Stop Being Cynical About Politics And Corporations, It’s Time To Be Angry

The Article: Stop Being Cynical About Corporate Money in Politics and Start Being Angry by Bill McKibben in Mother Jones.

The Text: My resolution for 2012 is to be naïve—dangerously naïve.

I’m aware that the usual recipe for political effectiveness is just the opposite: to be cynical, calculating, an insider. But if you think, as I do, that we need deep change in this country, then cynicism is a sucker’s bet. Try as hard as you can, you’re never going to be as cynical as the corporations and the harem of politicians they pay for. It’s like trying to outchant a Buddhist monastery.

Here’s my case in point, one of a thousand stories people working for social change could tell: All last fall, most of the environmental movement, including, the group I helped found, waged a fight against the planned Keystone XL pipeline that would bring some of the dirtiest energy on the planet from Canada through the US to the Gulf Coast. We waged our struggle against building it out in the open, presenting scientific argument, holding demonstrations, and attending hearings. We sent 1,253 people to jail in the largest civil disobedience action in a generation. Meanwhile, more than half a million Americans offered public comments against the pipeline, the most on any energy project in the nation’s history.

And what do you know? We won a small victory in November, when President Obama agreed that, before he could give the project a thumbs-up or -down, it needed another year of careful review. (The previous version of that review, as overseen by the State Department, had been little short of a crony capitalist farce.) Given that James Hansen, the government’s premier climate scientist, had said that tapping Canada’s tar sands for that pipeline would, in the end, essentially mean “game over for the climate,” that seemed an eminently reasonable course to follow, even if it was also eminently political.

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Legalizing Marijuana: An Intelligent Argument

The Article: The Intelligent Argument For Legalizing Pot by Andrew Schenkel on Mother Nature Network.

The Text: Groups all around the country are campaigning to legalize marijuana in California.

In a matter of days, voters in the Golden State will be able to decide if marijuana will remain an illegal drug by voting for or against Proposition 19 on the California ballot. Proposition 19 has gotten the attention of groups all around the country, and those hoping to “legalize it” don’t exactly fit the cliché of dreadlocked, jobless, munchie-craving stoners.

Thousands of miles away from California’s borders, in one of the squarest, lamest and uptight cities in the nation (Washington, D.C.), law students at one of America’s most prestigious universities are making the “intelligent” argument for legalization. Members of Georgetown University’s Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) have devoted some of their time this week to calling voters in California and urging them to vote “yes” on Proposition 19.

“It’s not a bunch of hippies sitting around,” said one of the members of the group, who asked to remain anonymous to not draw attention to himself.

“We all have short hair, many of us have pretty anti-hippie aspirations after law school. Some of us want to do corporate law, or tax law or even litigation once we get our law degrees,” he said. He added that he voted for George W. Bush twice and tends to vote along Libertarian ideologies.

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The Egyptian Revolution’s Smallest Soldiers: Kids

The Article: Egypt’s Street Kids Are Revolution’s Smallest Soldiers by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson on NPR.

The Text: In Egypt, a disturbing trend has emerged in recent clashes between protesters and security forces: children placing themselves on the front lines.

Activists say several have been killed or wounded in recent months by gunfire and tear gas. Plus, 1 out of every 4 protesters thrown in jail following clashes in December was a child.

Their advocates say most, if not all, of these kids live on Cairo’s streets, and that they see the revolution as a way to escape their isolation from society.

Every Friday, crowds of Egyptians gather in Cairo to chant slogans against their military rulers. But recently, a small group tried to bring attention the plight of street children who take part in demonstrations — a problem few protesters like to talk about.

They shout that the ruling generals should be ashamed for killing or jailing the children.

Rally organizer Amira Abdelhamid hands the children who show up helium-filled balloons.

Eleven-year-old Ahmed Adel says he likes going to protests to check out what’s going on. Ahmed admits he throws stones at the soldiers and then runs away.

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Hollywood’s Unnecessary Disdain For Gay Sex

The Article: Why Does Hollywood Hate Gay Sex? by Ramin Satoodeh in The Daily Beast.

The Text: By now, you’ve probably heard about Shame, this generation’s Last Tango in Paris. Michael Fassbender plays a single (and often naked) Manhattan bachelor named Brandon obsessed with sex, and the movie offers a voyeuristic look into his anonymous encounters with various women. One afternoon he even has sex with a pretty blonde prostitute against the window of the Standard Hotel, for all of downtown New York to see.

On another drunken night, Brandon wanders into a gay club. He’s so desperate for sex, he’ll sleep with anybody—even a man. The scene is meant to illustrate how depraved his character has become, but the moment is a turning point for another reason. For the first time in the film, Shame is ashamed to show you what Brandon experiences. In a dark underground corridor, a guy unzips Brandon’s pants … and the camera cuts away. The screen fades to black.

Gay sex is the last Hollywood taboo. When Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet as the first openly gay sitcom star in 1997—and her fictional self followed suit—a parade of gay characters came after her. There was Will & Grace, and Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City sidekick, Stanford. In movies, the gay best friend became a staple, from My Best Friend’s Wedding to Mean Girls.

Yet none of these characters do what gay men do. As Hollywood portrays it, the homosexual man is, astonishingly, sexless.

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American Politics’ Oedipus Complex

The Article: Oedipus Rex Complex by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times.

The Text: American politics bristles with Oedipal drama.

Sons struggling to live up to fathers. Sons striving to outdo fathers. Sons scheming to avenge fathers. Sons burning to one-up fathers. Sons yearning to impress fathers who vanished early on. Sons leaning on fathers. Sons using fathers as reverse-play books.

John McCain was the raffish and rebellious Navy flier son of a stern four-star admiral who commanded the Vietnam theater where McCain was a P.O.W. Al Gore was the wooden good son of a Tennessee senator who was a fiery orator.

Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama had to climb the ladder without the huge benefit that J.F.K., W., Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. had — the obsessive support of wealthy and well-connected dads.

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