Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Last Call

What BooMan said.

First off, progressives can't or won't behave like Tea Partiers. Progressives are not the vanguard of a populist movement. We're a combination of the poor, the powerless, the discriminated against, on the one hand, and the highly educated, science-minded, secular-oriented, intelligentsia on the other. Throw in the unionized working class and you have the progressive movement. Most of our opinion leaders are from the intelligentsia-wing of the party. A very high percentage of progressive bloggers have advanced degrees. We're not about to take up pitchforks or start carrying firearms to political rallies, and we're too committed to reason to resort to lies and distortions as matter of strategy or policy.

Another problem, it seems to me, is that the progressive blogosphere arose as an opponent of both the media and the political establishments, and we seem ill-suited and incapable of forming a partnership with power. Policies we opposed under Bush, we still oppose under Obama. Perhaps, we're quieter in our criticisms, but we're unwilling to just get on board and support whatever the Democratic Party or the White House wants to do. That's not a bad thing, it's just something we need to acknowledge. Because we're different from conservatives, we can't be expected to behave like them.

If what we need is a true counter to the pull of the Tea Partiers, the progressive blogosphere isn't the right place to look.

But we can have a more productive relationship with the Establishment Left. It would start by getting clear where the line is between advocacy for issues and protecting our political position in Washington. We know we cannot afford to lose the presidential election in 2012. We could improve things considerably if we reserved our attacks on our own political leaders for areas where they at least have the freedom of acting otherwise. That would be a good start. 

It would be a good start if the goal of so many professional progressive blogs with power and access and reach wasn't to fight the good fight but to get pageviews and raise money.  And it's easier for them to do that when they are the outraged opposition where they can make a splash, not the loyal supporters that we need them to be.  Peter Daou, Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, they're not in this business for a liberal majority, they're in this business to make money.

The liberal blogosphere has largely become as corrupt as the media they despise.

Check And Mate

Matt Damon became famous for playing a genius, partly because he's no dummy off the set.  When an argumentative reporter tried to compare his lack of job security against the incentive for a tenured teacher to perform, he smacked her down and did it right:

The journalist argued that Damon has an incentive to work hard as an actor because he lacks job security, while teachers do not.
"You think job insecurity makes me work hard?" the actor asked in disbelief. "A teacher wants to teach. Why else would you take a sh*tty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?"
There is a lot wrong with the school system in general.  A lot of quick patches are starting to fray and it is going to take an extensive overhaul to change how our schools perform.  Teachers are often helpless in the face of zero tolerance policies, overprotective parents or unfair expectations from parents who do not do their part in working with educators.  Every profession has its slackers, but good teachers are fighting a losing battle, and it's about time we showed more than support.  It's time we provide solutions.  

Epic FAA-il

Best part of the Republican-caused Federal Aviation Administration partial shutdown as the House adjourned leaving billions in airport improvements suspended over trying to eliminate FAA union membership?

The airlines now think you're too stupid to notice the fact they are picking your pockets and have been for almost two weeks now.

The debacle could have had an upside for airline passengers because ticket taxes, which typically average about $30 on a $300 round-trip fare, are suspended during the shutdown.

Hey, that's great.  10% off airfare at least that's not so ba...wait a frackin' minute.

But airlines decided to pocket the windfall. Within hours of the shutdown on July 23, most airlines raised their fares by amounts equivalent to the taxes that disappeared.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called airline CEOs to complain and lawmakers have sent letters demanding the fare hikes be reversed and the profits be placed in escrow. But their howls have largely been ignored. Airlines collectively lost about $440 million in the first six months of this year, according to the Air Transport Association.

Yeah, wondering why the Republicans left town for a month without doing anything about the FAA?  How about a six-week plus stimulus package for the airline industry?  Airlines boost ticket prices by 10% and you never notice the difference because that 10% was going to the FAA to cover the cost of airport maintenance and improvements.  Airlines are now taking every dime of that and they're getting away with it.

The invisible hand of the free market just grabbed your wallet.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Matt Damon teaches the Reasonoids a lesson about the value of a public school education.

Damon (his mother is a teacher) also gave a pretty stirring speech to the Save Our Schools rally in DC over the weekend.

I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep — this silly drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be teachers.
Now don’t get me wrong. I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said, ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.’ That was in the ’70s when you could talk like that.
I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.
I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the right bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here. I do know that.

Good for him.

Class dismissed, grade of EPIC WIN for all.

Facebook Likes Publishing Service

Facebook has purchased Push Pop Press, a digital publishing company.  The article is quick to clarify that Facebook isn't going into the publishing business (oh the stories they could tell!) but that they were interested in PPP's innovative technology as a way to bring new features to their users.

Facebook has already announced a series of improvements that are scheduled to roll out.  They are not taking any chances that Google+ could gain ground.  I am not sure what they have in store, but this could lead to some awesome possibilities. Google+ has been very quiet about what to expect as G+ grows.  They have a history of being scrappy and competitive, so we could be in for a fun competition.

A Different Tune Indeed

Yet another sudden reversal in policy after it was caught.  I just want to say I'm grateful that someone is watching and reporting, and that it is making a difference.  Microsoft is capable of collecting enough information that it is truly dangerous.  Even innocent oversights (I'm being generous) can be serious.

Here is the blurb from Slashdot in response to the full article:

"Microsoft has ceased publishing the estimated locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other devices with Wi-Fi connections around the world after a CNET article on Friday highlighted privacy concerns. The decision to rework's geolocation service comes following scrutiny of the way Microsoft made available its database assembled by both Windows Phone 7 phones and what the company calls "managed driving" by Street View-like vehicles that record Wi-Fi signals accessible from public roads. Every Wi-Fi device has a unique ID, sometimes called a MAC address, that cannot normally be changed."

That is a kind way of phrasing it, and other sources have been incredibly kind as well.  I'm not disagreeing with the post, but the one thing that has irked me is that there seems to be no real mention of the fact that they dropped the ball big time.  This may have been a genuine oversight but how stalkertastic does it get?

I don't want to light the torches and assemble the angry mob, but the quick change wasn't just eagerness to do the right thing (something they aren't known for) but surely a bit of CYA (something they have perfected).  This type of monitoring would be of incredible interest to all kinds of people, none of them good.  This is a perfect example of how we need to review, adjust and improve privacy standards.

Flying By The Seat Of Their Pants

One thing that Republicans did "win" over the weekend:  screwing over thousands of FAA employees and mothballing billions in airport projects and safety and air traffic upgrades.

Senators scrambled to find common ground with the House of Representatives on a bill to temporarily fund the Federal Aviation Administration but neither side would budge before adjourning until September.

Acrimonious disagreement over proposed cuts to rural air service and underlying discord over a labor issue was reminiscent of the gridlock surrounding a just-completed 11th-hour deal to raise the U.S. government's debt ceiling.

"I am deeply disappointed that bipartisanship has failed us here," said New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen, adding a runway project in her state will likely be delayed until the spring.

While the scale of disruption from an FAA shutdown paled in comparison to the global repercussions of a potential U.S. debt default, the aviation fallout was not trivial and may carry political consequences if not resolved soon.

The FAA has issued stop work orders for 241 airport construction projects worth nearly $11 billion, officials said.

"We have the best aviation system in the world," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a conference call with reporters. "This is no way to run it."

But Republicans don't want government to work.  It's absolutely key to their attack strategy.  You're supposed to say when your nearby airport project to repair older runways and relieve air traffic stress is delayed for nine months that government can't do its job right anyway, so you agree when Republicans say "we should privatize this!" and hand over airport duties to private companies who exist to make a profit, not to provide the safest air service.

Got It Down Pat By Now

Pat Buchanan saying stupid, racist things is about as bog standard as the sun being hot and mostly made of fusion.  The real story here is why Buchanan hasn't been file 13'd yet by MSNBC, and more importantly why the only person on MSNBC who actually goes after Buchanan is Rev. Al Sharpton.

Now, I've had my problems with Sharpton in the past.  He does stupid things from time to time to get attention, which is why his most recent stint as a radio host fire breather is really perfect for him, and how he was was able to turn that into an MSNBC gig.  Sharpton vs Buchanan?  Anyone over the age of 30 is going "Oh this should be good."

But Buchanan really does get away with a shocking amount of White Southern Gentleman dog whistle racism, the TV pundit equivalent of a pro wrestling heel, and most of the time the other hosts on MSNBC ignore it.  The fact that Sharpton calls him on it just reminds us that America's Favorite Racist Great Uncle is somebody who really, really needs to be retired from television.

Even more so is the fact that the people who should be calling Buchanan out are the other white hosts on MSNBC, not just the black one.

Frankly My Dear Barack I Don't Give A Damn

While we sift through the aftermath of the debt debacle, a new Pew Center study gives a pretty big hint as to how Republicans were able to get away with putting a gun to the country's head. TPM:

A telephone poll by the Pew Research Center for People and Press found that Republicans and Tea Party-affiliated respondents both paid more attention to the debt negotiations and were more likely to take action to influence the outcome.

Some 66% of the two groups followed news on the issue closely versus only 34% of those who had different views or did not offer a political opinion. Nor were they passive observers: some 66% of Republicans and Tea Partiers followed the debt debate and 20% contacted an elected official during the standoff while only 5% of the rest did the same. This despite a direct appeal from President Obama to do exactly that.

As was the case in the midterm election, age was a crucial factor. Only 19% of 18-29 year-olds followed the story closely and 1% contacted an official versus 54% of those over 50 who followed the debate and 16% who contacted an official

Stop.  Rewind.

Two-thirds of people who identified themselves as Tea Party or as Republicans followed this story and 20% took action to contact their representatives and senators in Congress.  Democrats?  Well, Democrats apparently didn't give a damn.  Only 5% did.  If you wonder why the Tea Party minority can control such a huge swath of Congress, it's because the rest of us are apparently too cynical, too cool, or too depressed to care.

It's 18-29-year-olds who are in the deepest financial hole right now.  They are the ones coming out of college and trying to start a family with six figure college loan debt, trying to find jobs that involve not wearing paper hats or asking people how much foam they want on things, who are seeing their dreams crushed right now by the Tea Party right.

Republicans are trying to do everything they can to make it harder to get a mortgage, get a car loan, to get married to who you want to marry, to practice birth control, to have sex without consequences of carrying a child to full term, to get a job with solid pay and good benefits, to fight job discrimination based on sexual preference, race, or gender, and basically to live the American Dream.  They are knocking out all the supports, all the help networks, all the safety nets that older generations had because the older generation has been convinced by the Republicans that they can't afford it anymore, because it's all going to "those people".  I got mine, screw you.

They're the ones that stand to lose the most by starting out so far in the red in this economy that they'll never see daylight and will end up as indentured servants.   And the "professional left" is more than happy to assist Republicans in demoralizing the hell out of young voters.  "You're a sucker if you fell for hope and change."  "Obama is nothing but a corporate lapdog."  "You're wasting your time supporting the Democrats, they're just like the Republicans."  When you've grown up seeing Poppy Bush's war for oil, Clinton being impeached and eight years of Dubya's monstrous reign, you'd be too cynical to care...cynical enough to give up on Obama and let the GOP back into control after just two years.  Politicians have always been scuzzbags.

But the second you throw away your right to participate in the American political system, it gets hijacked by those who remain until the bitter end...and in this case it's the Tea Party and their enablers who want to profit from the chaos they cause.  It should be the 18-29-year-olds lighting up the phones and tweeting their representatives and senators because they are the ones who are going to suffer the most.  There's a reason why the debt deal is backloaded to cause some real damage in the years down the road but not to the people on SS and Medicare right now.

Only 1% did.  One lousy friggin percent.  No wonder Congress thinks "We the people!" consists solely of elderly white angry conservatives.  When you don't give a damn politically, politicians really don't give a damn about you.  So instead of sniping at each other in the standard circular squad formation, let's actually tell Congress what the hell we think about what's going on.  You can bitch and moan, or you can do something.  Get involved with OFA.  Contact your member of CongressTweet your member of Congress.  Let them know you exist, you are a voting constituent, and that you have an opinion.  (Be polite.)

But for the love of anything, don't be that 99% that doesn't give a damn under 30, or the 66% of Dems that don't care.

Do something.  Let them know.


Related Posts with Thumbnails