This is a link to a Daily Kos-funded poll of "What Republicans think" from January, 2010. People noticed there was something wrong with it. Scan any column - for example, the "not sure" column. Ignore the moronic questions. See anything, uh, similar there? Like between categories? As I said, I don't read this website, and something like this would not make me smile. I sure as hell wouldn't pay for it or print it. Or, to put this another way, if I had some preconceived notion that all Republicans were racist, bigoted and stupid, no matter who they were, how old they were, whether they were male or female, or where they lived - I wouldn't pay extra to receive a so-called "poll" that showed me that. I know not all Democrats are stupid. I know most of them aren't, as a matter of fact. If somebody showed me a poll, that by age group, gender and "race," Democrats had little to no knowledge of statistics and math, I'd even question that.
I just completed some brief research today that showed that a large privately-funded, but primarily government-connected nonprofit organization of approximately the same vintage as the nonprofit that I work for, Beyond Shelter, is moving beyond its long-time activity of advocating for community housing for single homeless men and women, primarily those who are mentally-ill, or with other special needs, such as long term disabilities. This organization is now advocating for "permanent supportive housing" for families - i.e. government-funded rental apartments that are specially-built, and that also include additional services, that usually include a "case manager" and counseling and often on-site food and health services (i.e. - things that cost money, provided by people usually paid by the government). The organization is now promoting a whole new category for "families" and it specifically included a survey that mentioned families without special needs. These folks would never directly "admit" that the primary reason they want to build this type of housing for parents and children is money, because they are at the same time, conducting many studies to show that the type of "housing" that they advocate for, for singles with special needs - is less expensive in the long run than medical or psychiatric hospitalization, or incarceration in state prison. This type of cost-benefit analysis is all the rage in the circles of people whose living is derived from deciding what the government should and should not pay for, when, where and how.
Permanent supportive housing isn't less expensive than JAIL in most jurisdictions (that averages about $15,000 a year, per inmate, and yes, it's cheaper in Maricopa County, AZ). It's not less expensive than ordinary housing subsidies (Section 8 or time-limited, partial financial help, government-funded or otherwise). However, the next time you want your blood to boil, compare the "Fair Market Rent" charts in your area to what you pay in rent or in a house payment. Imagine that the maximum amount written there for each size of apartment is exactly what each private owner renting a "Section 8" apartment gets paid each month courtesy of Uncle Sam. Believe me, there is no such thing as a person renting out a "Section 8" who voluntarily takes LESS than that amount each month. Plus whatever the resident manages to scrape together, of course.
Most people will recall the deinstitutionalization of the mentally-ill in the 1970's, said to be a major cause of the single homeless men and women found wandering America's streets in the 1980's to the present day. Others believe that veterans returning home from conflict are another group that has no stable place to live. Those who work with families who lack a place to live recognize quickly that the poorest families are those that typically end up evicted and looking for someplace to live. Poor - as in not enough income to pay for housing on their own - a temporary condition best rectified as quickly as possible as in jobs and affordable, decent places to live.
The sympathy level even for homeless veterans has never been very high. Most people aren't willing to spend more than a reasonable year's salary that could support a family, just to give a guy that, on his own devices prefers a bush or vacant storage unit, a nice place to live, much less "extra help" paid for by the government that they, themselves, don't receive. That could be one of the reasons why the majority of the many organizations surveyed by this primarily government-funded and connected organization said they received few, or no donations from the general public, corporations or foundations. You can convince a few people in Congress and the corresponding bureaucrats of your "case" for elaborate, costly solutions a lot more easily than the general public, private businesses, or most philanthropists. This isn't a lie, precisely - it's more like inventing and trying to sell a $250 solar-powered can opener with a microchip. For opening cans. In this case, the product has been bought by the U.S. Government lock, stock and barrel. Or, we should say - rotating blade, microchip and external solar panel connected directly to the device. For opening cans.
Then there is the much, much larger world of "everything else." Politics - as in elections. Potential threats to the well-being of the planet itself, such as anthropogenic global warming. Investments, as in mortgage-backed securities or the insane profit promises of Bernard Madoff.
Polls, as in the polls that even left-leaning Web 2.0 website the Daily Kos has realized, were not beneficial, were deeply-inaccurate over a long period of time, and now, to the dismay of good-willed supporters, appear to have just plain been made up. I don't read that website - I sort of "hear about it." But I give them big credit and kudos for recognizing that there was a problem with their polling information, and for trying to follow up on the problem and determine its cause. If it turns out to be true that the pollster they hired, a firm called Research 2000, was doing some "freeform" research to meet the expectations they thought the Daily Kos had, rather than collecting and analyzing genuine poll data (even though it might have run counter to the website's expectations), then they definitely deserve a refund. I hope they are able to recoup at least some of what they paid for stuff that probably "felt great" at the time, but over time, proved more disappointing than any genuine poll that showed something different from advance expectations.
Was that a fair statement? Because millions of Americans gave up on most news polls years ago. In my case, after reading in my own newspaper on the eve of the California governor's recall and new elections showed first that a) Gray "Gumby" Davis was ahead; and b) CRUZ BUSTAMANTE was also way ahead - I did quit reading the Los Angeles Times for anything but occasional amusement.
As we move through this summer of increasing economic hardship, one headline that I saw today reflected the fact that 70 days after the initial BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf, the US President is just now agreeing to offers of foreign assistance - offers that reportedly were made within a day or two of the oil rig exploding - so, in other words, well over two months ago. This headline doesn't make me feel great. It makes me wonder what took over eight weeks to get to this point. I can't think of any conceivable "excuse." No, I was not going to hear about this development in-depth or coherently in the "mainstream media," and neither was anybody else. It was just a throwaway.
You would think that the media would be interested in covering this terrible environmental disaster, and in helping people to understand what was being done about it on a private, and a government level - local, state and federal. Well, the internet has been a big help in that regard. Thanks to a Federal Circuit Court judge, we've been able to see the spewing oil by an online camera feed since early on. And that's it. There ya go. My friends and I have been researching on our own to find a good beneficiary for proceeds from a benefit anthology. You know - money - to help the animals and people. Let me put it this way: the recipient isn't going to be FEMA.
Breitbart is a Web 2.0 site that is doing what I guess most people would call confrontational or investigative journalism with a slant. Most of my friends who don't deal much with money, getting things done in a broader sense (i.e. something that has to be quantified and reported upon on a regular basis), and who have "liberal" sensibilities think Breitbart is some type of monster. They think Matt Drudge should be taxed, too. Well, today Andrew Breitbart put up $100,000 as a reward for someone to roll over and provide the archives of a 400-member email list called "Journolist," which has come to people's attention as an online support group of mostly-"liberal" journalists who apparently support and help each other. All I'll say is, I'm pretty sure Breitbart has the $100,000. Many people seem certain that the messages, similarly to the "Climategate" University of East Anglia e-mails, will shortly be revealed.
What I have to say about this is, I could probably find a better, more beneficial use for the $100,000. I have myself personally been interviewed by journalists and even journ-O-lists dozens of times and I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I've been correctly quoted and attributed over a 2-decade-plus period. So, what we have here is not just a failure to communicate, it's a failure of many-decades standing, and it long predates the so-called journalistic triumph of Watergate. (this paean to the Watergate coverage from the WaPo - 2008 - has no comments and no links whatsoever, so I guess I'm the first) I know no one in a position of any type of responsibility in any industry who would ever speak to a reporter in an unguarded manner. This doesn't mean somebody who was "doing something wrong," this means that - if there's one class of person less-trusted and respected in America than a politician, it's a journ-O-list. If you are fortunate, you'll be perceived as an entertainer or editorialist or advocate - if unfortunate, then you get to be one of those Journ-O-List reporters - the last of a dying breed of assholes stuck in a time warp with less cachet than "Deep Throat" - I mean, which would you rather be? Mark Felt, or Marilyn Chambers? Both of them are gone now, and it seems to me that Marilyn will be the longest and best-remembered.
You know, the funny thing about Watergate is that when I explain the basic facts to people my daughter's age or the age of my students, without any editorializing and just the broad-brush descriptions, no one can understand what all the fuss was about. I mean, it's not great, but it's hardly earthshattering stuff. Compare and contrast: Blago, and anointed, saintly "sex poodles." Possibly "liberals" over age 40 won't get what I'm talking about. After all, Woodward and Bernstein just brought down Satan. Satan, I tell you! Everyone else when presented with the Watergate "scandal": easy peasy.
Did you know that on the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1864 by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater, Secretary of State William Seward and his son were both stabbed and seriously, but not fatally injured by Lewis Powell, one of the other conspirators? And that Vice-President Andrew Johnson was also targeted, but escaped harm because his attacker lost his nerve and ran off?
Every time I'm tempted to think I live in interesting times, I think of what an intolerably easy, lazy life I have and think I am completely insane to complain. I could be like, Lumbee or Melungeon. I could be like one of the women in Iran right now and be mourning my friends and family who just lost their lives in the most recent election controversy. I could be that massage therapist from Portland, OR who lost her friends because she spoke up about being sexually harassed. When her identity comes out, she'll be even more miserable. Or I could be poor Gary Coleman, and that could be my ex-wife, who let me fall, hit my head and die and who pulled the plug on me, then cremated me. I'd advise all these folks on the Journ-O-list to get back to what their roots were when they first started out. Every day's a new day, and tomorrow - is a new day starting forward. None of you can change the past - you can only change what you do going from now, forward.