Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Right to Rebel

"I'm scared America. I'm scared for you and your children and for the sanctity of the American life we have all enjoyed until now." This is something that Glenn Beck says on an almost nightly basis. The eminent destruction of the United States has been coming for the last two years and the fear mongering seems to grow worse everyday. Beck, however, has become an important voice for the growing Tea Party Movement, who really see the government going to pieces.

The Tea Party Movement is a conservative movement that has come to prominence in the time after the recession and the passing of the stimulus and bailout packages. They are preaching "classical" American values and looking to re-establish the Constitution as the governing document of the United States. They believe that the government no longer represents their interests and Washington does nothing more than pander to a select group of lobbyists. What I'm about to say perhaps gives a little too much credit to the Tea Partiers and their movement. The Tea Party Movement obviously has found an ostracized and disillusioned demographic. People are losing their jobs and defaulting on their mortgages, and their faith in government has been shaken, and rightfully so. The failing of the banks and the housing bubble that caused it were not unavoidable. And profit was sought in spite of the large risks being taken.

The Federal government has become nothing short of a tyrannical "socialist" state that is encroaching upon its citizen’s rights. People are scared that their government is becoming a police state that is seeking, like never before, to control all aspects of their lives. They want to see a reduction in the size of government, reduction in taxes, and protection of their "liberties." The Tea Party Movement, however, is taking legitimate concerns and is hyperbolizing them to the point where they lose all credibility. The bank bailout and the stimulus packages are seen as nothing more than Washington pandering to Wall Street. It is hard, however, to convey to these people the importance of such policy. The government could have saved $800 billion and not passed the stimulus package, but this would have been done at the cost of going into a full depression. Lines to collect unemployment would have become soup lines. It is facts such as these that are not touted by the right-wing media and its supporters (pretty clear why). Providing healthcare has becoming a socialistic plot that will lead to "death panels" and the government deciding who lives or dies. Such claims may seem illogical and farce to some, but for many in the movement it has become a legitimate concern.

Many are dismissing the Tea Party Movement as a decentralized and cantankerous group, but I think they are gaining more and political sway. We are already seeing politicians trying to align themselves with the movement. I see this as a danger for two reasons: it eliminates any possibility of bipartisan cooperation and gives credibility to many of their fallacious claims. The Republican and Democratic parties are more at odds than at any other point in recent history and if the government is to address issues such as healthcare, two wars abroad, and a ballooning deficit, they need more unity and not more division. People, in times of strife, will clamor and rage, but this is not the time to do it. We do not need another war raging on our own front.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Event: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society

Check out this event this Saturday, Feb 20th, 7pm: The Myth of a Post-Racial Society.

Post-Obama, has America become colorblind-and is that even a worthy or achievable goal in this country? How does the supposed "post-racial" society measure up to the reality of poor and working people's lives, 60 years after the Black civil rights movement? Join a freewheeling discussion and celebrate the ongoing struggle for "Freedom Now!"

Speakers include: Norma Abdulah, a retired school teacher and longtime Harlem civil rights leader; Kenyon Farrow, from Queers for Economic Justice and co-editor of Letters from Young Activists; and Emily Woo Yamasaki, representing the Comrades of Color Caucus of Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women.

Door donation, $3. Savory southern supper, 6pm, $9 donation. Work exchanges available for students, low-income and unemployed people.

Freedom Hall, 113 West 128th Street, Harlem (b/t Malcolm X Blvd. & 7th Ave.) Childcare is provided.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blackwater Ordered Out of Iraq

The Iraqi government has ordered hundreds of private security personnel linked to Blackwater Worldwide to leave the country. This decision came after a U.S. judge dismissed the case against five Blackwater employees for killing 17 Iraqis in September 2007; many of those killed were women and children. This decision to dismiss a criminal case of this magnitude does nothing but further tarnish Iraqi-American relations and increase anti-American sentiments. Vice-president Biden, however, has assured the Iraqi government that the Obama administration will seek justice.

The actions of the Blackwater employees illuminate the problem with these military contractors, who in the facade of performing their job will go to any end. One of the main criticisms against these private military contractors is the fact that it is not clear how they are held accountable for their actions. It is not clear whether they are to be tried by U.S. law or the law of the countries they are operating in. Being positioned in "legal limbo" gives them a false sense that they are above the law, and thus not accountable for whatever heinous act they might commit. Companies like Blackwater have become private-corporate extensions of the Pentagon, and this can prove to be a frightening prospect. They are not termed as part of the U.S. military (even though they clearly represent a military agenda), and are free to do business as a private company.

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Food Stamps Find New Acceptance

In recent years the government has been trying to enroll more and more people in the Food Stamps program. Up through the late 1990's the Food Stamp program faced many cuts, as it was seen as part of the welfare system. The notion that Food Stamps would make the poor dependent was propagated amongst conservative circles and many people, who actually needed the aid, were turned away. After 1999, and especially during the Bush administration (woah! I'm going to say something nice of the Bush administration??), the government did well in promoting the Food Stamp program as not being welfare and removing red-tape preventing people from accessing it. The Food Stamp Program is not welfare and does not create a dependent population, since most of those receiving benefits are already part of the working class. Many of these people see this aid as a necessary subsidy to augment their incomes which are already below the federal poverty line. The Food Stamp program has become an important safety net for many, especially in these precarious economic times.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Sarah Palin Cheating?

When then Presidential hopeful John McCain announced his decision to choose Sarah Palin as his vice-president, predictions of her political importance ran high. Would she represent the success or the failure of the Republican Party? Today, the question still remains unanswered. Even after a series of political (and personal) blunders, an embarrassingly rambling Katie Couric interview, a lost candidacy, and a resigned governorship, she somehow has remained active in the minds of many Americans as a possible contender for the 2012 presidential election. Palin also seems determined to give the left more and more ammunition, and below is just a small piece of the comedy skit that is her persona.

Palin has become the face of the "Tea Party Movement," as the savior from Obama's "socialist" agenda. Appearing at a Tea Party conference in Tennessee, Palin delivered a speech condemning President Obama and his policies, at one point referencing President Obama as "a guy with charisma and a teleprompter." An unremarkable speech gave way to a pre-screened Q&A session, meaning that Mrs. Palin was given plenty of time to prepare her answers. This Q&A may have been too much for the presidential hopeful to handle, as she resorted, just as any 7th grader would do, to writing the answers on the back of her hand. If this video is undoctored, it reveals Palin unable to articulate the basics of her party platform. A large portion of Palin's own popularity is based on her ability to deftly throw out buzz words, such as budget cuts and small government. She too is a politician "with charisma" and a little extra help. But while the "Tea Party Movement" seeks mainstream political clout, the $549 ticket cost, lack of diversity in the audience, and other factors, signifies little more than entrenched upper class and business interest, rather than a "movement" speaking for "the people."

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stephen Fry talks about imprisonment in the United States

This is a short clip outlining some of the major shortcoming of the prison system of the United States. The United States has just over four percent of the world's population, and yet we house more than twenty-five percent of the world's prison population. We are consistently touting the merits of democracy, and yet we manage to imprison more people than the "socialist" Chinese. The prison system is flawed and has degenerated into a system that is nothing more than modern slavery.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti and New Orleans

When I think of political commentary, Lil Wayne isn't the first to pop into my mind. However, I stumbled upon this, and while short, it's very true. The parallels between the situation in Haiti and New Orleans abound -- which leads one to wonder what will happen to Haiti in the long term. Once the media is "over it" and Haiti will need true support to rebuild infrastructure, will help be around?

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl Anti-Choice Ad

Recently there has been a lot about the Superbowl accepting an anti-choice ad. The Superbowl has generally not taken any issue advocacy ads and also turned down a gay men's dating site advertisement.

Check out this article @ The Nation

Also, check out this video! <3 Raging grannies!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Steering Committee

Congratulations to the new steering committee for 2010!

Chair – Malena Arnaud

Vice Chair – Zoe Willmott

Treasurer – Nora Searle

Secretary – Anna Folkens

Publicity Chair – Amanda Torres

El Participante Editor – Paco Martin del Campo

Blogmaster -- Melquiades Fernandez

Blogmistress – Tanea Lunsford

Campus Liaison – Cara Buchanan

Campus Liaison --- Lis Castro

Alumni Relations – Fayette Colon

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Prisoners of the Census

People advocating for the Census often cite its importance in the allocation of resources. At stake is how more than $400 billion will be spent. As it stands, inmates are not counted as part of the communities they come from, even if they are serving relatively short prison terms. In attesting to the failures of the prison system, the census is acknowledging that many of these inmates will return to the penal system; the census is actually just planning for the future. Unfortunately for the poor communities that the inmates come from, this only leads to less funding for public schools and other community programs.

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