On Old long syne my Jo,
On Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On Old long syne.
. . . a tip of the hat to master Robert Burns . . .
We are not in a war zone, but we might as well be. A frequent factor in these violent incidents is mental illness. In many — but not all — of these incidents, the weapons used to wreak havoc were obtained legally. This is not a proposed assault on the Second Amendment. There is, of course, no way to avoid all gun violence. But there is a clear choice we must ultimately make: What kind of society do we want to inhabit — one in which we risk our lives to watch a movie, go shopping or enter a classroom? Or one where capable and responsible adults are free to own guns but every effort is made to weed out those who could turn violent?
This faction and its unhinged fanaticism has no place in any advanced democracy. They must be broken. But the current irony is that no one has managed to expose their extremism more clearly than their own Speaker. His career is over. As is the current Republican party. We need a new governing coalition in the House - Democrats and those few sane Republicans willing to put country before ideology. But even that may be impossible.
Last night, the House of Representatives was actively working on a bill that would not even be brought to the floor in the Senate and would face certain death at the president's desk. But let's think about that fact for a minute. Is this the way American government is supposed to work? Seriously? Back room negotiations between the speaker and the president? Bills that are written up on the fly and go nowhere? Bills that never even get considered for a vote for the other body? Bills that are vetoed before they are even passed? Think about this: Guess how many vetoes President Obama has issued. The answer is two. The average for presidents is 48. FDR vetoed an average of 53 bills per year and he never once had to deal with Republican majorities. President Obama has less vetoes than Warren Harding—and he was only president for four months! It seems to me the system isn't working properly when the president isn't seeing bills he doesn't like. That isn't a sign of a healthy separation of powers or checks and balances.
“Where are the president’s spending cuts?” asks John Boehner. With Republicans coming to grips with their inability to stop taxes on the rich from rising, the center of the debate has turned to the expenditure side. In the short run, the two parties have run into an absurd standoff, where Republicans demand that President Obama produce an offer of higher spending cuts, and Obama replies that Republicans should say what spending cuts they want, and Republicans insist that Obama should try to guess what kind of spending cuts they would like. Reporters are presenting this as a kind of negotiating problem, based on each side’s desire for the other to stick its neck out first. But it actually reflects a much more fundamental problem than that. Republicans think government spending is huge, but they can’t really identify ways they want to solve that problem, because government spending is not really huge. That is to say, on top of an ideological gulf between the two parties, we have an epistemological gulf. The Republican understanding of government spending is based on hazy, abstract notions that don’t match reality and can’t be translated into a workable program. . . . When the only cuts on the table would inflict real harm on people with modest incomes and save small amounts of money, that is a sign that there’s just not much money to save. It’s not just that Republicans disagree with this; they don’t seem to understand it. The absence of a Republican spending proposal is not just a negotiating tactic but a howling void where a specific grasp of the role of government ought to be. And negotiating around that void is extremely hard to do. The spending cuts aren’t there because they can’t be found.
The Arcitc is a constantly variable dreamscape, and with its variations comes fortune or doom for the individual. These are populations that already reside in conditions that are as unpredictable and unrelenting as possible. We are throwing too much chaos in the equation. Variations. It is very frustrating to behold months of dry conditions and then have your friends and neighbors complaining at the first, briefest rains that do little more than tide over wild biota as the streams run low, and the heat that is just not right to those with what's called 'native eye' and an affinity for the land. And it is troubling to know that whatever pleasant warmth these people feel, disproportionately larger changes are happening in the North's landscape of desire and imagination. The Arctic is very sensitive to oil spills and other forms of pollution. Polar bears in areas affected by oil spills have been observed licking oil off their fur, resulting in the agony of renal failure. Of climate, the yearly return of something as simple as the narrow stream-like leads in the ice and a particular amount of snow is vital to the health of the population. There are so many things that climate variations can throw out of whack, and we don't know most of what those are. At the same time, the Arctic nations are witnessing the scramble for the next, great natural resource bubble.
... according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth. Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital's media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition." The 2012 campaign further proved their point, they both said in recent interviews. It also exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media's fear of being seen as taking sides.Dan Froomkin's column has valuable links to Thomas Mann's and Norman Ornstein's work.
Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic variables as well as state macroeconomic indicators. Using the average wage in non-RTW states as the base ($22.11), the average full-time, full-year worker in an RTW state makes about $1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state.