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Thursday, February 14, 2013

SOTU subterfuge not believed by all, some went deeper

Child poverty USA
What U.S. president fails to address, others voice boldly: poverty, endless war on his watch and going forward
Editing, re-reporting, comment by 
Carolyn Bennett

Courage addresses underlying issues

Homeless in the USA
Cathy Cohen, Kathy Kelly and Bob Herbert participated yesterday in a post-State of the Union discussion and took some of the gloss off the presidential performance and got to some tough domestic and foreign issues. Violence has roots, core, and consequences at home and abroad.

“We all continue to mourn Hadiya’s death,” Cathy Cohen said. Hadiya Pendleton was the young girl who was shot dead in a Chicago South Side park a week after having performed with her high school band at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

“We continue to mourn the deaths of all of our young people who are being killed by gun violence,” Professor Cohen said, “but we are still waiting for a comprehensive discussion from the president, a comprehensive speech to talk about all the underlying factors that contribute to gun violence.

“We are still waiting for him [the president is scheduled to visit Chicago tomorrow] … to talk about the ─

Unemployment that young people face
Inadequate schooling that they face
Problematic policies around incarceration
Trauma [young people] face from violence and unemployment in their neighborhoods

Dr. Cathy Cohen
“The truth is,” she said, “without that type of discussion, we are never going to move forward in really trying to deal with and stem the violence in the lives of these young people.”

r. Cathy J. Cohen (b.1962) is an American author, feminist, social activist, and David and Mary Winton Green Professor in Political Science at the University of Chicago. Before going to the University of Chicago, she was on the faculty at Yale University. Her doctorate was taken at the University of Michigan. She has served as secretary of the American Political Science Association (APSA); and, as an academic activist, she frequently writes and speaks about gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and their interrelatedness and connection to power.

Professor Cohen is one of the founding board members of the Audre Lorde Project and is active in a number of organizations working on social justice issues. In 2010, she moderated the plenary sessions of the Applied Research Center’s conference “Popularizing Racial Justice.” She is the principal researcher on the www.blackyouthproject.com and author of Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the future of American politics and boundaries of Blackness; AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics.

e keep watching young people die in our city,” Dr. Cohen said, “and it seems that somehow the country does not understand … the worth of their lives.…

“We had heard elites and leaders talk about the president coming home, but we felt there needed to be … the added voice of thousands of people telling the president that he needed to come to Chicago. He needed to come home and he needed to talk about gun violence in a comprehensive way.”

Cohen was talking about a petition launched by the Black Youth Project to bring the president home to his hometown, Chicago, and address underlying issues. “We thought it would be critical to have someone who had gone through that loss,” the loss of someone by gun violence in Chicago, she said, “asking the president to come home and speak about gun violence … [and] about 10 days after Hadiya Pendleton’s death, there were more than 47,000 signatures.”

War and poverty
POVERTY and failure to care

In his turn in the Democracy Now discussion, Bob Herbert said, “The big problem—the biggest problem facing the country still is employment:

Too many people out of work
Too many people underemployed

Poverty is expanding

Median income has decreased since the recession ended
Median income has decreased in the recovery period

50 million (est.) people who are officially poor in the United States

Another 50 million are near poor ─ close to one third of the entire U.S. population

Yet we are in a period of austerity.

 glaring absence in the president’s State of the Union speech, Professor Cohen joined Herbert, “is a real discussion, a serious discussion of poverty.

“We talk about aspiring to the middle class, expanding the middle class, and these are all good things for us to focus on; but there are, as Bob said, almost a third of the country impoverished or close to poverty.”

What to do

“We have to have a clearer sense about what we are going to do for those communities, for those individuals, to really change their lives and provide them with real opportunities for mobility,” Cohen said.

“There is no way to address challenges as enormous as these without making enormous investments,” Herbert added. “I don’t know how we make headway if we’re not going to make investments in those things that ultimately will put people back to work.… We need to rebuild infrastructure, invest in research and development.” 

Weatherizing buildings from coast to coast, which would put lower-income people to work; all of those things cost money, yet the president emphasized in his speech that nothing he was  proposing will add even a dime to the budget deficits ─ so one part of the speech is fighting another.”

Another way of putting it is to say the president was talking out of both sides of his mouth. There’s also another way of putting it that I will leave to others to put.

obert (Bob) Herbert (b. 1945) is an American journalist/op-ed columnist who writes frequently on poverty, the Iraq war, racism and American political apathy toward issues of race. Until 2011, he wrote a syndicated column for The New York Times and other sources. In June 2011, Herbert joined the national think-tank Demos as a Distinguished Senior Fellow. He writes for the Demos blog PolicyShop; and The American Prospect magazine, which merged with Demos in 2010. Herbert is author of Promises Betrayed: Waking up from the American Dream (2005).

If we were to address climate change the way we addressed challenges earlier in history, Herbert said, “We would do something about this.

Put people to work.
Do research and development.
Do conservation.
Weatherize buildings from coast to coast.

We would begin to develop new products, new automobiles, new forms of energy … which become the driving force for industry … another way to revitalize the economy, and put people back to work

COWARDS, the corrupt find tough choices taboo, untouchable

Rebuilding, investing, and taboo of all, exacting fair-share taxes, but Herbert says, “We should be raising taxes.” Although this might be “heresy” ─ not an issue that has political resonance in Washington ─ “we should be raising taxes on everyone because we must raise revenue to make investments, required long-term investments.

“The taxes on those near the top,” he said, “ought to be raised much more than on middle-income and lower-income people.”


wight David Eisenhower, America’s 34th president, said in “The Chance for Peace,” a speech he gave in 1953:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

U.S. post-war
Iraq's birth-defect children
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000-population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed [thousands].

U.S. post war
Iraq's wounded children
“This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense,” President Eisenhower said. “Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

60 years on at home and abroad
ENDLESS WAR, poverty, abuses of human rights, liberty

It is untrue, as is often touted by government and other sources, that the war in Afghanistan is a “humanitarian war; that we are there to protect widows and orphans and women and children,” Kathy Kelly said in her turn on yesterday’s Democracy Now post-State of the Union special.

The fact is that “conditions for people in Afghanistan are deplorable. … Over a million children under the age of five are suffering acute malnutrition.
U.S. at war
Afghanistan's civilians

“Expenditures made by United States development groups are now approaching $100 billion; yet Afghanistan is still considered one of the worst places in the world in which a person can live—
U.S. at war
Yemen's children

35 percent unemployment among men
Education system completely corrupt 

Corruption closely linked to ways the United States puts money in the pockets of corrupt warlords all across Afghanistan.

And the president’s claim that the United States is going to be able to effectively train the many different militarized forces in Afghanistan, Kelly says, “is very hard to believe because so many of the people who are drafted into Afghanistan’s military are illiterate.” Many people “are there because they are desperate for money.”

Now and into the future, “civilians are at high risk; antagonism toward the United States continues to rise; the Taliban have said that until all [foreign] troops are out, they will continue to fight,” Kelly reports. Afghans continue to be saddled with ongoing war.

athy Kelly (b. 1952, Chicago) is an American peace activist, pacifist, author, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare; and a founding member of Voices in the Wilderness. As part of peace team work in several countries, she has traveled to Iraq twenty-six times, notably remaining in combat zones during the early days of both U.S.-Iraq wars. She has been arrested more than sixty times at home and abroad, and has written of her experiences among targets of U.S. military bombardment and inmates of U.S. prisons.

She has reported on her time on peace teams and in prison in numerous articles for peace and religious journals, and for websites such as CounterPunch and CommonDreams.org. Several of her essays have appeared in books on the Iraq War. She spends much of her time traveling in the United States and speaking for schools, churches, festivals, and activist groups from whom she accepts but does not require a stipend. On the Democracy Now February 13, she had recently returned from Afghanistan.

Kelly is author of Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison (2005), collecting and expanding on her letters from Iraq and from prison; co-author of Prisoners on Purpose: a Peacemakers Guide to Jails and Prison (1989), and co-editor of War and Peace in the Gulf (2001). Her latest articles have focused on the experiences of Afghan and Pakistani people facing consequences of U.S. military action.

resident Obama,” Kathy Kelly said yesterday, “is a hawkish president who likes to appear dovish.

“The reality is that the Pentagon has said [U.S.] troops will be in Afghanistan until 2024 and beyond [not withdrawn next year as the President said]. And in the ‘21st century military’ that the president and the Pentagon want to create, they don’t necessarily need big, huge military bases all across Afghanistan. What they want to have are ─

Special operations troops working in coordination with the capacity for drone strikes,
Weaponized drone strikes,
Drone surveillance.

Kathy Kelly
What to do

Instead of money, resources, and the ingenuity constantly being poured into military solutions, Kelly said, there are “other kinds of security that are crucial, absolutely essential in Afghanistan.” These include “food security, healthcare delivery security, security so that people can get an education for their children.”

Bob Herbert
And not only this, she said, “The United States and every other country that has invaded and wrecked Afghanistan should pay reparations for suffering caused and help to rebuild an infrastructure appropriate for [Afghanistan].” 

here is a ring of similarity, an echo, between, a theme, a paradigm running through America’s internal and foreign relations policies, practices and problems.
Cathy Cohen

Approaches in both sectors are brutally wrong, inhumane. And the only way to begin to rid the United States, and indeed other countries, of bad U.S. leadership is for the people of America to act ─ without regard to party or ideology or personal characteristics, vote out of office, recall or impeach all entrenched office holders. Correct systems and processes and reseat all branches of government with better, cleaner, more able and socially, ethically and morally progressive leaders. This is serious business and the time is long past for cleaning house in Washington.

We must be strong at home and abroad, President Eisenhower said in 1956. “We want to be strong at home in our morale or in our spirit. We want to be strong intellectually, in our education, in our economy; and, where necessary, militarily.”

Progressive thought and politics to me is nonpartisan and it means clearheadedly and with an impartial reading of history taking the best and bettering it.

Sources and notes

“Beyond Gun Control, Obama Urged to Tackle Joblessness, Incarceration and U.S. ‘Culture of Violence,’” February 13, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/13/beyond_gun_control_obama_urged_to

“Obama’s SOTU Address Calls for Middle-Class Revival, But Poverty & Inequality Still Get Short Shrift,” February 13, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/13/obamas_sotu_address_calls_for_middle

President Obama has announced plans to withdraw another 34,000 troops from Afghanistan; longtime peace activist Kathy Kelly warns the war shows no end. Just returned from Afghanistan, she says the company formally known as Blackwater is now running a base just outside of Kabul used by the Special Operations Joint Task Force. Kelly, warns Afghan civilians continue to suffer from longest-running war in U.S. history.

“On Monday, a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan killed 10 civilians. The strike hit what the NATO occupation force called a suspected Taliban hideout in the province of Kunar.” [Democracy Now]

Dr. Cathy J. Cohen,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathy_J._Cohen

Kathy Kelly, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Kelly

Robert (Bob) Herbert, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Herbert

President Dwight David Eisenhower

Address “The Chance for Peace” Delivered Before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 4/16/53; Radio and Television Broadcast: “The Women Ask the President,” 10/24/56


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