Residents of Moore got several minutes of warning before the tornado struck, saving perhaps hundreds of lives.
Can the U.S. afford to keep cutting resources from NASA and NOAA? Seriously?
Residents of Moore got several minutes of warning before the tornado struck, saving perhaps hundreds of lives.
Can the U.S. afford to keep cutting resources from NASA and NOAA? Seriously?
Indeed, the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is gone from the FAA website.
“Even the bad guys are feeling lucky.”
With declining income, American cities lay off cops.
After people in Oakland’s [California] wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.
* * * * * *
Long known for patrolling shopping malls and gated communities, private security firms are beginning to spread into city streets. While private security has long been contracted by homeowners associations and commercial districts, the trend of groups of neighbors pooling money to contract private security for their streets is something new.
Besides Oakland, neighborhoods in Atlanta and Detroit – both cities with high rates of crime – have hired firms to patrol their neighborhoods, says Steve Amitay, executive director of the National Association of Security Contractor.
“It’s happening everywhere,” Mr. Amitay says. “Municipal governments and cities are really getting strapped in terms of their resources, and when a police department cuts 100 officers obviously they are going to respond to less crimes.”
File this under the so-called conservative rich cutting off their fingers to spite their hands: Does it ever occur to them that they would have more bankable cash if they didn’t have to hire a security service to guard their homes, but instead paid modest taxes to educate would-be criminals to do non-criminal work, and to provide police protection instead of private spies?
Didn’t Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association say his agency would support bigger budgets to hire more cops? Where is that lobbying action today? What’s that — he was just jerking whose chain? (I’d be more comfortable if I knew LaPierre does not regard Somalia as the model for how a national government ought to work.)
Remember how you said America can’t go two hours without a president? What’s the worst that can happen if it just so happens to take three-four hours? Or is it uneventful?
Interesting question — to me, at least, and maybe even to Bryan. Here’s my response, with a few links added:
Did I say that? (Some context would be nice. No I don’t remember saying that.)
Technically, can’t happen now with the 25th Amendment and succession laws; if a president dies, another is there, probably without regard to swearing in.
A few historical examples suggest no big problem; these are nullified if missiles are in the air at that moment, though:
1. When Tyler succeeded Harrison 1 (first death of president in office), John Tyler was more than 24 hours out of Washington. Worse, many people thought that while the duties of the president fell to the VP under the Constitution, that should be a temporary condition settled by a special election. Despite all this uncertainty, nothing bad happened in the interim.
2. On March 4, 1849, [James K.] Polk’s term expired. But it was Sunday, and incoming Pres. Zachary Taylor refused to be inaugurated on Sunday. So did incoming VP Millard Fillmore. Some argue that David Rice Atchison, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then-third in line for the presidency under the laws then existing, was president for one day. He didn’t claim that, but in any case, spent most of the day sleeping, as the outgoing Senate had been working late for several previous nights. Some argue that because the Senate had adjourned sine die on its last session, not even Atchison was president. In any case, nothing happened.
3. When [James] Garfield was shot, he did not die immediately, but hung on for more than a month before infection took him. Vice President Chester A. Arthur did not assume duties of president, nor did anyone else, in that period. A lot of stuff got delayed, but no big deal. Government continued during the long dying process, and until Arthur was sworn in.
4. Similarly, when [William] McKinley was shot, they thought he’d survive. VP Teddy Roosevelt took off to hunt in the Adirondacks. When McKinley took a turn for the worse, guides had to be dispatched to find Teddy climbing a mountain (Mt. Marcy); by the time he got to Buffalo, McKinley had been dead for several hours. Nothing of consequence happened as a result of there being no president on hand (and they were in Buffalo, New York, not Washington, anyway).
5. Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke on October 2, 1919, that left him blind in one eye and unable to walk. He was kept out of the presence of the VP and cabinet for months; when he finally returned to cabinet meetings in 1920, he was clearly unable to function as president. It’s an interesting case with his second wife essentially taking over the office under the guise of intermediary and care giver to the president. This one may have had some consequences – the Senate never did ratify the Treaty of Versailles, for which Wilson was campaigning when he was stricken, and so the U.S. never joined the League of Nations, dooming it to failure years later as World War II erupted. But perhaps Wilson couldn’t have gotten it ratified had he been fully active, anyway. Perhaps Wilson could have influenced the election of 1920, which Warren G. Harding won (who would die of a heart attack in San Francisco, making Calvin Coolidge president). But all of that is pure conjecture.
6. The funniest (in retrospect) was when Ronald Reagan was shot. At a press conference at the White House as Reagan was being prepped for surgery, a reporter asked some cabinet officials “who is in charge?” Perhaps reacting too much to the question as a challenge to whether the government was leaderless and vulnerable, Secretary of State Al Haig grabbed the microphone and said “I’m in charge here!” In reality, Vice President George H. W. Bush was in full communication mode of the modern presidency; control of the “football,” the nuclear strike code case which accompanies the president at all times, could have been an issue, but was not.
Under the 25th Amendment and the Succession Act, it’s difficult to imagine how the U.S. could be without a president at any time; the confusion around the death or disability of a president offers a window of a de facto gap, but that should last only minutes under the procedures and precautions now in effect (some of which we saw on 9/11).
Worst that could happen now? If missiles were incoming, and confusion over who has control of the football went on for more than 10 minutes, a retaliatory strike could be late in getting launched. It takes about 15 minutes for intercontinental ballistic missiles to get to their downward path, or to register on known radar, so a ten minute delay might be encouraging to a Russia that hoped to knock out the U.S. before a retaliatory strike could occur; but that’s probably not realistic. And, even that would be of no great consequence if the secret “missile net” many people think the U.S. has, actually exists.
Is this a class question, or are you involved in some odd drinking game again?
(Update: Sheesh. Turns out he just saw “Olympus Has Fallen,” and wondered.
Everyone knows we’re really safe, so long as Morgan Freeman is anywhere near the presidency, even Speaker of the House.)
(Anyone else seen the movie? Is it a scenario not already contemplated under the 25th Amendment?)
Voice of America video on Al Haig’s life, featuring the famous quote:
What would Madison do?
James Madison’s work, not only on the Constitution, but on making the Constitution and new government work, and on creating the foundation pilings for that Constitution and society, should make his words and ideas key points of study for us, and his principles should be our guiding principles much more than they are today.
James Madison University President Jon Alger spoke at the ceremonies honoring Madison’s birthday last Saturday, March 16, at Madison’s mountain home, Montpelier, Virginia (a few miles from Jefferson’s Monticello). In his speech, Alger urged a return to civility in discussion of politics, a return to focus on important ideas and the processes by which we discuss them, and make decisions in our national government.
Alger’s remarks deserve a much wider audience, I think. I asked JMU for a copy, and they pointed to the university’s website where the entire speech is posted. I repost it here. Please spread the word.
Jon Alger’s Montpelier remarks
James Madison University
Remarks on the Occasion of James Madison’s 262nd Birthday
March 16, 2013
at James Madison’s Gravesite, Montpelier
(Remarks interrupted by rain)
Good afternoon. Honored guests, members of the Montpelier Board of Directors, President Imhoff and Montpelier staff, members of the James Madison University Board of Visitors, faculty, students and alumni, family, friends and fellow Madison enthusiasts, it is my great honor to speak at this hallowed place. On this day 262 years ago, James Madison was born. Perhaps more so than any other president or founder, James Madison is responsible for the creation and miraculous endurance of our republic. Known as the Father of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison’s contributions to our nation should be remembered by every American. The sacred fire of liberty lit by Madison’s ideas burns to this day and draws us here to honor him.
I came to Montpelier for the first time only a few months ago. As a great admirer of James Madison, to me the trip here felt like a pilgrimage. When the mansion first came into view as we made our way up the long sweeping drive, I was struck by the majesty of the moment—as we feel when in the presence of greatness. During that visit, Montpelier board president Greg May invited me to speak at this annual event as we strode down a pathway that Madison himself must have walked many times. I could not have been more honored.
Indeed, this is a dream come true for me. As a political science major and history minor in college, I read many of the same texts Madison himself studied—as well as some of Madison’s own work. Even as a young child, I admired the creative genius of our forefathers. While other kids had stuffed animals or model airplanes displayed in their bedrooms, on my dresser I proudly exhibited a set of small ceramic statues of the American presidents. I like to root for underdogs and was always partial to Madison, because his was the shortest statue. Today his picture hangs proudly in my office.
As many of you know, Montpelier and James Madison University have long had a special bond. It began when Dr. Clarence Geier, an archaeologist at Madison, arranged an archaeology field school here at Montpelier more than 25 years ago. Our students and faculty have been coming to Montpelier ever since and have participated in digs all across the grounds. (Except for right here, of course. They are not allowed to dig in this particular area. You never know with undergraduates!)
From then the relationship between our two institutions has blossomed. This past November a bus containing JMU faculty, staff and me – as well as my wife Mary Ann and daughter Eleanor – came here to spend a day brainstorming with the Montpelier leadership and staff on ways to deepen our relationship even further. The primary objective of this deeper relationship is to bring more attention to James Madison and his ideas. This objective reflects the missions of our two great institutions, but it must go beyond those gathered here today. As a nation, we are in great need of what I will call a Return to Madison.
It is true that, during the past few years, more and more American citizens are professing respect for the U.S. Constitution. The document was read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for only the second time in history this past January. In fact, Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia’s Sixth District – JMU’s district – opened the reading with a delivery of the document’s Preamble. That’s a good start, but as a nation we must go much further. For this newfound reverence toward the U.S. Constitution to elevate us as a nation, we must explore and gain a deeper understanding of the principles on which the U.S. Constitution is based. We must Return to Madison.
Now, by suggesting this return, I don’t mean that we become a nation of history buffs (although that would be OK with me). Rather, a Return to Madison would provide us with very real and practical insights into how we as a society should confront issues facing us all.
Starting with a realistic view of human nature, Madison believed that politics was driven by “interest,” not by “virtue.” In his excellent work, The Sacred Fire of Liberty, Madison scholar Lance Banning captured this core principle. He wrote, “Madison did not assume that a republic could depend upon a superhuman readiness to sacrifice self-interest to the common good. Taking humans for the interested, opinionated creatures they are, Madison asserted that in a pluralistic, large republic, partial interests would be counterbalanced by competing interests.”
This was not new political thinking, of course. During the 16th century in Florence, Machiavelli (whose work was more nuanced than is often remembered today) explored what he called the “effectual truth” of politics. In other words, as Paul Rahe writes in his book, Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy, “[I]n order to avoid their ruin and achieve their preservation, men should govern themselves in accordance with how they do behave rather than in the distorting light of how they ought to.”
So Madison’s great innovation was to devise a system of government that sought to create political and civic conditions allowing the interests of individual citizens, groups, regions and other entities to balance one another so that no one of them could overtake the rest. He recognized that we would be a society with diverse perspectives and experiences, and that we needed a structure to allow that diversity to flourish.
Today – while publicly professing faith in the Constitution as a document – we seem to have forgotten this essential element. Far too often, our public discourse on the important challenges of our time degenerates into shallow shouting matches and name-calling in which we cry for the elimination of opposing views on political, social, economic and cultural issues. The people we despise across the political aisle, the fools on the television spouting their ridiculously wrongheaded opinions, the heathens who believe in a different god than we do – we not only hold them in utter contempt, we behave as if we want their ideas extinguished. And if they were extinguished – oh, if only they were extinguished – we believe the world would be a better place. If only we all agreed on everything – wouldn’t that be great! Yet we must be careful what we wish for. If that kind of wish were to come true, not only would our lives be much more boring—but our society would stop progressing and stagnate.
A Return to Madison would shine a light on the fact that the strength of our republic relies on the existence of opposing ideas and perspectives. Voices who advocate for Wall Street and others who focus on Main Street? They need each other. Republicans and Democrats need each other. Without the diversity of ideas and opinions, our civic balance would tilt and our system eventually would topple. The great man we honor today knew this was true. We as a society need to embrace this notion and continue debating the important issues of the day, but with reason and civility—not with hatred and hopes for total domination. We need each other. And I believe that spreading the understanding that our great Constitution is based squarely on this principle could lead to greater social harmony. Boy, do we need a Return to Madison.
Madison’s Federalist 10 is recognized the world over as one of the great examples of political thought in history. You might remember that Madison published the Federalist with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in newspapers while the states were considering whether to ratify the proposed Constitution. Of these 85 essays, Madison’s 10th is widely considered to be one of the best, and it’s about balancing competing interests. I love it for the philosophy it expresses, but also because it contains one of his most elegant turns of a phrase. If you’ve read much Madison, you know that his writing can be (to be honest) dense and elliptical. He is not often quoted in today’s sound-bite culture. But in the Federalist 10 he wrote, “liberty is to faction what air is to fire…” Think about that for a moment. “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire…” Madison was making the point that liberty creates a nourishing environment for faction. At the time, great fear existed that too much liberty could lead to dangerous factions emerging. Madison was resolute, however, and he completes the idea by writing, “But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”
Madison is saying that even though liberty allows faction to thrive, it should not be curtailed. He goes on to observe, “As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.”
Thus even as Madison advocated for liberty despite its dangers, he was sure to remind his Federalist readers that man’s passionately held views are imperfect. Therefore, if we claim to respect our Constitution and if we understand this fundamental premise, we have a responsibility to change the tone of much of our civic dialogue. Now, to be clear, I am not arguing that we should hold our views any less dear. Passion leads great people to act. And I am not suggesting that we all adopt a relativist perspective – right and wrong do exist. As enlightened as Madison and his colleagues were for their time on so many issues, for example, even they were unable to come to grips with the tragic injustice of slavery
If Madison were here today, however, I believe he would remind us of our human limitations when we encounter and react to opinions that differ from our own. We can all benefit from trying to listen to and understand the views of others with civility and respect, even as we hold and espouse our own cherished points of view. As the president of the university named for James Madison, I feel strongly that our institution of higher education can best honor his legacy by embracing the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in our society, while fostering and modeling civil and respectful discourse on the great issues of our time. That is part of the reason why I began my own presidency with a “Listening Tour” to hear, and learn from, the richly diverse voices and opinions of our university community.
In my inaugural address yesterday at the university, I called for James Madison University to be the national model for the engaged university—an institution that combines a commitment to teaching and learning with a conviction that all humans are interconnected. This combination embodies James Madison’s ideals. If we enlighten ourselves through education and believe that we all are connected – even with those with whom we might passionately disagree – we honor Madison. I intend for this idea to be a hallmark of my administration at JMU.
Another hallmark will be to continue deepening the relationship between the university and Montpelier. Some of the ideas generated during our visit here in November already are taking shape. For instance, staff in our department of History and our Adult Degree Program are working with faculty here in the Center for the Constitution to create a course about James Madison and his ideas that includes online and in-person instruction, as well as visits here. The course will be available to JMU students and the general public. As we celebrated Madison Week on our campus these past few days, Montpelier has honored our university by loaning us several artifacts from its own collection. These exchanges are reminders of the man to whom we owe so much. Our educational initiatives can go a long way to motivate those who profess their faith in the U.S. Constitution to deepen their understanding of its underlying principles, and thus inspire a Return to Madison.
Let me share with you a personal story of my own heightened sense of Madison’s, and Montpelier’s, significance. While inside the house, I was surprised by how moved I was when I sat in the modest room that is believed to be Madison’s study. The thought that I was in the very room where James Madison read Machiavelli and Locke and Montesquieu and all the others; the room where he synthesized thousands of years of thinking into a framework for our most important founding document; the room looking west toward unsettled lands of great promise; the room in which James Madison addressed civilization’s most intractable problem – how to govern ourselves – I was filled with a sense of wonder and awe.
Yet another way in which the university will connect with Montpelier and its legacy will be to honor the memory of Dolley Madison, the great woman buried beside our 4th President. Dolley was herself an intellectual and social force who played a profound leadership role by convening people of different backgrounds for civil discourse. In fact, Yale University historian Catherine Allgor wrote, “Dolley’s assumption that compromise would be the salvation of the system marks her as one of the most sophisticated politicians of her time.” Through a new initiative called Women for Madison, our university will celebrate the vital role women play in leadership and cultivating a culture of philanthropy.
Finally, as an advocate of education and an ardent student himself, I believe Madison would have enjoyed meeting today’s students who benefit from his legacy in this free and civil society. I wonder how he would have felt meeting students attending the university named for him. We have several with us today – can you come and join me here?
As many of you know, JMU has a robust study abroad program. I will tour several of our study abroad programs this summer for the first time as president, and my second stop will be Florence, the great city where republican thought reemerged during the 16th century. Machiavelli was the most influential Florentine political thinker of that time, and his work influenced Madison greatly. In fact, Machiavelli appears in one of James Madison’s adolescent “commonplace” books. A commonplace book was like an academic diary. Students during the era when Madison grew up dutifully filled their commonplace books with notes, quotations and poetry.
Students of our era – such as these fine students – and I will visit Machiavelli’s gravesite at the Basilica di Santa Croce in central Florence this summer. We will take with us the moving experience of being here at James Madison’s gravesite, and reflect on the republican ideal with which both men—and so many other people throughout history—have grappled. It is quite fitting that students attending a university named for James Madison make this journey, connect these two places and contemplate their meaning.
With this symbolic gesture, we hope to inspire all the students of James Madison University, the visitors to James Madison’s Montpelier and all who bear witness, to Return to Madison. Let’s go from this ceremony with a renewed sense of our roles as citizens, and of the power we have to live the ideals James Madison handed down to us through the ages. Thank you
Who in Congress listens? Who in media and commentary listens? Who in the academic life listens?
Here’s a guy who Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other “deficit hawks” refuse to debate. Grover Norquist blanches when you mention his name, and hopes and prays you won’t listen to him: Neil de Grasse Tyson.
The film was put together from several statements by Tyson, by Evan Schurr.
WRITE TO CONGRESS:
The intention of this project is to stress the importance of advancing the space frontier and is focused on igniting scientific curiosity in the general public.
Facebook cover: (not sure who made this but thank you!)
*FOR THOSE SAYING THE MUSIC IS TOO LOUD* This is the adjusted one http://youtu.be/Fl07UfRkPas
I give immense credit to The Sagan Series for providing the inspiration for this video.
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All copyrighted materials contained herein belong to their respective copyright holders, I do not claim ownership over any of these materials. In no way do I benefit either financially or otherwise from this video.
Arrival of the Birds and Transformation by The Cinematic Orchestra http://www.amazon.com/The-Crimson-Win……
When We Left Earth http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/nasa/nasa…
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart http://www.thedailyshow.com/
HUBBLE 3D http://www.imax.com/hubble/
NASA TV http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv…
The Amazing Meeting http://www.amazingmeeting.com/TAM2011/
“US Mint” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZzKDL…
“New $100 Note” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgaytK…
Real Time with Bill Maher http://www.hbo.com/real-time-with-bil…
Pale Blue Dot – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blu…
STS-135 Ascent Imagery Highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikzxtw…
CSPAN State of the Union Address http://www.c-span.org/
The Sagan Series http://www.facebook.com/thesaganseries
The Asteroid that Flattened Mars http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgMXPX…
University of Buffalo Communications http://www.communication.buffalo.edu/
Mars Curiosity Rover http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnlvvu…
Red Aurora Australis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC7Qro…
Thank you to user florentgermain for the French subtitles
Hey, this is a year old. Why are you sitting on your hands? Our future, our children’s future, our great-great-grandchildren’s futures, are on the line.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Robert Krulwich at NPR, who pulled this out and started discussing it again.
What? You missed this, on February 20, 2011? Well, here it is again. Please pay attention this time.
The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression. Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security and opportunity — will never return. They are probably right.
And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer. And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer. In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down. This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom. The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today.
This what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.” It is not a picture of a healthy society. Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class. Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan.
Robert C. Lieberman, reviewing the book Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Simon and Schuster, 2010, 368 pages. $27.00.; review appears in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011, pp. 154-158.
Two years later, even more:
May 22, 1964 — Lyndon Johnson laid out his vision of a much better America. At the University of Michigan Johnson discussed what a great nation in the 20th and 21st centuries should be, the Great Society speech.
This is the Lyndon Johnson speech Republicans wish had never been given, and which they hope to ignore as much as possible, laying out dreams for a better American they hope to frustrate.
More information from the LBJ Library in Austin:
Audio from President Johnson’s speech at the University of Michigan May 22, 1964, also called “the Great Society speech.” Audio is WHCA_83_2, photo is c387-8-wh64. Both are in the public domain. For more images of this speech, please see http://youtu.be/WqP037Pe5i0, which is B Roll of the same speech.
January 4, 1965 — Lyndon Johnson laid out the legislative plan for the Great Society. Back then, even after crushing defeats in the 1964 elections, Republicans shared Johnson’s and the Democrats’ dreams for a better America.
From calls for international peace to a call for great expansion of federal support of education, to calls for aid for the sick and aged, is there a single area where the GOP agrees today?
How can we get the GOP to dream again?
It seems we need to keep reminding people of this.
I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.
Did Holmes say that?
The quote was all over the internet in early October 2008 (and later), after New York Times op-ed writer Tom Friedman noted it in his column criticizing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for her assertion that paying taxes is not patriotic.
I found reference to the quote in a book about eminent economists, through Google Scholar:
Eminent Economists: Their Life Philosophies
By Michael Szenberg
Published by Cambridge University Press, 1993
On page 201, Szenberg refers Holmes’s view of “taxation as the price of liberty.” In a footnote, he points to Justice Frankfurter’s book. The quote is dolled up a little. According to Szenberg’s footnote:
More precisely, he rebuked a secretary’s query of “Don’t you hate to pay taxes?” with “No, young fellow, I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization.”
Frankfurter is a reliable source. It’s likely Holmes said something very close to the words Friedman used.
Urge others to give a dime and give a damn for civilization:
Here’s one from a maybe-odd source, but with relatively good citations.
If we have limited money to spend in government, can we put spending on a balance to see where it should be spent? This is one example out of many pending before the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, today — right now, and for the coming several months. When you hear elected representatives say “we must cut spending to reduce deficits,” you need to understand that their proposal is to cut spending for education, for job training, for employment assistance, for unemployment payments, for health care, for mental health care, for drug rehabilitation programs, but generally NOT for incarceration programs. In short, they are saying we must cut off the education of poor kids, to build jails to house them if they run afoul of the criminal justice system after being unable to get the education and training to get a job that will produce the income that would have made them great parents and taxpayers.
If we have limited money to spend in government, can we put spending on a balance to see where it should be spent?
What do you think?
Here, I’ve been quiet for a few days on these issues. I like to have more facts before forming opinions. Others don’t feel so constricted, though, and one of the key lessons of life we must learn over and over is that too often we must act without knowing all the facts we’d wish to know.
This is one of those times. In Michigan, the governor has been presented bills which he has signed which take away rights of teachers to stand up for themselves, part of a long-standing GOP war on education and teachers. He has other bills intended to legalize carrying guns in schools, which he has not yet signed. In several states, legislatures gear up for sessions starting early next year, with pre-filed bills to put the screws to teachers, cut back education spending, take money from public schools and give it to private groups under a pretext of improving education (I say pretext because all research indicates the public schools perform better, but I digress). In Congress, the GOP demands cuts to health care, mental health care, education, roads, aid to any workers, employed, under-employed or unemployed, and especially in payments to people in poverty or otherwise in economic distress (“no pain to others, no GOP gain”).
Highlighting the intentional sloth the GOP insists on in government, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy hammered one of our nation’s largest cities and most important regions for technology, manufacturing, business, finance and news, and the GOP opposes federal aid to speed up recovery; and in Newtown, Connecticut, a man with learning difficulties and/or behavioral issues broke into an elementary school over-armed with human-killling automatic and semi-automatic weapons legally purchased and legally owned, with which he had legally trained, and murdered 26 people, including 20 children.
My few random thoughts:
What are your thoughts?
More, and related material:
Exit polling called this trend 20 years ago; is everybody else ready yet?
NOAA reports: Nov. global temperatures 5th highest on record. 333rd consecutive month with a global temp above 20th century average.—
InsideClimate News (@insideclimate) December 17, 2012
333 months of worldwide temperature averages above the 20th century average — a kid younger than 27.5 years has never lived through a single month cooler than the 20th century average for that month. We’re well into the second generation of people who know nothing but global warming.
A reasonable and smart person might note that one does not need to be a student of advanced statistics to spot a trend here.
Read the NOAA report (you may have to select “November 2012″):
Global temperature highlights: November
- The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November was the fifth highest on record for November, at 56.41°F (13.67°C) or 1.21°F (0.67°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.13°F (0.07°C).
- November marked the 36th consecutive November and 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average temperature November was November 1976 and the last below-average temperature month was February 1985.
- The global land temperature was the sixth warmest November on record, at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error is ±0.20°F (0.11°C).
Just a look at the extremes in November should be alarming, especially if you live in the USA.
Not sure how I got on the mailing list, but I’ll take it.
To those who commented here that the Texas secessionists are joking, and the petition means nothing at all, please note the e-mail I got today from Roxanna M. Roxanna is the thoughtful person behind the petition AGAINST the Texas secession petition. Heed what she says:
I want to thank each of you again! I’ve received so many emails, and I am going to be getting back to everyone, but I work two jobs so it will take me a bit. But thank you all for your interest and your support. It’s amazing. There are a couple people, though, that have sent emails calling me some not-so-nice names. I will not be responding to you, aside from this. Thanks for being engaged and interested enough to respond, though.
I have had quite a few requests about how many signatures we have so far. As of today this petition has 13,011 signatures. [Emphasis added here] I think we’re off to a pretty good start! This is my first petition, so I am open to any suggestions or ideas any of you have.
I checked the “We the People” petition the day I sent out the other email, and yes, at that time the number was 117,889. I checked it twice. The number at that time was accurate. It may be more now. Unfortunately, my roommate also sends me random text messages when they get more signatures on the petition. He was very excited when they hit 100,000.
Here’s where you can find the petition to secede:
It’s actually at 118,203 as of today.
I honestly have no idea how they plan on Texas to go it alone. There’s a lot of boasting about the our economy and how it’s the best, but I haven’t seen or heard a concrete plan as of yet. I have heard hints that if Texas isn’t granted a peaceful secession then this could end up another Civil War. I certainly hope not, and tend to ignore those comments, but things like that are being said.
I do not have a Facebook page for the petition. I have posted links on Facebook, like on Formidable Republican Opposition’s page. If anyone wants to start one, feel free! Just let me know and I’ll send out an email with the link. I’ve gone to a couple forums for Texas Democrats/Independents and posted links as well. But, like I said, I’m new at this, and I work two jobs, so if any of you have ideas I’m happy to hear them.
I know that I made some grammar mistakes in the petition, and I apologize. Unfortunately, once someone signed it (besides me), it wouldn’t let me revise it. So yeah. We’ll make do, hopefully.
For those of you who would like to read a bit on the secession petition:
Examiner article with links of sites supporting Texas secession:
Any other questions, comments, concerns, just let me know. You all are absolutely fantastic! Thanks so much! [Note this is the petition AGAINST secession.]
Many of those who signed and advocate Texas secession appear to lack an idea of scale, as well as any idea about how government works in a constitutional federal republic.
118,000 signatures from Texas? Wholly apart from the not-really-joking suggestion that at least 50,000 of those come from Oklahoma, that’s less than the population of rural-to-suburban, southern Dallas County. Duncanville, Desoto, Cedar Hill, and Lancaster, and all the unincorporated nodules at sea in the area, can’t get Dallas County to pay much attention to them, let alone Texas, let alone the U.S. Congress to consider letting such a tiny group secede. Compare the 118,000 with more than 3 million Texans who voted for Obama, consider the most of the more-than 3 million who voted for Romney and consider themselves proud citizens of the U.S. who would never consider secession, and at least ten million other Texans who think secession is a stupid idea, and you get a clue as to how inconsequential 118,000 people can be.
Please consider the facts; as John Mashey suggests, and as Roxanna warns, let the secessionists make their case, and tally the costs and benefits. It’s not a pleasant tally:
John Mashey suggested in another thread that secessionists should start running the numbers now. They might learn from people who wanted the Iron Curtain to fall, for more than 40 years. They seriously thought about how to fix things, and in much of Eastern Europe, once the oppressive communist regimes fell, serious people stepped up to make serious reforms in government, and some good stuff resulted — see the Czech Republic, Germany’s reunification, the economic boom and increased liberty in Poland, and the great increase in business in Estonia, for examples. In sharp contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood complained about Egypt’s government for 50 years. But when that government fell (not much thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood), it turned out they had not thought about how to actually run a nation; after more than a shaky year and a questionable election, the government is still wracked by demonstrations by nominal allies of the government, asking reforms of actions the former Muslim Brotherhood member President Morsi has already taken.
For good government to work, first, government must work. Texas secessionists have not even thought through a secession process, let alone how to make things work afterward.
But Roxanna notes secessionists have given little thought to any serious next step, even of just getting a letter from President Obama. Roxanna hasn’t seen any analysis, nor has anyone else.
Take Mashey’s suggestion, secessionists, and start running the numbers. It will help you avoid disappointment soon, in the near-future, and perhaps for the rest of your life.
Yesterday Kathryn and I toured the National Memorial in Oklahoma City. It is a grim, curt and hard reminder that political discontent can drive malcontents to horrific action. Secessionists need to rein in their rabid nationalism before it destroys their patriotism. Timothy McVeigh had a plan to try to cut things asunder, but nothing else other than ill-intent.
— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)
— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year
— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs
— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).
— Authority to raise the debt limit without congressional approval.
The $50 billion in added stimulus is surely welcome. We need more spending in the short term in order to keep the recovery going, particularly in light of economic contractions in Europe and Japan, and slowdowns in China and India.
But by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending, the White House has ceded important ground.
Republicans obviously want much, much more.
The administration has taken a “step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff, delaying again the real, balanced solution that this crisis requires,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a written statement. “No substantive progress has been made” added House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).
No surprise. The GOP doesn’t want to show any flexibility. Boehner and McConnell will hang tough until the end. Boehner will blame his right flank for not giving him any leeway — just as he’s done before.
It’s also clear Republicans will seek whatever bargaining leverage they can get from threatening to block an increase in the debt limit – which will have to rise early next year if the nation’s full faith and credit is to remain intact.
Meanwhile, the White House has started the bidding with substantial concessions on tax increases and spending cuts.
Haven’t we been here before? It’s as if the election never occurred – as if the Republicans hadn’t lost six or seven seats in the House and three in the Senate, as if Obama hadn’t won reelection by a greater number of votes than George W. Bush in 2004.
And as if the fiscal cliff that automatically terminates the Bush tax cuts weren’t just weeks away.
But if it’s really going to be a repeat of the last round, we might still be in luck. Remember, the last round resulted in no agreement. And no agreement now may be better than a bad agreement that doesn’t raise taxes on the wealthy nearly enough while cutting far too much from safety nets most Americans depend on.
If Republicans won’t budge and we head over the fiscal cliff, the Clinton tax rates become effective January 1 – thereby empowering the White House and Democrats in the next congress to get a far better deal.
Watch that space.
It’s especially interesting to me how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) will work to get a solution, if the GOP continues its blockade to almost all action.
Remember the old School House Rock? Disney finally put all of the old episodes out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Short songs with animation explaining grammar (“Conjunction Junction”), or math, or history, or economics.
Maybe not suitable for elementary school classrooms; probably too violent for high schools, too.