Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Category: Politics Page 2 of 73

Paul and Farrakhan

Ta-Nehisi Coates draws a very apt comparison between what Ron Paul and Louis Farrakhan have offered their youthful supporters.

As surely as Ron Paul speaks to a real issue–the state’s broad use of violence and surveillance–which the America’s political leadership has failed to address, Farrakhan spoke to something real, something unsullied, which black America’s political leadership failed to address, Both Paul and Farrakhan, in their glamour, inspired the young, the disaffected, the disillusioned.

I’d never drawn this parallel in my own mind until reading this piece.  But when I think back to the early/mid 90s and my friends who were drawn into the orbit of the NOI, or who traveled to the Million Man March – they weren’t there for Farrakhan’s crank theories and anti-Semitism any more than most of Paul’s younger supporters are there for his effective support of homophobia and racism.

But as sure as the followers of Farrakhan deserved more than UFOs, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, those of us who oppose the drug-war, who oppose the Patriot Act deserve better than Ron Paul[.]


Leave the Governing to Sodomites and Infidels

Opinions and the Fixation Thereof

It turns out that Kansas Gov. Brownback is kind of sensitive about what people think of him:

But Brownback’s office, which monitors social media for postings containing the governor’s name, saw [a 14 year old] Sullivan’s post [that imagined her telling the Governor that he, essentially, “sucked”]  and contacted the Youth in Government program.

Sullivan received a scolding at school and was ordered to send Brownback an apology letter. She said Prinicipal Karl R. Krawitz even suggested talking points for the letter she was supposed to turn in Monday.

Mostly, I think it’s kinda funny.  Seriously, the random twittering of a 14 year old girl is worth your reaction?  Kinda makes Sam sound like an insecure 14 year old girl himself, doesn’t it?  If that threatens you, you must be terribly insecure in your own position, no?

In any event, I wonder how this sort of thing will play out over time.  Some places, like Thailand, can’t abide criticism of some people at all.  And as ridiculous as that approach seems to many of us, right now, you wonder if that’s going to be the practical approach, in the future.  And remember, Americans, you’ve already been told – by a president’s press secretary – to watch what you say.


Excellent Use of Access

Bravo, sir, bravo.


Because the 2nd Amendment Is Waaaay More Important Than the 1st

So, in an apparent display of of I Love My Guns More Than You, the Wisconsin GOPers are making sure that guns are part of daily life inside their capitol building, voting to allow concealed carry on the legislative floor and in the visitor’s gallery.  But they made real sure those pesky Democrats didn’t screw it up:

The Dems moved to allow signs and cameras, in addition to guns, but this was voted down by the GOP members.

God bless the USA!


We Should All Be Ashamed

I’ve often joked about the hateful lunacy that is birtherism (and its enablers).  But really, it’s not funny at all.  Baratunde Thurston makes it crystal clear:


Scientific American: Fair & Balanced (Finally)

Read it for yourself.

The GOP Finally Focuses On What Matters

Rep. Weiner takes the time to congratulate the House GOP for finally finding a budget target we can all agree on:

The Kind of Journalism I’d Like To See

Ignoring that it’s from Huffington Post, and despite the fact that the author initially engages in the very behavior he bemoans, I still think this piece on the the lazy left-right dichotomy of American journalism is worth reading.  Peter Goodman identifies the problematic action:

Journalists so frequently deal in the false liberal-conservative dichotomy because it generates the sort of tension that feeds narrative, and narrative makes for more accessible stories. Simply dividing up he interests into two neatly-differentiated competing camps enables lazy beat reporters to claim to have painted all of reality with but two phone calls. Why venture outside and talk to ordinary people — whose experiences and views almost always challenge the traditional labels — when we can simply sit at our desks and dial up a D and then an R and gather a pair of quotes that supposedly cover the whole spectrum of the American take on anything?

He identifies *why* this action is a problem:

Left versus right: These are overly-simplified labels that perpetuate division, and we ought not cater to them, because that amounts to lazy journalism. That is about who won the week, and who controls the conversation, as opposed to the much more difficult, nuanced and crucial questions that remain operative irrespective of phony ideological labels: How will we make the economy function again for the vast majority of Americans, for whom the last quarter-century has delivered downward mobility? How will we get our fiscal house in order while adding quality paychecks and making health care affordable? These are concerns that are common to nearly every household, regardless of ideology, and these are questions that must be pursued at face value, with good information, critical scrutiny and the pursuit of pragmatic policy.

And then he proposes a solution:

In the sort of journalism I am interested in practicing here, I want my reporters to reject the false idea that you simply poll people at both extremes of any issue, then paint a line down the middle and point to it as reality. We have to reject the tired notion that objectivity means the reader can get all the way to the bottom of the story and not know what to think. We do have to be objective in our journalism, but this does not mean we are empty vessels with no ideas of our own, and with no prior experiences that influence what we ultimately deliver: That is a fantasy, and an unhelpful one at that, because every time the reader discovers that personal values have indeed “intruded” into the copy, they experience another “gotcha” moment that undermines the credibility of serious journalism.

Rather, objectivity means that we conduct a fully open-minded inquiry. We do not begin our reporting with a fully-formed position. We do not adhere to the contentions of one think tank or political party or government organ as truth. We don’t write to please our friends or sources or interest groups. Rather, we do our own reporting, our own independent thinking, our own scrutinizing. But at the end of that process, we offer a conclusion, and transparently so, with whatever caveats are in order. We do not concern ourselves with how others may describe our place on the ideological spectrum, and we do not hold back when we know something, or lard up our journalism with disingenuous counter-quotes to cover ourselves against the charge that we staked out a position. As long as our process is pure, so is the work.

Now, I don’t think, for a second, that his solution is going to be swiftly adopted by many (any?) of the major news orgs out there.  But it’s something we need to support and demand.  Without it, we’re at great risk of losing what makes a democracy worthwhile – an informed populace.  I don’t think I’m overstating the case, here.  The muddleheaded middle approach that forms the core of modern American journalism is the sort of the journalism that leads to popular support for the war in Iraq, the idea that Obama somehow brought in an era of Big Government, or the perception anyone in DC actually gives a damn about the deficit.  That kind of ignorance simply isn’t sustainable, and real journalism is one of the few things that can cure it.

Virginians – 3 Feet to Pass Needs Your Support

Friends in Virginia – I would consider it a great personal favor if you could take the time to 1) act on this yourself, and 2) pass this along to your friends. We’ve got a real shot at making this happen. It’s not a magic bullet that will make everything better, but it’s a *substantial* step forward in the effort to make roads a safe place for all users.  This isn’t national politics where we are but one of a million voices on an issue – your call or email to a Delegate *will* make a difference.  Just last week a chorus of voices helped bring a critical vote to our side.  We can do it again.

From FABB:

Herndon & Fairfax residents — write to Representatives Rust, Hugo & Comstock about SB 928 (increasing min. passing distance to 3′ for motorists passing bicycles, and adds bicycles to the list of vehicles that a motorist shall not follow more closely than is reasonable). It may be heard in committee as early as tomorrow morning, Feb. 10. See attached [the VBF link below] for easy link for writing to your reps.

From the Virginia Bike Federation:

As we reported yesterday, SB 928, the three feet passing bill, was passedunanimously by the Senate on Monday. It’s now headed to the House, where it must get through committee and then a full House vote.

This bill increases the minimum passing distance from 2′ to 3′ for motorists passing bicycles, and adds bicycles to the list of vehicles that a motorist shall not follow more closely than is reasonable (prohibits aggressive tailgating of bicycles).

It may be heard in committee as early as Thursday morning, Feb. 10; or it could be heard by the full Transportation Committee next Tuesday morning, Feb. 15.

Please write to your delegates now, and ask them to support SB 928 — especially if your delegate is one of the committee members listed below.

The Who’s My Legislator page will tell you who your delegate is.

BikeWalk Virginia has posted an alert too, along with a sample letter.


May, Joe T. /Loudon 804 698-1033

Vice Chair:

Oder, G. Glenn/Newport News — PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT


Carrico, Charles W., Sr. /Galax 804 698-1005

Cosgrove, John A./Chesapeake 804 698-1078

Rust, Thomas Davis/Herndon 804 698-1086

Hugo, Timothy D./Fairfax 804 698-1040 delthugo@house.virginia.gov

Scott, Edward T./Culpeper 804 698-1030

Tata, Robert/VaBeach 804 698-1085 delbtata@house.virginia.gov

Villanueva, Ronald A./VaBeach 804 698-1021

Comstock, Barbara J./Fairfax 804 698-1034

Garrett, T. Scott/Lynchburg 804 698-1023

Cox, John A./Hanover 804 698-1055

Cleaveland, William H./Roanoke 804 698-1017

Habeeb, Gregory D.

Ward, Jeion A./Hampton 804 698-1092

Ebbin, Adam P./Arlington 804 698-1049

BaCote, Mamye E./Newport News 804 698-1095

Brink, Robert H./Arlington 804 698-1048

Toscano, David J./Charlottesville 804 698-1057

McQuinn, Delores L./Richmond 804 698-1070

Carr, Betsy B./Richmond 804 698-1069

Filler-Corn, Eileen/Fairfax 804 698-1041

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