If you are taking an exam from high school social studies teacher Stan Abell, you could be faced with this question: During the course of the last two weeks, the most important venue for the fight against global AIDS has been:
A. The White House
B. The United Nations
C. A second floor computer lab at Carmel High School
Increasingly, we hear politicians and economists liken the current economic hard times to the Great Depression. Things aren't that bad yet, thank goodness, but there are plenty of historical analogies. The collapse of a stock market boom, rising income disparity between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us, millions of people losing their jobs. In Indiana, we routinely lead the country in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, and welfare applications are way up. The state has lost over 112,000 jobs in the last two years.
Last week, President Bush submitted his proposed fiscal year 2004 budget to Congress. By doing so, he appeared to be taking a break from the war plans that are defining his presidency. But Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund says the president's budget shows he never left attack mode. She says Bush has launched "a budget war against poor children," including sweeping changes to Head Start and Medicaid that advocates say could dismantle those programs.
The connection to the real shooting war looming with Iraq should be obvious. Sooner or later, every U.S. cruise missile launched toward a Baghdad ghetto is going to mean that much less in school lunches or help for seniors struggling to pay for prescription drugs. We elected a president and a Congress that have elevated guns over butter, and now the domestic pantry is going to be bare for a long time.
Penny Rosenwasser is a Jewish-American peace activist who refuses to accept a single label of being either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. "For me, it's about supporting the survival of both peoples," she says. "There's no contradiction there."
Like everyone else at the frigid peace rally on Monument Circle, the woman with the long brown hair was bundled up almost beyond recognition. But unobscured was the huge photograph she carried of a young man in U.S. Army dress uniform. The woman was handing out copies of a handwritten letter and attached photographs she had sent several months before.
Listen to political discussion on AM radio and you will usually find an ideological range all the way from the right wing to, well, a little further to the right. Last week, Rush Limbaugh called the United Nations an organization of "tinhorn, despot thugs" and "worthless little creeps." Sean Hannity led a merry attack on a black New York City councilman, featuring one caller calling the councilor a poverty pimp.
If you prefer your fanaticism with a more homespun Hoosier flavor, listen to Greg Garrison, who spent part of last week chuckling along with a conservative pundit who actually complained that Orrin Hatch was too conciliatory to the evil liberals. All took plenty of time to vigorously advocate that other people die in an Iraqi war.
For someone just 20 years old and talking about the prospect of spending 18 months in federal prison, Charity Ryerson seems pretty matter-of-fact. She discusses her plans to have books shipped to her over the course of her sentence and the arrangements to take correspondence courses from prison. All things considered, she says, this is not a bad period in her life to be serving time.
If asked, though, Ryerson admits her mother has shed a few tears. There are times when Ryserson herself can scarcely believe what is facing her just a few years after graduating from Brebeuf Jesuit High School.
More than 700 kids from Marion County are locked up in the Indiana Department of Correction, serving time in gloomy facilities like the old Indiana Boys' School, now known as the Plainfield Juvenile Correctional Facility. In terms of both sheer numbers and per capita, our local juvenile court gives more kids more severe sentences than any other county in the state.
The local pattern of institutionalization contradicts research showing community-based sentences are more effective at reforming most juvenile offenders. It is an expensive pattern, too, costing county and state taxpayers a combined $32 million a year, leading to a nasty fiscal fight between the state and local governments.
It was election night 1988, and I jogged with a friend across the spotlighted grounds of the Statehouse on our way to the Evan Bayh-Frank O'Bannon victory celebration. For Indiana Democrats like us, there was the happy sense that we were witnessing history. A Democrat would be governor of Indiana for the first time in 20 years. Terrific.
A few years ago, it was hard to see how they could win.
A strange-bedfellows coalition of environmentalists, farmers and taxpayer groups had organized in opposition to plans for a new terrain I-69 highway. They were taking on Gov. O'Bannon and business interests intent on building the road, no matter how many family farms, wetlands and tree-huggers were in the path. Surely, it seemed, power and money would win out, and the new terrain highway would be built.