HOW TO ACCOMMODATE AN UNINFORMED ELECTORATE....
If you're reading this blog, you're almost certainly well versed on the basics. You're well aware of the fact, for example, that Republicans have opposed health care reform en masse and that overcoming constant filibusters poses an almost insurmountable challenge.
But you're far more informed than the typical person. And there are consequences associated with an uninformed electorate.
The public has consistently expressed strong interest in the health care debate, but relatively few Americans can correctly answer two key questions related to the Senate's consideration of health care legislation.This obviously poses a serious political problem. Americans don't really know what's in the Democratic health care reform proposal, but just as important, the vast majority of Americans don't know what it takes to overcome a filibuster.
In the latest installment of the Pew Research Center's News IQ Quiz, just 32% know that the Senate passed its version of the legislation without a single Republican vote. And, in what proved to be the most difficult question on the quiz, only about a quarter (26%) knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate and force a vote on a bill.
It creates a situation in which the public sees a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, and doesn't understand why more isn't getting done.
Democratic strategists and officials occasionally think Republicans will be punished for their unprecedented, reflexive obstructionism. But it's worth remembering that most of the public doesn't really follow this stuff. They don't know about the constant filibusters -- they may not know what a filibuster even is -- and generally don't care about procedural matters.
In other words, Republicans have embraced one simple tactic -- the single most important weapon in the GOP arsenal -- and used it to prevent the governing party from functioning. And Americans aren't really aware of that.MORE
Obvs the media ain't doing the job of informing Americans. But what I want to know is, are we taught in school how congress works? Are kids taught why this is important? And this is creating serious black humor for me as well...
Why FL just got High Speed Rail
The American public unfortunately lacks patience for and understanding of civil works projects. Frustration with perceived high costs and delays dovetail into conservative anti-government and anti-labor memes.
The Florida high speed rail project is expected to take a mere 4 1/2 years. Even accounting for construction delays, should President Obama be reelected, he can indeed fulfill his promise and ride the first train while in office. We are looking at a project that can be completed possibly before the 2014 midterm elections, and hopefully with certainty before the 2016 general election.
Allowing for the low cost of the 84mi rail line is Florida's uniformly low grade and plentiful right of way, with an elevation change of less than 150ft along the route. Interstate 4, known for its traffic and congestion, currently permits about 90min of travel time between Tampa and Orlando. At 160mpg, the Florida High Speed rail link could make the trip in a mere 44min.
3. The Domino Effect:
By starting with the easiest effort first, that is most likely to succeed and produce a tangible (and hopefully attractive) result quickly, other regions of the community will hopefully demand equal federal investment in high speed rail travel for completion long after President Obama has left office. It's no longer a matter of pointing to Europe or Japan, but come 2014, pointing to Central Florida. If they can build a high speed rail line there, quickly and inexpensively, why can't they build one everywhere?
As progressives, it is so tempting to be impatient.
Why only $8.5 billion for high speed rail? Why not $85 billion in high speed rail, especially when compared to the Pentagon's budget or what Nations like China are investing?
But we must never forget that something so appealing to the sane is still a hard sell in a country populated by so much insanity. A case in point would be the "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bullet Train" bumper stickers, combined with successful lobbying from Southwest Airlines, that doomed the Texas high speed rail plan.MORE
In the good news dept:In the meantime, Pres. Obama apparently beat the living HELL (rhetorically) out of the Republicans this morning at their GOP conference in Maryland. And FOX news decided to cut off the questions in the middle of the question time:
Obama: Let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues. If you look at the health care package that we've presented ... But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we put forward, that has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool, and can get bargaining power the same way that big companies do, the insurance reforms that I've already discussed, making sure that there's choice in competition for those that don't have health insurance -- the component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that's not a radical bunch.
But if you were to listen to the debate -- and frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot! No, I mean, that's how you guys, that's how you guys presented it. And so I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist' -- no, look, I'm just sayin', I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.
So all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you. But if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.
I mean, the fact of the matter is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your home base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion, because what you've been telling your constituents is. 'This guy's doin' all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America!' MORE
And the Repubs themselves are regretting that they allowed him in with TV cameras.