In the dystopian blockbuster movie The Hunger Games, a restless and resentful population in the nation of Panem is controlled by the wealthy and powerful who reside in the fortress city of Capitol.
Is that all that different from today’s United States, where wealth and power seem increasingly to gravitate toward the Beltway and its suburbs? Money magazine recently looked at the 3,033 counties in the U.S. based on income and found that the top one-half of 1 percent is dominated by Washington, D.C. Of the 15 counties with the highest median household incomes, an astonishing 10 are in the Washington area and have an average income almost double that of the nation as a whole. Four of the remaining five surround New York City, and are populated by many Wall Streeters who benefited from TARP and other federal bailouts.
Too often the term "human rights" has been misused or cheapened. Take the UN Human Rights Council, which has become a standing joke because so many of its 47 member countries kill or torture their opponents. Indeed, the latest candidate for membership put up by Latin America is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, which in February refused to vote for a UN resolution criticizing Syria's brutal killing of civilians and continues to ship oil to the Assad regime.
The Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual event organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, is rehabilitating the concept that people of good will can promote basic rights in all nations at all times without an overlay of ideology or hypocrisy. Indeed, at the meeting I attended last May, there was no desire to blame racism or gender discrimination on the U.S. or other Western nations.
Remember ACORN? Well, the original left-wing "community organizing" group may be back in a new guise as a key behind-the-scenes ally of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, fell on hard times in 2010 after damaging videos showing workers in several of its offices actively helping conservative provocateurs posing as clients to fraudulently obtain benefits and set up a child prostitution ring. ACORN allegedly disbanded last year, but in reality continued its operations under a variety of front-group names, with one in Atlanta even snagging a Housing and Urban Development grant despite a congressional ban on federal funding of ACORN.
In New York, the original ACORN chapter morphed into something called New York Communities for Change (NYCC). Its head, Jon Kest, the former head of New York ACORN, has been a big supporter of the ragtag band that started to occupy Zuccotti Park near Wall Street last September. NYCC is clearly ACORN under the old mismanagement: it works out of the old ACORN's offices in Brooklyn, uses old ACORN office stationery, and employs much of its former staff.
HOWARD BEACH, N.Y. -- The victory of Republican Bob Turner in a solidly New York City congressional district represented the worst possible nightmare for Democrats. All of their ads attacking Turner as someone who would ravage Social Security and Medicare fell flat. Turner won in the most true blue of Democratic territories, an area that had last elected a GOP congressman in 1920--the year HBO's period drama Boardwalk Empire is set. It had elected such famous Democratic liberals as Geraldine Ferraro, Chuck Schumer, and, before his infamous all-thumbs texting scandal forced his resignation and prompted a special election, Anthony Weiner. And Turner himself represents the kind of voter Democrats need to keep. The son of a machinist and a homemaker, he grew up in a solidly Irish Democratic family in which he was the first member even to graduate from high school. But the entire family has rebelled against the growing cultural and economic liberalism of the Democratic Party and is now Republican.