March 4th, 2010

(no subject)

I was going to post this as a reply to paft's post, but I think it'll get more discussion as a regular post.

I wanted to give you poor bleeding-heart liberals a little perspective on what your response to the unemployment extension bill thing should be like. This is from a recent post by a friend of mine (bolding mine):

I realized last week when I was researching my unemployment benefits that even though unemployment is extend right now, it is not extended for ME. I applied about a month too late to be a part of the extension. There is legislation that would create another extension, but it hasn't been approved & I don't know if I would be a part of that either. Most likely, I would, but I can't count on it going through. So the end result is that I have only 26 weeks of paid unemployment that I can count on. The good side, I do get an extra $25 a week on top of what I would get normally from a special Federal fund. So that helps.

As a result of this realization, we've buckled down even tighter than we had before. Things that I would normally purchase out of our group money, now have to come from our already cut in half allowance. Thats not so easy & means I won't have all that much for the frivolous stuff it was meant for. Things I consider maintenance (like basic makeup supplies) are going to eat up a good portion of it. But thats all right. At least we can still get those things. I have that to be thankful for.

We also have to cut out going out to eat. We can go for drinks instead. I mean, people used to do that, right? They used to go to the soda shop or to the bar. I think thats a change we can make.

And I have to not plan on making any big purchases. That ones hard for me. But I can do it.

Where is the whining about not getting the extra unemployment? Where is the bemoaning the silly senator who doesn't care about the poor? Where is the sense of entitlement? Nowhere to be found because this person is actually intelligent and rational.

(no subject)

Republican fundraising strategy presentation disrespects president and potential donors in one fell swoop

I mean, even using the "jokerized" obama socialism image from the internets? I doubt any DNC presentation ever had the "bush=hitler" image in it, but then again who knows.

More interesting was how the strategy toward their own donors was quite explicitly laid out:

The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.”

Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.”

Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”

None of this is that surprising, really. And it is just the work of one guy ("RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart"). But what do you think? If you were (or are) a potential RNC donor, would this presentation turn you off? What do you think secret DNC fundraiser strategy meetings look like?
Uncle Sam loves the GOP

Bunning answers the question - Why

Jim Bunning: Why I took a stand

For too long, both Republicans and Democrats have treated the taxpayers' money as a slush fund that does not ever end. At some point, the madness has to stop.


Over a month ago, Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law the "Pay-Go" legislation. It calls on Congress to pay for bills by not adding to our debt. It sounds like a common sense tool that would rein in government spending. Unfortunately, Pay-Go is a paper tiger. It has no teeth. I did not vote for the Democrats' Pay-Go legislation because I knew it was just a political dog-and-pony show to get some good press after some political setbacks. Since the Pay-Go rule was enacted, the national debt has gone up $244,992,297,448.11 (as of Wednesday, that is).

Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked to pass a 30-day extensions bill for unemployment insurance and other federal programs. Earlier in February, those extensions were included in a broader bipartisan bill that was paid for but did not meet Sen. Reid's approval, and he nixed the deal. When I saw the Democrats in Congress were going to vote on the extensions bill without paying for it and not following their own Pay-Go rules, I said enough is enough.

After four legislative days of impasse, I reached a supposed deal with Majority Leader Reid to have an up-or-down vote on a pay-for amendment that would fully fund the legislation and not add to the debt. Only minutes before the vote, Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver to set aside my amendment and not vote on the actual substance of it. Only in Washington could this happen. The Democrats did not want to vote on my amendment because they knew they were in the wrong and ignored their own rules. Hypocrisy again rules the day in Washington.

If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.

I think what he says has a lot of merrit. If congress can vote to bypass the pay-go rule it is rather worthless. It is also disappointing to see that there was a bill that was financially viable that the Leader of the Senate dismissed?



USS Private Enterprise?

So, we all know that NASA's most recent attempt at human low Earth orbit fight, the Constellation program, has been scuttled. Now, NASA is looking at a new approach: funding the private sector and letting them experiment with the next wave of space exploration.

Now normally, I'm all for privatization where possible and efficient. I'm wondering if this is either, though. Of course there are efficiency gains from competition, but those generally come from the marketplace's function. I can't see how the government awarding a contract to five different companies, with five different methods of reaching space, gives any incentive for true competition.

I'm also wary of the very high costs of negative externalities in this area. We already have a lot of space junk floating around endangering satellites, the ISS, and our space-based communication system. Imagine a rocket capable of carrying the first long-term lunar colony exploding in space because one company wanted to beat another to the cheese. We already had a space race - there's no need to recreate the ups and downs of that era with unnecessary competition, effects which we're still feeling.

Finally, I wonder about the scientific necessity of a new round of exploration, theoretically culminating with a permanent human presence on the moon, and a mission to Mars. Certainly there's a lot we can learn, and learning is categorically good. But is this the best way to conduct scientific inquiry? Will private corporations be able to monetize science experiments and their copyrighted video of Neil Armstrong Jr. stepping foot on Mars, or are they more likely to go for resource extraction, tourism, and other less "noble" goals? Is that the sort of thing we want to be funding into orbit?

Faces of America PBS series & nationalism

I thought this was perfect for this week's topic on nationalism and immigration, particularly for the United States. For the last four weeks, PBS has been broadcasting Faces of America with Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. Tracing the history of 12 notable Americans (e.g. Mario Batali, Stephen Colbert, Malcolm Gladwell, Yo Yo Ma, Eva Longoria, Meryl Streep, Queen Noor, etc.) by using genealogy and DNA testing, the series is a fascinating and at times, a very emotional experience. One touching story involved Kristi Yamaguchi's family: while many American Japanese were being held in internment camps along the west coast, Ms. Yamaguchi's grandfather served in an all Japanese infantry unit in the European war. Or Louise Erdrich's German ancestors who immigrated from Germany and settled in Minnesota. One of her great grandfathers enlisted into the American Army and fought against his own relatives in the Kaiser's army in France. Yo Yo Ma is shown video tape of a village in China, where his distant relatives are so thrilled to give him a series of books his ancestors kept for hundreds of years, with a direct tracing of his paternal line to before 1400. The host of the show Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. is more Irish American than he is African-American, as he noted-- despite his appearance, and traces back some of the history of his ancestors, which he shares in common with Stephen Colbert.

While we know in general terms that America's relationship with immigrants and how it has treated various groups (e.g. the Irish, or Asian Americans) is a complicated one, but the personal lives really gives it an edge that you don't get from a history book. Of course, the issue of nationalism was brought up all the time, but one thread was a constant: once the families immigrated to the United States, they saw themselves as Americans and struggled to participate fully, overcoming enormous prejudices and racism along the way. If you haven't seen the series, I highly recommend it. The episodes are available online at the official website.

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