And Now…The Other Side of the Story?

Yesterday, I posted about the newest crop of crazy running for what used to be a serious Congress. That post unleashed a lot of angst, doom and gloom in the comments. But now–as Paul Harvey might have said–for the rest of the story.

Because there are glimmers of hope.

From Pew:

But in addition to the generation’s Democratic tendency, Millennials who identify with the GOP are also less conservative than Republicans in other generations: Among the roughly one-third of Millennials who affiliate with or lean Republican, just 31% have a mix of political values that are right-of-center, while about half (51%) take a mix of liberal and conservative positions and 18% have consistently or mostly liberal views. Among all Republicans and Republican leaners, 53% have conservative views; in the two oldest generations, Silents and Boomers, about two-thirds are consistently or mostly conservative.

In short, not only are Millennials less likely than older generations to identify as Republicans, but even those who do express significantly less conservative values than do their elders.

The generational divisions among Republicans span different dimensions of political values. Some of the most striking generational differences within Republicans concern social issues like homosexuality and immigration, but younger Republicans are also less conservative when it comes to values related to the environment, role of government, the social safety net and the marketplace.

It isn’t simply changing attitudes. From The Guardian:

Two high schools in Colorado canceled classes Monday after dozens of teachers called in sick in protest of a conservative school board’s proposal to change the history curriculum.

This is the second such teacher sick-out in two weeks and comes on the heels of student walk-outs over the issue. At the two high schools where sick-outs were staged, Golden and Jefferson high school in Jefferson County, 73% and 81% of teachers called out, respectively.

Add in the spread of “Moral Mondays,” the efforts of moderate and liberal Christians to take back their religion from the kooks and theocrats, the successes of the “Flush Rush” campaign, the frustrations expressed by the Occupy participants, and hundreds of other indicators, small as they still are, and we do have evidence that the pendulum is about to swing.

The question, as several commenters noted yesterday, is whether that swing will be soon enough to save the nation from irrelevancy and decline, and strong enough to overcome the structural barriers that have been erected by the plutocrats.

Pete often ends his comments here by saying “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

Me either.

 

How Long Can This Go On?

From the New York Times, we learn about the next crop of Republicans likely to become U.S. Representatives:

 One nominee proposed reclassifying single parenthood as child abuse. Another suggested that four “blood moons” would herald “world-changing, shaking-type events” and said Islam was not a religion but a “complete geopolitical structure” unworthy of tax exemption. Still another labeled Hillary Rodham Clinton “the Antichrist.”

Congressional Republicans successfully ended their primary season with minimal damage, but in at least a dozen safe or largely safe Republican House districts where more mild-mannered Republicans are exiting, their likely replacements will pull the party to the right, a move likely to increase division in an already polarized Congress.

For the past several years, my husband has insisted that the GOP–to which we both belonged for many, many years–could not possibly become any more radical, could not continue to nominate and elect people ranging from ignorant to bat-shit crazy, without paying a price at the polls, and ultimately returning to the sane, center-right positions it used to hold.

All of the indicators are that the electorate is losing patience with these people, although–thanks to gerrymandering and “sorting”– change is coming very, very slowly. But progressives and Democrats who anticipate winning more elections once the “angry old white guy who watches Fox” demographic fades gloat at their peril.

The fact is, America needs two responsible, grown-up political parties, and when one of our major parties goes off the rails, there’s no one to keep the other party focused and reasonable. Unless the American public sends a compelling message soon to the travesty that is the current GOP, our government will continue to be dysfunctional, utterly incapable of confronting and solving the problems we face.

We need that message sooner rather than later.

I’m waiting….

 

Getting REALLY Tired of This

Talking Points Memo reports:

 

 

Time for Ballard to Go

The City of Indianapolis is seeking bids for a massively expensive Justice Center. This huge and complex project–which makes a lot of sense, conceptually–is being headed up by a twenty-something administrator on behalf of the Ballard Administration.

The Indianapolis Business Journal requested a copy of the Request for Proposals the City issued in July. Its request was denied, and the excuse for that denial was so ridiculous that even the Pence Administration’s public access counselor has protested.

The City is claiming that the information in a Request for Proposals is confidential. Think about that.

An RFP is supposed to be publicly distributed to any and all developers or development teams that might conceivably be interested in bidding on the project. By definition, the information it contains is public, and the IBJ–not to mention members of the City-County Council who have also been kept in the dark–are entitled to see it.

Marc Lotter, the Mayor’s spokesman, responded that the RFP was released to “three qualified bidders,” and that it would not be made public until after a successful bidder has been chosen.

Why would an honest, aboveboard administration hand-pick three bidders, and proceed to share information only with those developers? Why would it keep the terms of the proposed project secret until the City is legally committed to proceed?

The whole purpose of an RFP is to cast a wide net; to encourage genuinely competitive proposals from anyone or any team qualified to perform. “Pre-selecting” those who will be permitted to respond undercuts the entire purpose of the exercise.

At best, pre-selection of a small group of developers makes it likely that responses will be less competitive and the project will be more expensive. At worst, secrecy and pre-selection are intended to ensure that the “right” people get the City’s business.

The Justice Center is estimated to cost over $500 million dollars. Quite a plum project. When that much tax money is being spent, the need for transparency–the need for public assurance that the project is being handled ethically and in a fiscally-responsible manner– is obvious.

The City says that the RFP contained “trade secrets” necessitating secrecy. As the public access counselor noted, “If an RFP sent out into the marketplace does indeed contain trade secrets, it stands to reason that the secret is out once it goes to potential contractors.”

Unless, of course, those “secrets” are only going to one’s cronies.

Up to this point, I have attributed the many ethically dubious decisions of the Ballard Administration (the 50-year lease of our parking infrastructure, the garage no one uses in Broad Ripple, etc.) to those advising our “accidental’ Mayor, who has always seemed in over his head.

Maybe I  have underrated him. Maybe he really does know what he’s doing.

Either way–puppet or puppet master–he needs to go.

 

When a Video is Worth a Thousand Words….

Many of you have undoubtedly seen this clip from the Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart eviscerates members of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. If you haven’t, you need to watch it; if you have seen it, you may want to watch it again, just to confirm that, yes, these really are people making policy for the world’s most powerful nation.

Either way, once you have watched members of our nation’s national legislature make complete and total fools of themselves–once you have cringed at the level of intelligence (not) displayed, and the pride and self-satisfaction with which they trumpet their embarrassing ignorance of even the most basic science–perhaps you can answer two questions that continue to confound me:

How do people like this get elected?

Why in the world are they on the Science, Space and Technology Committee?

For that matter, what is this appalling excuse for a patriot doing on the Armed Services Committee?

We really are doomed.