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Reposted from The Miep Channel by Gabriel D Editor's Note: It's short, so no need for extra commentary from me. -- Gabriel D

What do you think you need?

Maybe you could rethink that into what you think you want?

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Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM PDT

Why Don't People My Age Vote?

by NickKmet

Reposted from Youth Kos 2.0 by Gabriel D Editor's Note: A summary of the author's first-hand experience regarding why young people don't participate in politics. -- Gabriel D

Now that my second year in college is finally over, I actually have time to post on Kos. At 19 (almost 20), I fit into that category of voters that, in nearly every election, is dimissed as a non-factor, as no shows to the party. While this is not necessarily true (voter turnout among the 18-29 age group has been steadily rising in national election years), it can be difficult to argue with that central idea: young voters are unengaged and don't vote. There's a reason politicians have spent the better part of, well, forever, pandering to older Americans.

Why is this the case? Why do people my age avoid voting? Why do they not care about the issues that affect them? Why are they so "unengaged?"

From personal experience, the biggest issues that seems to keep young people from voting/being engaged are that they don't understand or know about the issues that will affect them, and/or they don't realize that those issues will actually affect them. In most cases, their level of understanding barely passes beyond the stereotypical characterizations most often used to describe issues.

More below the fold.

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Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 11:21 PM PDT

We Have to Do It Ourselves

by SouthernLiberalinMD

Reposted from SouthernLiberalinMD by Gabriel D Editor's Note: It is long past time we recognized that activists and politicians are not fighting for the same things. We are not on the same team, as I will diary this coming weekend. So if this diary helps even one more person come to that realization, then I will feel justified in having republished it. -- Gabriel D

What Weinergate has shown me is that we cannot rely on leaders to get our work done for us.

Our general MO has been to elect "more and better Democrats" with the implication that getting them into positions of power will enable them to get our work done for us.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't continue to get people elected.  But I am saying that the strategy of electing "more and better Democrats" has had a disturbingly low ROI.  A great deal of arguing has gone on here on DK about why that is, and who is to blame for the astoundingly poor returns, with a great deal of the debate centering around "It's Obama's fault/It's not Obama's fault," or "The Democrats suck/You must stick with the Democrats or we're stuck with the Republicans." Clearly, though, the most important fact here is that the returns are poor.  We're not getting what we want.  We're not getting even half of what we want. On the rare occasion where we have a progressive champion, or an effective leader, he or she gets targeted by the RW propaganda machine, which at this point includes most of the mainstream media, whether by ideological design, or because they simply gravitate toward sensationalism.

And something like Weinergate happens.

We all know why this happened.  Weiner had been attacking the right uncompromisingly for years, and he got too close to one of their golden boys, Clarence Thomas, and one of their centers of power, the Supreme Court.  He actually had some grounds that could enable him to pressure Thomas into recusing himself from participating in cases regarding healthcare, and the Affordable Health Care Act in particular.

Now, either Weiner, like Clinton before him, did something unbelievably stupid and then compounded that stupidity with a lie, which essentially gave the scandal fifty times more power, or somebody found an excellent way to twist Rep. Weiner's arm for him and produce a "confession."  I tend to believe the former rather than the latter, but I put the latter possibility out there simply because it's hard for me to believe, post-Monica Lewinsky, that any Democrat would be so incredibly stupid as to deliberately and unequivocally lie about sexual misconduct, especially when the misconduct doesn't even involve any nekkidness.  

What this has done is 1)take all the air out of the attempt to hold Thomas accountable, 2)fed Breitbart a big hunk of credibility that he doesn't deserve, based on all the other crap he's done, and 3)reduced Rep. Weiner's credibility just about forever. (Not that it should, since in a sane world this should be a tempest in a teapot, but we don't live in a sane world).

So, in this war, we have lost one of our few remaining champions.

Two things are clear:

First, to elected Democrats:  You need to stop doing stupid things, and especially you need to stop lying about them.  Lies are your enemies' chosen weapon.  Only a fool faces a swordsman with a sword.  If you lie, you will fall.  Of course, it's better if you don't do the stupid things to begin with, but the stupidest thing Weiner did--just like Clinton before him--was to lie.

Second, to us:  IMO, we need to stop being supporters and start being change agents ourselves.  We need to act less often through these Democrats, who are vulnerable,  and we need to spend more time acting ourselves.  We need to spend less time writing diaries lamenting the bad actions or inactions of Democrats or the media and more time using the media to shape the stories we want.  We are still in the mode of thinking that voting, working on campaigns, and getting the truth out is all we need to do, because those are the jobs of good citizens.  But the political world we inhabit eats good citizens and spits them out.  When we try to work through leaders, our leaders either turn their backs on us or are taken down before our eyes.

Being good citizens and waiting for our reward is not working.

Anonymiss/Anonymous may be wrong about Weiner, but they're not wrong about the fight we're in.  We are never going to win if we keep being good citizens and expecting to get representation in return:  whether that's in the halls of Congress or the echo chamber. We must be active, and we must use the media rather than expecting truth from them--and, if necessary, we must make them irrelevant.

Details on exactly what we should do obviously can't be worked out in a completely open, online diary.  IMO, the most important thing now is that we can no longer wait for politicians to lead us, help us, or take action for us.  The longer we try this, the more losses we take, the more powerless we feel:  and this site gets closer and closer to becoming an elegy for all we've lost.


Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM PDT

I can create 10mil new jobs

by Jonathan4Dean

Reposted from Jonathan4Dean by Gabriel D Editor's Note: This may not be the best idea, as noted in the comments, but take it in the spirit offered and maybe it will lead to something better. -- Gabriel D

The people have spoken. Deficits matter. Foreign wars matter. Education matters. But jobs trump everything else.

I'm conflicted about the role of the stimulus package (ARRA) in our recent recession/recovery. When my Republican friends promised me that the Bush tax cuts would "spur furious growth that we haven't seen in decades" they were incredibly wrong. Unrepentant, but wrong.

The non-partisan CBO seems to indicate ARRA was a great thing:

But there are still 14 million unemployed Americans.......


Are you on board?

52%10 votes
31%6 votes
15%3 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from Progressive Ideas by Gabriel D Editor's Note: Pushing the idea of a tax receipt to help educate people about where their tax money is being spent. -- Gabriel D

As a Precinct Committee Person for the Washington County Democrats, I've taken it upon myself to meet my neighbors and update their voter registrations.  As I speak with people about various topics, including the budget, and as I've spoken with people in the past about the budget, it has become clear to me that virtually nobody knows what the budget actually looks like.  People have their ideas, but they're often skewed, misinformed or just plain wrong.  This has an obvious negative impact on any budget discussion in our country.  If people don't know where their money is going, how can they effectively debate what should be done?

Part of the reason for this is an intentional mingling of all income and expenditures from all sources, even if taxes are raised and distributed independently from one another.  Some examples of this are, Federal Insurance Contributions Act-Old Age, Survivors, & Disability Insurance (FICA-OASDI, commonly referred to as Social Security), FICA-Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance (UI).  These funds are raised, administered and distributed as trusts, separately from the general budget.  Unfortunately (from a clarity standpoint), these trust funds have been combined with other federal funds, resulting in a picture of the budget that looks like this.  By combining these trusts with the general budget, it makes it appear that Defense is 18.74%, interest on the debt is 4.63%, and all the other departments of the government are only 19.89% of spending.  This provides an inaccurate description of how our taxes are spent (and how they're raised).

What happens when you separate the trust funds (aka. "mandatory spending") from the rest of the budget?  The Defense Department suddenly looks much more robust at 43.32% of "discretionary spending".  This is followed by interest on the debt at 10.7%.  Everything else is a total of 45.98% (the next largest expenditure is for the Department of Health and Human Services at 5.13% and it shrinks substantially from there).  Looking at discretionary spending will allow for a more honest debate about what we can/should cut and possibly where we need to raise more revenue.

But how can we educate people most effectively?  That's where the idea for a "tax receipt" comes in.  Join me on the flip where I discuss this concept, different taxes and a few possible budgetary fixes.

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Okay. Cheap joke. I'll get to that in a second though. First, below the Fleur-de-Kos, you'll find a listing of diaries republished to A Perfect Conversation since the last diary I posted (which was something like two weeks ago), as well as a quick update on APC matters, such as why I've been gone so long and what the future holds for the group. In other words, stuff those of you who follow the group will be interested in, but everyone else will likely not give a rat's ass about. (Well, except the republished diaries. I hope everyone is interested in checking them out.)

Now then, getting back to the title. Apologies, but I'd like to start with some links.

For those living under a rock, stef has an excellent summary of what we know or suspect we know about "WeinerGate" to date in this diary: Breitbart's #Twitterhoax - What We Know Now. Also, Stranded Wind has news that this may have been a coordinated attack by a known hate group: Breaking: Christian Infowar Militia Attacked Congressman Weiner. For the record, I'm skeptical of this second diary since it lacks specifics, but what is provided does show there could be history here which implicates the group. So I'm not going to discount it just yet. Finally, one more link. A diary by robert cruickshank republished to this group some time ago reminding us of how to act like a coalition: Why aren't progressives as good at politics as conservatives?

So, what does coalition politics have to do with WeinerSchnitzel?

I don't see politicians as part of our coalition. I'll make my argument for that in next week's diary. (One of those infamously long-awaited diaries I keep talking about but never seem to get to.) For now, let me say that politicians and activists are two different beasts with goals and motivations too remotely removed from each other for us to form a workable coalition. We can however be situational allies.

Why is Weiner being targeted, and why is it our job to defend against those attacks?

What the specific reason is for the attack doesn't matter. Anthony Weiner is seen as a progressive champion, much like Obama. Whether or not you agree with that view, that's the media consensus, not to mention the right-wing belief. So the right is more than happy to use any excuse they can reasonably make to themselves to attack him. (The excuse doesn't have to make sense to us. It only has to make sense to them.) They found one and went with it.

If we—the progressive/liberal/lefty coalition—don't defend him, we lose by default, because the attack is not just against him but also against us. Again, Weiner is seen as a progressive champion. So if the right takes him down, the media broadcasts it as a loss for us. Like it or not, the beltway media narrative holds strong sway in DC. For now, we have to fight using those rules.

Okay, Gabriel. Riddle me this. If we should be defending politicians viewed as progressive champions, why don't we defend John Edwards?

That attack isn't coming from the right. It's coming from the government.

Uh...Hello! Don Siegalman?

Okay, I'll elaborate.

We can only respond based on the information we have and how credible we believe that information to be. The credible information on Edwards indicates he shot himself in the foot. He's not being attacked by the right. He did this to himself, and there's nothing we can do about it.

The credible information on Siegalman indicates the government was a proxy in the right-wing attack. Whether Siegalman is a progressive champion or not, in this case, a certain old adage holds true. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." So we should defend him. If we lose, we lose. But we don't have much to lose at this point, so it's a risk worth taking. And if we win, the least we get out of it is a stronger coalition. Overall, it's worth the risk.

The credible information on Weiner indicates he was framed. Does it pass legal muster? I don't know. I'm no lawyer. But there's too much evidence indicating that it's not only possible, but that the people most likely to have framed him are acting suspiciously like they did so. So we fight this for much the same reason we fight for Siegalman. And if it turns out later that we were wrong, at least we've shown that we can hold together as a coalition, which sends a message to both our allies and enemies. In other words, even in the worst case, we're better off fighting.

The basic point, then, is that there are things we do as a coalition that, as individuals, we might not fully agree with. We do these things because they make our coalition stronger, and a stronger coalition means that, as individuals, we are more likely to get what we want. This is what it means to be in a coalition. So even if you have your doubts about Weiner's responsibility in this incident, there can be no doubt that we're all under attack. It's up to each of us to step up so that together we can fight back.

(Read also "WeinerGate" Ends When Mike Stack et al Are Investigated by ConnectTheDots.)

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Reposted from eState4Column5©2013 by Gabriel D Editor's Note: An overview of a book introducing game theory, a subject that touches on practically every decision we make. -- Gabriel D

This is part of a series within the Reading and Book Lovers group; it was suggested by LimeLite.  The subject is books about science, math and statistics.

This is intended to be a group series, with lots of contributors. plf515 can't do it alone and I hope at least from the economics side, that in the context of DK-PEG, that some texts useful to the scientific/mathematical side of political economy could be considered. Hence this review.

Topic ideas (some of which could be collaborative with other RBL groupies):

Book reviews regarding science, math and statistics in fiction or non-fiction.

Diaries about popular science writers

Interviews of daily Kos science, math or statistics authors

A community read of a science, math or statistics book, possibly Feynman's The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, or maybe the much neglected Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski.

"Why it couldn't happen" - looking at some classic books and why they are not possible.

Books on Kindle or other e-reader vs. paper

Our lives are at every moment strategic and tactical. We have big, ambitious goals "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", where of the trio there is a difference between the strategically abstract goal of happiness and the tactical objective of pursuing happiness whether in a bar or in a battlespace as in the cinematic situations presented in A Beautiful Mind or Jarhead.
Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions),by Ken Binmore, Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA, Pages: 144, Publish year: 2007, ISBN-10: 0199218463, ISBN-13: 9780199218462 This is the publishers description: Games are everywhere: Drivers maneuvering in heavy traffic are playing a driving game. Bargain hunters bidding on eBay are playing an auctioning game. The supermarket's price for corn flakes is decided by playing an economic game. This Very Short Introduction offers a succinct tour of the fascinating world of game theory, a ground-breaking field that analyzes how to play games in a rational way. Ken Binmore, a renowned game theorist, explains the theory in a way that is both entertaining and non-mathematical yet also deeply insightful, revealing how game theory can shed light on everything from social gatherings, to ethical decision-making, to successful card-playing strategies, to calculating the sex ratio among bees. With mini-biographies of many fascinating, and occasionally eccentric, founders of the subject--including John Nash, subject of the movie A Beautiful Mind--this book offers a concise overview of a cutting-edge field that has seen spectacular successes in evolutionary biology and economics, and is beginning to revolutionize other disciplines from psychology to political science.
This diary while discussing a brief introductory text does imply that there is a very significant interdisciplinary project that is relevant to the democratic political project of DK. While I am not a "game theoretician" per se, I hope that those in the DK community might contribute and help facilitate the discussion.
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Reposted from PACmenDotOrg by Gabriel D Editor's Note: A suggestion to base the corporate tax rate on how responsibly they behave. -- Gabriel D

(as seen on, Facebook, Twitter, & Wordpress)

When you are the co-founder of an organization called “People Against the Corporate Manipulation of Elections and News” people understandably conclude that you are anti-corporate. That assertion, however, is simply not true. In fact, I am extremely pro-corporate. Corporations have played a huge role in making America the greatest country on earth. They have fueled innovation, created millions of jobs, and improved the quality of life in our society.

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Reposted from Giles Goat Boy by Gabriel D Editor's Note: The activists in Wisconsin continue to find innovative ways to protest their state government's actions. -- Gabriel D

With some restrictions, the city of Madison's street use committee has granted protesters permission to set up a "protest village" near the state capitol building.  The organizers, We Are Wisconsin, have dubbed their planned tent city "Walkerville" and plan to stay until at least June 20th. Walkerville residents will "provide information about Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposals and efforts to recall Republican legislators who voted to eliminate bargaining rights for most public employees," according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The village will house overnight campers and be a staging area for large protests expected in the next couple weeks as the legislature's Joint Finance Committee completes the new budget.

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Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 03:47 PM PDT

Desmond Tutu: "God Is Not A Christian"

by TomP

Reposted from TomP by Gabriel D Editor's Note: In this large coalition in which we find ourselves, here is an argument for strengthening it along atheist/theist lines rather than allowing ourselves to succumb to infighting as we normally might. -- Gabriel D

Lately the political world seems relatively dormant, so the atheism/religion wars broke out here.  Mostly it seems the atheism/Christian wars, perhaps because Christianity in all its forms is the dominant religion in the US, or because of the right wing fundamentalist Christian alliance with the Republican party.  This diary addresses those issues only peripherely, if at all, but it does address tolerance and religion.

For those who don't know, Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work in opposition to apartheid in South Africa.  He is an Anglican Bishop, a Christian.  He also led the Truth and Reconciliation Committee after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings.  Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

He wrote a book recently: 'God Is Not A Christian: And Other Provocations.'.

Here's Amazon's description of the book:

In this essential collection of Desmond Tutu’s most historic and controversial speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and other victims of injustice.

Renowned first for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, he and his ministry soon took on international dimensions. Rooted in his faith and in the values embodied in the African spirit of ubuntu, Tutu’s uncompromising vision of a shared humanity has compelled him to speak out, even in the face of violent opposition and virulent criticism, against political injustice and oppression, religious fundamentalism, and the persecution of minorities.

Arranged by theme and introduced with insight and historical context by Tutu’s biographer, John Allen, this collection takes readers from the violent apartheid clashes in South Africa to the healing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee; from Trafalgar Square after the fall of the Berlin Wall to a national broadcast commemorating the legacy of Nelson Mandela; from Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin to a basketball stadium in Luanda, Angola. Whether exploring democracy in Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, black theology, the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, or the plight of Palestinians, Tutu’s message of truth is clear and his voice unflinching.

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Reposted from JonRynn by Gabriel D Editor's Note: As I believe I've commented elsewhere, our current economic system has failed us. This diary starts a discussion of a new way to understand economics which may lead us to finding and advocating for a better system. -- Gabriel D

Question: Why are we using mainstream economic ideas rooted in the 19th century to deal with 21st century challenges to our global civilization and to our national economies?  No wonder political debates can seem like running in mud. Progressives are constantly being dragged down into a fantasy world of perfect markets, balanced budgets, and very limited government intervention.  Neoclassical economics was not designed to deal with the complexities of a global industrial civilization that is endangering its own existence ecologically with global warming and ecosystem destruction, and economically with an out-of-control financial sector. It wasn’t designed to solve the problems of the world central economy, the United States, and its seriously declining manufacturing sector.

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Tue May 31, 2011 at 02:33 PM PDT

Welcome To The Desert of The Real

by Armando

Reposted from Discussing The Law: TalkLeft's View On Law and Politics by Gabriel D Editor's Note: Should the Tea Party be more concerned with the well-being of the Republican party or their own policy agenda? Are they getting what they want? And what do their actions teach us about how activists can change political realities? -- Gabriel D

David Dayen points to Jared Bernstein's response to Paul Krugman's take on political realism. Bernstein wrote:

It’s also congenitally hard for politicians to get behind “a serious program of mortgage modification.”  Those who advocate for this (the NYT editorial page, e.g.) are right, but they’re also downplaying a very binding constraint.  The politics of this idea are deeply wound up in moral hazard.  People forget, but it was precisely this action—giving mortgage relief to someone at risk of default and not to someone who was struggling to keep up their payments—that birthed the Tea Party.

I ran into this "the Tea Party made them do it" argument before - see this. It struck me as specious at the time and still does. But it does point to an important issue- how activists can change political realities. Consider the Tea Party. What was it really? Nothing more than the usual suspect Right Wing Republicans ranting about the same things they always rant about. But not only did the Media pretend it was something new- apparently so to did the Obama Administration. The strange thing about it is would the rantings have been any different no matter what course the Obama Administration chose? I mean if the worries were the Tea Party, how then can the health bill effort be explained?  There is a lesson in all of this and I will explore it on the flip.

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