Roundup: Historian's Take
This is where we place excerpts by historians writing about the news. On occasion this page also includes political scientists, economists, and law professors who write about history. We may from time to time even include English profs.
SOURCE: LA Times (5-11-12)
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."
I'm a lifelong Democrat and a career educator. So I'm predictably appalled by Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has cut spending for schools and stripped teachers — and most of the state's public workers — of collective bargaining rights.
But I'm also appalled by the recall campaign against Walker by Wisconsin Democrats, who Tuesday chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to run against Walker in a June 5 special election — a rematch of the 2010 contest. The recall epitomizes the petty, loser-take-all vindictiveness of contemporary American politics. And if you don't agree, I've got two names for you: former California Gov. Gray Davis and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein....
...[Recalls were] born during the Progressive era a century ago. Fearful that corporate interests were bribing state and local legislators, Progressives demanded a tool that would allow voters to remove elected officials who were on the take....
As a liberal, I'm troubled by the prospect of voters unseating an elected official over taxes. Or abortion. Or gun control. If you can recall leaders for any political reason, sooner or later your own ox will be gored....
Posted on: Friday, May 11, 2012 - 12:14
SOURCE: CS Monitor (5-9-12)
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).
In 1885, a young political scientist named Woodrow Wilson wrote a path-breaking book about the intricacies of American government. Its 344 pages included just one paragraph on the vice presidency, and Wilson wondered if that was too much.
“The chief embarrassment in discussing the office is, that in explaining how little there is to be said about it one has evidently said all there is to say,” Wilson confessed. By the time Wilson became president in 1912, nothing had changed. Can you even name his vice president? I didn’t think so. (Answer: Thomas Marshall.)
But you probably can name the vice presidents after World War II, when the position became much more important. And not for the reasons you might think. Now that Mitt Romney is assured of the GOP nomination, news media have turned their focus to his selection of a running mate. There’s the inevitable talk of “balancing the ticket,” on the assumption that Mr. Romney’s choice will affect his own electoral fortunes....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:29
SOURCE: Richmond Times-Dispatch (5-9-12)
Kara Dixon Vuic is a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the author of "Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War." Contact her at email@example.com.
Recent news that nine military personnel and 11 Secret Service agents allegedly solicited prostitutes in Columbia has sparked a congressional inquiry, institutional investigations and much speculation about how such an act might threaten presidential security. Were these men just a few bad apples? Maybe. But the American military has a long history of sanctioning prostitution, one that suggests much deeper concerns about its cultivation of a sexualized culture that can help to explain such an astonishingly brash act.
Although the Civil War's Gen. Joseph Hooker is probably the most well-known military commander to officially sanction prostitution, he is certainly not alone. American military history is littered with officials who drew connections between a soldier's sexual habits and his battlefield performance. As Gen. George Patton put it most famously (and perhaps most crassly), "if they don't [blank], they don't fight." Other, less explicit, officials feared that soldiers would in fact have sex and that they would acquire venereal disease in the process. The military reconciled these two seemingly contradictory beliefs by providing prostitutes for men in the hope that a regulated system would be safer than the alternative. It was, Gen. John Pershing believed, "the best way to handle a difficult problem."...
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:18
SOURCE: The Nation (5-9-12)
Thomas Meaney and Stephen Wertheim are doctoral candidates in history at Columbia University.
In 1909 a group of men met on an estate in Wales to save Western civilization. Troubled by the erosion of British world power, they believed the decline could be reversed if statesmen turned away from the mundane tasks of modern diplomacy and channeled the wisdom of ancient Greece instead. The Greeks, in reconciling rulership with freedom, had made the West great, and supplied a model for their Anglo-Saxon heirs. No longer should the empire run itself; members of the group, including Lloyd George and Lord Milner, would train men of penetrating insight to direct imperial affairs more self-consciously than ever before. Drawing protégés from Oxbridge, the Round Table, as the group called itself, aimed to impart the lessons of enlightened leadership to a new generation. They produced countless articles and monographs. Chapters of the society flourished all over the empire. Ten years later, they had disappeared: nationalism had swept away their plans to knit the colonies closer together. British ascendancy ended sooner than any of them could have imagined.
The mantle of world leadership soon passed to the United States, and it’s here, where the ruling class is now experiencing its own crisis of confidence, that the Round Table is having something of a second act. Anxiety about America’s place in the world intensified after 9/11 but first became acute in the late 1990s, when the ills of the post–cold war world no longer appeared transient and seemed to demand concerted US leadership in response. This was the moment when liberal interventionism and neoconservatism ascended to the political mainstream and the grand narrative of “globalization” entered into wide circulation. In New Haven, historians John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy put forth a different response. Opposed to the Clinton administration’s ad hoc policy-making, they conceived a series of “grand strategy” seminars at Yale that aspired to train the next generation of leaders.
Joined by former diplomat Charles Hill, a onetime adviser to Henry Kissinger, Gaddis and Kennedy taught select students—those lucky enough to be accepted into the yearlong seminar—that lessons of leadership should be gleaned less from the social sciences dominant in US policy circles than from the humanities, beginning with Thucydides and plunging forward through the Romans, Machiavelli, Metternich and finally Ronald Reagan. Grand strategy, as Gaddis has explained in a recent speech on the subject, exposes students, “in a properly distilled form, to the accumulated wisdom of those who have gone before,” all of which is supposed to instill in its recipients the sensibility to formulate the grand strategy that has eluded Americans since their cold war enemy collapsed. Such a strategy would relate the broadest possible ends to the means of achieving them and therefore invigorate US global leadership with a new, singular purpose.
Ten years on, grand strategy is flourishing. Not only has the Yale seminar grown into a campus juggernaut, securing a $17.5 million, fifteen-year endowment in 2006, but since 2008 it has inspired spinoffs in half a dozen top US universities, funded in part by right-wing financier Roger Hertog. Kennedy has likened the spinoffs to Benedictine monasteries, “all doing their own versions of grand strategy but still belonging to the Order of Saint Benedict.” For $4,448 you can even send your high school “scholar-leader” to Yale for a two-week Grand Strategy summit on the fine arts of “critical and strategic thinking, social networking, professional etiquette, financial and asset management” and more. Grand strategy is now a popular idea, too. A string of op-ed writers, including Jackson Diehl, Niall Ferguson and Fareed Zakaria, have criticized the Obama administration for lacking one. The charge was repeated during the Republican primaries by Newt Gingrich and, in effect, answered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who presented the administration’s revised military posture as a new “American grand strategy in an age of austerity.”...
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:13
SOURCE: The New Republic (5-10-12)
Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party.
In 2010, John Danforth, a former Republican Senator from Missouri, was asked about the possibility of a GOP primary challenge to Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. Danforth pointed out that Lugar was a six-term Senator, one of the Senate’s most respected members, and its leading authority on foreign policy. He warned that “If Dick Lugar … is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
Many commentators will draw precisely that message from Lugar’s defeat Tuesday night by his Tea Party-aligned challenger Richard Mourdock. Lugar was one of the few remaining Republican senators who might be described as moderate, and his loss weakens the already frail forces of bipartisanship, compromise, and comity on Capitol Hill. But it has been a long time since Lugar openly identified as a moderate Republican, and other factors besides intra-party factional warfare may have been principally responsible for his political demise.
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 11:18
SOURCE: National Review (5-9-12)
Former president Bill Clinton just appeared in a reelection television commercial for President Barack Obama. At one point, Clinton weighs in on the potential consequences of Obama’s decision to go ahead with the planned assassination of Osama bin Laden. He smiles and then pontificates, “Suppose the Navy SEALs had gone in there . . . suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him [Obama].”
There is a lot that is disturbing about Clinton’s commentary — and about the fact that such an embarrassment was not deleted by the Obama campaign. Clinton offers unintended self-incrimination as to why in the 1990s he did not order the capture of bin Laden when it might well have been in his power to do so — was it fear of something “horrible” that might have happened to his fortunes rather than to our troops? And, of course, such crass politicization of national security and the war on terror is exactly what Barack Obama accused the two Clintons of in the 2008 Democratic primaries. We also remember that Obama on several occasions chastised George W. Bush for supposedly making reference to the war on terror for political advantage, though he never did so in as creepy a fashion as Clinton. And aside from the fact that Barack Obama promised never to “spike the football” by using the SEAL mission to score campaign points, only a narcissistic Bill Clinton could have envisioned the death or capture of Navy SEALs not in terms of those men’s own horrible fates, but only as political “downside” for an equally narcissistic Barack Obama....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 11:17
SOURCE: CNN.com (4-30-12)
Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and of the new book "Governing America" (Princeton University Press).
Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- Seen from the perspective of 2012, the stunning Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman" offers a powerful reminder that economic policy and family values go hand-in-hand.
Although many current politicians like to separate these two issues, the economic foundation of the family is central to its long-term health. In this classic play by Arthur Miller, premiered in 1949 to mesmerized audiences that had lived through the Great Depression, the protagonist is salesman Willy Loman, who is mentally broken down from his constant travel and struggle to make ends meet....
Too often, politicians ignore the kinds of strains that economic problems cause for families.
As the historian Matt Lassiter argued in an essay in "Rightward Bound," a book I co-edited, the rhetoric about family values is rooted in conservative politics in the 1970s when political activists on the right and popular culture blamed sexuality and feminism, rather than unemployment and inflation, for problems at home.
The rhetoric from the 1970s has stuck....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 11:05
SOURCE: Jewish Daily Forward (5-9-12)
Robert Zaretsky is a professor of history at the Honors College at the University of Houston. The author of “Albert Camus: Elements of a Life” (Cornell University Press, 2010), he most recently contributed to “The Occupy Handbook” (Little, Brown & Company).
“I’m not criticizing, but simply making an observation” — “Je ne critique pas, je constate” — is a favorite rhetorical dagger of the French. It was unsheathed on Monday when CRIF, the Council of Representative Jewish Institutions in France, acknowledged Francois Hollande’s victory over Nicolas Sarkozy in a press release. Under the (awkward) title, “In congratulating Francois Hollande, CRIF Takes Note of His ‘Horror of Anti-Semitism and Racism,’” Richard Prasquier, the organization’s president, assured the Socialist president-elect of his organization’s determination “to combat all forms of extremism and populism.”
The message seems matter-of-fact, as “normal” as Hollande famously portrayed himself during the campaign. After all, there is nothing more natural than to be horrified by anti-Semitism, nothing more normal than being devoted to challenging all forms of extremism and populism....
...We do not know the distribution of Jewish votes in France. Most observers nevertheless believe that a majority voted for Sarkozy, just as they did in 2007. This is hardly surprising: Ever since 1981, when French Jews voted overwhelmingly for François Mitterrand, they have moved steadily to the right. With the impact of the second intifada on French politics, a rash of anti-Semitic crimes and the growing prominence of the culturally conservative Sephardic community, this shift has simply grown more pronounced. Just as the Republican Party holds greater credibility among American voters when it comes to issues of security, Sarkozy had persuaded many French Jewish voters that his party alone would guarantee their safety and well-being....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 11:02
SOURCE: CNN.com (5-7-12)
Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" (Times Books) and of the new book "Governing America" (Princeton University Press).
Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- Just as Mitt Romney secured the Republican nomination, President Obama launched his presidential campaign with a weeklong celebration of his foreign policy accomplishments.
He and others in his administration blanketed the airwaves to discuss the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, and the president made a surprise trip to Afghanistan to boast that he had fulfilled his promises.
The president's campaign team rolled out a controversial ad that praised Obama for having made the decision to raid bin Laden's compound and went so far as to raise questions about whether Romney would have done the same. "Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" reads the screen, followed by quotations and news stories about Romney criticizing the hunt for bin Laden....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 11:00
SOURCE: CNN.com (5-9-12)
Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the new book "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan." This commentary has been updated to reflect President Obama's statement this afternoon.
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama has endorsed same-sex marriage. Will it make any difference to the battle for marriage equality? The news coming out of North Carolina suggests not. The Tar Heelers on Tuesday voted 61% to 39% to amend their constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. Actually, they've gone much further. The new amendment prohibits any kind of same-sex unions, including the relatively innocuous option of civil partnership....
There's a popular myth that social liberalism is unstoppable. But the tide of progress is a myth. Societies have often taken a step forward only to stand perfectly still or even take a couple of steps back. In hindsight, the journey of black civil rights looks like a brisk jog in a straight line, but it was really a winding stumble. The ecstasy of emancipation was followed by the misery of segregation. And although legal segregation was defeated, some would argue that it still continues....
Given how controversial it is, same-sex marriage could go the way of the ERA -- a reform too far, joining the long list of Democratic, election-time promises that no one ever expects to see realized. And given that he offers no new policies on the subject (he can't: It's a classic states rights issue), Obama's endorsement is little more than kind words. They are brave words in that seven out of the nine swing states he's contesting in November have constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage -- most of them passed by popular referenda. "The folks," as Bill O'Reilly calls middle America, don't like it....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 10:43
SOURCE: LA Times (5-6-12)
Joseph J. Ellis is the author of biographies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and, most recently, John and Abigail Adams.
...[A] brief tour of American history ... reveals that modern-day conservatives have "the spirit of '76" on their side, as well as the power of Jefferson's original formulation of the American creed. Liberals, on the other hand, have the arc of American history on their side, which until the presidency of Ronald Reagan seemed to have the final word in the debate. After all, who could imagine a successful political movement requiring the revocation of two centuries of American history? Barry Goldwater, who campaigned for president in 1968 [sic] on just such a radical agenda, received only 38% of the vote.
...[T]he dream has proved remarkably resilient because it depicts any conspicuous expression of government power as an alien force and sanctifies the sovereign individual, standing tall against oppression. Even though that story line has been anachronistic for more than a century, it has levitated out of space and time to become a fixture in American mythology, never to be underestimated as a political weapon, especially when wielded by the party out of power.
As Thomas Frank showed in "What's the Matter With Kansas?," lots of Americans vote their convictions rather than their interests. And the most potent conviction in American history has authentic historical origins in the summer of '76. FDR found a way to offer an alternative narrative for the 20th century....
Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 10:34
SOURCE: The National Interest (5-9-12)
Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His next book, Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians, is due out on June 26 from Simon & Schuster.
Thomas Hart Benton was one of the greatest U.S. senators who ever lived. He represented Missouri from the moment it joined the Union in 1821 and then held sway over his state’s politics for thirty years. He was a man given to flights of outrage that unleashed torrents of outrageous rhetoric. An imposing man with a big face, full of crags, and a beak of a nose, he spoke with authority and an air suggesting he didn’t have much patience for the mutterings of lesser men, a category that seemed to include most of those with whom he came into contact....
Thomas Hart Benton’s political fate comes to mind in the wake of what happened this week to Indiana’s senator Richard Lugar, defeated in his party’s primary after loyally representing his state in the Senate for thirty-six years. Temperamentally, Lugar was nearly the opposite of Benton. The Indiana senator’s style is self-effacing, low-key, given to quietly amassing vast stores of knowledge on complex issues often little understood by the public. But, like Benton, he accumulated immense power in the Senate over many years and served his state precisely as it wished to be served.
When such men are cast aside, it serves as a good occasion to ponder those vagaries of democratic politics that can operate with such unsentimental force and deal so harshly with people who only a short time before were considered part of the nation’s political landscape. Such a man was Lugar, as was Benton....
Posted on: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 17:15
SOURCE: The New Republic (5-7-12)
Carlos Eire is the Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University.
If Marco Rubio is chosen as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate, as many have speculated, we’ll soon learn a lot more about the Florida Senator and young Republican superstar. But we’re also likely to continue hearing about another part of Rubio’s past: whether his family are Cuban exiles or not. Since The Washington Post alleged last fall that Rubio misrepresented facts about his parents’ journey to America—his Senate biography stated that they fled Cuba in 1959 after Fidel Castro came to power, though they had first left in 1956 and returned in 1961—the senator has been maligned as a liar. The media has even called into question his description of himself and his family as exiles rather than commonplace migrants. Unfortunately, this debate reveals less about Rubio than it does about most Americans’ ignorance of Cuban history.
One of the hardest challenges faced by those of us who have lived under tyrants is the task of explaining dictatorships to Americans. The hardest point of all to explain is that a lousy despot can often be succeeded by an even worse monster, and that those who flee from them sometimes become exiles two or three times over. It’s a subject that conventional American wisdom has long reduced to a simplistic and vacuous either/or formula: Surely, no Cuban could hate both Batista and Fidel. This is why so many Americans—even educated journalists—have trouble grasping that it would never occur to most Cuban exiles to quibble over any Cuban’s year of departure from the island.
The truth is this: Marco Rubio’s parents left Cuba during the Batista dictatorship, hoping to someday return to a free and prosperous Cuba. Unfortunately, Fidel Castro proved far worse than his predecessor, so, after a relatively brief and tentative attempt to resettle in post-Batista Cuba, his family realized that their dream could not be fulfilled. Faced with the grim realities of Castrolandia, which they tested out first-hand, they decided to remain in the United States, never ceasing to yearn for their homeland, ever frustrated over the enslavement of their nation....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 12:54
SOURCE: National Review (5-3-12)
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author most recently of The End of Sparta. You can reach him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve had some unusual cabinet secretaries in past administrations –Earl Butz, John Mitchell, and James Watt come to mind — but never anything quite like the present bunch.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has overseen some $5 trillion in new debt. To help pay for it, he wants the rich — the top 1 percent, which already contributes more in income taxes than does the bottom 90 percent — to pay more for what he calls “the privilege of being an American.” Geithner, whose department oversees the IRS, should have taken his own advice: As a rich American one-percenter, he once failed to pay his own self-employment taxes, and improperly claimed his children’s camp costs as a dependent-care deduction.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has pulled off the near-impossible: At a time when the known gas and oil reserves of the United States on public lands have soared, he has cut back on federal leasing of them to just about 2 percent of available offshore lands and 6 percent of onshore. Meanwhile, huge new amounts of oil are being found on private lands despite, not because of, the Interior Department. When he was a U.S. senator, Salazar claimed that even $10-a-gallon gas would not change his mind about voting to increase offshore drilling. And although he controls the leases of the richest oil and gas reserves in the Western world, he recently shrugged that no one knew whether gas would hit $9 a gallon....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 12:42
SOURCE: National Review (5-3-12)
The latest round of euro-jitters emphasizes the unimaginative contest between the advocates of austerity and the quantitative easers. But while the consequences of the application of alternative economic measures are often unpredictable, the wellsprings of economic woes are not usually hard to find. In the present problems, the same difficulties afflict Europe and the United States, though in different degrees. It is entirely inappropriate for the U.S. government, with its unspeakable extravagance and anemic and fragile recovery, to lecture Europe or anyone, except perhaps Zimbabwe and Argentina, about national economic management.
The entire welfare system of the West was established in the ambition of avoiding another economic disaster on the scale of the Thirties, with the resulting political instability and the (unspoken but vivid) consequent fear of the rise of political extremism and the outbreak of international conflict. Europe, particularly, has a very long and terrifying history of mob rule when placebos aren’t regularly distributed to the working and agrarian classes, and the largest Western continental European countries — Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland — all have bloodcurdling heritages of internecine strife in living memory and for many centuries before that, “forever and ever,” in the words of the Christian liturgy.
The levels of social safety, ranging from a somewhat threadbare net in parts of the United States to a luxuriously upholstered hammock in France and parts of Scandinavia, were set when assumptions of birth rates and life expectancy were much different from the facts today. The sharp decline of the birth rate and heartening increase in life expectancy in all of these countries have ensured that, even without the increases in benefits against the electoral temptations of which our political classes have been resistless, all Western countries will go bankrupt without course corrections.
All human nature’s less commendable impulses seem to be accentuated and more frequently encountered in our politicians, perhaps inevitably when they depend on the endorsement of a plurality, and in this long-impending crisis we have seen all the obvious evasions of what is essentially a budgetary problem formulated in the terms of Grade Five arithmetic. First, there was the pretense that it wasn’t happening, and that the figures would reverse. How they would reverse, short of engaging in widespread, drumhead euthanasia, was never clear, and it didn’t happen. Then there was the expedient of immigration, which led to the Islamic threat in Europe and the abrasions of tens of millions of undocumented Latin Americans in the United States (a problem aggravated by inexplicable decisions to make the U.S. less accessible to its most assimilable, traditional, and objectively desirable sources of immigration, especially Europe)....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 12:41
SOURCE: PJ Media (5-6-12)
Michael Ledeen holds a Ph.D. in modern European history and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.
I wonder what the Atrocities Board would say about the dreadful betrayal of freedom in China. Only kidding. This Orwellian institution is surely designed to deal only with old horrors; you know, those during the dark ages of Bushitlercheney. Or even in the days of Obama’s bête blanche, Bill Clinton, about whom the flagrantly hypocritical Samantha Power raged so piously righteous some years back for his failure to save Africans from slaughter. Now that she sits in the White House, she joins the other organizers and activists who abandon those who share our national commitment to freedom, and embrace those tyrants who are crushing it as best they can.
To this grim gallery of rogues we can properly add Hillary, whose relationship with the president will some day entertain future students of the American presidency....
Which brings us back to the blind Mr. Chen, who somehow eluded house arrest and got into the American Embassy in Beijing. One wonders just how that happened, and the tyrants who rule China are no doubt wondering too. It’s hard to imagine that the Obama administration had much to do with Chen’s escape; they don’t give a damn about oppressed freedom fighters and dissidents anywhere, let alone the People’s Republic of China. As with Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Obama wants “good relations,” and such regimes won’t give you any if you insist on raising awkward subjects like freedom and democracy....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 12:30
SOURCE: PJ Media (5-7-12)
For the past several weeks the massive and ubiquitous student loan debt of American college graduates has been a major news story, along with the attempts by President Obama, Mitt Romney, and the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to make political hay of the issue while ostensibly advancing plans for resolving it. Of the ideas floated, President Obama’s appears the least serious and most political, particularly because his approach would expand the scope of federally subsidized loans — in effect pouring good money after bad.
According to the most recently compiled data, the average college student graduating in 2010 owed an average of $25,250. According to the marketing research division of American Student Assistance (which advises collegians on loans and debts), there are approximately 37 million Americans with some outstanding student loan debt. This spring another 1.7 million will graduate with bachelor’s degrees, as well as 833,000 with associate’s degrees, 696,000 with master’s degrees, 102,000 with professional degrees, and about 74,000 with doctorates (happily, Starbucks should have no problem filling its ranks with the latter). The cumulative student loan debt which right now stands at approximately $870 billion will no doubt increase even more....
The largest and most potentially lucrative loan repayment source is the U.S. military. For certain enlisted jobs, up to $65,000 of student loans can be repaid (the maximum currently authorized by Congress). At this juncture only the active duty Army will allow that $65k maximum (for a three-year enlistment, 1/3 per year), but all the other branches except the Marines have some form of substantial loan repayment available (albeit usually for a four-year hitch): Army Reserves, $20,000; Air Force and Navy active duty and Reserves, $10,000; Air National Guard, $20,000....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 12:28
SOURCE: Al Jazeera (5-6-12)
Be'er-Sheva, Israel - Not long after Israel celebrated its 64th Independence Day on April 26, a friend prepared a quiz of sorts. She read out loud political quotes to about ten guests who were having dinner at my house, and asked us to identify the politician who had uttered each statement.
Truth be told, none of my guests did very well on the quiz, but I thought that readers acquainted with Zionist history might do better and would be able to identify the source of each of the following statements. There is only one rule to this game: all search engines, including Google, are off limits.
- "Does a bad law become a good one just because Jews apply it? I say that this law is bad from its very foundation and does not become good because it is practiced by Jews ... We oppose administrative detention in principle. There is no place for such detention."
- "We do not accept the semi-official view ... wherein the state grants rights and is entitled to rescind them. We believe that there are human rights that precede the human form of life called a state."
My friend's quiz managed to expose just how far right Israeli politics, as well as the public discourse informing it, have shifted over the years; so much so that, within the current political climate, declarations once uttered by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who passed away 20 years ago, can now only be reiterated by leftists....
Posted on: Monday, May 7, 2012 - 11:48
SOURCE: CS Monitor (5-3-12)
Kirsten Swinth is an associate professor of history at Fordham University. Her work focuses on women, work, and culture. She is working on a book about care and competition in postindustrial America and the making of the working family. This op-ed was written in association with The Op-Ed Project.
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen’s declaration a few weeks ago that Republican first lady hopeful Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life” has played out in the media as another politically charged spat in the perpetual mommy wars about women’s choice between paid labor or at-home family care.
It turns out though that the idea of “choice,” whether invoked by left or right, doesn’t even begin to describe the real dilemmas of work and family. Seeing the decision as a choice women make between two options may feel like a happy compromise in the culture wars, but the language of choice has helped obscure the role that business practices, economic pressures, and government policies play in shaping the possibilities that any individual family might choose among.
To see our way forward, we would all do better to remember that the birth of choice came at a particular political and historical moment.
The idea of choosing to stay at home or to work for wages emerged in the 1970s out of a debate that raged across the country over the fate of the housewife. Women’s movement activists claimed victory in widening choices for women’s lives. But, the then-brand-new “pro-family” movement accused feminists of denigrating the role of housewife and mother....
Posted on: Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 14:34
SOURCE: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (5-5-12)
Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His new book, "The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame," will be published by Nation Books in June.
I recently spent several days in Milwaukee to give a talk at the University of Wisconsin about urban history and politics. My new book, "The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame," includes a profile of Victor Berger, the leader of Milwaukee's vibrant Socialist movement, which ran local government for most of the years from 1910 to 1960. So I was curious to learn how he is remembered in his city.
Berger, who helped make Milwaukee one of the most progressive and well-run cities in the country, was an easy choice for my book's Social Justice Hall of Fame. Many of the ideas that he and other Milwaukee Socialists espoused in the early 1900s - such as municipal parks, sewers and sanitation systems, municipal ownership of utilities, old-age insurance, a minimum wage and women's suffrage - were considered radical at the time but are now taken for granted. Indeed, remove the now-maligned word "socialist" and much of Berger's agenda has broad support today throughout the country, including Milwaukee.
I asked almost everyone I met - including faculty, students, political activists, new arrivals and lifelong Milwaukeeans - if there were any buildings, streets or landmarks named after Berger. Many had never heard of him, but even those who knew about his accomplishments couldn't identify any physical tribute to the longtime leader of Milwaukee's Socialists....
...Milwaukeeans will look in vain for a landmark named for Berger, who was the genius behind the Socialists' initial triumphs. But this is exactly the moment when Milwaukee's progressives and liberals, its unions, the local historical society and other civic activists should mount a campaign to restore Berger's name to its rightful place in the city's history.
How? The Common Council could rename a major street "Berger Boulevard." The Milwaukee Area Labor Council could install a statue of Berger, the guiding spirit of the city's union movement during its heyday, in front of its headquarters. The school district could repent for erasing Berger's name from a school 20 years ago by identifying another building that could bear the name of this former public schoolteacher. The Milwaukee County Historical Society could sponsor a permanent exhibit about the city's illustrious Socialist past, including Berger's important role, so that current and future residents will learn about this important chapter of the city's history and its current legacy....
Posted on: Sunday, May 6, 2012 - 11:01