Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
Please accept my profuse apologies for the absence of the blog yesterday. I realize that tens if not twenty people waited anxiously all day to read the blog, and it never came. For that, I am sorry.
But today, the blog is back, and about the same as ever!!
On to the news:
The NCAA Tournament starts today, and guess who has tickets to the first round in Philly!!! I am going to watch Kentucky dominate! This is the year baby! After spending a butt load on tickets, I would appreciate if someone in the greater Philly area would be generous enough to offer up a free room for the night? Any takers?
Jessica Simpson snubs the President.
And a side of commentary:
Please check out this story, it is absolutely incredible.
The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan is offering FREE college tuition to any student who attends four or more years of public school in the city. A group of anonymous philanthropists are making an investment in the city and its future by offering local students free tuition to any public college or university in the state, including community colleges.
The city of Kalamazoo will provide a strong testimonial for progressives who constistently have to battle wing nut lawmakers on the right who try to cut education funding. Not only will more students be attending college, but in the short time since the announcement of the new plan the city has already started to see an increase in the local economy and housing market.
Café Con Leche
Guest Blogger Week continues after a few headlines. Today's guest blogger will be YP4 Fellow Eileen Denny.
But for now, some of the stories that I think are ridiculous:
AHHHH.... What is Cynthia McKinney doing? I am not commenting on the incident at all, but she is all over TV. I think I counted her on four different morning talk shows this week. Doesn't she know she is just drawing more negative publicity to herself? And, I don't know why people are talking about her hair, I actually think she has great hair.
I don't know why, but for some reason I love Katie Couric. Wonder who her replacement on the Today show will be? Oh no, I already dread the long drawn out "goodbye" episode that NBC will try to cash in on.
Massachusetts: Looking to become the first state with almost universal healthcare. It will be interesting to see how this works. It will also be interesting to see how Mitt Romney campaigns on healthcare having signed this bill.
BREAKING NEWS TO ABSOLUTELY NO ONE:
New study out says the tax cuts passed by ultra conservatives benefiting the rich. Did anyone think this tax cut was actually for working class people?
A judge in San Francisco just ruled that Google has to turn over some of its data to the Department of Justice. This is a disturbing precedent that could potentially lead to the government tracking what online users search.
Just in case you are keeping a tally, the government can and will:
- Listen to your phone calls
- Do sneak and peak's on your house without telling you
- Find out what you have been reading at the library
- See what you are searching for on Google
YP4 Program Associate Rachel Burrows takes a stab at the blog...
At Penn State University College Republicans proposed a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" on campus. And I'm sure this is not the first time a group of conservative students on a college campus illustrated their extreme positions with extreme actions. It's ok, because this time events like "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" are overshadowed by the millions of people who are demanding equality and opportunity for all. Millions of Americans have taken to the streets in recent weeks to say "no" to anti-immigrant and xenophobic forces.
This is truly a grassroots movement and on April 10th a coalition of immigrant, labor, faith, civil rights, community groups and allies across the nation will rally together for a National Day of Action. Students are actively engaged in the fight for immigrant rights and are leaders on this issue. YP4 Fellows are organizing events from Chicago to Pennsylvania, Minnesota to Texas, and California to New York. For more information about events happening near you check out www.pfaw.org and www.april10.org. Be a part of history! Join a National Day of Action Immigrant Justice event coming to a town near you!
-posted by TJ
(Shawn's out with his momma, fresh off the plane from the big KY)
From Guest Blogger Drew Courtney, Communications Specialist at People For the American Way Foundation:
As you may remember, YP4 was featured in a cover story in The Nation not too long ago. The Nation now has a "Student Resources" section with some interesting stuff to check out. Check out this link: http://www.thenation.com/student/. There's also a discussion of the article you should definitely take a look at (click on The Big Question). Poke around for a bit. It's pretty neat.
The discussion is pretty impassioned over there. There's some chatter about a lack of diversity in these groups, which doesn't mesh with my impression of YP4. You should definitely chime in and share your experiences with the program.
Then come back and share your opinions over here. We miss you when you're gone.
-posted by TJ... Thanks, DREW!
I have had a few people express some concern about the morning coffee with Shawn. Just to totally clear up the issue, the coffee I am serving is 100% fair trade.
I realize the coffee is a little cold this morning, as I am running behind schedule.
No real news, except to say that last night on Hannity and Colmes I swear to you they ran a news ticker across the screen reading "George Clooney: I am a liberal"
Now, to a good ole' serving of commentary:
Department of Justice: Party Like It's 1959
I found this article in the Times this morning and it's very disturbing. Affirmative action is a controversial issue and no one denies that. But, no matter your stance on that issue, everyone should be outraged to find out that colleges and universities are being forced to completely open scholarships that are designed to target women, students of color, and students from a variety of backgrounds. The Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are intimidating universities by threatening legal action unless all scholarships and fellowships are open to all students.
Scholarships and fellowships designed to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to attend college are a fundamental tool in creating equal opportunity education. These scholarships are not designed to be exclusive or to give an advantage to any particular race or gender, only to increase diversity and encourage students who are traditionally underrepresented on college campuses to seek higher education.
This is a racists initiative that hurts everyone except for students from upper class families. First generation college students serve as a good example. No one can intelligently argue that first generation college students are on equal footing with students who are third generation Ivy League college students. However, opening scholarships will put these two undeniably different classes of students into the same applicant pool, inevitably creating even less opportunity for a class of students already disadvantaged.
This disgusting intimidation of colleges and universities by the DOJ and DOE only work to create an even more elitist and exclusive educational environment in this country.
Recently I was enjoying a frosty malted beverage with one of my conservative friends (yeah, I know...), he proceeded to tell me of his brush with fame. It seems that his favorite conservative talk show host, the irrepressible Rush Limbaugh had decided to sell a T-shirt poking fun at the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Of course, he and his crack staff could only come up with something along the lines of "My terrorist parents went to Gitmo, and all I got..."; you get the idea.
Jerry refined the slogan to something a bit more fun, but still crass. Here it is, in case you see someone strolling down the street advertising their sensibilities, or lack thereof.
"What happens in Gitmo, stays in Gitmo."
I have to admit it...I laughed, if only for a second.
It got me thinking about the Republican mindset, though. You know, the one that promotes the suffering of anyone we deem fit to incarcerate. Not too much different than many conservative's view on the death penalty, facilities and rehab for domestic inmates, and police tactics; the popular view on Gitmo (and Abu Ghraib) is that torturing these people is ok as long as it serves the overall goal...to punish anyone with a cultural connection to the 9/11 attackers...and maybe get a bit of unreliable intelligence along the way. Admittedly, Jerry is not this bad.
I'm not kidding that much about this, the comments of (Abu Ghraib officer) during his court martial evidence this sadism. "The Christian in me says it's wrong...but the corrections officer in me loves to make a grown man piss himself." remarked Army Specialist Charles A Graner Jr. during his court martial hearings. Now there's someone working for peace. In fact Silja Talvi writing for <u>In These Times</u> suggests that we all share a guilty subconscious for the transgressions of our executive branch. The suggestion is that the national outrage (and compassion) of Americans over the Terri Shaivo case is something of an emotional release valve for this pent up regret for what we've allowed our leaders to perpetrate. Perhaps for Republicans, but for Dems its merely outrage...at the apparent hypocrisy of wanting to save a dying woman in place of hundreds of foreign men.
Respecting humanity is supposed to be a universal thing. Idealism aside, how can we blatantly flaunt international law and expect to be the "moral" leaders in a post-modern world. The solution to this conundrum is simple, they are prisoners, and should be treated as such...given basic facilities (food, bed, toilet...etc.), some entertainment (the Korah would be fine), and maybe the company of their fellows (if they are good). It doesn't have to be "Club Gitmo" as Rush would suggest, but torture is right out...even in the name of National Security.
So when Dubya re-sold this latest installment of the War on Terror to us the other night, I never lost sight on what he is willing to do to convert others to our way of life. Lying, killing, stealing, torturing...I'm sure the Iraqi citizens can see the appeal. Maybe he should be reading the Center For American Progress' suggestions on Gitmo...he might sleep better at night.
You knew the Supreme was going to have to take on some cases like the two religious symbol challenges it heard this past week. It looks likely that the Justices are headed for a split decision on whether America belongs in the 19th or 21st century.
And while I feel a certain traitorous guilt just writing it, I have to say that I'm one secular liberal -- hell, I even live in Hollywood--who just doesn't sweat a little bit of religion in the public square.
Or at least I don't think fighting the radical religious right on the purely symbolic stuff is worth the effort given the many desperate problems Republicans create whenever they're in power. I just don't see the upside to picking these battles.
Now don't get me wrong--I hate it when Dems go soft on a woman's right to choose, I can't stand money going from secular to `faith-based' institutions and I thank Sweet Jesus for those `obstructionist' Senators opposing Bush's nuttier judicial nominees.
But monuments of the Ten Commandments or saying `under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance become wedge issues that distract us just as much as they do those working-class Red Staters whom we so smugly condemn for voting against their interests (just admit that we're smug about that one).
These are the kinds of issues that turn me into a mushy centrist. I'm the Al From of Godliness in the public-square. If the American Left is going to spend a million dollars on legal fees, I'd prefer they use it to sue Don Rumsfeld for torture or fight those infuriatingly scummy union-busting law firms than drop it on getting rid of some piece of granite in some bright red state.
And that's because at the end of the day, if it's done constitutionally, it's no skin off my nose if defendants and litigants in a Texas courthouse have to look at the Ten Commandments.
I won't belabor the point. I've written about this before, and it rubbed a lot of my progressive friends out there the wrong way. So, tell me why I'm "as wrong-headed as can be on this one"--as one reader recently suggested--and I'll post the best of your slippery slope arguments right here.
On Saturday night I dreamt that Scott McClellan was hailing an election for dogcatcher in Port St. Lucie as vindication of the Bush Doctrine. After a brief video of some Lhasa Apsos and a Great Dane dancing in the streets, he said: "After seeing jubilant Iraqis celebrate their first vote in decades, the Port St. Lucian people have risked everything and chosen Freedom®." The reporters surrounding McClellan burst into applause.
I had fallen asleep in front of the tube and as I approached consciousness the next morning I focused on this little exchange between Meet The Press's Tim Russert and New York Times columnists Maureen Down and William Safire:
SAFIRE: ...Now, look at the role that we're on electorally. The Afghan election surprised everybody. Eighty percent of the people turned out, against all intimidation, and we had a democratic election there... Australia came up with an election supporting the government that supported us in Iraq.... Ukraine--suddenly the democrats won and threw out the Putin appointee. Iraq, we got a real election despite the al-Qaeda and Ba'athist, fascist insurgency. The Palestinians had a somewhat democratic election, and now in Lebanon we may just next month have a democratic election. And as you say, Egypt has begun to talk about it. Talk is cheap but we'll see what happens.
So we are on a roll, and it happened when this president started it all with Iraq.
Then Russert turned to Maureen Dowd and asked:
Maureen Dowd, "on a roll"--there were no weapons of mass destruction, which was the primary rationale for the war, but would you now accept the fact that, because of the invasion of Iraq, there is a possibility of democracy in Iraq and perhaps that may spread through the Middle East?
Dowd had a pithy answer, but she didn't dispute the underlying claim. Like the happy reporters in my dream, it seems everyone--including Russert--is buying into the narrative. Even the lefty Bush-haters on the New York Times editorial board got into the game a day later:
The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance.
No, it boldly proclaimed that Iraq had massive stockpiles of weapons, struck out swinging, then boldly proclaimed that their invasion was always meant to spread democracy in the first place.
But more to the point, the argument articulated in Russert's question (and reverberating all over the right-wing press) is that the Bush Doctrine--remember, that's pre-emptive war--is working.
But is it?
In Iraq, coalition casualties are down since the lead-up to the election--`only' 2.11 per day during February--but the insurgency is getting worse and Iraqis are dying by the score. Nothing has changed the fact that the Sunnis--the ones in rebellion--stayed away from the polls in droves or that the Iraqi security forces are being trained with painful sluggishness. The price tag will still be at least $250 or $300 billion bucks in the end, and we're still stained by Abu Ghraib. So, yes Tim, Iraq's just peachy.
[It's not] accurate to think that we are watching an unalloyed struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. As Jonathan Steele observes in The Guardian, "Yuschenko, who claims to have won Sunday's election, served as Prime Minister under the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, and some of his backers are also linked to the brutal industrial clans who manipulated Ukraine's post-Soviet privatization." (It is also worth noting, as The Independent reported , that Yuschenko's wife...worked in the Reagan White House.)"
What any of that--much less events in Australia--has to do with the Bush Doctrine is beyond me.
But what of the first blushes of reform in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, and--although Safire didn't mention it--Saudi Arabia? Was it what Jon Stewart calls the "Mess in Mesopotamia" that led to the wonders of governance unfolding before us?
I don't mind giving Bush credit where it's due. Presidential speeches have quite a bit of power behind them, and Bush's promise to push even allies to democratize--even if I see it as mostly hollow rhetoric--was a big shift in stated U.S. policy.
In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, I think Bush's speeches did indeed prompt talk of reform--despite and not because of our pre-emptive war. It's not like the Saudis are worried we'll invade them.
And Safire's right that talk is cheap; Mubarak has said many times before that he was a democratizer, but you have to take it with a grain of salt when it comes from someone who's been in power for 24 years.
Let's keep in mind, too, that Saudi Arabia saw only municipal elections (which might be the seed of my dogcatcher dream), and Saudi women were out of luck.
As for Lebanon, there's been a dramatic reaction to the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. But unless it was some sort of CIA job that we don't know about, I don't see how Bush gets much credit there. It's not like the dissatisfaction of many Lebanese with Syria's presence in their country is something new.
And while I can credit the administration for putting a bit of pressure on Israel to loosen up travel restrictions in the Occupied Territories and allow a vote, it's a fairly obvious policy decision and Sharon would have responded to the administration's request even if we hadn't invaded Iraq, no?
And doesn't Tim Russert know that the first relatively free and fair Palestinian election ("generally well-conducted" in the words of the State Department) occurred in 1996 under Clinton? Why is the second one--prompted by a natural death, no less--on Bush's résumé?
What's most troubling about the mainstream's uncritical acceptance of this narrative is that it's based on another domino theory--which I've always found to be a theory with little basis in historical experience.
When Truman decided to push past the 38th parallel, he believed that he had to do so to keep Japan from "going red." Johnson's advisors were warning him that a North Vietnamese victory would push Thailand into the Soviets' hands. We lost both campaigns and those dominos never fell.
That's because most political systems represent a delicate dance between ruling elites and the ruled. While outside ideas and pressures certainly have an influence on that dynamic, it's domestic processes that account for changes as sweeping as going from authoritarianism to democracy or from capitalism to communism.
It just makes me crazy that we're going to have to deal with these simplistic justifications for Bush's disastrous strain of U.S. foreign policy for a long time to come. There they'll be, tucked in next to Oliver North's "patriotism" and Ronald Reagan's supposedly magic touch in the debating quiver of every hawkish nut, from Richard Perle to the folks at The New Republic, and Tim Russert and the rest of the liberal press will just go right along with them.
There have been a gaggle of polls showing that young people are significantly more supportive of gay rights issues than older voters, and same-sex marriage advocates love to cite them as if to say `everything will be OK.'
So let me join them.
A new report by the University of Maryland finds that, while young voters' "social circles and voluntary associations (such
as churches and other religious congregations) remain largely segregated by race," voters aged 18-29 "are the most tolerant age group and are growing more tolerant over time."
The study [you can download a PDF here] looked at three groups folks just love to hate in some quarters: gays, immigrants, and racial minorities.
56 percent of young people supported same-sex marriage and 63 percent supported civil unions. More dramatic were those who believed in protection for gays in housing and employment, and those who supported hate crime protection, all of which were around 85 percent.
Moreover, youth support for equal protections for gays, seems to cross partisan, ideological, and religious lines. For example, majorities of Republican, conservative, and Born-Again Christian youth also support protections on housing, employment, and hatecrimes, although they oppose gay civil unions, marriage, and adoption.
It appears that through the years, young people have become increasingly supportive of laws prohibiting discrimination. The NES began asking about attitudes towards laws prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in 1988. At that time, 51 percent of youth (ages 18 to 25) felt there should be laws to protect gays from discrimination in the workforce.
It's not the same survey, but even if the data are only somewhat comparable, we're talking about 51 to 85 percent in 30 years.
On race, the report cited data from the General Social Survey (GSS), which has asked questions about racial issues over a number of years.
When the GSS first asked in 1972 if respondents would favor a legal ban on interracial marriage, 20 percent of younger Americans and 43 percent of those 26 and older said they would. A generation later, in 2000, these percentages had fallen dramatically - four percent of youth and 10 percent of older
Americans still favored such a ban.
The number of Americans who favored the segregation of neighborhoods fell in a similarly dramatic fashion. In 1972, 24 percent of Americans aged 18 to 25 and 43 percent of Americans 26 and older agreed that "whites have the right to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods and that blacks should respect that right." By 1996, the
percentage who agreed with this statement had fallen to four percent for youth and 13 percent for older Americans.
That 13 percent of voters over 25 would answer that poll question in the affirmative scares the hell out of me, I don't know about you. But the gap between age groups is significant.
When it comes to immigrants, well there's some ugly politics out there and young people aren't immune. When asked about immigration policies, Americans of all ages favor tighter controls.
On the underlying issue, though, there's hope. According to the University's 2002 Civic and Political Health of the Nation survey, 60 percent of respondents between 15-25 agreed that ""Immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents," compared to 49 percent in the 38-56 group and just 42 percent among those over 56. Just 29 percent of youts thought, "Immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care," compared with 37 percent of those over 56.