Archive for September, 2010

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Education: Watch “Waiting for Superman”

September 27th, 2010

Earlier today, Politico reported that Obama watched the new documentary, Waiting for Superman.

President Obama recently watched the new documentary “Waiting for Superman” in the White House screening room, a senior White House aide tells POLITICO.

In an interview with Matt Lauer on Monday, Obama called film about the nation’s struggling education system “heartbreaking” and “powerful.”

“When you see these parents in the film, you are reminded [of]…their stake in their kids, their wanting desperately to make sure their kids are able to succeed,” he said.

When it comes to education, children “shouldn’t depend on the bounce of a ball,” Obama said, referring to the education lottery system for charter schools, which some parents in the film depended on to place their children into better schools.

Watch this trailer and pledge to see this important documentary about education in American.

See the web site.

See also this clip from Meet the Press on Sept. 26th, 2010.


Check out the companion book to the film, Waiting for Superman.

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Healthcare Reform: Still Confused?

September 23rd, 2010

Are you still confused about what is in the new healthcare bill? Join the club.

This is an excellent short video that explains the new law(i.e., the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)

Views on Health Reform Back to an Even Split – Kaiser Slides.

Other great links and resources:

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The Difference Between a Liberal and a Conservative

September 20th, 2010
Of all the political theories used to understand our complex political system, one of the most useful is “Social Dominance Theory” (SDT) developed by Sidanius and Pratto. This is a sociological theory that seek to make sense of social hierarchies and how they are formed and maintained. To understand social hierarchies is to understand discrimination, oppression,  stereotypes, inequality, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, nationalism, and the like. In short, SDT provides a framework for understanding power and group inequality.
Sidanius and Pratto’s 1999 book, Social Dominance, exhibits high scholarly standards, and is considered a classic sociological text. For anyone who wants to understand human systems, including political-economic social systems, this is an excellent read. There work is particularly relevant for understanding the difference between conservatives and liberals. Essentially, a political conservative is someone who accepts group inequality—that is, when a small group of elites dominates the majority (the subordinate group). A liberal is someone who seeks more egalitarian social organization, with equal opportunity for all groups. SDT identifies the attitudes associated with conservative/liberal views by measuring a group’s “social dominance orientation.”
“Social dominance orientation” is the degree to which individuals desire and support group-based hierarchy and domination of “inferior” groups by “superior” groups. Individuals have varying degrees of social dominance orientation. Political conservatism, authoritarianism, racism, sexism, lack of empathy, acceptance inequality, patriotism, and the presence of oppressive and discriminatory behavior is strongly correlated with social dominance orientation. » Read more: The Difference Between a Liberal and a Conservative
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Legalized Marijuana is Coming

September 12th, 2010

Recreational cannabis use may become legal in California this November. That’s right. Whatever you prefer to call it—pot, grass, weed, marijuana—like alcohol, it would become legal for adults to use recreationally. Cannabis is already permitted for medical purposes in 14 states. Millions of Americans use it for recreational purposes. Regulating it allows the government to tax it and control how it is used. This is not unlike the prohibition amendment in the early 20th century that led to a massive black market. When substances like alcohol and cannabis are forced underground, you simply feed crime, lose control of age limits, lose out of taxing it, send a lot of otherwise productive citizens to jail, create drug wars in other countries (e.g., Mexico), and make it more attractive to users.

The state of California need the money. Taxing cannabis will bring in between $1.4-2 billion annually, and will significantly reduce the costly prison population of California’s overcrowded detention facilities. It will also save on drug enforcement, allowing the police to work in more productive areas. In 2003, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) published “Economic Costs of Drug Abuse,” which stated without separately analyzing cannabis related costs, the United States was spending $12.1 billion on law enforcement and court costs, and $16.9 billion in corrections costs, totaling $29 billion.

Right now polls indicate that the bill have a shot of passing this November. Before we look at further implications of this initiative—called Prop 19—let’s review some history. » Read more: Legalized Marijuana is Coming

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The Yes Men: Jackass meets Michael Moore

September 9th, 2010

A new kind of activist journalism has been created. It is humorous Michael Moore “mockumentaries” meets the daring stunts of the show Jackass. These guys are for real! Their latest documentary, “The Yes Men: Fix the World,” is intellectually stimulating and very funny at the same time. (Both of their films are streaming items on NetFlix!!) Here are a few clips from the most recent film, and some media coverage of their work.

» Read more: The Yes Men: Jackass meets Michael Moore

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Happy Labor Day, You’re Fired

September 6th, 2010

Here’s an unfortunate Labor Day message. A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies found that CEOs who laid off the most workers made the most money over the past couple if years. No wonder the recession continues.

View the report here:

Take Action: Stop Executive Excess. Tell your friends that you won’t stand for injustice. Together we can shame these companies and stop executive excess. Click here

The trends with health insurance benefits are also disturbing.

Another unfortunate fact on this Labor Day, is that unions continue to diminish in their influence and numbers. Workers’ unions have fought to give all of us 40 hour working weeks, weekends, minimum wages, child labor laws, and so much more. Obama needs to follow through on his promises to support and promote union growth. With the prolonging of the recession (partly because businesses won’t start hiring, even when they are plenty profitable), pushing union growth is not an acceptable political move, unfortunately.

On the one hand, we have the crimes of “tough” CEOs who prove they can’t succeed without slashing payroll and benefits, and on the other hand we have the diminished influence of unions who bargain for the collective interests of workers. These two trend make help corporate profits in the short term, they they harm the economy over the long term. They are proving again that our system needs significant reform.

Happy Labor Day. It is, after all, a day off work. But we still have too many people who can’t go back to work tomorrow.

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Glenn Beck’s Propaganda Fest

September 5th, 2010

I have been trying to figure out what Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington was about (8/28/2010). “Faith, hope, and charity,” was the theme. It was a “wake up” call (literally) to call people to prayer and traditional values. It was basically a religious revival, with a strong emphasis on the greatness of Glenn Beck. He took a number of jabs at the media, hinting that they would underestimate the numbers of people in attendance. There were about 300,000 people in attendance. The whole event was an appeal to religious and patriotic emotions, tying together religious faith and American exceptionalism. This use of faith and patriotic sentiment is not new. Conservative politicians have used these emotions to stir up their base throughout our history. What was different is that Beck seems to be trying to connect conservatism with minority civil rights—never mind the fact that it was conservatives who fought against virtually every attempt to give additional rights to any group, from women and minorities to labor and immigrants.

The rally repeatedly invoked Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, which was given on the same date 47 years ago. Beck essentially claimed Martin Luther King as part of his own political movement. He referred to “justice” repeatedly, even though months earlier he told people to leave their churches if they spoke of social justice. He equated the concept of social justice (a central message of Dr. King) with communism. Now, he is claiming justice as part of his own movement. To drive this connection home, he had King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, speak.

» Read more: Glenn Beck’s Propaganda Fest

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10 Worst Conservatives

September 4th, 2010

Keith Olberman of MSNBC has a funny portion of his nightly show called, the “world’s worst person.” And of course, David Letterman has his top 10 lists. I thought it might be time to have our own “top ten worst conservatives” list. Here is our list (explanations and [very funny] video clips below).

  1. Glenn Beck
  2. Newt Gingrich
  3. John Boehner
  4. Sarah Palin
  5. George Rekers
  6. Jan Brewer
  7. Richard Army
  8. Sharron Angle
  9. Lindsey Graham
  10. Mitt Romney

» Read more: 10 Worst Conservatives