We're Mad as Hell and the Dems Aren't Listening

What I am hearing from across the country is a surge of angst and discouragement. In conversations, calls, emails, and letters, people in general (and progressives in particular) are expressing profound dismay at the deterioration of America's democracy, not only because of the BushCheney regime, but also, and especially, because of the fecklessness of the Democratic Congress.

"For crying out loud! Why do we even bother to have elections?" Mark wailed in an email.

I am afraid of what this country has become and that at any minute the people in charge may bomb Iran, and I have lost all hope that there will be any checks and balances," Marshaleigh wrote, adding bluntly, "Congress doesn't work."

Jay bemoaned the dismal performance of Congress in this letter to the editor: "Despite the 2006 congressional elections and the overwhelming antiwar sentiment among our citizens...[Democrats] have become enablers of the White House's misbegotten Iraq venture."

Susan wrote, "What little optimism I had is vanishing. I am much more overwhelmed by the Democratic party's lack of gumption than I was by Bush's wickedness. And the small ideas offered by the presidential candidates make me cringe. I need help."

The damage now being done to America's political psyche by the Democrats' fizzle is way out of the ordinary. These writers are smart, engaged, committed people who are not easily surprised or discouraged by negative political developments. They constitute the grassroots base of progressive activism in our country, and it is truly worrisome that even they are becoming dispirited -- especially as we head into a watershed election year.

The capitulation Congress

It is not some vague funk that's afflicting the public, not some general ennui caused by seven years of Bushdom. Rather, it's a growing despair -- and a rising national embarrassment -- brought on by an ongoing series of specific, disheartening collapses by Democrats, who are turning out to be weaker than Canadian hot sauce. For example:

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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