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Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

by John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus

John Feffer gives you the tips you'll need to survive. Because in that cold, dark, barren world of the future, we'll need a whole lot of liberals to make it bright and shiny again.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one blog post every liberal must read today:

by Joseph Romm, The Huffington Post

Joseph Romm gives us the gritty details of Obama's new energy plan and explains why increasing fuel economy standards, energy efficiency, and green collar jobs will get America back on the right track for years to come.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one blog post every liberal must read today:

by Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake

We cannot wait for that leadership to come from anyone else. If we do, we'll be waiting an awfully long time, because most folks would rather sit back and keep their head down and hope that someone else will do the work for them. Let's not be those people. We must be the leaders we wish to see, to work for the change we know we push for the reform that must come. The American dream is not simply that you accumulate things through increased wealth, and we need a big reminder of that. The America I love gives all of us a chance to work toward the best for us all -- because it is we, the people, for whom the government ought to be working.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

by Juan Cole,

Juan Cole gives another reason why violence is down in Iraq: Extreme sectarian violence in Baghdad has led to a new degree of ethnic segregation among Iraq's neighborhoods. Could it be that this separation has led to safety?

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

by Chalmers Johnson, AlterNet

Chalmers Johnson covers the dangerous possibilities of the privatization of American spying. Aside from the fact that this privatization has lead to incompetence and a lack of institutional memory, it also poses an extreme compromise of our national security. American defense and intelligence should not be for sale.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one release every liberal must read today:

by George W. Bush, President

President Bush expands sanctions on Muagbe's corrupt and illegitimate Zimbabwe government. In addition, Bush offers greater incentives if a fair election is held. He also expands financial support of Zimbabwe's refugees. Finally, someone learns the meaning of diplomacy. Good job, Mr. Pres.

College Should Be Free

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that college must be free. Being myself enrolled in a college where I watch my tuition rocket ever skyward each year, I to was taken aback by this idea. College should be free? What is this, some sort of wing-nut radical utopian pipe dream? Please people, this is not Scandinavia.

Then I realized that this idea is no more radical than the assertion in the 1850s that elementary school should be free to everyone, or half a century later when reformers said that high school should not only be a luxury for the rich. America has a long history of fighting for publicly funded schooling against many who wanted to keep it private.

With each new age of American society it became clear that publicly funded education was an absolute necessity. First elementary, then high school, and now a college education are an absolute must to function in the American economy. For young people entering the market today, wages have fallen in every category since 1970, for people who have schooling less than a BA. Even for most people with a BA wages have only slightly risen or remained the same as their 1970 levels. We young people will be the first generation to end up less well off then our parents’ generation. Today a college education is as much a necessity as is clean drinking water.

In every discussion of falling wages, outsourcing, and immigrant labor the conclusion always seems to be that America has to build a modern workforce prepared to take on the task of a modern economy. The only way for this to truly happen is for college to be free. Moving from a system of dept based financial aid back to providing federal academic grant is a good short-term solution, and decent first step. It is also true that our K-12 schooling systems are riddled with problems, that some might say need to be addressed first. But we cannot get bogged down in fighting for small change; we must set our sights higher than simply tackling imbecilic legislation like No Child Left Behind.

What this nation needs to succeed is a publicly funded Higher Education, anything short of that will not cut it in the long term. In the face of a faltering economy one might nervously ask where this sort of money will come from, but there is no better time. When there are not jobs to be had people go back to school, retrain, and restart. This is not to say that where should not be private universities, but if College is a necessity, it should not be something that you have to afford. We do not need to make college affordable, we need to make it available.

Reading Liberally Read of the Day

The one article every liberal must read today:

by Mark Weisbrot, AlterNet

"For something that's not supposed to exist, the anti-war movement sure was effective in fighting a recent resolution to blockade Iran." Mark Weisbrot covers this relatively unknown story of progressive success.

Reading Liberally: Tips for Alleviating Those First-Time Nerves

Going in to host my first (and in fact, THE first in NYC) Reading Liberally last night, I was somewhat unaccountably nervous. Granted, I wasn't really thrown into hosting alone, as I was surrounded by my loyal posse of Living Liberally friends and coworkers. However, in the hopes of making Reading Liberally more of an established and regular event, I would like to bestow upon you my top tips for running a successful chapter meeting, garnered from our slightly attended yet ultimately satisfying meeting last night.

1.) Go for an intimate space where everyone can hear one another and feel connected, but make sure that wherever you go doesn't turn into an awkwardly quiet study spot at night-- this appeared to be the initial situation when I arrived at Earthmatters Cafe last night, but luckily all the nice people who were already surrounded by heaps of books and papers just shot me a few nasty glances before picking up and moving to the upper floor (so in this case, lots of extra space was a valuable asset!)

2.) Back to my previous comment about my nerves: make sure that you have at least a couple of cohorts to accompany you on your first time!

3.) Make sure that at least ONE person has read each book very well-- chances are, very few people that attend will have read any/all of the books, so the key to successful discussion in this situation is to make sure that you can summarize the book and easily move into whatever universally relevant political topic your book deals with. (On this note, it's best to have a few questions prepared for when conversation gets sparse!)

4.) Have a sign to mark your turf-- useful both in alerting the previously noted studious sorts, and in directing people to the table. I personally made a very bootleg sign by taking screen shots of the reading liberally logo and arranging them in a word document.

Finally, the most important thing is just to make sure that people come. In terms of starting a book group, the key to success (more than flyer-ing, or advertising, or random outreach) seems to be meeting people that genuinely want to experience progressive politics through literature. Here's to starting just such a Reading Liberally chapter!

Oh, and by the way, we read Free Rideby Dan Brock and Paul Waldman, both of which are worth considering for your first foray into group-friendly political lit.

Sustainability for the rest of us

There are some books which you can open and read from cover to cover in one sitting. Climate Solutions by Peter Barnes is not one of those books.

Climate Solutions is a book about exactly what the title suggests, climate solutions, or rather the policy which determines the future of our "one sky" as Barnes lovingly calls it. Climate Solutions holds all of the simplicity as a "gerund for dummies" book but has none of the tedious length.

If you've ever tried to pick up the Bible and read it like the new Stephen King thriller then you will have no trouble absorbing a read like Climate Solutions.

For everything you ever wondered about carbon capping, carbon taxes, or bills such as the Clean Skies Act, Climate Solutions is a good place to start. It is not bogged down with the jargon of sustainability that can be intimidating to someone who is new to environmental issues but wants to learn more. Barnes explains the subject simply and honestly with the bias of a well-to-do citizen who's sincere concern for the Earth shines through in his words.

As a bonus there are even semi-humorous comics and quips intermittently placed among the statistics. Climate Solutions is an essential read that deals with contemporary problems that everyone can relate to.