2,000,000

February 23, 2010

It’s a day’s readership for Pharyngula.  It’s a trifle compared to those sites that cater to woo and disinformation.

A few people, perhaps, have found use in the posts here.  Two million looks passed about 8:00 a.m. this morning.

Thank you, readers.


We need free marketeers in the White House

February 23, 2010

Who said this?

We are pro-growth. We are fierce advocates for a thriving, dynamic free market. But we do think that there have to be some rules of the road in place in the financial sector that will create an even playing field and allow businesses to raise capital and consumers to buy products with confidence.

Coming out of this past decade, there has been a sense on the part of a lot of middle-class families that they have been left behind, even when we were expanding. And I talked during the campaign about the need for us to restore a sense of balance to the compact between business, government, and employees all across the country.

If businesses are making record profits but employees are seeing their wages flatline—and in fact, incomes decline over the course of the decade—that puts enormous strains on families. It puts, I think, a dampening effect on consumers who help drive this economy. We are going to be better off if everybody feels like they have got a stake in growth and innovation moving forward. And I think that balance got lost.

Now, making sure that we restore that balance without tipping too far in the other direction in ways that squelch innovation and investment is going to be an important challenge, and one that we take very seriously. But the important message I would have for the business community—and this is something that I emphasize every time I have lunch with CEOs, and we have had a lot of them in here—is we have every interest in you succeeding.

Another big hint below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Does this photograph show Teddy Roosevelt at Lincoln’s funeral procession?

February 22, 2010

1865 - Lincoln's funeral procession; Passing the (Cornelius) Roosevelt Mansion, sw corner 14th Street, Broadway, view looking North on Broadway

1865 – Lincoln’s funeral procession; Passing the (Cornelius) Roosevelt Mansion, sw corner 14th Street, Broadway, view looking North on Broadway – Flickr image from Stratis

See the house on the corner, at the left?  Look at the second story, at the window on the side of the house facing the camera.  Is that young Theodore Roosevelt watching Lincoln’s funeral procession?

Stratis, who posted this photo at Flickr, added the note at that window:

6 year old, Theodore Roosevelt watches Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession from an upstairs window of his grandfather, Cornelius Roosevelt’s mansion on Union Square with his younger brother Elliott and a friend.  Teddy lived at 28 East 20th Street.

Is that accurate?  Is that his grandfather’s house?  I assume that it is not 28 East 20th Street, which is where he was born and the house of his father.

A timeline of TR’s life said he watched the passing funeral entourage:

  • 1865  –  Watches Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession from an upstairs window of his grandfather’s house on Union Square, New York City. With him are his younger brother Elliott and a friend named Edith Kermit Carow.

Interesting intersection of history.  This would probably be the only meeting of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, though Teddy almost certainly knew Lincoln’s sole surviving son, Robert, pretty well.  Both were in Buffalo when William McKinley was assassinated; Robert Lincoln, having lived through his father’s assassination, and then been present at the assassinations of James Garfield and McKinley, declined an invitation to Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1905, not wishing to extend one of the oddest bad luck streaks ever imaginable.

Can you add details about the photo?

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‘Let me tell you a joke about Obama’s reading from teleprompters, just as soon as it comes up on my teleprompter’

February 22, 2010

Washington Monthly kills the punchline in the most serious conservative policy proposal in 11 months, a joke that has Obama reading to school kids from a teleprompter.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dave, at Dave Does the Blog.


What’s gone wrong in Washington?

February 22, 2010

Lincoln, image by Derek Bacon for The Economist (2010)

Image by Derek Bacon, copyright The Economist 2010

Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president in Springfield, Illinois, on ground often trod by Abraham Lincoln.  As did Teddy Roosevelt, Obama studies Lincoln’s life and career, and presidency.  We know he devoured Team of Rivals, Doris Kearn Goodwin’s detailed history of Lincoln’s high-powered cabinet, all of who came to respect his leadership, and most to call him friend.

The Economist scores with another astonishing graphic for the cover of the print edition covering the week of February 18 — Lincoln’s exasperation apparent (image at right).

Is that all?

Again I lament not having an AP government class at the moment.  What an opening for discussion we have in Washington follies of the moment.  The story accompanying the graphic, plus an editorial that takes the Milquetoast way out — ‘Obama needs to try harder’ – poses questions we do need to explore, and which would be great in an AP classroom.

ACCORDING to Paul Krugman, the winner of a Nobel prize for economics and a columnist for the New York Times, modern America is much like 18th-century Poland. On his telling, Poland was rendered largely ungovernable by the parliament’s requirement for unanimity, and disappeared as a country for more than a century. James Fallows, after several years in China as a writer for the Atlantic Monthly, wrote on his return that he found in America a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent and “a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke”. Tom Friedman, another columnist for the New York Times, reported from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos last month that he had never before heard people abroad talking about “political instability” in America. But these days he did.

The growing idea among influential pundits that America is “ungovernable” is being driven in large part by Barack Obama’s failure so far to pass some of the main laws he wants to. And it is, indeed, a puzzle. Here, after all, is a president who only just over a year ago won a handsome mandate: 53% of the popular vote and big majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. He bounded into office with a mountainous agenda, including plans to overhaul America’s health-care system and cut its greenhouse emissions. He seemed until quite recently to be doing reasonably well. In a folksy December interview with Oprah Winfrey he awarded himself “a good, solid B-plus”.

Is America now ungovernable?  What are the limits of a federal system, and have the states capitulated too much power to Washington?  Is anything else feasible with our economy in the mess it’s in?

I can imagine a discussion of the limits of the Articles of Confederation to start, noting the requirement of unanimity from the states to do anything major — and how that hamstrung the growth of America until George Washington pushed Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to change things.  Washington’s goals were only partly noble, to see a new, unified nation.  That unified nation he saw as necessary to open settlement of the Ohio Valley, where Washington had several thousand acres of land he couldn’t sell until settlers moved in.

How does the current set of impasses affect business?  Consider any small business, or big business, which offers health care plans to its employees.  Health reform is stalled — a Blue Cross affiliate in California raised rates by nearly 40%.  Health care is the one section of the economy where growth — meaning costs — grew through the depths of our financial difficulties in 2008 and 2009.  The need should be clear, but there are blocks to getting anything done about fixing the system.

Or consider international affairs.  Pentagon analysts worry about governmental instability created by the effects of global warming — drought, weather disaster, shifting crop yields (up in a few places, dramatically down where a few billion people live).  Thieves stole e-mails from the scientists studying the issue, and subsequent propaganda based on the theft alone has stalled climate talks, worldwide, giving a huge economic advantage to China and India.

What should be the role of government regulation for clean air?  Is the Clean Air Act sufficient? (Texas initiated suit against the federal government last week, claiming that the science behind reducing air pollution is wrong, a suit given as a gift to Texas’s major industries, some of which depend on the ability to dump garbage in the air with impunity.)

Is the problem more organically rooted in our inability to defeat incumbents in Congress? 2010 is a Census year — we count Americans to see how many representatives there should be for each state in the House of Represtentatives.  The bitter redistricting fights will come in state legislatures next year.  Can we save the system when politicians design seats more to secure a safe majority for their own party, rather than to see that every American is adequately represented?

What about media?  Traditionally newspapers, aided by television, played the watchdog role on Washington politicians.  Americans aren’t reading newspapers much, anymore.  News holes shrink, and serious reporting on issues goes away.  Can an open democracy survive without healthy newspapers?  And if not, who can do what about it?

Go to The Economist and check out the stories (better if you’re a subscriber — the stories usually go away for non-paying browsers after a few days).  What can you do with them in the classroom?

What do you think?  What’s gone wrong in Washington?


Libertarians for junk science

February 21, 2010

Yeah, I agree — but ask yourself, you who call yourselves “libertarian” or “skeptic,” why you’re not asking the same questions?

From the Murph Report, “Libertarians for junk science.”  From a guy named Kevin Carson, a self-described anarchist — and voice in the wilderness.

He discusses the unthinking acceptance political libertarians and conservatives give to all stories against  doing something about global warming, and about DDT’s problems.


Two mil

February 20, 2010

Counted it again.  We should pass the two million views mark in the coming week.

Thanks, Dear Readers.


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