...as in the imperative (i.e. you, youth, progress). This blog is updated by politically active young people. Issues that will be discussed are those which concern young voters and are of concern to young voters.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Welcome to Virginia, Felix...

...the state whose populace will evict you from your Senate office, and send you packin', bags and carpets and all, back to SoCal or your Nevada Dude Ranch.

Last month, the polls showed that you lead Webb by 11 points. But you couldn't keep your mouth shut. You called one of my fellow Webb volunteers a "Macaca," an ethnic slur for an Indian-American. Perhaps you thought you could get away with it; you didn't anticipate that the person who was filming you on behalf of our campaign would actually bring back the tape that shows you committing a flagrant act of racial hatred. No matter, what's done is done.

But now you have to deal with what is done. You released a half-assed apology through your campaign. Through your campaign manager, Dick Wad(hams), you claimed not to know what a "macaca" is. You claimed that you made it up, that you arbitrarily babbled an anti-Indian-American slur to a person who just happened to be Indian-American. But we know that you're lying, Felix. You're well-versed in the language and ideology of hatred.

In fact, here's a clip of you in your singing debut:

Yes, Hurrah for racism and slavery! Speaking of which, Here's Wolf Blitzer's coverage of you calling S.R. Sidarth a "macaca:"

And now, let's discuss the fallout: Remember how I told you that you were 11 points in front of Webb in July? According to Rasmussen, that lead has been cut by more than half. Your lead is now 5 points, and under 50% of Virginians endorse your reelection. And Webb is gaining fast. This isn't just a short term spike in Webb support, you were ahead at one point by as much as 26 points, according to some polls. What could be driving Webb's success? The fact that he doesn't support Bush 97% of the time could be the answer. As Steve Jarding said to us Webb volunteers this month, "when one person agrees with another person 97% of the time, one of them doesn't need a job." For more ideas, I would check the cartoon above, it's pretty damn accurate to say the least.

And here's to you. Rather, here's to your running mouth. It's as good of a friend as an opponent could have in a democratic country.

More Information:

Raising Kaine - The Voice of Progressive Virginia

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WaPo: More Students Eyeing College Opt to Take ACT

More Students Eyeing College Opt to Take ACT - The Washington Post

Among the many challenging choices that a high school senior must make today: which entrance exam? The SAT, the ACT, none, both? Indeed, I took both the SAT and ACT as part of my college process. The first test I took was the (new) SAT. As currently configured, the SAT is a catastrophe, a nearly four-hour ordeal aimed of assigning a number to an incoming student's "scholastic aptitude." This year, an essay was added, and the top score was increased from 1600 to 2400.

This new SAT was the product of the California State Department of Education. In 2001, officials within that system, including within the University of California system, complained that too many scores from high school seniors within the state of California were "off the charts," and that the SAT must be made more difficult, and measure a broader range of scores to assist the University of California system to assess candidates for its competitive universities. With its complaints and threats, California was successful in getting the College Board, the organization which administers the SAT as well as SAT II's, the PSAT, and AP exams, to change the SAT. The result was the much harder, longer, and less reliable SAT that was administered to me and other students across the country in 2005.

Notwithstanding the approximated 5,000 test documents graded incorrectly by test computers due to "moisture in the test documents," the actual administration of the test was adequate. Where the College Board went wrong, and the secretive College Board often does, was in the lengthening of the test. The nearly four hour exam is a better indicator of a student's resistance to fatigue than scholastic aptitude. For this reason, I opted to take the ACT, like an increasing number of students throughout America, according to the Washington Post.

In order for the SAT to become a more fair test, it must be partitioned into sections which students can take on separate days.

My complaints of the College Board do not stop at the SAT. The College Board fools parents and students into forking over more money by offering AP and SAT II examinations in the same subjects. In my personal experience, and that of my SAT/ACT tutor, I could hardly notice a difference between some of the AP and SAT II exams on the same subjects. States and other institutions should demand that the Board should do away with either all AP or SAT II exams; there is no reason for the student to be tested twice in the same subject.

States and the federal government should demand greater transparency from the College Board. They trust this shadowy organization with the future of the fruits of their educational systems. Matters of such importance cannot be withheld from governmental scrutiny.

Friday, August 04, 2006

...but can you walk the walk?

The culture of individualism and the breakdown of the American community are having adverse consequences on society’s relationship with the environment. The environment is the source of all life; humanity cannot survive without a healthy supportive ecosystem. Already virtually scientists believe we have passed the sustainability threshold for the global ecosystem. The world is overpopulated and we risk catastrophe on an epic scale in the future, from lack of resources and global warming. Furthermore, we are currently destroying, permanently, the inherent and awesome power of the natural world. In order to truly cherish the environment and not just treat it as an object, we must embrace the (truth that the reality of ) awesome power of nature and humanity’s profound dependency on the rest of life. We are the highest of all species on the food chain, and right now we are destroying the base, and we risk, as a species, falling to extinction.

Our lifestyle in the developed world is based on the unending desire for personal comfort and psychological security. We strive to avoid discomfort at all times. We must have the best houses, the biggest cars, and make the most money possible. We are never satisfied; we are always competing against each other. As a result, we do not take the time to understand and live with the environment nor have any interest in caring for the environment. We are the leading producer of carbon dioxide in the world. Yet we are too stuck in our lifestyle to make the drastic changes necessary to stop global climate change. Most people in the world survive on a dollar a day, while the American economy strives on the greed and vanity of our culture. The richest of the rich in America are given tax breaks and their descendents are guaranteed to inherit their entire estate, ensuring they will live in gross opulence. Meanwhile, the government creates a mentality in which each person is encouraged, if not coerced, to look out for his own individual interests, so no pays attention to the suffering of other people or our planet. Every minute 40 children die of starvation. If you took 10 minutes to read this article 400 children will be dead. Unless we take strong action against global warming, these catastrophe’s are only going to get worse. But our society is stuck in gridlock literally and conceptually. The bottom line is we must make sacrifices. Being a vegetarian would reduce each person’s ecological footprint greatly. By 2050, with the expectant population growth, half the world will need to be vegetarian for resources to be sufficient. Furthermore we need to as individuals and as a society stop relying on cars and using so much energy. The technological and policy needed to reform that our government needs to make will not come under this administration. But if a grassroots environmental movement flourishes, that doesn’t just go to see An Inconvenient Truth, but takes responsibility for fighting global warming; we can make significant progress and ease the transitions into an environmentally friendly economy. We must not only drive hybrid cars but add solar panels to our houses invest in win power, become a vegetarian or a vegan. The bottom line is that we must all recognize the magnificent dependence we have with the environment and ask not what the earth can do for us, but what we can do for our planet.

-This post is not endorsed by both authors.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

8/3 Quick Notes

Tomorrow morning, I am off to Rehoboth Beach, DE (where the Abramoff Scandal began) for two weeks of fun and relaxation with friends and family. Daily coverage of young voting issues and day-to-day operation of the blog will be handed over to Rambling Man in my absence. I may be able to do some blogging at the internet cafe or with a free wireless connection, if available. Rambling Man may also be going on vacation, but at sea. If he does, he will definitely not be able to blog for at least a few days.

Here are some quick notes:

1. "Series of Tubes" Stevens' cloture vote effort to kill Net Neutrality has failed. Story on Daily Kos.

2. Princeton University College Republicans playin' dirty to sway CT-Sen Democratic primary in favor of Lieberman. (This blog does not endorse either candidate in the CT-Sen primary). Story on Daily Kos.

3. Speaking of CT-Sen, I had recently posted a link to the blog, Firedoglake, in our links to the right. The owner and operator of that site, Jane Hamsher, recently published a doctored photo on her blog and on Huffington Post of Sen. Lieberman in blackface standing next to Fmr. Pres. Clinton in opposition to a flyer the Lieberman campaign distributed at black churches attacking Lamont's civil rights record. Jim Crow-era homages are, in my opinion, terribly inappropriate. Yet, Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post defended Hamsher's photo in today's Washington Post. I am thus considering the permanent removal of Firedoglake from the links menu, as well as all hyperlinks to the blog. Rambling Man must be consulted before I make any such decision, so the link may be up until I return from vacation.

4. Update: Sen. Santorum, with defeat imminent, is using desperate measures to thwart Casey's considerable lead. The Pennsylvania Green Party has received $66,000 of campaign contributions this year. All but $11,000 came from Santorum's supporters. As I have pointed out in the past, young voters are the most likely to vote for third-parties. Story on TPM Muckraker.

5. Dems managed to kill their own Minimum Wage Increase after the Republicans, in one of the most cynical things I have seen since the last time the Republicans did something heinously cynical, attatched a huge repeal in the Estate Tax and extended tax benefits for wealthy Americans. Story on Daily Kos.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our Electric Future

If Tesla Motors, the new Silicon Valley-based electric car company, has its way, your future self speeds in an electric car. This aint your daddy's EV-1 either, the Tesla Motors Roadster hits 60 in 4.5 seconds, and can travel at speeds exceeding 130 mph. And, unlike the EV-1, with its 1600-lbs battery pack that took all night to charge and could only go 100 miles after you did, the Roadster can travel 200 miles on a single charge with its 1000-lbs battery pack which charges in about one hour.

The idea is so sexy, it could cause a revolution. Imagine if we woke up tommorow to find our fossil-fueled, earth destroying vehicles replaced by mean, green machines. But exactly how green, and how feasible, is the electric car?

The Problem with Going Electric:

The summer of 2006 has shown -beyond anything else - the frailty of our electric grids. Much of St. Louis and New York City was in the dark for several days this summer. California's electric system is the most prone to problems in the country, and is often plagued by rolling blackouts. Since the first investors in the new electric cars will likely be those from more eco-friendly states, and especially California, where Tesla Motors is based, a mass switch to electric cars can result in power outages unprecedented in size and duration. In urban areas, where electric cars will likely make their first appearances, additional tremendous additional power usage will already be occurring due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, a phenomenon which occurs because of the asphalt which traps heat and air conditioning which takes heat from our buildings and pumps it into the outside air. Keep in mind, that the energy usage per American will likely be increasing, and the population of the US will most certainly be increasing as well.

...And Solving Those Problems:

What is needed for the electric revolution is a massive source of electricity. One way to help solve our current electrical problems is to push for greater energy efficiency in America. This may work in California or New England, but good luck pushing a conservation of electricity movement in conservative states. There are only 3 feasible options at the moment: Photovoltaic Solar, Nuclear Fission, and Coal power...

1. Photovoltaic Solar: Photovoltaic solar is the collection of solar rays using a chemical process. (The other type of solar energy collection uses the heat from the sun to turn a conventional water turbine). The main component of photovoltaic panels is silicone, which is expensive to separate from other minerals. Thus, the cost of photovoltaic energy panels pushes kilowatt/hour prices to 15-20 cents per hour, much more than coal or nuclear fission, per se. But new research in optics has paved the way for equally as effective photovoltaic panels to be built with less silicone, significantly lowering the cost of producing panels. The rewards and limits of solar power remain largely untested. Can solar provide for all our energy needs?

2. Nuclear Fission: With Nuclear Fusion power, if even attainable, being far, far away, perhaps Nuclear Fission is our most feasible and eco-friendly option. Left-wing groups such as Public Citizen protest nuclear power because radioactive waste is just that, but do we have another choice? For this reason, I spent much of the last few years being pro-Nuclear power, but the recent advances in photovoltaics have muddied the waters. If the scientific community determines that solar power can meet our growing energy needs, than I am against Nuclear power. But if alternative energy cannot provide enough energy, than we have no other choice. I would rather switch to electric cars powered by nuclear power than keep using fossil-fueled cars.

3. Coal: Coal is a slim possibility. America has, by far, the world's largest supply of coal. To make coal eco-friendly, its emissions must be pumped underground. However, some have argued that this approach is not economically feasible (though there are privatized coal power plants that do this today), nor even that environmentally friendly. After all, coal is generally extracted these days through strip mining, which has a devastating effect on local environments. Coal can also be liquefied, but even liquid coal releases far more CO2 into the atmosphere than petroleum.

Other Green Machines?

The two currently existing green vehicle technologies are Ethanol and BioDiesel. Though Ethanol may be a solution to our foreign energy crisis, the environmental benefits of reduced CO2 in ethanol-car emissions are lost through the pollution of production. BioDiesel, though the ingredients can be food waste from fast-food friers, is not feasible because there's simply not enough material to convert into BioDiesel to make enough BioDiesel to power America's cars, and it would require a mass switch to diesel cars.

Hydrogen, which is not that far away, presents its own difficulties. Hydrogen gas is more volatile (dangerous) than gasoline. In addition, as with all new fuel technologies (except electric), an entirely new infrastructure will have to be devised and constructed to distribute hydrogen gas to every gas station in the country. This means millions, if not billions of miles of pipes, millions of new pumps, etc. Though hydrogen may be a viable option, I don't see it being nearly as viable as electricity.

Priority #1:

It is through technology that our generation will solve the problems that previous generations have created for us with technology. We have no choice: even if a few of us are willing to go out of our ways for Mother Earth, mainstream society will continue its toxic ways, and will shun any environmental legislation that interferes with the niceties of American life.

Nonetheless, we must not forget that the greatest danger to the future of this planet is global, environmental change due to overpopulation and global warming. We must think of eco-friendly technologies that will not only sustain 300-million with relatively less environmental harm, but technologies that will sustain billions. I cannot say it enough, global warming is the most significant threat to America's long term interests.

More Information:

Nikola Tesla - University of Pittsburgh
Look Ma, No Gas - Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times

Update: This is now my second recommended diary on My Left Wing: http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=10877

Monday, July 31, 2006

Can Dems Win Young Voters with Health Care?

There is absolutely no question that us Americans are about to have a serious problem when it comes to health care. The health care problem is a triple-whammy: the price of treatment is increasing, Americans are becoming unhealthier, and social security is going down the pipes. Tamara Draut, the author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30- Somethings Can't Get Ahead believes that the health conundrum can be used to the Democrats' advantage. But is her viewpoint, perhaps, a bit overstated?

The Problem With Health Care:

Health care is not a sexy issue, especially not in the eyes of young voters. Young voters have less health problems than older demographics, and 1/3 of people aged 18-29 do not have health insurance. According to Draut in the San Francisco Cronicle, "Winning Over Young Voters," "It's not because they think they're invincible. Only 3 percent of young adults are uninsured because they turned down coverage; the rest either aren't offered it by their job or they can't afford it."

Do Young People Care?:

Research from CIRCLE at University of Maryland and Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the Council for Excellence (DCCE) suggests that young people do indeed care about health care. When potential young voters were asked to rate the importance of issues on a scale of 1-10, the affordability of health care was rated 8.2, more than security from terrorism, which was rated 8.0. Draut also offers our demographic a grim reminder of what happens when we hurt ourselves or become sick and do not have adequate health insurance: "Not having health insurance has more than physical consequences; about half of young adults ages 18 to 29 without health insurance reported having problems paying medical bills."

The big question for Democrats is: Is it worth it? Is health care a big enough issue to young people that it can be used to drive them to the polls? Experts, such as Draut, CIRCLE, DCCE seem to think so. I'd go with the experts.

Why Should Young People Be Concerned?:

...because we will be old one day too. And when that day comes, if the fiscally-liberal Republicans have their way, we may not have social security. And treatment will cost more than ever. And, if we continue to eat like we eat right now, more of us will have weight-related health problems than any preceding generation.

There are two major problems with social security: 1) social security is in a 10.4-trillion dollar deficit. This sum will keep growing unless new legislation is put into place. 2) One piece of proposed legislation is Bush's plan to privatize, or as the liberal bloggers call it, "phase-out" social security. Though it may be built on the same principle that built the American economy in the first place (ruthless capitalism), it is fiscally wreckless because most Americans would not have the economic expertise to effectively invest their own accounts.

Young voters are concerned about health care, and young people in general should be. But should Democrats be concerned about young peoples' concerns about health care. I am concerned that they are not concerned about our concerns, and they should be concerned. Be concerned.

More Information:

National Youth Survey 2004 - CIRCLE
Does Social Security Really Face a 12-Trillion Dollar Deficit - FactCheck.org
Winning Over Young Voters - Tamara Draut, San Francisco Cronicle (via Young Voter Strategies)

Update #2: Net Neutrality

"Series of Tubes" Stevens is now pushing a cloture vote on Net Neutrality before this week's recess, according to Firedoglake.
Stevens is shooting for a cloture vote on Thursday and has plans to keep everyone in a lame duck session to force a vote on net neutrality after Congress is supposed to be in recess. (Firedog Lake)
In addition, Jim Webb has released a statement to MyDD on his stance on Net Neutrality:
The internet represents democracy in action and must be protected. More than perhaps any other medium, the internet provides an open and free marketplace of ideas and speech, as our founding fathers intended in the first amendment to our Constitution. The internet has been open and free since its inception, and it should remain open and free moving forward. Just as importantly, the blogosphere provides strong checks and balances on the corporate media and on governmental power. This is particularly crucial at at time of serious overreach by the executive branch, as we now are experiencing. Finally, there is a fundamental fairness issue at stake here. Given that the internet is increasingly indispensible to educational and career advancement in today's economy, it is essential that we keep it accessible and affordable to all Americans - not just to the wealthiest corporations and citizens. Allowing big telecom companies to provide preferential service to large content providers over the "little guy" is both wrong and undemocratic. For all these reasons, I strongly support net neutrality.
Finally, in case you didn't hear, the Series of Tubes Remix.

P.S. I e-mailed the Marie Johns (D - Mayoral, D.C.) Campaign to find out her position on Net Neutrality. She is the former CEO of Verizon, the telecom giant that spearheaded the anti-Net Neutrality, "Hands Off the Internet" campaign. Needless to say, I haven't recieved a response.

"Modernity and the Other:" Part 2

"Modernity and The Other:" Part 1

Having already discussed the historical roots of the Mason-Dixon divide, the following segment will discuss its importance in modern voting habits. I will also speculate on global issues related to identity, such as anti-1st-World sentiments among 3rd-World nations, the dangers of xenophobic immigration policies, and the social causes of terrorism.

"In the Name of Identity:"

I recently read Lebanese author/philosopher Amin Maalouf's discourse on ethnic violence entitled In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong. Though I am tremendously oversimplifying his argument, the book states that identity is interpreted "in a narrow, exclusive, bigoted, simplistic attitude that reduces identity in all its many aspects to one single affiliation." In other words, rather than being a Jewish, American, heterosexual, white male, an Englishman would likely describe me as an American guy, or perhaps a Jewish guy. Maalouf convincingly argues that this hypersimplification of the identity complex leads individuals to defend whatever part of their identity is under attack in a radical and often violent fashion.

Maalouf spends much of his pages describing how individuals of certain identities come to feel their identities are under attack, as he describes in this passage:
The reality is experienced differently by those born in the dominant civilization [the West] and those born outside it. The former can change, advance in life, adapt [to changing times] without ceasing to be themselves. One might even say that the more Westerners modernize themselves, the more completely in harmony they feel with their culture. Only those among them who reject modernity find themselves out of touch.

For the rest of the world's imhabitants, all those born in the failed cultures [sic], openness to change and modernity presents itself differently. For the Chinese, Africans, Japanese, Indians and American Indians, as for Greeks, Russians, Iranians, Arabs, Jews and Turks, modernization has constantly meant the abandoning of part of themselves. Even though it has sometimes been embraced with enthusiasm, it has never been adopted without a certain bitterness, without a feeling of humiliation and defection. Without a piercing doubt about the dangers of assimilation. Without a profound identity crisis.
Is this applicable to the American South? A region with a different history, with much greater poverty, with a different culture, and even a different dialect? Could the South be one of Maalouf's so-called "failed cultures?" The "Plantation Culture" was, after all, defeated in the Civil War, though its ghost still lingers today.

I think this is a reasonable comparison. For the population of the South, progressive, modern values will not be "adopted without a certain bitterness, without a feeling of humiliation and defection. Without a piercing doubt about the dangers of assimilation. Without a profound identity crisis."

Targeting the South:

1. Approach the South with cultural understanding. Example: Webb's victory speech and reception in Crystal City, Arlington, VA, had a country band.

2. Understand the poverty of the South. The South (as in the traditional Southern states), has some of the poorest counties in the US. A good way to show that one has come to this understanding is to support economic affirmative action, like Jim Webb. Webb has always supported affirmative action for all African-Americans, but would also like to see affirmative action programs in place for all poor Virginians.

3. Your policies are better for farmers, low-income families, and middle-class families than the Republicans'. Keep them that way.

Certainly there should be more to your Southern Strategy than what I have listed above. Consult Southern Democrats to learn of the best way to target Southern constituents.

Identity-Conscious Foreign Policy:

Now, switching to a more global perspective... When Democrats seize control of the legislative body of the US government come November, they will have a chance to show this nation some truly effective anti-terrorism efforts. And I don't just mean running an effective Congress when it comes to counter-terrorism legislation...

It should be the goal of Democrats to urge the executive branch to rethink its foreign policy. Currently, our Middle East inflames the terrorist sentiments created by globalization. Why globalization? Globalization is seen by Maalouf's "failed cultures" as an oppressive force which wishes to further efface 3rd-World nations' cultures. What is needed, according to Maalouf, is a new, more encompassing form of identity, but I hope that a more just and understanding foreign policy may be somewhat affective, as the first is probably impossible to implement.

Identity-Conscious Immigration Policy:

As I said before, there is great danger in xenophobic immigration policies. One need only to quickly glance at Europe to see its largely unhappy Muslim population, and how many of its members have been radicalized into terrorism. For example, 3 of the 4 bombers in the July 7 London Bombings were Muslims born in Britain, one was born in Jamaica.

Ironically, the Administration and its congressional cronies are now looking to European countries whose xenophobic immigration policies has lead to outraged and radicalized immigrant populations, such as France and Germany. Specifically, I speak of the proposed "Guest Worker" program. The problem with such programs is that children of Guest Workers born in the US would not necessarily be US citizens, instead they would be children devoid of fatherlands, with no identity to attatch themselves to except one of hate for the nation that robbed them of indentity at birth. Democrats need to distance themselves from the Bush on this issue, they need to, for the first time in their history, think up a sensible approach to immigration.

Democrats need to approach issues surrounding identities with sensitivity and level heads.

(Article will not be hyperlinked)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Modernity and The Other:" Part 1

As my friend and co-author of this blog pointed out in his last entry, it should be asked by the Democratic Party why the ordinary citizen who votes Republican seems to vote entirely against his best interests. Certainly it must be noted that the spin can confuse some voters into thinking, like 52% of American young voters, that the Republicans have better ideas when it comes to National Security, per se.

But there is reason in the madness. (Indeed, voting for Republicans is madness). It is as complex as our individual identities, and the history of our nation.

Lessons from Lincoln:

1864 - Much of the US has been reduced to rubble during the worst war in American history. While President Lincoln and his army are in the midst of fighting the Civil War, he and Congress debate over how to reincorporate the South into the Union. He believes that in order to recreate the functioning, though unhappy, union that the US was only 4 years past, the South must be forgiven of its misdeeds and reconstructed as quickly as possible, while the "Radical Republicans," sought to punish the former Confederate states for the atrocities of slavery, as well as gross harm, and near overthrow, of the US government.

In July of that year, the Wade-Davis Bill would be brought before the President. The bill, pushed by Radical Republicans, whom had taken control of Congress, had the following five provisions according to Wikipedia:

  1. Until states were readmitted, they would be under the control of a governor appointed by the president.
  2. The provisional governor would enroll all white men. If over 50% of them took the "Ironclad Oath," these same loyalists would be allowed to elect a constitutional convention. No one who held any Confederate office or served in the confederate army would be allowed to vote for this convention. The "Ironclad oath," attested that the white male had never borne arms against the Union or supported the confederacy. Considering the numbers in the Confederate Army, historians believe it would have been impossible for a southern state to meet this requirement, leaving the states in limbo.
  3. The new constitution must abolish slavery, punish Confederate leaders by distributing their property, and repudiate debts collected during the war. After meeting these conditions, a state could finally be readmitted to the Union.
  4. Freedmen, although not citizens, were to be granted federal Habeas corpus rights, and former masters who denied freedom to the enslaved were subject to federal fines and imprisonment. If the bill passed, the federal government would be able to intrude into any state by emancipating slaves immediately and transferring legal authority over ex-slaves from state to federal courts.
  5. Senior Confederate civil officials and military officers of the rank of colonel and higher would lose their U.S. citizenship.
Lincoln, realizing that a successful democracy was one in which all citizens are engaged by their government, pocket vetoed the legislation. The War ended on April 9, 1865, and at that time both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line anticipated an immediate repatriation of the Confederacy into the Union with the moderate Lincoln at the helm of the nation. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was even famously allowed to keep his sword and his horse at the surrender at Appomattox. But the rejoining of the Union would soon take a very different timbre. On April 14, 1865, America's greatest president of the past two centuries was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer, John Wilks-Booth.

...And the Failures of Johnson:

During the 1864 election, Lincoln had chosen Tennessee Democrat Sen. Andrew Johnson, the only Southern Senator to remain loyal to the Union, as his running mate, in hopes of providing a more unifying ticket to the soon-to-be reuniting nation. After his assassination, Johnson assumed the presidency of the US, to disastrous consequences.

Johnson soon pardoned even the most divisive figures of the former Confederate army, and restored all land back to its pre-War owners. He allowed "The Black Codes" to be instituted, which prevented the newly emancipated African-American population of the South from being full-fledged American citizens, and, of course, denied their right to vote.

In response to Johnson's outrageous actions, the Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, guaranteeing some rights to the ex-slaves. The Bill was vetoed by Johnson. Later, in furthered defiance, the Congress passed the Civil Rights Bill, which was also vetoed by Johnson. This veto would result in the first overturned veto in US History. It would be a precursor to the rest of the Johnson presidency. The Congress later passed the 14th Amendment, which was intended to provide full citizenship and equal rights to all African-Americans. The Congress even tried to impeach the president, and only failed by one vote.

The relationship between Johnson and Congress was a nasty power battle, in which both sides sought to damage the other by attacking cronies and constitutuents. Johnson sought to damage the Republican vote in the South by keeping ex-slaves from voting, and verbally attacking Radical Republicanism. Congress not only sought to limit the powers of the president and remove him from office, but also attacked and embittered the reconstructing South. The fiery battle continues today in the US: The political divide in this country still rests upon the Mason-Dixon Line.

Next Time:

In my next segment of "Modernity and The Other," I will discuss why this conflict has lead to the identity gap between Northerners and Southerners, why white Southerners refuse to vote for progress and Democrats, why the third-world rejects the modernity of the first-world, and how the rejection of the values of the progressive values of the North by white Southerners has lead to an America that pre-emptively and without reason invades fellow sovereign nations, denies global warming, and runs itself into bankruptcy, and how the rejection of "modernity" by third-world nations has lead to global terrorism.

...And I will hyperlink everything, and spellcheck everything, etc. But right now, I must get to sleep. For those of you who don't know, I have a contracting job which requires me to wake at 6:10.

American Life

The biggest issue facing America and the world is not political, it is psychological. The world has the capabilities to solve the most challenging problems, from Global Warming to the crisis in Middle East, but we are not doing so. We could blame our lack of impetus entirely on the Bush Administration, who has refused to acknowledge human involvement in global warming, and has made every effort to gut environmental policy, has invaded Iraq, cut taxes for the rich…the list goes on.

But the Bush Administration is not the root cause of our societal problems. In 2004 the majority of Americans voted for Bush. We could simply say "the root cause is the stupidity of the electorate, too ignorant to understand the nuances and sophistication of effective government." After the election, a common chain e-mail purported to show how superior the average IQ of blue staters to of red staters. But the American people are not stupid, they are you and me. John Kerry, while succeeding in rallying much of his Democratic base, failed to communicate with them. Furthermore, by framing the election as some kind of intelligence test, one downplays the critical morality of politics. John Kerry did not make clear the immorality of Bush's policy. He talked about economic issues not in terms of the poor, the suffering, the millions of Americans without health insurance, or how it is wrong to leave a gigantic debt for future generations. It is no surprise that the biggest issue in the election was moral issues. But George Will is right, every political issue is a moral issue.

People in liberal circles would rather Bush bash, and feel superior to red staters, but they never try to understand why people vote Republican. They do believe they are doing the right thing and they do care about America. The root cause is a psychological backlash against the capitalist economy's incessant message of materialism, hedonism, and cynicism. The philosophy of our culture is extreme individualism. Today in America, the well being of the community is deemed much less significant than satisfying the desires of the individual. John F Kennedy’s lofty ideals are deemed quaint and historic. The result of this individualism is a loss of connection, a deep loneliness where no one is willing to sacrifice his or her interest for the sake of others. This philosophy is particularly evident in generation Y, our generation. ADD and depression are considered the norm, because every child is led to expect instant gratification and constant stimulation. Individual success is the ultimate goal, and people are judged not by their character, but where they go to school and their earning potential. Success, as defined by our society, devoid of any ethical standards, and disconnected from any cause bigger than the self, is unfulfilling and lacks meaning. This is in turn is why many kids my age turn to drugs and alcohol to escape the feeling of emptiness and to numb the present experience.

In order to overcome our deep psychological malaise reflected in our individualistic culture, we must as a whole embrace the unity of humanity, weather red state or blue state, American or Middle Eastern, pacifist or terrorist, with equanimity. Global problems will not be solved through more intelligence but by the cultivation of collective compassion. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The great problems facing modern man is that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live…The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make it a brotherhood.”

People vote Republican because they are more concerned with the lack of meaning in our culture, than with their economic interests. Thus, the evangelical movement swallows more voters, while the Democratic party sits on its hands.