Tag Archives: words

'Liberal' Is Good

The labelsought after during the New Deal dayshas long since become an epithet. But the nationwide drop in violent crime and the collapse of hawkish foreign policy create an opening to reclaim it.

In the middle of his in-your-face pre-Super Bowl interview, Bill OReilly picked up the dreaded L word and began wielding it menacingly in the direction of the president of the United States.

Are you the most liberal president in U.S. history? OReilly asked. Obama quickly initiated evasive maneuvers. In a lot of ways, Richard Nixon was moremore liberal than I was, the president replied, before insisting that I tend not to think about these things in terms of liberal and Democrator liberal and conservative

It wasnt always this way. In the first half of the 20th century, liberal enjoyed a certain prestige. When Franklin Roosevelt began using it to describe the ideology of the New Deal, for instance, small-government types accused him of linguistic theft, claiming that since the expansion of state power threatened liberty, theyand not the New Dealerswere the true liberals.

But by the 1960s, the American right had stopped claiming liberal and begun demonizing it. Over the next two decades, being a liberal came to mean letting criminals terrorize Americas cities, hippies undermine traditional morality, and communists menace the world. It meant, in other words, too much liberty for the wrong kind of people. Fearful of its negative connotations, Democratic politicians began disassociating themselves from the term, and as the Obama interview showed, they still do.

But that political logic may be out of date. Liberal became a dirty word at a time of soaring crime, when Democrats came under attack for allegedly prioritizing the rights of criminals over the safety of everyone else. Today, crime has dropped so dramatically that even prominent Republicans advocate less punitive sentencing. The decline of liberal into epithet status also coincided with a cultural revolt, especially on sexual issues like abortion and gay rights, which frightened many middle-aged Americans. But today, the people demanding greater cultural libertywhether they be gay couples wanting to marry or individuals wanting to legally smoke potdont seem nearly as radical. Finally, liberal grew associated with weakness during a humiliating phase in American foreign policy: when Americas defeat in Vietnam and the Iran hostage crisis dealt painful blows to national pride. In the post-Iraq era, by contrast, Republican efforts to out-hawk Obama on foreign policy have utterly failed.

Liberal, in other words, got its bad name because of a series of racial, sexual, and global bogeymen that dont frighten Americans nearly as much anymore.

That doesnt mean Americans now love the term. Although the percentage of Americans calling themselves liberal has risen in recent years, liberal self-identification still trails conservative self-identification, in the most recent Gallup poll, by 15 points.

But theres reason to believe that today, many Americans eschew the term not because they associate it with any particular unpopular attitudes or issue positions, but merely because theyve only heard it discussed negatively. In a thought-provoking 2013 paper, Christopher Claassen, Patrick Tucker, and Steven S. Smith of Washington University in St. Louis note that although most Americans prefer the term conservative, those same Americans are remarkably consistent in telling researchers that they prefer liberal policies. How come? One reason may be that conservative has positive extra-political associations. To many Americans, it connotes caution, restraint and respect for traditional values, positive attributes irrespective of ones views on specific policies.

But even more important, Claassen, Tucker, and Smith suggest, may be the negative way in which liberal is publicly discussed. When certain labels are emphasized or favored by political and media elites, they write, the public is more likely to identify with them than others. Public framing often promotes the term conservative, while the term liberal is used with much less frequency and has long had a more negative connotation. Part of the reason Americans consider liberal an epithet, in other words, is because they mostly hear it used as an epithet.

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'Liberal' Is Good

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New York City Activists Project Giant, Roving Eyeball Onto The Verizon Building

Two months after protesters first settled in Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011, something curious happened to the Verizon Building at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. On November 17, its monolithic faade lit up with what would be known as the Occupy Movement’s “bat signal,” a 99% sign thrown from a projection unit in someone’s apartment across the street. On Monday night, the projection activists, known together as the Illuminator collective, turned their attention to the Verizon Building again

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New York City Activists Project Giant, Roving Eyeball Onto The Verizon Building

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Constructive criticism for NATO

The price tag for NATOs new building climbed $371 million, and taxpayers may have to foot the bill

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At a time when Canada is backing out of key NATO surveillance programs to focus on internal defence spending, it seems taxpayers may have to pony up much more than expected toward the construction of a new home for the alliance. Much to the chagrin of NATOs 28 member countries, the construction consortium responsible for the new $1.6-billion headquarters in Brussels has requested an additional $371 million, and 10 more months, to complete the project.

Oana Lungescu, a spokesperson for NATO, calls the consortiums request for additional funds part of a hard commercial negotiation that is currently under review. But its already proven to be an embarrassment for the alliance and, especially, for NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who championed the steel and glass structure as a symbol of a new, modern NATO. According to Der Spiegel magazine, Germanys ambassador to NATO, Martin Erdmann, said in a condential cable that the effect on NATOs image would be disastrous if NATO appeared to be incapable of punctually completing a construction project.

NATO members already had doubts about the project when the Royal BAM Group, based in the Netherlands, successfully bid $300 million less than what NATO had estimated for the project. The request for more money comes from unforeseen circumstances (including significantly higher security requirements), says Arno Pronk, a BAM spokesperson, adding there is no backup plan for the project if the funds dont come through. With the building 80 per cent finished, member states, including Canada, may have no choice but to pay up.

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Constructive criticism for NATO

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Signal Dreams joins roster of Madison-based record labels

Madison’s experimental-music catalog is about to expand. On Feb. 1, a new record label called Signal Dreams will release recordings by far-out local synthesizer act Noxroy and avant-garde violinist Troy Schafer. Noxroy will perform at Good Style Shop the same night.

Signal Dreams is the brainchild of Joel Shanahan, a musician from numerous Madison acts, including Golden Donna, Butt Funnel, the Bilderberg Group, Jivas, Chocolate Christ and Suicide TXT. He can also be found DJing around town and on WORT.

Schafer’s release, Survey of a Broken Tape Recorder, has only three tracks but clocks in at more than 45 minutes. The title isn’t an in-joke: These songs were truly made with a broken tape recorder. Schafer uses this tool to create lush organic soundscapes that seem like something robots would listen to on a relaxing beach vacation. Led by Andrew Fitzpatrick from Volcano Choir and All Tiny Creatures, Noxroy manipulates intriguing, computer-made sounds on Anverloss, his new release.

Shanahan says Signal Dreams will specialize in limited-edition CDs of computer-oriented sound design, tape manipulation and other sonic experiments with digital elements. In other words, if you like watching electronic music evolve, this is a label to watch.

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Signal Dreams joins roster of Madison-based record labels

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Recordings, testimony at NATO 3 trial show bumbling men

Days before the 2012 NATO summit, Chicago authorities made national headlines when they announced the arrests of three “domestic terrorists” who had plotted attacks against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and four police stations.

“We had to act,” Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters soon after the three were arrested the day they assembled four Molotov cocktails. “We did not want to take this case down as quickly as we did, but we had to because of the imminent threat.”

But as the terrorism trial the first conducted by Cook County prosecutors goes into its second week, the portrait that emerges from undercover recordings and courtroom testimony isn’t of a deadly terrorist cell looking to spark widespread fear but of bumbling young men led by a stoner trying to impress a female police officer on her first undercover assignment.

Alleged ringleader Brian Church, 22, and Jared Chase, 29, had made plans to use a single slingshot and marbles to break windows at Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building but couldn’t figure out how to find the address online.

The two, who drove here from Florida with third defendant Brent Betterly, 25, built a 7-foot-long plywood shield with screws jutting from the front and painted with the words, “Austerity ain’t gonna happen.” But they couldn’t figure out how to get that downtown, according to the recordings.

Church, who is often heard bragging about his archery skills, once said he wanted to shoot an arrow with a note attached through a window of Emanuel’s Ravenswood home but never brought it up again. He built a “mortar” with firecrackers, a piece of wood and PVC pipe but then re-purposed the pipe to make a flagpole.

He spoke of attacking four police stations and said he’d done reconnaissance on two but didn’t want to do a Google search to find another two stations.

Defense attorneys do not dispute that their clients had incendiary devices but told jurors that their clients never should have faced terrorism charges, calling it a political move by authorities desperate to justify millions of dollars spent on security for the summit.

The attorneys have also used the trial to ask questions about police surveillance tactics in the months before the summit, including sending undercover officers to places like the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park or a concert at Permanent Records to listen to conversations and run license plates.

But prosecutors said the men, known as the NATO 3, came to Chicago to battle police in the streets and wanted to send a message by attacking police stations. They have made repeated reference to Church asking Nadia Chikko, the female undercover officer, if she was “ready to see a police officer on fire.”

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Recordings, testimony at NATO 3 trial show bumbling men

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In Israel, Harper needs to be a statesman, not a partisan

Prime Minister Stephen Harpers trip to Israel and the West Bank will not be just a simple filling out of his resum and staging a series of photo-ops geared to the 2015 election although it will certainly be both of those things. The domestic Canadian politics of the visit have been made more urgent by the Liberals point that Justin Trudeau has already been to Israel and the curiously incurious Prime Minister has not, either before coming to office or in the eight years since.

Beyond the comms plans and optics, though, it is the substance that matters, as the visit falls in the middle of some of the most politically and strategically fraught negotiations of our times the quest for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and the curtailing of the Iranian nuclear program. Success or failure in each of these talks will have profound consequences, including for Canadians. The national interest requires the Prime Minister to be more statesman than partisan.

The alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program will likely be preoccupying Mr. Harpers Israeli hosts. Jerusalem has gone to great lengths to warn that a nuclear weapon-equipped Iran would be a danger to Israel and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey seek means to deter Iran and defend themselves.

Were all that to happen, Israels nuclear deterrent would lose some or all of its value and its own strategic situation would become near incalculably complex. Under pressure from Israel, the U.S. has sworn not just to contain Iran but to use force if necessary to prevent the Shia state from producing nuclear weapons. Despite the posturing in Jerusalem, the view is widely held that on its own Israel could only interrupt Irans nuclear program briefly not stop it and that American participation, even leadership, in attacks on Irans nuclear facilities would be indispensable to any missions operational success. The American time frame for any such military action is considerably longer and more conditional than Tel Avivs because of Washingtons vastly greater technical capability and the presidents sharing of the publics skepticism of preventive wars.

The unintended consequences of a military attack on Iran would probably include the destruction of the international consensus for imposing sanctions on Iran; redoubled determination on the part of Iranian hardliners to escape the confines of the Non-Proliferation Treaty; deepening Muslim hatred of the U.S. (and Israel) for an attack on yet another Muslim country; opportunistic political profit-taking by Moscow and Beijing; disruption of oil and possibly financial markets at least temporarily and the concomitant impacts on European economies; and destruction of potentially thousands of lives.

Those are some of the consequences if the attack succeeds in crippling the Iranian nuclear program. A failed operation would be all that and worse, not least, the shredding of Israels political and military reputation. Further, Americans attitudes towards Israel could be undermined if the U.S. public, already fed up with fighting in the Middle East, came to believe that Israel had dragged them into another war.

For all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus outrage, real or feigned for bad cop effect, the deal and the ongoing negotiations between Tehran and Security Council members on the Iranian nuclear program is vastly preferable to war. The negotiations might lead Iran to accept limits on its nuclear program, pull Tehran out of its isolation and lead to more normal relations with a democracy-hungry Iranian people. The Iranians have not eternally been enemies of the U.S. or of Israel. Times can change.

The Iranian and Palestinian issues are linked, at least indirectly. The Israeli governments determination to keep building settlements is eroding support for Israel internationally at precisely the time it needs international legitimacy to attract support for action against Iran. In the words of former Israeli national security adviser Uzi Arad the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] has been dealing with Iran as if there were no Palestine and Palestine as if there were no Iran (quoted by Ari Shavit in Does This Mean War? Haaretz, 2012). But, for Israel, the road to Tehran runs through Washington because the decision-makers on Iran are the decision-makers on Palestine. In addition to its intrinsic merits, an agreement on a two-state solution would give Washington greater cover in the Middle East, and in the mid-West too, for military action if Tehran proved intransigent. Given these highly complex circumstances, Prime Minister Harper needs to take special care not to complicate Secretary John Kerrys efforts, and to contribute judiciously to them where he can.

The status quo in the West Bank will not endure eternally whatever some Israelis might wish and neither side will get all it wants in negotiations whatever some Palestinians might hope. Partly because there are people including cabinet ministers on both sides, not just among the Palestinians, who do not believe the other side has a right to exist, Mr. Harper ought to reiterate publically Canadas long-standing support for a two state solution based on the pre-1967 lines and mutually agreed land swaps. To be taken seriously by Israelis, Mr. Harper will want to demonstrate publically as well as privately that he understands Israels need for security and its right to defend itself when threatened. To be taken seriously by others, he will need to accord greater importance than heretofore to the Palestinians desire for a state of their own. He should spend some of the political capital he has amassed from unwavering support of the Israeli government to urge Israel to cease building settlements, which are illegal under international law and render a two-state solution moot. Mr. Harper should program enough time in the West Bank to see for himself how difficult life there is.

On Iran, Mr. Harper should not endorse Mr. Netanyahus impatience with a diplomatic solution even prominent Israeli national security specialists are divided on the necessity of military action and should manifest strong support for a negotiated outcome. He needs to be more statesman than partisan. Too much is at stake for free-lancing and self-serving expressions of skepticism. He should make the point with the Israelis that progress on the Palestine question would strengthen Israels standing internationally and attract more support when Israel rings the alarm about Irans nuclear intentions.

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In Israel, Harper needs to be a statesman, not a partisan

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vote for justin(support gay marriage) – Video

vote for justin(support gay marriage)
THE WORDS BELOW ARE THE “RAP” WORDS Love is patient and kind Have you read the youtube comments lately “ma, that's gay” gets dropped on the daily we've becom…

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vote for justin(support gay marriage) – Video

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Former educator retiring from second career as volunteer at ‘Zora’ festival

Passionate is the only word to describe Alberta Wells Godfreys intense enthusiasm for teaching children. A retired elementary school principal, she was an educator in the Miami-Dade Public Schools for 36 years


Former educator retiring from second career as volunteer at ‘Zora’ festival

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Bowdoin should join academic boycott of Israeli institutions

The American Studies Association, a group of scholars on American culture and history, recently decided to honor the call of Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli institutions. This academic and cultural boycott aims to bring under scrutiny the actions of the Israeli government and put pressure on Israeli institutions to end the oppressive occupation and racist policies within both Israel and occupied Palestine.

For those who understand that the struggle for rights is global, this is an important academic boycott which is why Bowdoin should join it.

To date, Israeli academic institutions have been notoriously silent with regard to the daily oppression of their Palestinian counterparts. No Israeli university has actively or publicly opposed the occupation. Israeli universities give priority admission to soldiers, discriminate against Palestinian students and have developed remote-controlled bulldozers for the Israeli Armys home demolitions. Israeli universities conduct research for the Israeli military, and several of them operate out of illegal settlements built on Palestinian land occupied since 1967.

Therefore, in their current state, Israeli universities are both actively and passively complicit in the crimes of both the Israeli military and the Israeli government in all its settler-colonial forms.

In their resolution, the ASA emphasized that the boycott is decidedly not aimed at individual persons. The boycott is aimed at institutions that condone and perpetuate state practices of discrimination and deny academic freedom to others. The boycott refuses to discriminate based on citizenship, race or nationality and merely asks that institutional ties be severed with those institutions complicit in the Israeli occupation.

In other words, a professor from the University of Tel Aviv can still present research at an ASA conference, provided that he or she does so as an individual scholar and not expressly as a representative of Israeli academic institutions or of the Israeli government. Representatives include deans, rectors and presidents of an institution.

Since the ASA declared its support for Palestinians in their struggle for human rights and academic freedom, the association has come under intense criticism, including from Bowdoin College President Barry Mills.

We respect Mills right to express his views. However, his rejection of the boycott does not speak for the Bowdoin community because it ignores the plurality of viewpoints at Bowdoin, the rights of Palestinians and the voices of those in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and human rights.

Furthermore, Mills statement fundamentally misrepresents the essence of the boycott. He falsely categorizes the boycott as stifling discussion and the free exchange of ideas, ignoring how the boycott has instead served as the catalyst for greater discussion of Israels human rights abuses. Questions are now being raised even in the previously silent corners of the mainstream media. His categorization also overlooks that it is Israel that has stifled discussion, having passed a law in 2011 that bans Israelis from even proposing a boycott of anything Israeli, be it a consumer, academic or cultural boycott.

As reported in The Guardian, in Israel, an individual or organization proposing a boycott may be sued for compensation by any individual or institution facing possible damage as a result. Evidence of actual damage will not be required.

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Bowdoin should join academic boycott of Israeli institutions

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Big Brother’s little siblings: How local police departments are spying on us now, too

By now, its well known that the National Security Agency is collecting troves of data about law-abiding Americans. But the NSA is not alone: A series of new reports show that state and local police have been busy collecting data on our daily activities as well under questionable or nonexistent legal pretenses. These revelations about the extent of police snooping in the U.S

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