Wonk’s Saturday Reads: People before Profit vs. Pseudo-Pragmatism

My favorite moment from the night of the SOTU address: Hillary, Sonia, and Elana

Good morning, news junkies! It’s been a helluva week in current events. Grab a cuppa whatever gets you up and warm this morning and let’s dig in.

Restate of the Union

For the source on that, see VL’s latest webcomic: “Restate of the Union“? Once again, Vast Left hits it out of the park. And, Glen Ford at BAR hits it back out there again (emphasis in bold is mine): “The Obama/GOP ConsensusWith whole communities in a state of economic dislocation, Obama burns the rescue boats and poisons the water, all the while promising that the necessary budgetary savings will not be achieved ‘on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens’ – as if Wall Street’s bankers will shield the helpless with their well-bonused bodies… No dollar signs to give meaning to the president’s mystical and misleading rhetoric on jobs, which will somehow be made to appear through a uniquely American process of ‘innovation’ and ‘self-invention’ inaccessible to lesser peoples. This aspect of exceptionalism will out-‘green’ China and overtake South Korean Internet speeds, without costing the Treasury an extra dime. ‘Thousands’ of jobs will result, to take the place of the hundreds of thousands that will be lost in the public sector, alone, as government implodes at all levels.

Also: Bostonboomer came up with an excellent list of words that were missing from the president’s address (see last section of this post for my list), and over at the CSM Global News Blog, Stephen Kurczy has a roundup of “World reactions to Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.”

Power to the People: Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, and the Palestine Papers

The REAL story this week is the one going on in the Middle East. I collected more links and excerpts than I could fit here, so I’ve put up a separate Saturday reads just for the Middle East at my place. Please click on the link above or the image to the left to get the scoop! To the left, description by Mona Eltahawy: “..a photo of a man and a woman standing in Mahalla, posted on the citizen journalists’ Web site Rassd News Network, instantly conveys why Egyptians have taken to the streets. The woman holds a loaf of bread and a Tunisian flag. The man next to her holds a loaf of bread and a sign that reads ‘Yesterday Tunisia. Today Egypt. Jan. 25 the day we began to take our rights back.’

Modern-Day Slavery Continues Right Before Our Eyes

In South Florida, via the Miami Herald: “Modern-day slaves’ story repeats daily in plain sightThe case of dozens of Filipino workers held captive spotlights a widespread human- trafficking problem.” And, from Nikki Junker at RH Reality Check: “Moldova, A Hot Bed for Human TraffickingSo when I think of Human Trafficking, I think of the places where poverty is most rampant and in the European Union, the poorest country is little Moldova whose people are bought and sold as commodities to be used by the richer nations of the world.

Sept. 2010: Hillary at the UN attending the "Every Woman, Every Child" event.

This Saturday in Women’s and Children’s Health

For the extended version, please click here or on the image to the left. Topics covered: Breakthroughs, Cancer Research, January: Cervical Health Awareness, February 4: Official Wear Red Day, Abortion Rights Awareness Month?, Obstetric Fistula, Chemicals and the Rise in Childhood Cancers, Demography trends in India, Stupakistan: An Interactive Map, Anti-Abortion Myths, Catholic hospitals, Abortion showdown in Texas, Stem Cell Research, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

Race to the Truth

I wrote this back in November, but after hearing Obama’s SOTU remarks on education, I thought I would revisit it. It’s chock full of links–I basically recorded everything of interest I could dig up on the charter school debate. If you want to read the entire piece, click on the link/image or bookmark for later. Otherwise, here are the three must-read links you ought to familiarize yourself with if nothing else:

1. Ravitch’s “The Myth of Charter Schools” 2. CREDO 3. Harvard study

Bringing it altogether: Populism vs. the Pseudo-Pragmatism of Barack Obama

The president’s speech on Tuesday failed to put people first and then added insult to injury by championing the false pragmatism of “[spending] cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.” Talk about “suckered into stupid” !

Remember O’s “Dumb” war comment? “I don’t oppose all wars…what I am opposed to is a dumb war.” Well, I’m not against all budgetary cuts. I’m just against the stuck-on-stupid ones that would further erode underfunded social safety nets that I care deeply about–especially at precisely the moment where the margins of society need those social safety nets the most. By all means, cut back spending on unnecessary things. I don’t know about you, but war+untruth and military aid toward a sham peace process all sound pretty darn unnecessary to me.

The president paid lipservice to “ordinary people” before he closed, but here are some more words missing from Obama’s speech: Egypt, the Palestine Papers, Citizens United ruling, Modern day slavery, Mental health, Childhood cancer, Hexavalent chromium, NASA privatization/layoffs (though Obama sure Sputnik’d us in a way that is a most unfortunate turn of that phrase), Atheist (yet for no discernible reason, he tacked Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim in front of his two-second mention of the DADT repeal), Texas School Board of Education and textbooks, CREDO study on charter schools, Peterson/Lastra-Anadón (their study gave Race to the Top winners poor marks), Smith-Lipinski, Paycheck Fairness Act (not the same thing as the Lilly Ledbetter Act), Income inequality, Rise in Multi-generational American households due to unemployment and foreclosure, Food stamps, Stem cell research, Dickey-Wicker, Public option/Medicare for All, Elizabeth Edwards.

I miss Elizabeth’s voice (from an August 2007 interview): “It’s the continuing inequity. We still have a middle class that lives on a razor blade. So sometimes when you say poverty, you neglect a large portion of the population about whom he’s deeply concerned. It’s the two-income trap. It’s more likely in America that your parents will file for bankruptcy than divorce. We think of divorce as so prevalent, but we all know that happens because somebody moves out of the house. But when bankruptcy happens, they stay there, they close up, and you don’t feel what’s going on. But what that means is we have all these families under stress, constantly. And then we have the people who are trying to get out of dire distress. You hear that thirty-seven million people in this country live in poverty, and fifteen million people—fifteen million— live in deep poverty, which is $7,800 for a family of three.

Now, that’s a State-of-the-Union-as-inherited-from-Bush-and-the-GOP speech!

I miss so many voices on the domestic policy front. Like Bobby Kennedy: “It is not realistic or hardheaded 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 judgment, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief — forces ultimately more powerful than all of the calculations of our economists or of our generals.”

We are witnessing the power of those forces in the Middle East. Not in a glossy Shepard Fairey poster, but out in the streets. Genuine conviction. Genuine passion. The hope of a people demanding policies that put the interests of the public trust ahead of the pseudo-pragmatic. As Hillary said in her 2009 Human Rights speech at Georgetown: “Of course, people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison or ‘disappear’ them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want – want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.

There is nothing more pragmatic or more “innovative” than a domestic and foreign policy agenda driven by a human rights agenda to free people from the oppression not just of tyranny but also of want. It is the only agenda that pays lasting progress forward.

We need a freeze on the idiocracy that suggests otherwise.

So, what stories are you following today? And, what’s on *your* list of words missing from the SOTU? Have at it in the comments!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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