From Carnal Nation: http://carnalnation.com/content/52735/1067/butch-flight-and-other-myths
by Asher Bauer
April 16th, 2010
Every once in awhile, I find myself listening in on the ‘butch flight’ conversation. It’s one hell of a messy debate within the queer community, one that, despite increased understanding of trans people and our issues, rages on. And on. And on.
The argument goes like this: certain women who are attracted to butches are noticing, with considerable consternation, that many butches are moving to male or gender-neutral pronouns, starting testosterone or considering top surgery, or perhaps even coming to view themselves as trans men. To women who love female-identified butches, this represents a shrinkage of their dating pool. Understandably, they wonder what could cause this. A backward glance to second-wave feminism provides them with a theory. According to this theory, trans men are merely self-hating women—women who can’t take the heat of living under the patriarchy, tortured souls who have been brainwashed into hating and “mutilating” their own bodies, defectors who try to escape their oppression by going over to the dark side. They view trans men simply as butches who “run away,” hence the phrase, “butch flight.”
Well, all of that only makes sense if you ignore a few little things—starting with the voices of the trans men and transgender butches in question.
Inventing elaborate motivations for transition is disingenuous if you don’t even bother to ask trans people about their own identities. This is even more true when the motives assigned to a person’s transition—status, privilege, safety—are made out to be as low as possible. In reality, I think it’s safe to say that few people transition for those reasons—and those who do, I would think, probably de-transition within months and return to the sisterhood.
Because the fact is, being a trans is a lousy way to move up in the world.
Yes, it’s true that trans men eventually gain male privilege, if we pass. And that’s no small thing. But in exchange, we must deal with cissexism and transphobia—forever. And cissexism is an extremely well-ingrained system of oppression that has nasty ways of punishing its dissenters.
Continue reading at: http://carnalnation.com/content/52735/1067/butch-flight-and-other-myths
From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/opinion-noms-brian-brown-is-lying-about-the-anti-gay-regnerus-study/news/2012/08/24/47233
by Scott Rose
on August 24, 2012
Reposted with permission
For breaking the law eighteen times, NOM in California had to pay a $49,000 fine.
That fine is less that the tens of millions that NOM spends — and/or organizes towards spending — for its allegedly “Christian” mission of blocking gay people from civil rights — at a time when there over 600,000 homeless in the United States.
The $49,000 fine also is less than the $55,000 “planning grant” that NOM-related officials, as part of the Witherspoon Institute, arranged for a study booby trapped to make gay parents look bad.
All of Regnerus’s control group respondents were raised by continuously-married heterosexual couples.
By contrast, Regnerus’s test group respondents, improperly labeled as having “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers,” had suffered such variables as 1) one parent dying prematurely; 2) a single parent disabled in an accident; 3) a mother who divorced an abusive father to get her children to safety.
Regnerus tells a ridiculous lie to explain why he had no choice but to make the booby trapped comparison.
He says he simply could not find enough young adult children raised by gay couples.
Yet, Michael Rosenfeld’s 2009 study Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress through School studied 3,502 children of gay couples who had been together for at least five years.
If Regnerus as a professional sociologist truly intended to study children raised by “lesbian mothers” or “gay fathers,” then he had a scientific obligation to develop and to implement a study plan that would actually allow him to interview children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers.
Instead, by his dishonest and unscientific means, and in collusion with his anti-gay-rights funders, Regnerus alleges to have proven a correlation between gay parents and bad child outcomes, though his “study” proves no such correlation.
This is one of the chief fallacies of the Regnerus study: Regnerus alleges to have found a correlation between gay parents and bad child outcomes; but in documentable reality, Regnerus found no such thing.
His test group was loaded up with variables, hence, he has no way of knowing which — if any — of the variables correlates to the perceived “bad” child outcomes, for those in his test group who had “bad” outcomes; not all did, by a long shot. And, not all children of heterosexual parents had good outcomes in the Regnerus study, either.
Yet, NOM officials certainly are getting their money’s worth of gay-bashing hate-and-fear mongering out of the Regnerus “study;” in NOM blog comments on the Brown/Savage event, for example, somebody wrote: “I wonder if the poor kid will have [sic] experience the horrific outcome of same sex parenting that Regenerus found in his research.”
National Organization for Marriage officials, moreover, have been heavily involved in lying about the study since before it was even published.
Here is a sampling of NOM’s Brian Brown’s lies about the Regnerus study:
1) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN LIES ABOUT THE REGNERUS STUDY HAVING BEEN PEER REVIEWED
During a debate with Dan Savage, NOM’s Brian Brown alleged that the Regnerus study was published through the normal procedures followed by Social Science Research (SSR), the journal that published the deliberately booby-trapped, anti-gay Regnerus “study.”
However, SSR did not follow its published Peer Review Policy in processing the Regnerus submission for publication.
Ethical and appropriate, professional peer review is a sine qua non of scientific publishing. There are no exceptions. Without ethical and appropriate, professional peer review, a submission to a scientific journal should never be published. Publishing a submission to a scientific journal without putting it through ethical and appropriate professional peer review undermines trust in science, just as violating campaign finance laws 18 times tends to destroy trust in the organization — NOM — engaging in such contemptuous breaking of campaign finance laws.
Now, according to SSR’s Peer Review Policy, peer reviewers “are matched to papers according to their expertise.”
No gay parenting topic experts peer reviewed the Regnerus submission.
You do not ask a brain surgeon to peer review a podiatry study. You do not ask a podiatrist to to peer review a study on brain surgery. The right topic experts for a study on gay parenting, are gay parenting topic experts.
Additionally, SSR’s Peer Review Policy states that typically, it takes 2 to 3 months for a submission to be peer reviewed “but substantially longer review times are not uncommon, especially for papers on esoteric topics where finding qualified referees can itself take months.”
By contrast to that, Regnerus submitted his paper on February 1, 2012 and then SSR editor-in-chief James Wright approved it for publication just 41 days later, without a single topic expert having been involved in the peer review.
To repeat those facts for emphasis: SSR’s Peer Review Policy says that normally, it takes months just to find qualified peer reviewers. Yet, dismayingly, without being peer reviewed by any topic experts, the Regnerus submission was accepted for publication in just 41 days.
Additionally, some of the peer reviewers were paid consultants for the Regnerus study design. What that means, is that the same people paid to booby trap the study design against gay parents also had the power to green-light the study for publication.
That not only violates SSR’s Peer Review Policy, it violates all ethics of scientific publishing. Vanderbilt University Sociologist Tony N. Brown, Editor of the American Sociological Association’s American Sociological Review, has said: “journal editors should always seek knowledgeable reviewers who do not have any conflict of interest regarding the submitted author or the study’s funder.” (Bolding added).
While it is true that 1) an SSR editorial board member used 2) the same false words NOM’s Brian Brown used about 3) none of SSR’s policies having been violated, that board member also, obviously 4) is lying, as a comparison of SSR’s Peer Review Policy and the facts of the case demonstrate.
The Regnerus study did not receive ethical and appropriate professional peer review.
NOM’s Brian Brown is lying when he says it did.
Science advances when experiments and studies are replicated and produce the same results. The Regnerus study as published would never survive ethical and appropriate professional peer review; thus, the Regnerus study as published can not possibly be replicated, produce the same results, and be approved as valid by ethical and appropriate professional peer reviewers.
After all, the study features a cherry picked control group compared to a test group loaded up with variables.
Cherry picking a control group is dishonest, a form of lying.
The necessity for eliminating lurking variables — to say nothing of glaring variables — is taught in every Sociology 101 course and every Statistics 101 course.
2) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN LIES ABOUT HOW MANY PEOPLE REGNERUS INTERVIEWED
In a June 15, 2012 NOM blog post with the comically dubious title of The Big Mo for Marriage, NOM’s Brian Brown lied by saying “The researchers interviewed more than 15,000 people.” (Bolding added).
As a glance at Regnerus’s Codebook shows, Regnerus screened 15,058 people, but only actually interviewed a total of 2,988 survey participants.
In a sociological study, screening consists of asking people a few questions to see whether they qualify for you to interview them. Interviewing them consists of having them answer all the questions in your full study survey.
Screening and interviewing are two completely different sociological activities.
Brown’s misrepresentation of how many people Regnerus interviewed fits a pattern of Witherspoon/NOM/Regnerus lies that seek to impress the public by representing Regnerus’s study as having been larger than it in fact was.
Here is why this is so important a matter.
Regnerus alleges that his study results are statistically accurate for the entire US population. That is to say, were Regnerus telling the truth, whatever his findings show as percent findings for any group, would consistently be the percent findings for that group throughout the country.
However, Regnerus only surveyed a total of 248 children of “gay” parents. At that, his labeling of study subjects’ parents as “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” was unscientific and unethical.
Leaving aside Regnerus’s labeling ethics, what about his numbers? Can one produce a statistically reliable study with only 248 children of gay parents?
According to Dr. Nock’s affidavit, for a gay parenting study to be statistically valid, a minimum of 800 gay parents would have to be included in the study. Nock estimates that to find 800 gay parents to interview, a researcher would have to screen at least 40,000 people. And, Nock said that screening 40,000 people is “not a particularly large screening task.”
Yet, there is the NOM shill Regnerus, alleging that he carried out an unprecedentedly enormous study, and his NOM co-conspirator Brian Brown lying about how many people the Regnerus study interviewed.
To clarify — NOM’s Brian Brown is boasting that Regnerus “interviewed” 15,000 people yet could not find people actually raised by gay parents. NOM’s Brian Brown talks about the 15,000 Regnerus screened, as though Regnerus had carried out some unimaginably huge task. Yet the expert Dr. Steven Nock says that in order to find enough gay parents for a study, one would have to screen at least 40,000 people. Regnerus screened 25,000 people too few, to meet Dr. Nock’s estimated minimum of people who had to be screened, for enough gay parents to be represented in a valid gay parenting study based on a large random sampling.
Now, by way of comparison, let’s look at how many people were interviewed for actual large studies.
In 2011, the Pew Research Center conducted a large national random sample survey of Muslims living in the United States. Pew interviewed – not screened — interviewed — 55,000 people, of which 1,050 were Muslims in the United States.
55,000 people, of which 1,050 were the study’s test group, Muslims living in the US.
By contrast, Regnerus interviewed:
only 2,988 people, of which 248 were the study’s test group, children of “same-sex” parents.
Another comparison with an actual large study:
In 2005, a large random sample survey was done in India on the prevalence of major neurological disorders in Kolkata.
Indian researchers interviewed: 52,377 people
Regnerus interviewed: 2,988 people
Another comparison with an actual large study:
A study on tobacco smokers in Brazil interviewed — not screened – interviewed 8589 people.
Brazilian researchers interviewed: 8589 people.
Regnerus interviewed: 2,988 people.
Whereas Regnerus only interviewed 2,988 people, NOM’s Brian Brown lies by saying that Regnerus interviewed “over 15,000 people.”
These things matter. If Regnerus needed more money from his NOM-linked funders in order to be able to interview an adequate number of children of actual same-sex parents, then Regnerus should have insisted on more money from his NOM-linked funders.
Whereas his NOM-linked funders are said to have given Regnerus $785,000 for his booby-trapped study, they are spending – and/or involved in the arrangements for spending — tens upon tens of millions attacking gay people, their families and their rights in the 2012 elections.
It is not that Regnerus’s NOM-linked funders could not have come up with enough money for a study that would interview adequate numbers of children raised by same-sex couples.
It is, rather, that NOM officials wanted an anti-gay demonizing weapon for the 2012 election season.
The matter of the number of persons Regnerus interviewed is related to another of Brian Brown’s lies about the Regnerus study, namely:
3) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN LIES ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE REGNERUS STUDY TO OTHER GAY PARENTING STUDIES
The Regnerus study was twinned in publication in Social Science Research to another study by the professional gay-basher Loren Marks. Marks’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned from Brigham Young University, a school with an “honor code” that forbids school community members from “promoting” homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.
Previously, when NOM attempted to use Marks as an “expert witness” in a Proposition 8 case, Marks’s “expert” testimony was barred from the courtroom after Marks was questioned, and admitted that he had not read studies from which he quoted, and that he did not know anything about gay-led families.
The Marks paper — twinned in publication to the Regnerus paper — argues that all prior studies on same-sex parents’ child outcomes were based on small samplings that are not statistically generalizable to the whole population.
Conspicuously, the Marks paper was twinned in publication with the Regnerus paper, to bolster the fraudulent propaganda claims that the Regnerus study actually consists of a large enough sampling to be statistically generalizable to the whole population.
To put the argument in its most simple terms, Marks says “Small studies bad, big studies good.” In his Big Mo post, Brian Brown exploits the Marks study to beat the “Small studies bad, big studies good” horse, in an attempt to delude the public into believing that the Regnerus study was large enough to give meaningful results about children raised by gay parents.
But the Regnerus study was not large enough to give meaningful results about children raised by gay parents.
When NOM’s Brian Brown trots out the Marks paper to propagandize about the Regnerus study being large enough, when the Regnerus study was not large enough, NOM’s Brian Brown is lying about the scientific significance of the number of study subjects Regnerus interviewed.
Remember: Regnerus only interviewed 2,988 total people. The study of Brazilian smokers interviewed 8,589 people. The study of the prevalence of neurological disorders in India interviewed 52,377 people. The Pew study of Muslims living in the US interviewed 55,000 people.
To carry out a valid study of gay parents’ child outcomes, Regnerus needed to screen and then interview a lot more people than he did.
All of NOM’s Brian Brown’s statements that the Regnerus study was large enough are lies.
4) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN LIES ABOUT WHETHER REGNERUS’S STUDY SUBJECTS LIVED WITH “LESBIAN MOTHERS”
In his “Big Mo” NOM blog post, Brian Brown says this:
“91 percent lived with their mothers while she had this” same-sex “romantic relationship. But most of these relationships turned out to be fleeting.”
In truth, the Regnerus study methodology did not allow Regnerus to determine whether his study respondents’ parents ever actually had a “same sex romantic relationship.”
Eight major professional associations including the American Medical Association filed a Golinski-DOMA brief.
Writing in that brief, the AMA noted that Regnerus’s “data does not show whether the perceived” same-sex “romantic relationship ever in fact occurred.”
When a group of over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent a letter to Social Science Research, complaining about the Regnerus study’s lack of intellectual integrity, they said “We have substantial concerns about the merits of this paper and question whether it actually uses methods and instruments that answer the research questions posed in the paper.”
Who are you going to believe on science? Eight major professional associations including the AMA, and over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s, or NOM’s lying anti-gay president Brian Brown, whose organization’s leaders arranged for the funding of the Regnerus study and are promoting it heavily in anti-gay-rights political contexts?
Given that Regnerus’s ”data does not show whether the perceived romantic relationship ever in fact occurred,” Brian Brown is lying when he says that 91 percent of Regnerus’s study respondents “lived with their mothers while she had this” same-sex “romantic relationship.”
In promoting the Regnerus study in anti-gay-rights political contexts, Regnerus and NOM rely heavily on public ignorance about sociology. One false notion they especially push, is that gosh darn it, it’s just too difficult to ask meaningful questions towards determining the actual sexual orientation of a study subject’s parent. Regnerus could not possibly have done a more scientific job determining his respondents’ parents’ sexual orientation, because nobody knows how to do that! The whole field of studying gay parents is in too early a stage!
Yet, in 2009, the Williams Institute published its study titled Best Practices for Asking Questions about Sexual Orientation on Surveys. Regnerus worked as though in ignorance of that document.
5) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN LIES ABOUT HAVING RESPECT FOR SCIENCE
Notice what Brown is doing with this particular lie; he is creating a false impression that there are scientific grounds for debating whether a parent’s sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual, per se, correlates to or causes a good or bad child outcome.
There currently is no scientific debate about whether a parent’s sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual, per se, correlates to or causes a good or bad child outcome.
All available scientific evidence shows that nothing about a parent’s sexual orientation, per se, impacts child outcomes.
That means, it can be legitimate to suggest that more studies might be done to examine whether a parent’s sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual, per se, correlates to or causes a good or bad child outcome.
But, there is no scientific basis for debating whether a parent’s sexual orientation, heterosexual or homosexual, per se, correlates to or causes a good or bad child outcome. And that is because, there is no scientific evidence that a parent’s sexual orientation, per se, correlates to or causes a child outcome good or bad.
Genuine scientific debate does not — and could not possibly — occur as a result of NOM/Witherspoon’s Robert George getting a $55,000 “planning grant” for Mark Regnerus, with Mark Regnerus then presenting a booby trapped study design to Robert George in order to get green-lighted for $785,000 of study funding. Distortions of the scientific record never are involved in legitimate, actual scientific debate over scientific interpretation of study findings.
Even NOM’s Brian Brown admits there is no scientific basis for saying that a parent’s sexual orientation correlates to or causes a child outcome good or bad. Look what Brown said in his Big Mo post:
“Does this new study prove gay parents harm their children? No. . . . We still can’t say that from scientific evidence because we don’t have good data.”
Yet immediately, Brown goes on to say that the Marks and Regnerus studies “show us the claim that science has disproven and ruled out of court the idea that children need a mom and dad is just bogus.”
Much like Maggie Gallagher, NOM’s Brian Brown lies through his teeth while talking out both sides of his gay-bashing bigot mouth. First he admits that the Regnerus study did not prove that gay parents harm children, then he says that all children “need” heterosexual parents. He has no explanation for why an adopted child, for example, would “need” abusive heterosexual parents but not loving gay parents.
And why are so many children up for adoption? In many cases, children are up for adoption because their heterosexual parents neglected, abused or abandoned them.
If NOM’s Brian Brown had respect for science, he would not base any of his gay-bashing newsletters on “findings” from a booby trapped study that had loaded up its test group with variables.
To specify what is meant: if a person was raised by a single lesbian mother, who also was paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, and who was living in poverty, that mother’s child’s “bad” outcomes could as well correlate to the mother’s poverty, or to her being a single disabled mother, as to her being lesbian. When a test group is loaded up with variables, there simply is no way of knowing which of the variables might correlate to — or have caused — the “bad” outcomes.
6) NOM’s BRIAN BROWN IS LYING WHEN HE SAYS HE IS CONCERNED WITH CHILD WELFARE
NOM is interested in political gay-bashing and restricting gay people’s rights, and not in the least in child welfare.
For one example that that is so: most children in the foster care system are there because irresponsible heterosexual parents neglected, abused or abandoned them.
And, many children have been rescued from the foster care system by gay adoptive parents who have given them safe and loving families and homes.
Yet, NOM’s lying anti-gay bigots want those gay-headed families stigmatized and legally disadvantaged — no matter the harm that NOM”s gay-bashing bigotry inflicts on the children the gay parents are raising.
Here is a second example of NOM not giving a damn about child welfare. A 2-year-old boy lost his heterosexual parents to an accident. His gay uncle and the uncle’s male spouse were at the hospital the day the baby was born, and love him very much. His parents had named the married gay uncles as the boy’s guardians, should anything happen to them. Now, that boy is being raised by his loving uncles, instead of having to be placed in an orphanage or in the foster care system.
Who but a malicious anti-gay bigot would say that that boy and his family should be stigmatized and legally disadvantaged?
To read the gay-bashing NOM pledge signed by Mitt Romney that would stigmatize and legally disadvantage that family, go here.
For breaking the law eighteen times, NOM in California had to pay a $49,000 fine.
That NOM authorities have to commission a booby trapped “study” and then promote the booby-trapped study with lie after lie after lie — in their attempts to perpetuate the sexual orientation apartheid system — shows that NOM is losing the argument. Bigots have used distortions of the scientific record as weapons against minorities in the American past, yet all such past American minority victims wound up gaining their civil rights on a national level.
The lying, malicious, campaign-finance-law-breaking anti-gay bigots of NOM will not prevent LGBTers from achieving equality.
New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/25/barack-obama-romney-policies-worse
President Barack Obama has laid into his would-be White House replacement in a fervent attack on Mitt Romney‘s policies and character designed to knock his challenger off course ahead of a crucial convention speech.
In a calculated move timed just days before Republican delegates meet in Florida to nod through Romney as their presidential candidate, Obama accused his rival of holding “extreme positions” and failing to “own up” to responsibilities.
In an interview with the Associated Press, the president said that contrary to common belief, he had no beef with the former Massachusetts governor on a personal level, adding: “I don’t really know him well.”
But he attacked Romney on positions the candidate has taken that tie him to the right wing of his party, and cast aspersion over whether the Republican presidential hope had adopted stances out of conviction or through political expediency.
In the interview conducted Thursday but released on Saturday, Obama said: “I can’t speak to governor Romney’s motivations,” adding: “What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken.
“And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he’s talked about.”
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/25/barack-obama-romney-policies-worse
on August 24, 2012
The sixteenth anniversary of TANF hit this week, and the Republican presidential candidate spent his time lying about the president’s position on it. The president, Mitt Romney insists, stripped the work requirements out of the temporary assistance program that replaced welfare for poor families under Bill Clinton in 1996.
Although every fact-check has shown he’s wrong, Romney and the Romney-phile propaganda groups keep pounding away at their message with ads like this one:
Unidentified male: “Under Obama’s plan you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
The president’s responded in typically Obaman fashion. Without wading into the welfare fray, he’s wagged his finger at Romney’s facts: “You just can’t make stuff up….” The Democrat is beating the drum for “more popular” government programs, like those for seniors and students and closing his rallies with Bruce Springsteen’s paean to solidarity, “We Take Care of Our Own.”
Good as it is, a bit of the Boss won’t clear things up. As even NPR pointed out this week, the Romney campaign is dredging up the welfare debate because as a piece of political hot button–pushing, it works like magic.
NPR’s Ari Shapiro spoke to Peggy Testa and her husband at a Paul Ryan rally outside Pittsburgh:
By David Edwards
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney insists that he didn’t shut down his tax shelters in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Switzerland because it would “avoid the truth” and he wasn’t going to “manipulate my life” just to become president.
Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Romney in an interview that aired on Sunday why he didn’t close the Swiss bank accounts and get out of the investments in the Cayman Islands before he spent the last eight years running for president.
“First of all, there was no reduction — not one dollar reduction — in taxes by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment,” Romney explained. “The dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all. And the conduct of the trustee and making investments was entirely consistent with U.S. law and all the taxes paid were those legally owed and there was no tax saving by virtue of those entities.”
“But why not just go to him a long time ago and just say, get out of these things?” Wallace pressed.
“Don’t invest in anything outside the United States?” Romney replied. “I mean, I could have said, ‘Don’t make any investments in any foreign companies, in any foreign bonds, in any foreign currency — only U.S. entities. And by the way, don’t buy any foreign products, don’t have any Japanese TVs or foreign cars.’ I mean, yeah, I could have done that.”
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/25-4
It’s just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what’s happening to poor people. Official Washington continues to see poverty with tunnel vision – “out of sight, out of mind.”
And we’re not speaking just of Paul Ryan and his Draconian budget plan or Mitt Romney and their fellow Republicans. Tipping their hats to America’s impoverished while themselves seeking handouts from billionaires and corporations is a bad habit that includes President Obama, who of all people should know better.
Remember: for three years in the 1980’s he was a community organizer in Roseland, one of the worst, most poverty-stricken and despair-driven neighborhoods in Chicago. He called it “the best education I ever had.” And when Obama left to go to Harvard Law School, author Paul Tough writes in The New York Times, he did so, “to gain the knowledge and resources that would allow him to eventually return and tackle the neighborhood’s problems anew.” There’s a moving line in Dreams from My Father where Obama writes: “I would learn power’s currency in all its intricacy and detail” and “bring it back like Promethean fire.”
Oddly, though, for all his rhetorical skills, Obama hasn’t made a single speech devoted to poverty since he moved into the White House.
Five years ago, he was one of the few politicians who would talk about it. Here he is in July 2007, speaking in Anacostia, one of the poorest parts of Washington, D.C.:
“The moral question about poverty in America — How can a country like this allow it? — has an easy answer: we can’t. The political question that follows — What do we do about it? – has always been more difficult. But now that we’re finally seeing the beginnings of an answer, this country has an obligation to keep trying.”
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/08/25-4
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/kristof-big-chem-big-harm.html
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: August 25, 2012
NEW research is demonstrating that some common chemicals all around us may be even more harmful than previously thought. It seems that they may damage us in ways that are transmitted generation after generation, imperiling not only us but also our descendants.
Yet following the script of Big Tobacco a generation ago, Big Chem has, so far, blocked any serious regulation of these endocrine disruptors, so called because they play havoc with hormones in the body’s endocrine system.
One of the most common and alarming is bisphenol-A, better known as BPA. The failure to regulate it means that it is unavoidable. BPA is found in everything from plastics to canned food to A.T.M. receipts. More than 90 percent of Americans have it in their urine.
Even before the latest research showing multigeneration effects, studies had linked BPA to breast cancer and diabetes, as well as to hyperactivity, aggression and depression in children.
Maybe it seems surprising to read a newspaper column about chemical safety because this isn’t an issue in the presidential campaign or even firmly on the national agenda. It’s not the kind of thing that we in the news media cover much.
Yet the evidence is growing that these are significant threats of a kind that Washington continually fails to protect Americans from. The challenge is that they involve complex science and considerable uncertainty, and the chemical companies — like the tobacco companies before them — create financial incentives to encourage politicians to sit on the fence. So nothing happens.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/kristof-big-chem-big-harm.html
Unless we challenge the idea that we should concede our rights to protect our safety, it’ll get even worse.
By David Rosen
August 21, 2012
We’ve come a long way since the 1880s when Sir Francis Galton, a British anthropologist and a cousin of Charles Darwin, first undertook the scientific study of fingerprints as a means of identification. Now, two centuries later, all information is digital, created, distributed and displayed as a series of 1s and Os.
Today’s surveillance and tracking systems can (in principle) integrate infinite amounts of information: your location and identity via GPS and face recognition technology; video feeds from the cameras located down the street or across the globe; records from any and all databases; electronic communications like voice and emails. It’s all in the processors and the sky’s the limit.
Large server farms — analysis centers — operate throughout the country. They consist of huge “cloud” servers that aggregate and process the datasets through innumerable applications or programs. They process data from federal agencies and local governments as well as private companies, including commercial aggregators who sell personal information.
High-tech surveillance can best be described as 21st-century digital alchemy. It’s not clear how a suspicious activity report can generate either a timely warning; little hard data is available to evaluate the effectiveness. Nor do the entities backing the systems, government or private, provide detailed cost estimates of the building and operating fees of their programs in terms of foiling a single terrorist plot — is there a cost-benefit analysis? The fog of post-9/11 allows the federal government to avoid detailing the true costs associated with the post-9/11 high-tech anti-terrorist mobilization.
The fog of 9/11, a decade-plus later, also permits the popular acceptance of a new policing fiction: Americans must give up their privacy right to safeguard the nation … and enrich private contractors.