SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Apollo Report One moving to new site

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This will be my final post here at Apollo Report One. Starting tonight, I’m launching a new blog, which will replace Apollo Report One and the infrequently-used Operation Bull Moose blog.

It’s called The Progressive Idealist, and it will be my new home for much of my political blogging. Here’s the link to the new blog.

Increased emphasis on “career preparation” is a disturbing trend in U.S. public education

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In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on career preparation in K-12 education in the United States, especially at the middle/junior high school and high school levels. Since I graduated from high school six years ago, emphasis on career preparation has become even more prevalent in K-12 education in this country.

I know that there are going to be a lot of people who are going to disagree with me on this, but I think this a very disturbing trend.

I’m not against the idea of people going to college in order to get degrees at all, but I think it’s downright creepy to put high school students, middle school students, or even elementary school students on some sort of path to a career long before they reach college. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and many other neoliberal and conservative education policies have contributed to the disturbing trend of “career preparation” being emphasized in K-12 schools.

This is a firmly held belief of mine…the only time that a K-12 student should ever have to think about what kind of career he or she would like to have is when he or she is asked what he or she wants to major in by a college. It should be the responsibility of K-12 schools in this country to provide a well-rounded education in this country, in fact, I believe that college-level general education courses should be part of the regular curriculum in the last two or three years a student is in high school (currently, many high schools offer such courses as advanced placement (AP) courses), which would eliminate the need for general education requirements at the post-secondary level. However, I believe that the responsibility of preparing students for careers should be solely that of colleges, universities, and other post-secondary schools.

I am a progressive idealist

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As someone who has written about politics for over two and a half years, I’ve recently come to the realization that I am a progressive idealist.

For those of you who don’t understand what being a progressive idealist means, I used Google to find definitions for the words “progressive” and “idealist“. “Progressive” is defined as “a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas”. “Idealist” is defined as “a person who is guided more by ideals than by practical considerations”. In case you’re wondering, I used the first definition that Google provided for the nouns “progressive” and “idealist”.

My political views are progressive. The four core principles that make up my political views are as follows:

  1. Restoring the American middle class
  2. Protecting the legal rights of the American people
  3. Making American government less corrupt and more transparent
  4. Decreasing American involvement in the affairs of foreign countries

Here are many of my policy positions:

  • Requiring that employers pay their employees a living wage
  • Protecting and restoring the right of workers to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, working conditions, etc.
  • Protecting and restoring the right of women to make their own reproductive health care decisions
  • Eliminating all forms of discrimination
  • Granting same-sex couples the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy
  • Enacting stricter limits on contributions to political campaigns and other types of political organizations
  • Enforcing and strengthening open meetings, open records, and campaign finance disclosure laws
  • Prohibiting the U.S. from meddling in the affairs of foreign countries except when it is necessary to do so in order to protect U.S. interests
  • Repealing all free trade agreements that the U.S. is a party to
  • Expanding passenger rail and other forms of public transportation
  • Repairing crumbling roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure
  • Providing broadband internet access to rural areas
  • Strengthening environmental protections
  • Breaking up banks that currently do both commercial banking and investment banking
  • Eliminating tax breaks for businesses and other forms of corporate welfare
  • Protecting and strengthening anti-trust laws
  • Providing health care coverage to all Americans
  • Protecting and expanding Social Security
  • Enacting national and state economic development banks
  • Enacting stricter regulations on financial institutions
  • Legalizing marijuana for recreational use
  • Ending warrantless spying on the American people
  • Opposing unjustified wars
  • Repealing the death penalty
  • Protecting and investing in public education
  • Opposing efforts to privatize public education, social safety net programs, and other government programs and institutions
  • Allowing those who owe money on student loans to refinance to a lower interest rate
  • Requiring background checks on all gun sales
  • Raising federal income taxes on the wealthiest Americans
  • Requiring that redistricting of congressional, state legislative, and other types of districts that are established based on population be conducted by independent, non-partisan commissions
  • Ensuring that everyone who is legally eligible to vote is able to vote

My political mindset is idealist. In other words, I fight for what I believe will make this country a better place to live. I don’t advocate for progressive policies because it’s politically popular, but because it’s the right thing to do. I’m not going to give up on what I believe is good public policy that would benefit the American people, even if it’s politically unpopular. I believe that the Democratic Party should focus more on advocating for and implementing progressive policies than on simply getting Democrats elected. Also, while I would be willing to work with those who have a different political mindset than me if I were an elected official, I won’t support anything that I believe is bad policy in exchange for something I support (i.e., a “grand bargain”), and I won’t compromise my core principles.

I’m a progressive idealist. That means I support economic, social, and foreign policy ideas that will make America a better place to live, and I fight for the very ideas that I support.

Better than Democrats: Meet two progressive candidates I’m endorsing, neither of which are Democrats

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I’m endorsing two candidates in high-profile races, and they have two things in common. One, they’re both strong champions of progressive values. Two, they’re not running as Democrats.

The first one is Marianne Williamson, who is running as an independent candidate in the U.S. House race in California’s 33rd Congressional District. Williamson understands that both the far-right Republicans the corrupt Democratic establishment are both part of the problem in this country. No candidate for public office anywhere in the country is more committed to restoring our country’s middle class, restoring our constitutionally-protected civil liberties, and ending the culture of corruption and big-money politics in this country than Williamson is. You can learn more about her campaign here; the primary (in which the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election) in California’s 33rd Congressional District will take place this coming Tuesday.

The other one is Zephyr Teachout, who is running for the Working Families Party (WFP) nomination for Governor of New York. If Teachout were to win the WFP nomination, she would run against Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo, a Wall Street crony who has openly antagonized labor unions and progressives and is more interested in playing machine politics than doing anything to make the State of New York a better place to live, and Republican candidate Rob Astorino, who is backed by Wisconsin union buster Scott Walker and has supported housing discrimination as Westchester County (NY) Executive. You can read more about Teachout’s campaign here; the WFP will hold a convention to nominate a gubernatorial candidate this weekend.

As someone who self-identifies as a progressive Democrat, I don’t normally back independent or third-party candidates, but I’m going to make a couple of exceptions for Marianne Williamson and Zephyr Teachout. In Williamson’s case, she’s running on a platform that should be the Democratic Party’s platform, and, in Teachout’s case, she would run against one of the most atrocious Democrats in this country and one of the most atrocious Republicans in this country if she were to win the New York Working Families Party nomination.

Glenn Beck’s network mocks rape victims

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TheBlaze, a television/online network owned by right-wing extremist Glenn Beck, mocked victims of sexual assault by airing disgusting skits mocking the fact that rape culture is far too prevalent in this country:

Glenn Beck’s The BlazeTV acted out sexual propositions and labeled each skit “RAPE!” in an attempt to mock the prevalence of reported sexual assault.

In response to reports that the 22-year-old who went on a deadly shooting spree in Santa Barbara was inspired by a hatred towards women who had refused his sexual advances, The Glenn Beck Program attempted to debunk the statistic that one in five women have reported experiencing a sexual assault. The May 27 edition of Beck’s program dismissed the number — cited by the Obama administration during the announcement of a new initiative to protect college students from sexual violence — as a “completely untrue statistic.”

As evidence, Beck presented a pre-recorded segment by The Blaze‘s Stu Burguiere, which featured skit performances of sexual assault scenarios in which network radio host Jeff Fisher propositioned another man in a blonde wig and skirt.

The skits purported to reenact questions from two studies on sexual assault — the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Report and 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey — ostensibly to show how the number of sexual assault victims is “massively” inflated.

It is an indisputable fact that sexual assault is far too common in this country, and it’s also an indisputable fact that rape culture is far too prevalent in this country. The fact that Glenn Beck presented skits mocking those who have been sexually assaulted is, to put it mildly, absolutely disgusting. Rape is not a laughing matter. It’s a horrible, illegal act that is committed by far too many people in this country. What makes the fact that Beck presented a skit mocking rape victims even worse that Beck did so not long after rabid misogynist Elliot Rodger murdered six people before killing himself in the Isla Vista massacre.

If you’re wondering why rape culture is a serious problem in this country, one of the main reasons why is because of people like Glenn Beck who mock rape victims.

Heather Mizeur runs excellent TV ad in Maryland gubernatorial race

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Heather Mizeur, the progressive candidate in a three-way Democratic primary for Governor of Maryland, is running this television ad that, in my opinion, is the best one that I’ve seen in the 2014 election cycle:

The ad starts with a re-enactment of a 9-year-old Heather Mizeur holding hands with her father in a picket line, where 2014 Heather Mizeur, who is narrating the first segment of the ad, talks about “standing up for what’s right”. The ad then transitions to show clips of 2014 Mizeur, this time, with someone else narrating and talking about expanding health care coverage for 50,000 Maryland children, one of Mizeur’s accomplishments as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, as well as a progressive jobs and education plan and legalization of marijuana, key parts of Mizeur’s progressive agenda. The ad transitions once more to show Mizeur and her lieutenant-gubernatorial running mate, Delman Coates, with Mizeur talking about how she’s running to make a difference, not simply to make history.

Even though I don’t live in Maryland, every part of that ad plays to some quality that I admire about Heather Mizeur. The part about Mizeur taking about standing in a picket line with her dad as a child and “standing up for what’s right” plays to my preference for progressive-minded candidates whose core principle is standing up for what’s right. The part about Mizeur’s accomplishments and progressive platform plays to my preference for candidates who have some sort of progressive track record (whether it be as an elected official or otherwise) and are willing to willing to continue their fight to make their community, their state, and their country a better place to live. Finally, the part about Mizeur wanting to make a difference and not simply make history plays to my preference for candidates who disapprove of identity politics. Even though Mizeur, if elected, would become the first female and the first openly lesbian Governor of Maryland, the fact that she’s more interested in making her state a better place to live than making political history is something I strongly admire about Mizeur.

I strongly encourage Maryland voters to vote for Heather Mizeur in the upcoming Democratic primary for governor.

Marjorie Margolies apparently supports throwing poor people in jail

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At a fiscal summit hosted by anti-Social Security zealot Pete Petersen, Former President Bill Clinton said that his solution to reducing income inequality is to throw poor people in jail:

I don’t think there’s much you can do about that unless you want to start jailing people.

Unlike what Bill Clinton claims, there’s plenty that can be done to reduce income inequality, which is one of the most serious problems that our country faces. Raising taxes on the wealthy, raising the minimum wage, making it easier for workers to form unions and collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits, and repealing free trade agreements such as NAFTA are four ideas that I can think of off of the top of my head that would reduce income inequality in this country. Throwing poor people in jail, on the other hand, is only going to make income inequality worse.

What really disturbs me is that, in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, there’s a candidate running on the political legacy of Bill Clinton: Marjorie Margolies, a former Congresswoman and the mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Bill’s daughter. It’s bad enough that Margolies has openly antagonized progressives (most notably Daylin Leach, one of Margolies’s primary challengers and a staunch progressive) during her campaign, but, given Bill’s recent comments about wanting to throw poor people in jail and the fact that Margolies is running her campaign on Bill’s political legacy of shipping American jobs overseas and helping to create the conditions that led to the Great Recession, Margolies’s apparent support for throwing poor people in jail en masse is absolutely disgusting.

I strongly encourage those who live in the 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania to vote for Daylin Leach in the upcoming Democratic primary. If elected, he’ll fight to reduce income inequality and make America a better place to live.

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