What’s missing in mainstream political discourse? Where do media distortions butt heads with social justice? For one, “I think one of the most important things about a civilized country is respect for women,” says Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. “I think we’re seeing in too many of our institutions a lack of respect.” Appearing on ABC’s This Week, vanden Heuvel discusses sexual assault in the military, Anthony Weiner, social media and more.
What sort of “women’s rights” is the Susan B. Anthony List peddling? Read Jessica Valenti’s take.
Every time an American woman walks into her polling place, she ought to give thanks to Susan B. Anthony, who wrote the constitutional amendment that allows her to vote. Anthony herself was arrested and convicted for the right we take for granted—that women are entitled to participate in our democratic process. Her advocacy for women extended to our education and even our right to own property. (She was also an early supporter of the temperance movement. No one’s perfect.)
I’m certain Susan B. Anthony would be aghast if she knew that her name was being used by a group of anti-abortion extremists to drive an anti-women agenda and roll back the rights she fought so hard for. Anthony knew that caring for women’s health was an important part of protecting their rights, which is why she opposed the criminalization of abortion. Since abortion was illegal in the nineteenth century, she knew the stakes. Women still sought abortions back then, but it was like playing Russian roulette with your life. There were horrible complications, infections, and many women ended up sterile. The unlucky ones died of botched abortions.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) bears no resemblance to the legacy of the hero whose legacy has made all of our lives better. A new report from NARAL Pro-Choice America and American Bridge details the insidious goals of this so-called women’s organization. They make no bones about their plans: their president, Marjorie Dannenfelser says, “When we started about 20 years ago, you would not put the pro-life movement and the NRA in the same category…. That’s been my goal—to make this issue, which is so fundamental, have the strongest political arm they could possibly have. That’s the direction I see this heading in.”
They’ve got a big agenda: use the upcoming Virginia governor’s race as a “proving ground” to drive their anti-choice fundamentalism in a dozen states and in the thirty-three Senate races in 2014. We’ve seen how they support the most radical candidates running the most out of touch campaigns. When the rest of America—including the vast majority of Republicans—was denouncing Todd Akin for his mystifying comments that a woman couldn’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape,” the SBA List stood by him. Dannefelser called him “an excellent partner” and reaffirmed her organization’s support for his candidacy.
Richard Mourdock didn’t deny that rape could result in pregnancy, but he did say those pregnancies were “something God intended to happen,” and again SBA List stood by their man. They ran ads attacking his opponent, who now sits in the US Senate. Akin, of course, also lost.
They don’t stop with candidates. When the Virginia legislature proposed a bill in 2012 that would require women who need an abortion to get an unnecessary, invasive transvaginal ultrasound, Dannefelser took to the airwaves to praise the measure. “Really, this is a matter of giving a woman more information that she needs to make a decision that’s fully informed,” Dannefelser told Chris Matthews about the procedure, which involves penetrating a woman with a wand to give her an ultrasound that only confirms what she already knows. (The law eventually passed without the transvaginal ultrasound requirement, although it still forces women to undergo a noninvasive ultrasound that is just as unnecessary.)
While SBA List is a fan of unnecessary ultrasounds, the organization does not like it when women have access to the healthcare they need. The organization asked Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge to defund Planned Parenthood, which would deny women access to cancer screenings, prenatal care and even regular check-ups.
SBA List styles itself a feminist organization that works to elect more pro-life women to office. (In fact, they supported some of the most radically anti-choice male candidates in 2012.) But their real agenda is as fiercely anti-woman as Anthony herself was pro-woman.
See thier work in this year’s Virginia governor’s race. They’ve committed a minimum of $1.5 million to help elect Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, an anti-abortion extremist in the mold of Akin and Mourdock. Six years ago, then–state legislator Cuccinelli sponsored the most extreme kind of personhood amendment, one that would ban many forms of birth control (not to mention miscarriages).
The Virginia governor race is a chance for SBA List to test strategies and messaging they can deploy nationwide in 2014, 2016 and beyond. Like most pro-life activists, they have focused their efforts on hiding the most extreme parts of their agenda and pursuing attacks on a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion care piecemeal. They conceal their radical agenda as concern for women’s health and safety. That’s why our report on the record and activities of SBA List is so important; we need to expose them now for who they are, before they help elect more candidates that threaten our rights and our lives.
Defending guys who question rape? Pushing invasive and unnecessary medical procedures on women? Thinking they know better then we do about what works best for our lives? It is difficult to imagine a more insulting attack on Anthony’s proud legacy.
The first couple is peddling black college graduates some seriously worn-out stereotypes on race and opportunity. Read Aura Bogado’s take.
(AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)
Six months after the shootings in Newtown, and one month after the Manchin-Toomey gun control legislation died in the Senate, we already have a test case of how the gun control might play out with voters. It has emerged this week as a major issue in the the special election for John Kerry’s vacated Massachusetts Senate seat—and the Republican candidate’s somewhat comical inability to effectively defend his position is perhaps a promising sign for reformers.
Last week, Representative Ed Markey, the Democratic candidate, released a fairly standard campaign ad promising to “fight for common sense laws to stop gun violence.” It noted that the Republican candidate, former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, “is against banning high-capacity magazines like the ones used in the Newtown school shooting.” Watch:
Gomez and the national Republicans flipped out. “Exploiting a tragedy for political gain is sick,” Gomez said in a statement Friday. “Disgusting, Deplorable and Desperate Attack Ads on Former Navy SEAL Par for the Course for Markey,” tweeted the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Gomez doubled down on this defense today, releasing an ad attacking “dirty Ed Markey,” and making an unusually explosive, and fact-stretching, claim: “Now, Markey actually blames Gomez for the Newtown shooting.” Watch:
It’s fair to say that Gomez is playing loose with the truth here. “Despite what the ad says, Markey has not blamed Gomez for the Newtown shooting,” The Boston Globe had to explain in a straight news story.
Gomez’s over-reaction suggests awareness of serious vulnerability on this issue. And what’s his actual response? He’s not debating a policy point—not attempting to explain why he opposes a ban on high-capacity magazines—but haphazardly trying change the conversation with an inflammatory attempt to play the victim.
His failure to conjure a sensible, post-Newtown argument against better gun laws might be an important tea leaf for the 2014 midterms, as well as the ultimate future of real gun legislation.
It’s useful to recall where the political debate stands. After comprehensive gun-control legislation died in the Senate last month, polls showed that senators who helped kill the bill faced plummeting approval numbers, while those that stood up for the legislation received notable boosts. Since 90 percent of the public favored expanded background checks for gun sales, this dynamic wasn’t very surprising, and it left reformers with two paths forward.
The first was to immediately try to take another bite at the apple: pressure key holdouts like Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeff Flake to come back to the table, and try to pass a moderated version of the Manchin-Toomey legislation as soon as it became feasible. There have been some whispers about that possibility, but nothing concrete seems to be happening.
The other (not mutually exclusive) approach is to let the public fury build over the next eighteen months and use it as a weapon in the midterm elections. A vote allowing criminals to have guns is a good wedge to separate Republicans from moderate suburban voters, and if the Manchin-Toomey vote helps cost some members their seats, a humbled 114th Congress could take another swing at gun control legislation
This strategy has the added virtue of potentially tougher legislation: instead of having to modify the already weakened Manchin-Toomey bill (bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were dropped early on, and a large background check exemption for private sales was added at the eleventh hour), reformers could start all over with a much better package.
Markey’s ad is a perfect example of this latter approach: not only is he hitting his opponent for opposing popular gun control legislation, but he’s widening the debate past Manchin-Toomey, and focusing on assault weapons and large clips. (Gomez, to his credit, has repeatedly backed Manchin-Toomey and expanded background checks, leaving assault weapons and high-capacity clips as the major area of distinction.)
Gomez's response wasn't to defend a position against high-capacity clips, but rather try to change the story. If gun control opponents can’t do any better than Gabriel Gomez at defending their policies, things are looking up for reform.
Walmart helped make the AR-15, which was the weapon used by Adam Lanza, the most popular assault weapon in America, George Zornick writes.
Memphis death row prisoner Timothy McKinney has been trying to overturn a 1999 conviction for the fatal shooting of a police officer that he maintains he never committed. After a third trial and a hung jury, McKinney was finally offered a plea deal: plead guilty to second-degree murder and be released with time served. McKinney plead guilty to a crime he never committed and will be set free as early as today.
Nation Associate Editor Liliana Segura has followed McKinney’s case and her most recent Nation article chronicles the case, from a prosecution too corrupt to back down to a system that will send men to their death based on weak evidence. She spoke with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh about the trial and McKinney’s impending release on today’s Democracy Now!.
Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki showed his film The House I Live In, an indictment of the “War on Drugs,” to prisoners across the country. Liliana Segura sat in on a screening.
From left, Senators Schumer, Grassley and Leahy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Although the Senate Judiciary Committee has been making amendments to the massive comprehensive immigration reform bill for two weeks, it wasn’t at all clear whether Senator Patrick Leahy would offer his amendment to include LGBT couples in this bill. He waited until late last night to attempt to do so, as the final amendment. In the end, Leahy withdrew his bid, after Republicans threatened to derail the entire bill, and Democrats agreed to sell out queer couples for a supposed greater purpose.
Leahy, who began by explaining that he himself has been married for fifty years, highlighted that during the time since the immigration bill was first introduced, three states have legalized same-sex marriage. All three, Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota, are represented on the Senate’s committee. But that didn’t stop Republicans like Lindsey Graham from politely urging Leahy from submitting his amendment to a vote. That reverent tone—a departure from many of the amendments that were hotly debated in the past two weeks—was echoed by other Republicans, who concurrently acknowledged the passion for equality while threatening to derail the bill if the LGBT amendment passed.
Democrats, meanwhile, appeared perfectly comfortable outlining their justification for homophobia. Senators Diane Feinstein and Dick Durbin fervently pretended to want to protect equality, but soon abandoned the principle and encouraged Leahy to drop his amendment. Senator Chuck Schumer—who had spent most of the day kicking back in his leather office chair and texting on his cell phone while he and his colleagues slowly decide the fate of 11 million undocumented immigrants—stated that not including Leahy’s amendment amounted to nothing less than “rank discrimination.” Nevertheless, Schumer made clear that he wouldn’t support the amendment because it would threaten to bring down the entire bill. With zero support for equality from his colleagues, Leahy withdrew his amendment.
As often as senators stated that the process was difficult for them, the result is most difficult for those couples that could soon be separated even if immigration reform passes. Meghan Austin, a 34-year-old who works with Immigration Equality, blogged her disappointment last night after both parties sold out her community. Speaking to her this morning was far more painstaking than listening to senators make excuses yesterday. “It was heartbreaking to see the Democrats abandon Senator Leahy and let him stand alone in defending what’s right,” she told me.
Austin met her partner, who is in the United States on a work visa, three years ago. She wants to sponsor her to stay, but doesn’t have that option—which straight couples do. Austin says that she, along with some twenty families, met with Schumer’s office four times recently, and he assured that he would stand with them in committee. Responding to reports that Schumer found the process among “the most excruciatingly difficult decisions” he’s ever had to make, Austin responded, “Standing for what’s right should never be an excruciating choice.”
With the exception of Leahy’s attempt to introduce the amendment, Austin added that the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves—and that they should have reframed the debate and stood for equality. “Openly admitting to discrimination is shocking, especially to me as a constituent,” explained Austin, who hails from Brooklyn, in Schumer’s state of New York.
President Obama was rumored—but never confirmed—to have asked Leahy to drop his amendment. As the bill finally moves forward for debate to the full Senate, it’s more than likely that Obama won’t veto a bill that throws LGBT couples and their families under the perennial bus of inequality. In his failed attempt to bring the equality amendment up for a vote last night, Leahy expressed that our grandchildren will look back at marriage inequality the way we look back at anti-miscegenation laws. He’s only half right: We don’t have to wait until the future to know that the way senators acted is shameful and indefensible today.
Whither the GOP’s anti-racist facade? Read Mychal Denzel Smith’s take.
While companies such as Facebook and Google rely on users for content and profits, as Ari Melber explains at thenation.com, they use one-sided “Terms of Service” contracts to exclude these same content providers from negotiating control of their pictures, text and personal data.
In this Nation essay, Ari Melber, Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger team up to call on social media companies to recognize user rights: “Social media companies say consumer privacy is just the cost of doing business. But what would happen if they actually had to bargain with users on equal footing?”
This video conversation explores a recent unilateral move made by Facebook that could, according to Baker Hostetler attorney Gerald Ferguson, allow the socila media company the unfettered right to sell user data to any advertising agency Facebook has a stake in.
In this Saturday, May 11, 2013, file photo, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 78, waves to media, as he registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
This is the second part in a series on Iran’s June 14 presidential election. Part 1, with brief profiles of the leading candidates who’d filed to run, appeared last Friday.
As the news of the latest turns in Iran’s presidential election develops—namely, that the Guardian Council, which oversees Iranian politics for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has barred two opposition-minded candidates, including former President Rafsanjani—it’s useful to remember that Iran’s election is about Iran, not the United States.
President Obama, who’d like to restart talks with Iran over its nuclear program after the election on June 14, may also need to talk to Iran about the civil war in Syria and about Afghanistan, too, where a renewed fighting season has boosted the Taliban’s fortunes. But, as always, Obama will have to deal with the Iran that exists in the real world, not the Iran he’d wish for. Iran’s system isn’t going away anytime soon, and that would have been true even if Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s favorite, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, had been allowed to run.
It probably true that Rafsanjani—who still might be approved by Khamenei, if he overrules the Guardian Council—might have been relatively more willing to seek better relations with Washington. However, even if Rafsanjani had run and been elected, when he took office in August he’d still have to defer to Khamenei. Iran-watchers who expected that the election might have ushered in wholesale change would still have been disappointed.
Still, reports from Tehran indicate that many Iranians are surprised and shocked that Rafsanjani was barred from running, since he was an intimate of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and has been a high official and kingmaker for three decades. In 2009, Rafsanjani threw his backing to Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the reformist who challenged Ahmadinejad’s reelection, and in the aftermath of the election he criticized the crackdown on protesters who took to the streets.
According to AP, Rafsanjani has reportedly accepted the Guardian Council’s decision, while Ahmadinejad and Mashaei intend to register a protest with Khamenei.
For Iranians, the issue in the election revolves first around the economy, with growing unemployment, inflation, and with entire industries—oil and gas, petrochemicals, auto manufacturing, computers and IT, aviation—stuck in neutral, partly because of international sanctions and, more importantly, due to mismanagement by the Iranian government under Ahmadinejad. Of course, some of Iran’s economic problems might be improved if Washington and Tehran reached an agreement that could lift sanctions. It’ll be important to see how the eight remaining candidates, most of whom are conservative loyalists, will deal with Iran’s economic problems and Western sanctions.
Another issue for Iranians, of course, is whether or not to make changes in the political system that’s been in place at least since 1989, when Khamenei—with Rafsanjani’s backing—became Supreme Leader. The “reformists,” led by former President Mohammad Khatami—who decided not to run—and his allies, have gingerly sought to place limits on the Leader’s power, but during Khatami’s time in office (1997–2005) those efforts were shot down by the Guardian Council after they were enacted by a reformist-dominated parliament back then. On the other side, Khamenei and the conservatives are unhappy with the very institution of the presidency. Part of the trade off in 1989, when Khamenei rose to power, was that Rafsanjani would be Iran’s president (1989–1997) and that the office of president would be strengthened. That tug-of-war continues, today, in a different form.
Even if Rafsanjani doesn’t run, and it’s unlikely he’ll be approved by Khamenei, there’s still a candidate in the race around whom reformists and centrists might converge: Hassan Rouhani. He’s a cleric and senior official on the Expediency Council, and previously he served as Khatami’s chief negotiator on the nuclear issue until 2005. When he announced his decision to run for president in April, two of Rafsanjani’s children were present at the event, and Rouhani will probably get the backing of Khatami, too. (Earlier, Khatami had given his blessing to Rafsanjani.) But Rouhani can’t claim the pedigree that Rafsanjani has, and by all accounts he’s a colorless and less-than-charismatic figure.
The seeming front-runner, Saeed Jalili, is Iran’s current negotiator over the nuclear issue. (It’s silly to pick frontrunners in Iran’s election, since there are often surprises, if not complete shocks. In 1997 and 2001, few expected that Khatami would get the overwhelming majorities that he did, and in 2005 the election of Ahmadinejad, a dark horse, was also a surprise.) Last week, Jalili gave an interview to the Christian Science Monitor in Istanbul, where he was holding talks with the European Union, and the Monitor’s Scott Peterson gave this background:
Jalili has a PhD in political science from Imam Sadeq University, which is known for the ideological hue of its students. His dissertation on 7th century political thought was turned into a book called “Foreign Policy of the Prophet of Islam.”
Jalili spent years working on foreign policy in Khamenei’s office, assuming the post of director general at just 36 years old. From 2005 he was an Ahmadinejad adviser and then deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs. He reportedly helped write an unprecedented 18-page letter from Ahmadinejad to President George Bush. The letter claimed that liberal democracy had “failed” in the West, and noted how “history tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive.”
Any of the other approved candidates, including the mayor of Tehran—Ahmadinejad’s former post—and Khamenei’s chief foreign policy adviser, could catch on.
Read Bob Dreyfuss on the continuing conflict in Syria.
Failed senatorial candidate and SBA beneficiary Todd Akin. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A few years back, a women’s organization with a bad record engaging with young feminists decided to add on an event to their annual conference. It was a forum specifically for younger women, launched with painfully constructed slang: “We’ll be headin’ to Albany and hangin’ at the Crowne Plaza!” The tagline was even written in a graffiti-type font.
Anti-choice organizations’ efforts to present themselves as “pro-woman” give me a similar feeling of second-hand embarrassment—you wish someone would tell them how foolish they sound. But unlike the aforementioned well-meaning organization—who despite cringe-worthy language, works hard to improve women’s lot in life—anti-choice groups use feminist language to push an agenda that puts women’s health and lives in danger. It’s like if your mom tried to prove how cool she was to your friends by punching them in the face.
Leading the “pro-woman,” anti-choice charge is the Susan B. Anthony List—an organization that seeks to elect anti-choice men and women to office. Think of them as the bizarro EMILY’s List. Like its cohorts the Independent Women’s Forum and Feminists for Life, SBA List tries to shroud its radically conservative ideology in pro-woman rhetoric. Hence its name (though there’s no evidence that suffragist Susan B. Anthony was in favor of criminalizing abortion) and mission to prove that access to abortion is actually bad for women.
But a comprehensive report just released by NARAL Pro-Choice America shows just how thinly veiled the SBA List’s anti-feminism really is—no matter how many women-friendly slogans they use.
The organization stood by Todd Akin after his “legitimate rape” comments suggesting that women can’t get pregnant after rape, and said they “couldn’t agree more” with Richard Mourdouck, the GOP candidate for the Indiana Senate who said pregnancy from rape is “something that God intended to happen.” The organization also supported Rick Santorum’s presidential run with over half a million dollars—the man who said pregnancy after rape was a gift from God and that victims should just “make the best out of a bad situation.”
The SBA List, clearly expecting more anti-woman comments from their candidates, even organized a training program for politicians to help them avoid sounding crass and ignorant—even if their policies are just that.
It’s not just the people they support who are out of touch—the SBA List’s leadership is similarly retrograde. Marilyn Musgrave, the organization’s vice president of government affairs, voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act while serving in the Colorado Legislature and has said that legalizing same sex marriage would lead to “group marriage.” She even opposed adoption by same sex couples.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who tried to convince women that Virginia’s widely mocked ultrasound mandate was just “a matter of giving a woman more information,” strangely says that the abortion rate increases the more women use birth control. She’s also said, “the bottom line is that to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems.”
This “bottom line” epitomizes how out of touch and antiquated the SBA List is. Ensuring that sex doesn’t always result in children is one of feminism’s greatest wins. Reliable birth control has freed women in a way that arguably no other modern invention has, but to SBA List, that’s too much freedom.
So maybe the SBA List and other conservative women’s organizations are pro-woman in a way—they’re just pro a version of womanhood that most of us left behind a long time ago. And even if they gussy it up in modern garb (the Suzy B blog!) it’s a version of “woman” that modern women are simply not willing to return to.
What happened to LGBT inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform? Read Aura Bogado’s take.
Rahm Emanuel, left, and Chicago’s police superintendent at a news conference, December 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
My kids are into Angry Birds, a game they love for the same reason I once obsessively played Super Mario Brothers: its appeal is incomprehensible to the adults around them. This inscrutable game, however, has one essential truth: you have some pissed off birds compelled by rage to put down some zombie-looking pigs. After a sad effort to play the game myself, I had my own epiphany: this game is actually a metaphor for the city of Chicago. Please bear with me. Angry Birds is more Chicago than the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field or deep-dish pizza. The lunacy, the violence, the plethora of increasingly crazed pigs and those fierce feathered fowl all represent the political actors in a city that’s gone over the edge.
It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. This is part of a mammoth redevelopment project on South Lakeshore Drive consisting of a convention center anchored by an arena for a non-descript basketball team that has gone 47-111 over the last five years. It’s also miles away from DePaul’s campus. These aren’t the actions of a mayor. They’re the actions of a mad king.
If you want to understand why Mayor Rahm has approval ratings to rival Rush Limbaugh in Harlem, you can point to priorities like these. The school closures are taking place entirely in communities of color while the city’s elite feed with crazed abandon at an increasingly sapped trough. As Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union chief who led a victorious strike last September fueled by rage at Mayor Rahm, said, “When the mayor claims he is facing unprecedented budget problems, he has a choice to make. He is choosing between putting our communities first or continuing the practice of handing out millions of public dollars to private operators, even in the toughest of times.”
It’s hardly just the labor-left of Chicago pointing out how breathtakingly heartless these priorities are. Rick Telander, the lead sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, penned a piece subtly titled, “With Rahm’s DePaul plan, we’ve entered a new arena of stupidity.” After making clear that DePaul’s team is hardly a magnet for city hoops fans, Telander wrote, “But forget that. Guess who will have to cough up about $100 million to build the thing for the private Catholic university of 25,000, through bonds and the usual sneak attacks of wallet-siphonage—Yes! Taxpayers! Ta-dah!”
The fact that Rick Telander wrote these words matters. The wine is out of the bottle and the horse is out of the barn. In 2013, it’s no longer a few of us cap-wearing Cassandras shouting that the end is nigh if we keep hollowing city budgets to pay for these monuments to corporate welfare. It’s Rick Telander. It’s the Chicago Sun-Times sports page. It’s all of us.
It must be pointed out that this deal, even by the standards of shady stadium operations, has people scratching their heads. Building an arena for a third-tier college basketball program as the heart of a new convention center? Was his second best idea a new snack called Nuts & Gum? I spoke to Neil DaMause, the co-author of the bible on stadium boondoggles, Field of Schemes, to get his thoughts. He said,
I’ve seen dumber things than a mayor offering to spend $173 million in tax money on a building for a private college that already has its pick of several arenas to play in—but not much dumber…. I can’t for the life of me imagine what Emanuel thinks Chicago is likely to get out of this deal, unless he really thinks that convention planners are just waiting for a 12,000-seat arena to hold their plenary sessions in, at which point they’ll start throwing wadded-up hundred-dollar bills at any Chicagoan they can find.
DeMause is right. The only explanation for this is that Rahm is scratching someone’s back in the DePaul Catholic hierarchy of Chicago. This is power politics the likes of which Chicago has honed into a crude, low art form, with the myriad public officials behind bars to prove it. In this case, the hottest rumor is that approval of legalized gambling is on the horizon and the convention center’s locale will be its epicenter. The arena is, in effect, a Trojan Horse for a casino.
If true, Chicagoans should shudder. Even better, they should take a field trip four hours east to Detroit. The Motor City has gambling, and I’ve been to their casinos. If you ever want to see exhausted families spend their last dollars in hopes to make enough to last the month, go to a Detroit casino. That’s the future Rahm Emanuel dreams about for the working people of Chicago. The difference now is that the pigs aren’t feeding at an overflowing trough. They’re feeding on the last grizzled meat sticking to our bones. There’s simply not enough slop to go around and people are fed up with being fed upon.
The Chicago Teachers Union strike from last September showed that the priorities of Rahm can be beaten back. The same rage that fueled their struggle animates those following this stadium swindle. I spoke with Alison McKenna, an adjunct professor in social welfare policy at DePaul. She said,
I have nothing against basketball and nothing against DePaul. But Rahm Emanuel and his upside-down priorities disgust me. In a deeply segregated city like Chicago, the gun violence that’s been all over the national news is the result of systematically tearing apart communities. Gentrification is not the answer for this city. The answer is decent jobs, social services, quality affordable housing, access to health care and fully funded schools, not another round of corporate welfare.
Rahm may have an army of zombie pigs who know how to do nothing but feed, but each and every neighborhood facing violence, school closures, clinic closures and public graft has a slew of increasingly angry birds. The people are long done playing Rahm’s game.
Who’s bankrolling the Center for American Progress, and what are they getting in return? Read Ken Silverstein’s report.
Attorney General Eric Holder (Associated Press)
It’s been slowly building for quite some time, but now the mainstream media is finally flashing a Red Alert concerning the Obama administration’s anit-leaks campaign. They used to refer to it as simply a “war on whistleblowers.” Now, after the Associated Press and Rosen/Fox News probes, they see it as a “war on the press”—with consequences already quite apparent.
Consider just the following:
A New York Times editorial today declared, “The Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.” It concluded: “Obama administration officials often talk about the balance between protecting secrets and protecting the constitutional rights of a free press. Accusing a reporter of being a ‘co-conspirator,’ on top of other zealous and secretive investigations, shows a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press.”
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, added on Tuesday that going after “routine news-gathering efforts as evidence of criminality is extremely troubling and corrodes time-honored understandings between the public and the government about the role of the free press.”
And Greg Sargent at The Washington Post interviews Mark Mazzetti, one of the chief Times investigative reporters, who tells him, “There’s no question that this has a chilling effect. People who have talked in the past are less willing to talk now. Everyone is worried about communication and how to communicate, and [asking if there] is there any method of communication that is not being monitored. It’s got people on both sides—the reporter and source side—pretty concerned…
“It certainly seems like they’re being very serious about hunting down people talking to reporters. All we know are the results. The fact that you have so many [cases] now, it scares people who talk to us. [Sources] who might have talked to us once may not talk to us now… Those of us doing national security reporting feel it’s a very difficult climate to work in right now.”
Greg Mitchell’s current books are So Wrong for So Long (on media failures and Iraq war) and the wild tale of MGM and Harry Truman scuttling a 1947 anti-nuclear epic, Hollywood Bomb. His personal blog, updated several times day, is Pressing Issues.