Dear Ray -- I pretty much agree with you on the whole, and am afraid I posted yr comments on my blog -- although I can take it off if you want --
but then why are people gutting social security? why are they voting against health care reform? why do they vote against "big government" -- especially for a man who has created a new gov't agency, etc.? my parents were confused about two Florida ballot measures, which were 1) ability to access malpractice suit information for doctors who have lost three or more suits (I think this passed but don't know for sure), 2) ability to revoke licenses of doctors who have lost three or more malpractice suits (this was soundly defeated). They were pointing out that 30% of the people who voted to find out whether or not a doctor was bad voted for keeping that bad doctor in practice.
Seems silly, but here in Los Angeles, we have Drew, which is in South Central. A lot of my former students were advised by the college advisors to major in Bio and get med tech training at Drew. While Drew is the only major medical center for miles around -- in all of Watts and South Central -- (USC's is nowhere near USC, it is on the East Side) -- it is just terrible. All kinds of scandals, terribly bad care. So people are in the rocky position of fighting to keep Drew open even though the licenses were revoked or something.
Mark, I posted some of yours too -- is this a "the personal is political" problem really? I think I remember commenting in a draft of a review that a while back, mainstream poetry anthologists were decrying the lack of political poetry -- anyway, I was pointing out that there was an abundance of political poetry, but it was generally political in an organic way, a personal way if you will, not in a "this is a poem about the flag" way. The way in which the personal political is nuanced in a way that sloganeering and agitprop can't be? The way in which public discourse has become privatized and so simplified?
My mother has been concerned for years! about the black box voting machines -- was it Patrick Herron who posted about them? I am curious -- I voted on them, smart cards were used -- what is the problem exactly? I mean, so there's no paper, but certainly there is an electronic audit trail, and a way to compare the votes recorded directly from screen onto disk into tables versus those reported via the communications pipeline? I mean, there _IS_ a back up from each stage of the process and an audit trail, right? Isn't the point that there's no paper? What's up with these lost electronic votes & misreporting in Ohio? At first, I thought this reporting was just internet hoaxing off all of the joke animated touch screen voting things (I got about five of them right around the time of the election -- they are the sorts of things that become false "inet 'news'" very quickly). But what up with the exit polls and the voting machines?