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HOW TO ACCOMMODATE AN UNINFORMED ELECTORATE

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.
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.
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.
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:




Transcript
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.
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with mention of at least two books I want to read.


Re-Whiting History Just In Time For MLK Day


From the comments of that article: A Time to Break Silence: By Rev. Martin Luther King





ETA: Switch the circumstances to today and its bloody eerie and disappointed just how current this speech is.



ETA: funny how that quote about the arc of the universe bending towards justice is so thoroughly divorced from its context in the cultural zeitgist.

quite

Jan. 21st, 2010 01:13 pm
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'Oath Keepers' Leader Arrested for Child Rape; Cops Find Stolen Grenade Launcher In His House
We first noticed Marine Sgt. Charles Dyer, aka "July4Patriot," back in March, when we ran one of the first reports on the "Oath Keepers" bloc of the Tea Party movement -- an organization devoted to recruiting military and police-force veterans into a Patriot-movement belief system predicated on a series of paranoid conspiracy theories, especially the notion that the federal government intends to begin rounding up citizens and putting them in concentration camps.
Dyer played a prominent role in connecting the Oath Keepers to the Tea Party movement, speaking at a July 4 Tea Party rally in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. And he's been involved in organizing militia "maneuvers" in Oklahoma.
Dyer cropped up again in the news -- this time in the police blotter for allegedly raping a 7-year-old girl:
An ex-military man has been arrested on charges of rape of a child and forcible sodomy.
Charles Alan Dyer, 29, of Marlow, was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Stephens County Sheriff’s deputies, said Sheriff Wayne McKinney. Dyer served in the United States Marines in Iraq.
Oh, and guess what police found when they searched his home:
During the search the sheriff’s deputies noted several firearms and a device believed to be a Colt M-203, 40-millimeter grenade launcher, a complaint filed in the United States District Court of Western Oklahoma by Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco Special Agent Brett Williams said.MORE



I am so sick and tired of white people screaming about how they are at risk of being enslaved. Seriously. And the idea of him not liking foreign troops coming here to occupy here is highly highly amusing, considering events around the world. And considering the news that just came down from the Supreme Court, his screaming about the government threat!!! is even MORE hilarious. And finally, dear black guy holding the umbrella for him. You do know that he doesn't mean you when he's talking about Americans, righhtttt?

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America's greatness for helping Haiti.


America's victims of the earthquake individualized, Haiti's undifferentiated mass of hurt and dying made into disaster porn.


Isn't America great for helping Haiti?


America's journalists anticipating violence, some of the coverage almost seeming to call it down, quite frankly; to the point of excitedly and irresponsibly confirming rumors as fact, and having to back away from it.



Aren't we the most generous people in the world?


Slight mention that any other country might be there helping out the Haitians.


But Americans are helping Haiti, we are SO great!!!! (And I exasperatedly begin to think of Jesus' admonition to the Pharisees.)


And then there is the fucking sensationalizing of the Haitians rescuing themselves with their BARE HANDS. I just cannot see what the hell is so strange about this. Wouldn't Americans do the same thing if they were in that situation? Don't all people who don't have access to expensive equipment use whatever they have on hand to rescue people in peril? Isn't the situation dramatic enough that hyperbolic, grating expressions of shock and horror can be dispensed with? To say nothing of the almost slavering eagerness to see riots and violence among the BLACK AND POOR survivors? I suppose you can't expect better from the country that allowed the complete and ongoing clusterfuck that was and is the aftereffects of Katrina. To say nothing of the biased reporting that took place.
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Chris Matthews is on my tv carefully saying how much Haiti's problems are due to its politics. He is also congratulating the US on how much its image will be burnished because of how quickly it is responding to the crisis. In fact,most of the reporters that are on my tv are emphasizing how poor and desperate Haiti's people were before the quake. And how sad isn't it, that this country has never been able to get its act together oh my! And not ONE of the assholes has mentioned that the United States and the French were and are a main cause of the poverty, and dictatorship and blood shed. Let me just add to the education going on all over lj and dreamwidthRead more... )
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[livejournal.com profile] skywardprodigal has a list of she trusts in terms of donations to Hailti.



[livejournal.com profile] help_haiti is going on in fandom


Also? Dear Lord, can you PLEASE do something about Pat Robertson? Send him a vision or something. He's making you look bad.


Also Rush Limbaugh. Seriously. This guy is poison in the body politic.

Keith Olberman and Eugene Robinson discuss them both

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Fault Lines / Fault Lines - Rio: Olympic City



An explosion of joy on the streets of Rio greeted the announcement that the city would be hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. Two weeks later, Rio saw an explosion of violence when a police helicopter was shot down by drug traffickers. The government's reaction has been to intensify the crackdown on the citys slums - or Favelas. A Human Rights Watch report in December accused Rio and Sao Paolo police of killing over 11,000 people since 2003. Many, the report claims, were executed by the police, shot at point blank range. Many were innocent. And on many occasions, the police tried to cover up the evidence.

This week, Fault Lines travels to Rio to look at the crackdown in Rio's Favelas, and what it means for the people of the city.




Apparently you can't have the Olympics without fucking over poor people.
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Haiti's Earthquake Worst in 200 years


Aftershocks rattled the city as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares long after nightfall, singing hymns.


People pulled bodies from collapsed homes, covering them with sheets by the side of the road. Passersby lifted the sheets to see if a loved one was underneath. Outside a crumbled building the bodies of five children and three adults lay in a pile.

It was clear tens of thousands lost their homes and many perished in collapsed buildings that were flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions.

"The hospitals cannot handle all these victims," Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles, a former senator, said as he helped survivors. "Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together."

An Associated Press videographer saw a wrecked hospital where people screamed for help in Petionville, a hillside Port-au-Prince district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians as well as the poor.MORE
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I don't even KNOW right now. WHUT?
D.C.'s Murderous Prostitution Policy

This is the stupidest thing
I’ve heard so far this year.
 

Anti-prostitution policies in D.C. pose serious threats to health and safety of community members identified or otherwise targeted as sex workers. Two policies stand out in particular: first, “move along” polices geared at cleansing certain neighborhoods of sex workers; and second, the use of condoms and safe sex as evidence to arrest or prosecute someone for prosecution and the related practice of confiscating and destroying condoms and other safe sex materials.


...


I hardly know where to begin. For starters, as a former HIV/AIDS prevention educator, I think carrying condoms and having them on hand is a terrific idea for anyone who’s sexually active. Period. When my boys are old enough I plan to tell them “the facts of life,” right down to how to protect themselves and their partners from STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

Sure, as a parent, I’d prefer that they abstain from having having sex until they are old enough and mature enough to deal with all the potential consequences and outcomes. But at the same time, if they’re going to be sexually active, I’d want them to use condoms. I’d want them to have condoms with them. I’d make sure they know how to use them. I’d even go to the drug store and buy condoms, and give them to my boys myself, to make sure they have them.

(I’d do the exact same thing for a daughter, if I had one, because I’d want her to have her own on hand.)
Because I’m a parent, but I’m also a realist. I don’t imagine that not teaching them about condoms, and not they have them is somehow going to stop them from having sex. They’re people. People have sex. People have sex with or without condoms, birth control, etc. People have sex without regard for the consequences, sometimes. And I don’t think my kids should have their lives unalterably changed by an STD or unplanned pregnancies, just for having sex. I don’t think they should sacrifice their lives for having sex. I don’t think anyone should. People have sex. There’s little you can do to stop them.
FURTHERMORE




The Politics of Being Transgender (Seriously Mr. Letterman? Really?)



Barack Obama made the first transgender political appointments that we know of recently–Amanda Simpson, appointed last week as senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Commerce Department, and Dylan Orr, special assistant to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor–but even David Letterman couldn’t resist making a crack at Simpson’s expense.

The “T” at the end of LGBT often seems like an afterthought, with transgender rights being excluded even when LGBT rights are approved. Today on GRITtv we talk to Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Naomi Clark of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and blogger at Feministe, and filmmaker Jules Rosskam of Against a Trans Narrative, featured on GRITtv last summer, about being transgender in the U.S. and how far we still have to go.

 



The college admissions scam


Faith Leaders To Move Their Money Out Of Bank Of America Unless Demands Are Met HELLS YES. WOOT!!!

WARNING:

Jan. 7th, 2010 09:47 pm
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People & Power - White Power USA - 6 Jan 10


Almost a year ago the inauguration of President Barack Obama was hailed as a turning point in US race relations. The country was said to be entering a new era of post-racial politics, on the path to a future of greater diversity and tolerance. But while crowds flocked to Washington to witness the swearing in, others were refusing to join the party. Racially motivated threats against Obama rose to new heights in the first months of his presidency, with the US seeing nine high-profile race killings in 2009. Meanwhile white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups claim their membership is growing and that visits to their websites are increasing. Filmmakers Rick Rowley and Jacquie Soohen went inside the white nationalist movement to investigate.


White Nationalism in the Age of Obama


While progressives argue over who’s failing to organize whom, other organizations have no trouble rounding up recruits from the many in the U.S. who are angry over bailouts, economic failures, and a governing class they feel is out of touch. Independent journalist Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films co-produced a film, White Power U.S.A., for Al Jazeera English on the rise of white nationalist groups since the inauguration of Barack Obama. He found that many of the new recruits to these groups don’t consider themselves white nationalists, but are finding few other places to turn.
Rowley and Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates and author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort join us to talk about the rise of the extreme right, racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and the proper progressive response. We also talk to Jonathan “J.D.” Meadows, who is featured in Rowley’s film, about his involvement with the Council of Conservative Citizens and his fears for the economy.
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detroit as a site for large scale post urban farming


EDIT: I'd like to thank the readers for pointing out the flaws and problems that underlie Mr. Hantz' plans to urban farm on a large scale in Detroit. It is, indeed a predator. But I would also like to highlight this article, which I think is pretty good, minus the passing Hantz praise.


food among the ruins there is a lot of highlighting of the work of POC farmers and environmentalists here. People whom, experience teaches, are very likely to be directly in the line of fire of Mr. Hantz and his investors. *sigh*


also: Detroit's 'Quiet Revolution'
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Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State


I wonder if the Dutch would be so well knit as a country if they had a higher immigrant population?
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No child left behind...by the military


John Travers was striding purposefully into the Westfield mall in Wheaton, Maryland, for some back-to-school shopping before starting his junior year at Bowling Green State University. When I asked him whether he'd ever talked to a military recruiter, Travers, a 19-year-old African American with a buzz cut, a crisp white T-shirt, and a diamond stud in his left ear, smiled wryly. "To get to lunch in my high school, you had to pass recruiters," he said. "It was overwhelming." Then he added, "I thought the recruiters had too much information about me. They called me, but I never gave them my phone number." Nor did he give the recruiters his email address, Social Security number, or details about his ethnicity, shopping habits, or college plans. Yet they probably knew all that, too. In the past few years, the military has mounted a virtual invasion into the lives of young Americans. Using data mining, stealth websites, career tests, and sophisticated marketing software, the Pentagon is harvesting and analyzing information on everything from high school students' GPAs and SAT scores to which video games they play. Before an Army recruiter even picks up the phone to call a prospect like Travers, the soldier may know more about the kid's habits than do his own parents.

The military has long struggled to find more effective ways to reach potential enlistees; for every new GI it signed up last year, the Army spent $24,500 on recruitment. (In contrast, four-year colleges spend an average of $2,000 per incoming student.) Recruiters hit pay dirt in 2002, when then-Rep. (now Sen.) David Vitter (R-La.) slipped a provision into the No Child Left Behind Act that requires high schools to give recruiters the names and contact details of all juniors and seniors. Schools that fail to comply risk losing their NCLB funding. This little-known regulation effectively transformed President George W. Bush's signature education bill into the most aggressive military recruitment tool since the draft. Students may sign an opt-out form—but not all school districts let them know about it.

Yet NCLB is just the tip of the data iceberg. In 2005, privacy advocates discovered that the Pentagon had spent the past two years quietly amassing records from Selective Service, state DMVs, and data brokers to create a database of tens of millions of young adults and teens, some as young as 15. The massive data-mining project is overseen by the Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies program, whose website has described the database, which now holds 34 million names, as "arguably the largest repository of 16-25-year-old youth data in the country." The JAMRS database is in turn run by Equifax, the credit reporting giant.MORE

New Sport

Oct. 15th, 2009 03:31 pm
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Parkour sweeps Russia - 15 Oct 09



Parkour, a sport where you jump, dive, roll and swing off rooftops, stairs, walls and anything else the urban environment has to offer, has taken off in Russia.

The activity, which began in France, is being taken very seriously by the youth in Russia, who believe it is not just a way of getting fit, but a social movement too.

Casey Kauffmann reports.

Slam.

Oct. 15th, 2009 02:42 pm
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College Mental Health: A Different Diagnosis

Student mental health is a hot topic, but also a confusing one. The broader psychiatric framework often equates "psychic difference" (a term used by some mental health activists to describe a mental/emotional/spiritual experience and distinguish it from a medical diagnosis) or emotional distress with "mental illness."

Getting to the root of what constitutes student wellness is not easy, especially when taking into account the variance in services among colleges or universities. Most schools offer some kind of mental health services, ranging from a few professional counselors to a 24-hour hotline to opportunities for group therapy.
But students across the country are making their voices heard, drawing attention to campus mental health services that are inadequate, under-funded or harmful. In her presentation on college mental health at the 2006 National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy conference (NARPA), Karen Bower, an attorney with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, stated that colleges are a "climate of unmet mental health needs."
So what do students want?

Those interviewed for this story said they wanted better access to qualified counselors, peer support groups and the creation of safe spaces for students to openly discuss problems they are dealing with.
College mental health counselors also agree that there is much room for change. While the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) recommends a counselor to student ratio of 1 to 1,000-1,500, the average ratio is 1 to 1,698. A 2008 National Survey of Counseling Center Directors (PDF) conducted by IACS found that one third of college mental health directors believe that psychiatric consultation is "woefully inadequate or non-existent on their campuses."MORE



Standing Up for Muslim Women's 'Writes'
When writing is solicited, the narratives of Muslim women are often vetted. The ones deemed appropriate for public consumption generally fall along four plot lines: A trite tale of alienation, sudden acceptance, and seemingly premature celebration; the well-assimilated Muslimah who has an American flag sewn into all of her hijabs; the angry conspiracy theorist who recites Al-Fatihah and preaches about the authenticity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ; or the widely accepted apostate who is paraded as the "liberated woman" having successfully escaped the stranglehold of Islamic patriarchy.

We needn't forget the super heroine whose hijab serves as a cap, an unconditional shield against a sexualized male gaze, and a colorful stain-resistant accessory that matches the stitching of her jeans. We can be the super heroines or distressed woman in need of saving. The veiled amongst us are given the option of producing writing that reduces us to a tragic footnote or exposes us as a glaring example of the "clash of civilizations."
MORE
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Public Schools vs. Charter Schools


To charter school or not to charter school? As the new school year kicks off, we talk to Brian Jones, a NYC public school teacher, James Merriman, CEO of NYC Center for Charter School Excellence, and Christian Roselund, a New Orleans-based writer and education advocate about the choice.


Read more... )

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