advocacy: October 2006 Archives
The leaders of higher education's main technology association have written a powerfully worded letter urging Blackboard to relinquish the rights it gained under a
controversial patent of online learning technologies in the public domain and to drop a patent infringement lawsuit it filed in August against a Canadian competitor, Desire2Learn.
"We believe this action would be in the best business interests of Blackboard and in the best interests of higher education," Brian L. Hawkins, the president of Educause, and the group's Board of Directors said in a letter to Blackboard this month. "We do not make this request lightly or underestimate the courage it will take to implement. However, we believe it is the right action for your corporation and our community."
"I try to keep a balance," Bellah explains, taking a break from research and writing at his home near Memorial Stadium for a visit to Barrows Hall, where he served on the faculty for 30 years before retiring in 1997. "Criticism without any substance ultimately is self-destructive. It undermines everything and leads to nihilism. But substantive belief without any critical perspective also suffers the fate of disaster, because it tends toward actions which are out of the control of reason."
As an example of the latter, Bellah points to President Bush and the war in Iraq. "It's more the religion of neoconservatism than any kind of biblical religion, though Bush himself uses biblical language," he observes. "I think they were so ideologically convinced that they felt they didn't need to look at any data. They were just so sure they would be greeted with roses and were going to create a happy, democratic, capitalist society that would love Israel. Overnight. Without any notion of the history of this country? It's unimaginable."
Following is an interesting spin from the New York Times. Were the Democrats "outmaneuvered," or were these past elections stolen? There is plenty of evidence to support the latter. Does this wording, which we suddenly hear everywhere (even Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update), prepare the American public to accept the proposition that Karl Rove is a master at getting out the vote - again - when the reality is that the election has been stolen - again?
"For Democrats these days, life is one measure glee, one measure dread and one measure hubris. If they are as confident as they have been in a decade about regaining at least one house of Congress - and they are - it is a confidence tempered by the searing memories of being outmaneuvered, for three elections straight, by superior Republican organizing and financial strength, and by continued wariness about the political skills of President Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove."
It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice... until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
The polls all point to a Democratic sweep in November. The news pours in about pedophile Republicans and Team Bush contempt for their fundamentalist bedmates. Iraq implodes. Deficits soar. Katrina lingers. Scandal is everywhere.
On the other hand, there are rumors of an "October Surprise." An attack on Iran. A new terror incident. Osama finally captured.
Gas prices are down, the stock market up.
None of it dampens the Democrats' euphoria. They think they are about to win. In conventional terms, they should.
But think again. Please.
With the critical mid-term elections weeks away from our publication date, this report looks at some of the serious problems that marred the 2004 presidential election and asks: are we any better off today than we were two years ago?
The authors of this report - The Century Foundation, Common Cause, and The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights - are uniquely qualified to answer that question. The three organizations did intensive monitoring of the 2004 elections and held a conference including several of the other major monitoring organizations in December of that year. They reported their findings in Voting in 2004: A Report to the Nation on America's Election Process, published in December 2004.
This follow-up report explores whether a sampling of 10 states with a history of various election problems and potentially close races - Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin - have taken steps to address the concerns addressed in our foundational report.
The findings of our report on the whole are troubling. Some states have made it harder to register to vote rather than easier. This is critical because problems with voter registration were among the most common complaints of voters in 2004. Another critical problem from 2004 - long lines for voters - is likely to recur because few states have dealt with the issue. New voter ID laws in certain states are likely to disenfranchise voters, and only one state has acted aggressively to address voter intimidation tactics.
Ordinary people have scored a stunning victory against phone and cable companies. After months of feeling heat from the public, the Senate adjourned in September without passing Ted Stevens' bad telecom bill, which would have killed Net Neutrality forever.
But companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast aren't giving up their fight to control the Internet. They will try to kill Net Neutrality in the "lame duck" Congress - the period right after the Nov. 7 elections when Congress is most unaccountable.
We must act now to keep the pressure on Congress through election season, one way is to register thousands of new "Internet Freedom Voters."
Internet Freedom Voters are people who care about Internet freedom and want their voices heard in the political process.