industrial Complex Is Booming. Who’s Cashing In?

The Shame Industrial Complex Is Booming. Who’s Cashing In? (behind paywall), Alissa Bennett, The New York Times.

Where “The Shame Machine” seems to rattle off its tracks is in O’Neil’s discussion of what she refers to as “healthy shaming” — let’s call it a lateral punch. The lateral punch is the blow that we strike against people who do not share our social value systems; it’s the self-righteous bravado we feel when we tell an internet stranger, after the fact, to put his mask on; it’s the thrill of watching someone be reprimanded when they violate our understanding of how things should be. Though O’Neil outlines how the lateral punch often successfully influences behaviors that result in a genuine collective benefit (she provides Covid-19 vaccinations as an example), she neglects to fully excavate what role sheer pleasure plays in our impulse to shame in those situations that have neither obvious victim nor victimizer. It seems disingenuous to ignore what is quietly at play in even the “healthiest” of shaming: a request for compliance that is hinged to a threat of ostracization. The basic “us” versus “you” dichotomy that foregrounds even the most benign of shaming always stands in the shadow of the hierarchical tower.

sted on Domination/Partnership.

The Shaming-Industrial Complex

The Shaming-Industrial Complex, Becca Rothfeld.

,,,the book ends by recommending that we “detoxify our relations.” It’s self-improvement that’s paramount. We should stop feeling shame, and we should stop inflicting it. “Don’t get outraged—or at least don’t make a habit of it.”

But how much does it matter whether we make a habit of it? The suggestion that our emotional practices have such outsized political import belongs to a dubious theory of cultural change. There is little evidence that electoral havoc is an offshoot of private insecurities, to be discussed and dismantled on the psychoanalyst’s couch. Vicious gerrymandering and laws that continue to disenfranchise millions are at least as consequential as a handful of private outbursts.

The force of shame stems from its status as a social condition, not from its emotional resonance. The bad feelings that shamings instill are incidental to the material injuries they inflict. No matter how supreme our sanguinity, how unshakable our equipoise, people who get raked over the coals online can expect to find themselves jobless in the aftermath,….

“The trolling works only when the target is ashamed,” she writes sunnily, concluding that “shamelessness can be a healthy and freeing response.” But if fat-shaming is the result of the weight-loss industry’s machinations, we almost certainly cannot alter our feelings without altering the institutional arrangements that support them. Flanagan may be right that emotions are culturally specific—but we will still have to change a culture in order to change the emotions that it generates. How effective can a personal crusade really be when the gears of the shame machine go on grinding? (Posted in Systemic Resources/Domination-Partnership)

Intergenerational Poem: Where I Come From

— presented to the Voice of Witness group, March 2022 in response to:

Where do you come and what is your identity?

From dust to dust

Filled with spirit briefly

Dying from the moment of birth

Living with cancer

Multiple myeloma

Treatable but not curable

Progression-free at the moment

Cancer-drug side-effects troublesome

Prognosis uncertain

Death knocks at my door

As it knocks at your door 

Nevertheless

I live as fully as possible

As long as possible

A human being

Nothing more

Nothing less

Trying to make the most of my time

Trying to reverse humanity’s downward spiral

Trying to spread commitment to compassion and justice 

Planting seeds for a global moral humanity movement

Cultivating a world that serves humanity, the environment, and life itself

Trying to be a better human being

Trying to avoid demonizing others

Trying to be a more effective activist

Trying to learn, learn, learn

Taking care of myself so I can better serve others

Loving the universe

Communing with Mother Nature

Enjoying life

Promoting Truth, Justice, and Beauty

Three sides of the same coin

Looking for more soul mates on the same path

Soul mates who don’t 

Always 

Ask, What’s in it for me?

Soul mates who realize they’re not the point

Humanity is the point

Life is the point

Looking for soul mates who protect life

Protect the planet

Relieve suffering

Eliminate the causes of preventable suffering

Soul mates who 

Identify as a member of the human race

Looking for more soul mates who do the right thing

Organize, educate, agitate

Push, push, push

Take chances

Nurture peace

Holistic democracy

Human rights

Civil rights

Economic rights

Labor rights

Voting rights

Environmental sustainability

Democratic equality

Compassion and justice

Everyone’s infinite value

Demand Washington respect the will of the people

And establish economic security and justice for all

Looking for soul mates who are true to themselves

True to their higher angels

Soul mates who 

Live the way they want everyone to live

And recognize others will do the same

Soul mates who are humble
Make judgments without being judgmental

Refrain from assuming moral superiority

Soul mates who neither dominate nor submit

Who know how to be a partner

Co-equal

With mutual respect

Soul mates who listen as much as they talk

Soul mates on the same path

Who seek the Beloved Community

Help each other unlearn divisive social conditioning

Internalized oppression

That undermines unity

Soul mates who are simply a human being

Enspirited flesh

Enfleshed spirit

Seeking, seeking

Always seeking

As death knocks at the door

Whether or not 

You know it

–Wade Lee Hudson