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.
A critical blow was struck against the future of mass transit in New York City yesterday, as political infighting in Albany stymied the passage of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's innovative and ground-breaking congestion pricing plan. The plan would have charged an $8 fee for cars to enter the Manhattan central business district, defined as the area south of 60th Street. Revenues from the program would have been earmarked for use by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), which runs the subways and buses of NYC. The promise of revenue from the program (which was anticipated to be about $200 million over three years) would have qualified the city for over $300 million in federal grants for mass transit projects.
One of the reasons I was so fortunate to have been able to attend Take Back America was that I got the opportunity to hear the perspectives of a number of people in the organized labor movement. Despite my fairly progressive upbringing, this was a constituency that I rarely heard from. I didn't grow up in a union household, nor did I know anyone who did. In fact, I daresay the sizable majority of my generation had little familial exposure to the labor movement.
Many thoughts have been dancing in my head since I've been here at Take Back America. One of the most convincing and inspiring, however, has been the notion that we can solve both America's environmental and economic woes in one fell swoop.
"Barack Hussein Obama," they say, "he's a Muslim -- don't trust him!" By "they" I mean the right-wing nutcases who view being a Muslim as a pretty serious character flaw.
Still, though, while I'm obviously put off by the "Obama is Muslim" line, I'm also put off by the media identifying it as a "smear." It is a problematic assertion either way you look at it. Obama is a Christian and he identifies himself as such, yet to openly contest an assertion that he's a Muslim might be grounds for saying, "oh, what, are you anti-Muslim now? Some progressive you are!" Furthermore, it's implicitly anti-Muslim for the media to suggest that obviously being publicly discussed a Muslim is "damaging" to one's reputation. They ought to be addressing that point too when reporting on this topic.
The conservative movement, through patient, long-term planning and protracted, diligent work, came to dominate all three branches of the U.S. government. The Republicans captured a commanding majority of the legislative branch during the 1994 "Contract with America" and proceeded to run roughshod over many long-standing deliberative traditions in the House and Senate. Ronald Reagan, as president, moved U.S. domestic and foreign policy drastically to the right, most notably in eroding the progressive structure of the income tax and encouraging privatization or deregulation of previously public or regulated-monopoly infrastructure. The judicial branch, needless to say, has become overrun with right-wing ideologues.
I'll be honest: I don't like President Bush very much. In fact, it's pretty hard for me to fathom the depths of my disgust with his administration, and I'll wager the majority of people who read this blog entry at least partially agree with me. Yet if you asked me to articulate why, exactly, I am so exasperated with the Bush administration, it would be difficult for me to explain. See, there's just so much to dislike, it's hard to boil it down.
Well, it's been quite a ride the past few weeks. But now, the summit is over, and the dust has settled. So, I'd like to talk a little bit about what happened to youngpeoplefor.org. For those who don't know me, I'm the IT Project Manager for YP4. I write and test the code behind the software that powers the YP4 blog and the rest of our new MyYP4 system. If you were with us on the web prior to this month, you have hopefully have noticed a few changes on our site between then and now.
Plastics may have been the wave of the future when The Graduate came out in 1967. Today, however, they have become a hidden environmental menace that is rapidly approaching the severity of issues like global warming. Look around on your desk, in your living room, wherever you're using your computer right now. Never mind that your computer is probably made at least partially of plastic. That's not that bad; after all, you're hopefully not going to just toss your computer in the trash when you're done with it (seriously -- check and see if the manufacturer has a take-back program). However, I wager you will find at least one thing in your field of vision that is made of plastic and was meant to be used once and then thrown away.
Last week, I stopped by the big Barack Obama rally here in New York City. Looking around at the crowd, you could tell it was a young group (no doubt due the fact that the rally took place essentially in the middle of NYU). Eventually, he reached the point in his stump speech where candidates generally list off the issues they think the crowd wants to hear about, and the crowd responds with cheers. He mentioned ending the occupation of Iraq. The crowd cheered. He mentioned guaranteeing health care for all Americans (however he plans to do that). The crowd cheered a little louder. He mentioned many issues, but it was only when he said "and we will make a college education affordable for everyone!" that the crowd truly erupted in cheers.
For most of this country's history, when senators wanted to single-handedly steamroll a bill they didn't like, they had to be a lot more dedicated than they do now. Taking advantage of the senate tradition of allowing unlimited debate, a single senator could "filibuster" for as long humanly possible in hopes of running out the clock and getting the bill's supporters to give up and move on. Arguably the most famous such incident was arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond's filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (a precursor to the more famous 1964 edition), in which he read from, among other things, a Charleston, S.C. phone directory for over 24 hours straight. It's hard to imagine a senator doing that over any kind of legislation today (let alone something, you know, important like the Civil Rights Act).