Real Immigration Reform Means More Than Building Fences

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While the House of Representatives refuses to consider immigration reform that would give opportunity to undocumented workers in the United States until we first make the US-Mexico border look like a high-tech version of the Berlin Wall, complete with drones and cyborg warriors, thousands of human beings are risking their lives and being exploited by human traffickers Maureen Meyer described the state of the US-Mexican border as well as anyone back in 2012:
Those most affected by the border’s transformation are the population that least fits the definition of a “threat” to be feared: the hundreds of thousands of migrants who continue to cross the border on a yearly basis. These individuals’ motivations may differ: a deported mother may be desperate to see her U.S.-born children or a young man may hope for a chance to reach the middle class. But it is certain that many will continue to make the treacherous journey. And they will do so despite the risks they face, even risks-being robbed, raped, maimed, or dying in a desert-that are more befitting of the 13th century than the 21st. And it’s not preventing migration. Continue Reading →

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An Introduction…. Of Sorts.

My name is Sheena Rice, and since you are now reading this, I am apparently a new contributor to Intelligent Discontent. Figured before I get to writing the things that made me want to join ID, I should probably introduce myself so that you have an idea of the girl behind the rants that will likely follow. You may already know me (or of me) as I have been working in or close to political circles in Montana since 2004 and have been a “professional” community organizer in Montana since 2008. (I quote professional as my daily uniform tends to involve Chacos and I am currently eating a lunch of coffee and Red Vines..)

If you don’t know anything about me here are a couple of things you should know:

I am a community organizer. However, my writings here are of my own accord and are not associated with the organization that I work for. Continue Reading →

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Time for American Tradition Partnership to Talk

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While I’m glad to see that the state is, as the Associated Press notes, pursuing a maximum penalty of $321,365 from the dark money smear merchants at American Tradition Partnership, I can’t help but thinking that a monetary fine won’t really serve justice or the democratic process here in Montana.  For one thing, ATP is already claiming that they don’t have the money to pay any fines, as their funders have scurried away from the light following the PBS Frontline/ProPublica special about their behavior and their abject failure in the November election. More importantly, though, even the collection of a fine won’t provide the information we really need: just which candidates did ATP illegally coordinate with and what penalties should they be subjected to. In the end, under the current regulatory climate for elections, we’re going to see more groups like ATP come into the state and illegally coordinate campaigns—what is really important to know is which candidates did it. After all, the Montana CoPP office said that what happened in these cases was more than campaign assistance:
“My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that WTP was running a lot of these campaigns,” said investigator Julie Steab of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, who initially received the boxes from Colorado. Getting to the root of that coordination and exposing those who did it matters a lot more than a probably futile campaign to collect money. Continue Reading →

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Raise the Damn Minimum Wage

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I’ve written before about the pressing need to raise the minimum wage for workers and today, a new poll from Hart Research Associates shows that a large majority of Americans—across income, regional, and even political party differences– would support its increase. It’s a policy no-brainer. If we want to encourage people to seek work, allow them to escape poverty, and reduce the burden on social services, paying people closer to an amount of money necessary to live healthy and productive lives is an excellent start. As Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute notes, raising the minimum wage is critical to improving the condition of workers and reducing the growing income gap in the U.S.:
The last decade has produced no improvement in real wages of a broad range of workers, including those with either a high school or college degree. It has also produced a widening divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker. Continue Reading →

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David Howard Watch: Violence Against Young Black Men and the President

While it seems Representative David Howard can do and say almost anything without getting attention from the media, I thought his latest political observation on Facebook was worth passing along. In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict and President Obama’s measured remarks today, Representative Howard took a somewhat less civil view: For a refresher, Mr. Howard was appointed by House Republican Leadership as the Human Services Committee chair and served on the Judiciary, Agriculture, and ETHICS Committees. Continue Reading →

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When Has a Progressive Blog Jumped the Shark?

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While the precise moment a cultural phenomenon has jumped the shark is often difficult to pinpoint (was it when J.R. was shot?), there are moments when it’s absolutely clear. Every sensible TV viewer knows that The West Wing was never the same after President Bartlett fired Leo. With political blogs, it might be easier to tell. I’d say when a leftist blog resorts to using a conservative news site that traffics in the worst kind of race baiting, gay bashing, nativist hate speech, and simple dishonesty as a source, simply because they’re so desperate to attack Democratic politicians in Montana might just be that flying Fonzie moment. If you’re unfamiliar with World News Daily, the source cited by 4and20blackbirds today, they recently published a book called Negrophila, which discusses “an “undue and inordinate affinity for blacks” – to describe the mindset that he says is behind a pervasive manipulation expertly employed and exploited to divide and destroy American society.”

Just today, their site features headlines like:

‘Gay’ Laws Set Stage for Pedophilia ‘Rights’
Rush: Racism worse under Obama
Transgender Indoctrination in Our Schools
Bachmann grills Bernanke over ‘extraordinary’ accounting measure

Hard to spend even an instant on WND without understanding exactly what it is. Continue Reading →

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Terrible Sources, Worse Journalism: A Tester Tale

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What follows is entirely my opinion. If I were a Beltway journalist working at Politico or Business Insider, I would just sprinkle phrases like “sources say” and “those familiar with ______’s thinking” in my piece, but since I am merely a blogger, I’m not permitted those journalistic niceties. Take that under advisement. It seems the Great War of Anonymous Montana Political Sources of 2013 is continuing. Today, some anonymous sources of indeterminate qualification and vague connection to Governor Schweitzer told Business Insider that they believed Senator Tester and his staff were behind the recent “attacks” on Governor Schweitzer:
Multiple sources close to Schweitzer pointed to Tester and his chief of staff, directly, as the source of that doubt — something that Tester’s staff denies….The source said Tester was “sticking knives” in Schweitzer’s potential run. Continue Reading →

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A Few Miles May Mean Decades of Life

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Everyone in American (outside of the Fox News bubble) knows that being born in certain demographic and geographic conditions can either be an enormous advantage or disadvantage in life, but the statistic and reason often obscure understanding, but I don’t believe people truly understand just how much where we’re born matters. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a series of maps illustrating how the neighborhoods we’re born in impact our life expectancy. One map, showing the city of New Orleans, shows that a few miles can mean the difference of 25 years in life expectancy:

Another fascinating look at this subject used subway stops to illustrate the same argument about income. Too often when we think of poverty in this country, we think of it as an abstraction or even as nothing more than an inconvenience for those living in poverty. In his book Poverty and Power: The Problem of Structural Inequality, Edward Royce writes:
Not only have we failed to eradicate poverty, but the very idea of such an undertaking is barely contemplated in the mainstream public discourse. Continue Reading →

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