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constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Becoming Mandela

December 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Matt Meyer, Politics

Media and the Making of Future Madibas

by Matt Meyer

Reading through well over one hundred portrayals of Nelson Mandela, and through the extensive comments made on my own “don’t mourn a myth” perspective which urged that we better understand the contradictions inherent in the man, it is hard not to conclude that few are worth a second look. If we are working towards assembling a collection of remembrances which might further the causes Mandela once championed, this month of memorials makes little contributions. Despite a fairly shallow overview in the New York Times Magazine, author Bill Keller was at least correct that Madiba was no saint, and that – in fact – it was his all-too-common human attributes of anger, aging, inconsistency and such that should make it possible for people to “aspire to his example.” (more…)

Sins of Omission

June 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

Three Things Young People Should Know to Save the World

by David Swanson

Of course, old people should know these things too, and some small percentage does know them, but energy seems better invested in trying to teach them to young people who have less to unlearn in the process…

1. Obedience is extremely dangerous. 

This seems like it must be either wrong or misleadingly incomplete.  And that would be true if we were talking about children.  If a two-year-old is about to run in front of a car, please do yell “stop!” and hope for as much obedience as possible. But I’m talking to young people, not children.

When you grow up, your obedience should always be conditional.  If a master chef appears to be instructing you to prepare a revoltingly bad dinner but wants you to obey his or her instructions on faith, you might very well choose to do so, considering the risk to be tolerable.  If, however, the chef tells you to chop off your little finger, and you do it, that will be a sure sign that you’ve got an obedience problem. (more…)

Care Work

December 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Politics, Victoria Law

Rediscovering the Power and Utility of Selma James

by Victoria Law 

In 2002, when my daughter was a toddler, I joined a fledgling group called M*A*M*A (Mothers’ Association for Militant Action). We were mothers who felt pushed out of political organizing because we came with children and the additional needs that children bring. selma_james_sexraceclassWe attempted to challenge the idea that once a woman becomes a mother, she can no longer be politically involved. We quickly realized that, in order for us to organize, we needed childcare for our very young (and, in one case, developmentally delayed) children.

Our requests for childcare were usually dismissed. When we brought our children to meetings and events, we were given the evil eye, if not verbally chastised, when our children made noise. Now, ten years later, childcare is still not the norm although it is offered at certain conferences and events. (more…)

Don’t Mourn, Organize!

September 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Peter Bergel, Politics

Working Together to Address Threats Ignored by Dysfunctional Government

by Peter Bergel

In my email recently was a message from one of my favorite organizations, the League of Conservation Voters, that began: “We just won a major victory: The Obama administration has finalized new fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards that will raise the average gas mileage on cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Simply put, this is the single biggest thing the United States government has ever done to reduce global warming pollution.” The League urged me to thank President Obama “for protecting our planet.”

I know I should not look a gift horse in the mouth, but I have to admit that my reaction was “really?”

Modest Achievement

This “biggest thing,” raises average mileage on cars by 2025 — 13 years from now. Obama will be long out of office by then and the auto industry will have plenty of time to work on chiseling that mileage figure down. Besides, why did it take Obama nearly 4 years to get around to this? And why is the mileage figure so low? (more…)

Making Contact

August 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Diane Lefer, Politics

How Progressives Can (and Must) Lobby for Social Change

by Diane Lefer

Abbe Land, West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem, doesn’t want activists to think of “lobbying” as a dirty word. “In the purest form, it’s about educating and helping elected officials understand the issue,” she told more than 100 community members attending the recent workshop, “Your Voice: Learning to Lobby for Social Change,” organized by the Advocacy Committee of the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles.

“Paid lobbyists can keep knocking on your door till you let them in, keep telling you their side, their side, their side — till it’s possible forget about the other side.” Progressive organizations lobby, too, “to move our agenda forward,” she said in her keynote address, but don’t have the resources to keep up that kind of constant pressure without the help of the individual activist. The role of citizen lobbyist is crucial. (more…)

Revitalizing

June 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Young, Talented, and Living in Detroit

by Jay Walljasper

Declining, desperate Detroit is old news.

It’s not that the city’s economic woes, struggling schools, racial friction and crime have been magically solved. A glance at local headlines will tell you that.

But there are new stories to tell about Detroit today. Which doesn’t mean the old stories are all wrong — just that they’re not the whole story anymore.

In recent years, for instance, Detroit has become a magnet for ambitious young people. Some grew up in the area; some move in from the coasts or other parts of the Midwest. Many are motivated by idealism or a sense of adventure, seeking to play a part in reviving a Great American City. Others, however, simply see an opportunity to fast track their careers. (more…)

Occupy Democracy

November 17, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert Reich

Undoing the Hijacking of the First Amendment

by Robert Reich

A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they’re treated as public nuisances and evicted.

First things first. The Supreme Court’s rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats. (more…)


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