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Thu May 28, 2015 at 11:30 PM PDT

Amtrak is a Microcosm for the Nation

by railhunk

Reposted from railhunk by Lorikeet Editor's Note: So this is how Amtrak is set up... s:kr -- Lorikeet

If last month's fatal Amtrak crash had anything positive come from it, it was the perfect timing with which the Republicans showed their true colors.  Without the headlines that the derailment brought, the general public would never have heard about the House vote to cut funding for passenger rail.

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Reposted from JDWolverton by Louisiana 1976 Editor's Note: Calling 911 when someone is in a mental health crisis is not a good idea. s:LK -- Louisiana 1976

There's a diary out today. Yet another instance where the police come to the home of someone in a mental health crisis and the crisis ends in death. I wish this was a rare occurrence, but today's diary is one in a long string of police shootings. This 3 year old Salon article claims about half of police shootings are of mentally ill people. The anecdotal data alone suggests that the police are ill trained to deal with calls for help with mentally ill people.

I was leading a work related discussion group last week with some mental health professionals and the Miami case of Lavall Hall's shooting came up. Every Licensed Social Worker in the room wondered why the family called 911 instead of (in no particular order):
1. Following the crisis plan that Lavall Hall should have had
2. Why they didn't call Hall's mental health counselor/provider for direction
3. Why the family thought calling 9-1-1 could/would help

I do paperwork. I can code, bill, train, do compliance, HIM security, risk management, write IEPs and write grants, but I don't do clinical stuff other than first aid and CPR. I agreed with these mental health professionals, but not because of mental health protocol. I was looking at it from my family background that includes British/Irish/white/Puritan ancestor/Evangelical/Catholic/Rail Road history that combines into what's best described as a Country Western LP for a family background. Calling the police would be unthinkable to me. It would be the sure path to disaster.

Let me explain.

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Thu May 28, 2015 at 05:00 PM PDT

anti-democratic election methods

by Waldmarschall

Reposted from Waldmarschall by Louisiana 1976 Editor's Note: The election systems in Britain and the US are systems in which some people's votes matter and others' do not. s:LK -- Louisiana 1976
Here is the result- see the disparity- if all votes counted equally, regardless of location, the bottom row would be all 1's
Ok, Hi. You all know how into election design I am, and this last British election, while disastrous in its own right, also provides an opportunity to discuss how fundamentally antidemocratic the single member district, first past the post system used by the US and UK is There are many problems with it, and I will try to explain them in an engaging manner. My primary contention is as long as we're giving this whole democracy theory a shake, its goal is to make as many votes as possible have an impact on the outcome. The British/American election system, by which voters are divided into constituencies/districts, each of which elects 1 representative by plurality vote, is an obsolete menace to the fair representation of the public's views.
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Reposted from maisey by Thinking Fella Editor's Note: Minimum wage vs a livable wage vs naysayers. s:la -- Thinking Fella

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

Today, one of my friends posted a graphic on Facebook featuring a fast food worker and an EMT with a caption stating that in Seattle the fast food worker now makes more money per hour than an EMT. Yeah, I know, stupid Facebook graphic; but none the less I was angered not by the stupidity of the graphic but by the responses it engendered.

Of course there were the usual doom-sayers whining about how all the poor people are being thrown out of work because of the increase in the minimum wage (except when they're not - unemployment in Seattle is down). Then there were the blame-the-worker comments. Apparently if you want to be able to eat on a regular basis you should be getting college or trade-school training. The idea that a minimum wage should also be a living wage is not part of the equation.

So there it was, comment after comment, from people who are my friends (and who in many cases are themselves dancing way too close to the edge of financial insecurity) angered, outraged that workers are being paid a living wage. And I thought about what an uphill battle we have to fight in this country, to get through to people that we need to start thinking and acting more like "WE" and stop tearing down fellow workers.

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Reposted from Stop the Police State! by jlms qkw Editor's Note: A shining knight in the disastrous government of New Jersey. s:thf -- jlms qkw

Today's paper reports on the massive transportation funding crisis in New Jersey. This is just one more example of how austerity kills in this country.

I drove the streets in New Jersey a few years ago (I have family there), and some of the streets there were almost as bad as the ones in rural America, where I live. Obviously, the problem has only gotten worse. Not only is the transportation funding crisis getting worse, the paper reports that for the last several months, Governor Chris Christie is sticking his head in the sand as his popularity is plummeting.

Bridges across the state are falling apart. Roads are rife with potholes. Frustrated New Jersey Transit riders are facing another fare increase.

As many commuters bemoan the mounting delays and disruptions, state officials say New Jersey is confronting a transportation funding crisis with no easy way out. Voters are so fed up, support is growing for a revenue option long viewed as politically untenable: raising the state’s gas tax, which is the second lowest in the country.

This is all part of the Bipartisan Consensus (TM) that Thou Shalt Not Oppose Austerity. After all, it would simply create Gridlock, and we can't have that.
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Reposted from Manasa Naidu by ItsJessMe Editor's Note: Is there a dark side to the Sea of Blue movement? s:JQ -- ItsJessMe

So, in December 2014, did the Cleveland police help create a new mainstream racist hate group that has spread to other parts of the country and is still raging on in Cleveland? Even I know that this sounds crazy. Especially since at first glance, the Sea of Blue movement (made up of Greater Cleveland area police officers and their supporters) seems innocent and even positive. It had been described by its organizers as a movement of love aimed to honor police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. That sounds really nice actually…. Its Facebook Banner even reads, “Peace.” It has been described as a peaceful movement characterized by quiet rather than noise and riots. But further analysis reveals the deceptive and sinister underbelly of this so-called peaceful movement.

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Thu May 28, 2015 at 06:00 AM PDT

Combating Political Hopelessness

by themeliorist

Reposted from themeliorist by ybruti Editor's Note: Why don't people vote? s:IJM -- ybruti

This comment in Vetwife's diary got my brain turning over a subject that has been bothering me for some time.

I live in Alabama, a strong bastion of conservative ideology. We're not a purple state like Florida, but I believe there are enough liberals here for Democrats to be competitive in elections. Most of them simply don't vote. There are many documented reasons for this, but one thing that I've personally seen when talking to people really disturbs me: a black hole of absolute political hopelessness.

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Wed May 27, 2015 at 06:30 PM PDT

Lift The White Mans Burden

by anb1972

Reposted from Mean Progressive by OceanDiver Editor's Note: Colonialism...there are still people out there yearning for it? A response. -s:tp -- OceanDiver

Friday night I heard about the Duggar nonsense and then Huckabee came out and was defending it. My head was spinning about the contradictory 'defendable' sins and those that meet his condemnation. I started focusing a lot on how much he really thinks it is his job to define our society and its people. My brain went back to a poem we covered in college and I started writing a sarcastic reply to it.

The next day I got into an argument on Twitter with a RWNJ that basically explained to me about how Liberals are Fascists (cuz, duh!) and it turned into his saying society was hijacked in the 1800s. It was hysterical. I wrote to him: "Its the White Mans Burden, if you don't know about it go read the poem. Im writing about it right now."

The very next day I finished my poem and went to the 'search' on Twitter and typed in 'White Mans Burden' to see if it was being discussed anywhere in the world because I could add a link to my blog and build readership (or hatership, usually). And I found out that just that day many people were discussing it. It turns out a well known author had just written this controversial article which is both compelling and frightening, and it kind of supported my insistence that we still live with the imperialistic ideals today. It really took it a step further, though. And ew.

I got a real kick out of the coincidence and wanted to share it with you all:

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Reposted from steve1960 by OceanDiver Editor's Note: Manufacturing industries, and the wages of their workers, can be more effectively improved by public infrastructure investment than by scapegoating outsourcing and tarriffs. -s:tp -- OceanDiver

Many progressives, myself included, have fallen into the globalization argument trap when accounting for chronically high average levels of unemployment in the US and low overall GDP growth rates or secular stagnation. It easy enough to understand. Outsourcing and imports play a seemingly large role in the US economy. In addition, progressives and others keep harping on the same globalization themes all the time. Progressive talk show host and author Thom Hartmann, in opposing free trade agreements, has recently argued that;

"We need to demand that our Legislators in Washington,DC who we sent their to represent "We the People" implement high Tariffs on all Imports that would create a Demand in the USA putting our Hard Working Americans back to work..."

Leo Gerard of the United Steel Workers union argues pretty much along the same lines. In a Huff Post piece earlier this year, Gerard ran through a litany of layoffs by the US Steel Corporation in the first quarter of 2015 arguing that;

It’s relentless. And that’s just U.S. Steel. Other U.S. producers furloughed workers too. Steel executives told lawmakers last week that the job cuts are a direct result of foreign companies dumping steel in the U.S. market.

In a PBS interview in late 2013, Gerard called President Obama's agreement to scrap existing US tariffs against foreign steel products as a "capitulation" to the EU and Japanese steel makers who he accuses of illegally dumping steel in the US market. The implications of his argument is that American steel company bankruptcies are directly related to foreign "dumping" practices. Gerard blames the removal of the protective tariffs which he says, "...will add a lot of instability to the industry."  

There may be something to what Gerard, a progressive labor leader is saying, but would tariffs remedy the problem. US steel production as a share of global production dropped from nearly half of world output at its peak in the 1950s to only 5.3% currently despite efforts at tariff protection.

Furthermore, are imports, outsourcing and foreign competition really the main cause of the chronic stagnation of the US economy? I should begin by saying this is no argument for "free trade"; like all progressives I'm perfectly aware twenty years of free trade agreements have contributed to unemployment, poverty in the places like Mexico and elsewhere causing unmanageable levels of immigration to the US, the depression of labor and environmental standards everywhere and the accelerated rise of global inequality. But there are more fundamental causes of these problems and better solutions than tariffs that don't work and will only serve as a distraction from the real issues.

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Reposted from Simul Iustus et Peccator by OceanDiver Editor's Note: Cops are feeling pressured by media attention, an inside look suggests. -s:tp -- OceanDiver

A while back I wrote a diary about working with cops. The other day during a meeting at the law enforcement center I brought up the topic we have been avoiding for months.  The big elephant in the room: the mounting ill will law enforcement is experiencing from the public.

From what I can infer, they have been deeply affected by it but they don't get it.  They. Don't. Get. It.

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Reposted from RockyMtnHigh by pico Editor's Note: On the Clean Water Rule and its opponents... s:od -- pico

It has been a long time coming, but the EPA and Corps of Engineers have issued their final rule on what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act - helping ensure that the headwater, intermittent, and ephemeral streams that feed into our larger rivers - along with the connected, adjacent wetlands - are protected under our nation's flagship water protection law.  The Act's coverage has been rolled back under Supreme Court rulings from 2001 and 2006 and subsequent interpretations.  The new Clean Water Rule helps reinstate much of the protections that were lost, while maintaining compliance with the Court rulings by demonstrating that these streams and wetlands have a "significant nexus" with US navigable waters - the standard that Justice Kennedy set in his 2006 Rapanos decision.

EPA Administrator McCarthy has posted a clear explanation of why we need the Clean Water Rule, but the rule's premise is really very simple and strongly supported by science. If you want to protect our rivers for drinking water, swimming, fishing, ecosystem values - you need to start by protecting their sources in the streams and wetlands that are their tributaries.  That is nothing more than common sense, so, of course, it is being vigorously opposed by GOP leaders in Congress - and too many Dems that are willing to cross the aisle to join them.

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Reposted from MiAtheistGal by Susan Grigsby Editor's Note: Fun and games on Michigan's scenic highways and byways. s:LK -- Susan Grigsby
Amid the news that Michigan Governor Snyder is seeking to cut the popular tourism program to fund Michigan's roads, Pure Michigan today announced a new campaign.  The campaign is targeted at those who are thinking about visiting Michigan during the popular summer months, but ads will run year round.

Highlights of the new campaign focuses on all the fun activities that can be had in the beautiful state of Michigan, regardless of the under-funded roads.  Here are some of those activities:

Roller Coaster Potholes

Drive straight over every pothole and let the fun begin!  Experience ups and downs that toss you around and let the seatbelt snap against your breastbone.  Watch as your belongings get flung around the car and make a game out of guessing where they'll land.  Just make sure you throw your hands up and shout out "Wooooo!" when you hit the potholes the size of your car!  Great fun for all ages.

Life-Size Bumper Cars

If hitting every pothole isn't your taste, then Life-Size Bumper Cars are for you!  Dodge every pothole, swerving from left to right and back again, avoiding the cars coming at you that are dodging potholes too.  Each jerk of the wheel will bring you a winning combination of delight and horror, whether you're the driver or a passenger on this trip.  Just watch out for those hidden potholes that sneak up on you!  Too many of those and your game, and car, will be over.  Suitable for all ages, driver must have valid license.  Beginner - Residential roads.  Intermediate - Country roads.  Expert - State highways.

Is This Bridge Safe?

Who doesn't like to play the popular car game Is This Bridge Safe?  Looks can be deceiving, and every bridge will keep you on the edge of your car seat as you start to cross over.  Enjoy the thrills as you look down on rivers, railroad tracks and valleys below.  Feel the triumph as you exit the bridge safe and sound, and be sure to applaud the success.  Also entertaining is the related game, Will This Bridge Collapse On Me?  Have fun driving the underpasses, too!  Designed for all ages.  Note: Should a bridge collapse while you are driving on it, enjoy the ride down, and remember, it's just like bungee jumping, but with no bungee.

Front Flip Motorcycle

Special just for the summer months for the motorcyclist in your life, it's the Front Flip Motorcycle carnival game.  All you need is that perfect pothole, enough speed, and a sense of adventure!  See how much air you and your bike can catch, and compare with others.  Just be careful, as one wrong move, and the game is over.  Fun for ages 18+.  Must wear helmet or have helmetless insurance.

And the fun just intensifies in winter:

Hockey Cars

By mid-winter, most of the salt and sand will be long gone so that's the perfect time to experience Hockey Cars, a fast-paced game that inflicts severe damage on the other players and their cars.  Enjoy the ice-slicked roads as you spin out on turns, slide long distances to stop, and maybe, just maybe, experience a large pile-up.  Just be prepared to wait in cold weather for a long time for that tow truck to show up!  Fun for the entire family.

Spring isn't left out either:

Highway Rapids

Enjoy the experience of being rushed along with floodwaters from the safety of your car.  Imagine seeing some of Michigan's oldest cities as the floodwaters rush you down highways not designed for downpours.  A thrilling experience that children of all ages are sure to enjoy again and again, weather permitting.

As if all the fun listed above wasn't enough, there's an added bonus.  For a limited time, tourists can get their very own glass bottle full of Michigan road gravel.  That's right!  You can reminisce about the fun you had in Michigan with your bottle of road gravel, removed from paved roads, as Michigan converts the roads back to gravel.

Won't you come join us for some fun that's "Pure Michigan"?

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