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Creola McCalister, 88 years old, holds a sign during protests over Michael Brown's killing by Ferguson police office Darren Wilson. (from photo caption)
If you don't understand by now, you're not listening.
In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article published yesterday about the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson this week, there is a quote by Ferguson City Councilwoman Kim Tihen that made me scream at my computer.
With all of the big changes at the top of Ferguson government, namely the resignations of Police Chief Jackson and City Manager John Shaw, Tihen said she wonders what would satisfy the protesters.

“I’m not sure what more they want,” she said. “I would like to ask them come to us, tell us what we can do to continue to heal the community.

Tihen's words are infuriating, since the community has been coming to her, and the world, for over six months now saying what they want. How could she claim to not understand?

It might help to know Tihen's background. It's this background that highlights the need for much more extensive reform in Ferguson. She is not just part of the problem - people like her are the problem, and it's hard to see anything getting better unless they not only out of the picture, but held accountable for the long list of criminal acts that happened under their watch, and often with their knowledge and approval.

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It's not the voters who are the problem. It's the candidates.

Not the Republican candidates - the GOP is running the reddest of red meat conservatives, and they seem to have found the right balance of crazy this time around. Less "I'm not a witch", more "I like castrating hogs." They consistently activate their base and get their voters to turn out.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party won't field candidates that will motivate their base. Nearly every Democratic candidate this cycle refused to campaign with President Obama, and they seemed to be in a contest to see who could turn the furthest away from him without actually calling for impeachment themselves. They refused to run on the success of their own President from their own goddamn party. How the hell do you convince someone to vote for a Democrat when you run away from everything the Democratic Party and its President has accomplished in the past six years?

Even more, how do you not talk all day and night about how this was all accomplished in the face of overwhelming obstruction and by your Republican opponent and their party? How do you not hang their shutdown of the government around their necks? Why do you refuse to highlight how they have used the little power then have for partisan gain, and consistently opposed policies that are favored by vast majorities of people?

It's not the voters who are stupid - they know what they want, and if they get a candidate who advocates for those things they will come out and vote. See Obama '08 for example. But if the Democrats keep running candidates who refuse to stand up for progressive values, they will stay home, and the Republicans will win because their voters show up.


Almost every night for the past week and a half, we have seen a massive show of paramilitary force in Ferguson, Missouri. The police have justified their repeated and indiscriminate use of tear gas, LRADs, rubber bullets, and other "less-lethal" force by claiming that they are coming under fire from the crowd, and having bottles, rocks, and even Molotov cocktails thrown at then.

There has been a surprising lack of evidence to support these claims, however. I have not seen one video of a protester throwing a Molotov cocktail. No photos of protesters aiming at police (plenty of the police aiming at protesters, though). Some bottles have been thrown, but community leaders have been actively confronting and stopping these lesser acts of violence.

Video from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer claims to give a "behind the scenes" view of what happens when one St. Louis County Police tactical team "comes under fire" (according to the reporter), and how they respond. I don't think the video backs up the reporter's claims, or those of the police though. Judge for yourself after the orange cloud of tear gas.

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On January 16th, the Sacramento City Unified School District announced that it was planning to close 11 elementary schools - 1/5 of the total elementary schools in the entire district. This came as a shock to many, since city voters had just overwhelmingly passed Measures Q and R, providing $414 million in bonds to fund repairs and expansion recommended by the District's own Facilities Master Plan. Now, two months later, the same officials are claiming that a "District Right-Sizing" plan is urgently needed to address budget problems and declines in enrollment. These cuts are so pressing, according to the District, that a final vote on the school closures is being held on February 21st, just five weeks after they were announced.

Parents in Sacramento are raising serious concerns about the process used to select schools to close, the District's failure to follow established practices for school closures, and the possible motives behind this sudden rush to close schools. We'll look into these questions, and local reaction, after the jump.

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I was watching the local news this morning, and saw the following piece about the sunsetting of the Bush tax giveaways by CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff:

On face value, this piece stinks - my definition of "middle class" doesn't include multi-million dollar houses in suburban New Jersey.  Fortunately my local NBC affiliate (KCRA) was kind enough to add the chyron tags that the original producer left off.

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