Seriously?

So, I heard this story on NPR today while driving home and was incredulous:

While Ozzie Guillen apologized repeatedly in a news conference for his recent remarks that he admired the longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the Miami Marlins also tried to undo the damage their manager had wrought by announcing that Guillen would be suspended for five games…

Guillen’s comments appeared in a Time magazine article, in which he said he “loved” and “respected” Castro, the longtime Cuban leader. Time reported that Guillen said: “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years,” but Castro is still here, he added, referring to Castro as an expletive.

Call me naive but how in the world is that grounds for suspending the manager of your baseball team?  Yeah, I get that Castro is a dictator and the Cubans in Florida hate him, but calling for him to fired (as I heard on NPR) seems absolutely ludicrous to me.  I don’t really no a lot about Cuban politics in Florida, but I’m pretty sure they need to relax a bit on the Castro thing.

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Photo of the day

Via Joe Biden’s twitter feed:

pic.twitter.com/Xt0pSrGc

19th century voter registration in the 21st century

Really enjoyed this NYT editorial on making voter registration simpler because it makes a point I always emphasize with my students.  We are using 19th century technology in a 21st century world.  Before computers and the internet certainly made sense to require registration 30 days before an election because it actually takes time to deal with all that paperwork.  But in the modern world, there’s really no good reason to have any exclusion periods like this on voter registration.  Unless you want less people to vote (here’s looking at you, Republican Party).  Anyway:

The vast majority of states rely on a 19th-century registration method: requiring people to fill out a paper form when they become eligible to vote, often at a government office, and to repeat the process every time they move. This is a significant reason why the United States has a low voter participation rate.

The persistence of the paper system is all the more frustrating because a growing number of states have shown that technology can get more people on voter rolls. There’s no reason why every state cannot automatically register eligible voters when they have contact with a government agency. The most common method, now used in 17 states, electronically sends data from motor vehicle departments to election offices…

The obsolete paper system has resulted in an overall registration rate of only 68 percent in the United States. Canada, by contrast, registers 93 percent of its population, using a computerized system that automatically gathers records from tax forms, the military and vital statistics agencies, as well as motor vehicle offices.

This country has a long and terrible tradition of erecting barriers to participation. In earlier eras, the obstacles were overt, like literacy tests to keep minorities and poor people off the rolls. Recent methods are subtler but still harmful. In 2004, Ohio briefly banned registration forms not printed on 80-pound paper to make it easier to invalidate minority voter drives without access to the forms. Even now, many Republican lawmakers are doing everything they can to maintain intimidating requirements.

This chart below should be considered simply unacceptable (yes, keep looking all the way to the bottom).  Alas, to many it’s not.

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