Assorted Links 1/22/2010

No, leave it on” – Two videos: compare and contrast.

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

The First Anti-Ted Kennedy Tea Party: Boston’s Anti-Busing Brigades, 1974

  • Word Workshop: Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing , January 28, 2010
  • Update on The 111th Congress, 2010, January 29, 2010
  • Congress in a Nutshell: Understanding Congress, February 10, 2010
  • Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, February 11, 2010
  • Strategies for Working with Congress: Effective Communication and Advocacy on Capitol Hill, February 18, 2010
  • The President’s Budget, February 23, 2010
  • The Defense Budget, February 26, 2010
  • Capitol Hill Workshop, March 3-5, 2010
  • Five Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Hate Government – “When we tell our limited-government friends that we have written a book titled If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government, about how government can better accomplish what it sets out to do, the reaction is often horror.

    ‘I don’t want to make government work better, I want it to go away’ is the typical response. Government, in their view, is the enemy.

    This way of thinking is deeply misguided, a troubling blind spot that keeps libertarians on the fringe of many policy debates. If you reflect only scorn for government, it’s hard to get anyone who hasn’t already drunk the Kool-Aid to take your opinions on the topic seriously.

    This is not to disparage the argument that government is too large, for which the case is strong. But holding government in sneering contempt is a misinformed corruption of that sentiment.

    Our Founding Fathers, fondly quoted by limited-government advocates, didn’t view government as evil, but as a flawed institution with some important jobs to do. They studied how government worked and they served in office, not because they viewed government with disdain, but because they knew the importance of good government.”

  • Who will take the lead in Haiti? – “Max Boot asks the question: will the United States take the lead in reconstructing (constructing?) Haiti? The prospects are daunting, as Boot explains. He leans toward giving the lead role to Minustah, the French acronym for the Brazil-led United Nations stabilization. In effect this means having Brazil take the lead.”
  • Double Down – “The Politico reports its sources indicate that President Obama will up the ante if Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat. There will be no retreat, no watering down of the agenda.
    . . .
    Governance will probably be a low priority in the coming year. The fundamental theme of 2010 will be a struggle for power. If it is already evident that unemployment numbers are not going to decrease and that the New Year will be more challenging than 2009 then the strategy of pushing the Promised Land into a future where Republicans have been eliminated from the scene is a viable one. It is also a semi-revolutionary one.”
  • Specter tells Bachmann to “act like a lady” – “The deeply odd couple of Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appeared together on a Philly radio station yesterday — and things got ugly in short order.” (hint: that’s what Senators think of Representatives.)
  • Musical Predictions – “There’s an interesting new paper on how the brain makes sense of music by constructing detailed models in real time. The act of listening, it turns out, is really an act of neural prediction. Here are the scientists, from the University of London:” ht The Browser
  • Why we started growing grain: “Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?” – “Drunkenness, hangovers, and debauchery tend to come to mind when one thinks about alcohol
    and its effects. But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization?

    According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.” (See “All Grain Home Brewing” video below.)

  • How the court’s campaign finance ruling hurts Wall Street favorite Chuck Schumer – “Now, set free of from Congress’s speech regulations, non-profits and corporations might not rely so much on these indirect means of political influence. That means less campaign cash coming into [Sen. Charles] Schumer, fewer corporations courting Schumer’s staff, and less sucking up to Schumer by lobbyists.”
  • The Harder They Fall – “think about what was known long ago in the days of Greek theatrical tragedies and surely long, long before that. Namely, success reinforced by adulation can make the almost inevitable fall harder than it might have been otherwise.
    . . .
    Media coddling helped make golf star Tiger Woods’ recent windshield splat an 80 miles-per-hour affair rather than a 10 MPH matter. I haven’t paid much attention to Woods, but from snippets I’ve read, he was a far rougher character than his media image suggested. Moreover, this was known in the professional golf fraternity for a long while. Woods’ name is Mud for the short run. His golf skills probably will not harm his career on the links, but his ‘clean’ image is destroyed and income from endorsements will probably be diminished for years. Perhaps Woods would be better off today if his public image had been more in synch with reality.”
  • Democracy Will Survive Citizens United – “Relax. Half of our states, states like Virginia, have minimal campaign finance laws, and there’s no more corruption in those states than in states that strictly regulate. And that’s because the real reason we have this campaign finance law is not, and never has been, to prevent corruption. The dirty little secret — the real impetus for this law — [is] incumbency protection. ”
  • Corporate Rights and Property Rights are Human Rights: Why it’s a Mistake to Conflate a Right with the Means Used to Exercise it – “It’s true, of course, that a corporation is not a person. But the people who own and operate it are. ‘Corporate speech’ is really just speech by people using the corporate form.”
  • Antonin Scalia vs. John Paul Stevens – “This section of [Stevens’] dissent purports to show that today’s decision is not supported by the original understanding of the First Amendment. The dissent attempts this demonstration, however, in splendid isolation from the text of the First Amendment. It never shows why ‘the freedom of speech’ that was the right of Englishmen did not include the freedom to speak in association with other individuals, including association in the corporate form. To be sure, in 1791 (as now) corporations could pursue only the objectives set forth in their charters; but the dissent provides no evidence that their speech in the pursuit of those objectives could be censored….

    The [First] Amendment is written in terms of ‘speech,’ not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speaker, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals–and the dissent offers no evidence about the original meaning of the text to support any such exclusion. We are therefore simply left with the question whether the speech at issue in this case is ‘speech’ covered by the First Amendment. No one says otherwise.”

  • Goldman Expects to Keep Cake, Eat Same, Stick Public with Tab – “Dick Bove says that Obama’s proposal will be good for Goldman Sachs because it will take away the prop trading from banks that have deposits, but will not affect Goldman Sachs who will once again eliminate more competition.

    So buy the stock. Hard to imagine anything short of Armageddon that would cause the word ‘sell’ to emanate from his bloviateness when he is talking his book.

    And Goldman Sachs says that it is ‘unrealistic’ to take away their place at the Fed’s teats as a subsidy sucking bank holding company.”

  • This is Too Easy – “Given the sudden change in the winds, observers might even be tempted to point out that between Edward, Joseph II and John Jr., Kennedy bucks operating heavy machinery have managed to kill three woman and paralyze a fourth in just three short decades. (That’s three easy installments of one fatality and .33 spinal injuries every ten years, but Marilyn doesn’t count, obviously). But then, recollections that tend to upset the reality distortion field that surrounds and protects the Kennedys are not generally spoken of in polite company.

    Notice how even reading these facts about the Kennedys in print on this very blog tends to make you uncomfortable with respect to a topic that normally glides easily under the eye and out of mind when found instead in the daily crime blotter. The brain has been conditioned somehow to reject the co-existence of the two spheres [Kennedy|Negligent Homicide] in the same paragraph. This is an absolutely astounding bit of marketing. This is an amazing bit of politics. This may actually go a long way to explaining the habit Massachusetts voters seem to have adopted for repeatedly and mindlessly checking boxes next to Kennedy names over the last several decades.

    In fact, when wading through the lionizing even deifying miasma of Edward’s ongoing and seemingly never ending eulogy, it is easy to forget that Massachusetts elected to office nine times, and thereby granted a forty six year tenure in the United States Senate, a reckless driving, alcoholic, womanizing, Harvard expellee who couldn’t muster the energy to best the dauntless political juggernaut that was Jimmy Carter’s campaign in a 1980 primary challenge.
    . . .
    What faces the Legislature, the Executive (and perhaps even the Judiciary) in the months and years to come is going to be anything but easy. The days of pouring deficit spending into housing, public employees, defined benefit plans, state subsidies and any other problem that manages to show its head above water for a sufficient interval are numbered. Someone is going to have to face the sorry task of explaining to the American people that, when you actually add it all up, the debt comes to almost $550,000 for each and every household in the United States, and that successive Comptroller Generals of the United States have been trying to get people to pay attention for five or ten years.

    In an environment where even discussing shifting social security age eligibility by a few months can bring down the angry fist of voter wrath with such violence that even the CBO looks for cover, how are leaders today going to break the news that there is simply no water-boarding procedure severe enough to torture Social Security math past the point where it gives up enough money to pay for even a substantial fraction baby boomers? When something as trivial as a $1 trillion dollar health plan results in the forfeiture of god-given progressive birthrights like ‘The Kennedy Seat,’ what sort of effect might $30+ trillion in unfunded Medicare have when the bill comes due and remains unpaid?

    Sure, it is nice to fantasize that the latest ‘republican revolution’ means something in the grand scheme of things, but if American politics are “played inside of the 40 yard lines,” then neither party is anywhere close to possessing the testicular fortitude to handle real fiscal reform. Balancing the budget today (which does nothing except stop the hemorrhaging for a while) would require no less than 35% across-the-board cuts in government spending- and this totally ignores the massive off-budget items that have become so fashionable to spin off. To say that Obama, who despite his Chicago machine pedigree couldn’t seem to fix the Olympics RFP even with Oprah batting clean-up, isn’t up to the task is stating the matter mildly.”

  • Recent Graduates, Teens Hit Hard In Miserable Jobs Market – “The downturn in jobs is miserable nearly everywhere you look but things are especially hard on teens and recent college graduate.
    . . .
    While education is a good thing, the cost of education certainly is not. Kids are graduating college hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, with no job and no way to pay it back. Moreover, student debt is a never ending albatross in that student debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

    I do not advise students going hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get an education. Most will be trapped for decades attempting to pay that back.
    . . .
    Indeed students have been screwed by “student aid”. So called “aid” to nearly anyone, helped drive up the cost of college education. Students are now reaping the “benefits” of that aid: no job but hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.

    Government needs to get out of the aid business. It screwed up housing with ‘affordable housing’ programs and it screwed up education with student ‘aid’.”

  • Down, but Not Out, in Brooklyn: a Daughter’s Story – “When our then-22-year-old daughter told us in the fall of 2008 that she intended to move out of our house and live in New York City on her own, we told her it would be tough.

    She didn’t believe us.

    Mariana proved us wrong. She not only lived in New York on a salary of less than $30,000 from a publishing-industry job, she managed to save $5,000 over the course of a year. On top of that, she stashed about $1,000 in her 401(k) account.

    How was that possible in one of the most expensive cities in the world?
    . . .
    While I’m proud of Mariana’s thrift, I’m not trying to hold her up as a model for the masses. She came out of college with no debt, thanks to some big scholarships and help from Mom and Dad. Many youths can only get through by borrowing money, and it means they have to earn more money when they graduate.”

“President Obama gave Republicans Their Marching Orders”

  • Do You Have Any Legal Right To Privacy For Information Stored Online? – “The paper does a good job separating out the thinking here, and explaining why the Fourth Amendment absolutely should apply to information you store online. As it notes, while the Smith case said that phone numbers dialed might not be private, that did not extend to the contents of the phone call itself. And that’s key. The reason that the phone company gets the phone numbers dialed is because that information is key to it delivering its service of connecting the phone call. So you can make a reasonable argument that while such information (the information needed to initiate a service) might not be subject to privacy protection, everything else communicated or stored via that service still deserves those protections.”
  • Digital File Cabinet You Can Bring With You Anywhere – “What if you could collect, in one well-organized, searchable, private digital repository, all the notes you create, clips from Web pages and emails you want to recall, dictated audio memos, photos, key documents, and more? And what if that repository was constantly synchronized, so it was accessible through a Web browser and through apps on your various computers and smart phones?

    Well, such a service exists. And it’s free. It’s called Evernote.”

  • The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures – “In looking closely at the astonishingly wide variety of ways our users have chosen to represent themselves, we discovered much of the collective wisdom about profile pictures was wrong.
    . . .
    All of the above subjects get far more messages than average, and yet none of them have outstanding profiles. The pictures do all the work: in different ways, they pique the viewer’s curiosity and say a lot about who the subject is (or wants to be).”
  • Wheat Ridge High School Class of 1970 – “The reonion committee is working away planning the 40th reunion the weekend of August 13-15, 2010. Wheat Ridge, Colorado”
  • Common Market Food Co-op – “Common Market Food Co-op was a ‘new wave food co-op’ located at 1329 California Street in Denver, Colorado, from 1975 – 1980. It started as a buying club at the University of Denver in the late 1960s, and for a few years prior to moving to the old Safeway at 13th and California Streets, Common Market operated out of a small storefront on Champa Street.”
  • “Why is there so little money in U.S. politics?” – “The bottom line is that today’s Supreme Court decision probably matters less than you think.”

All Grain Home Brewing (1 of 8)

  • Air America declaring bankruptcy – “The station, best known as the home of Rachel Maddow and Al Franken, never really found its financial footing, but had struggled through with the help of left-leaning financiers.”
  • Media Wars: FNC Keeps Rising, Air America Crashes – “On the same day Neilsen reported competition-dwarfing numbers for Fox News’s coverage of the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday night, Air America radio declared bankruptcy and will cease live broadcasts immediately.”
  • Special 2-Credit Class about Party Polarization, Spring 2010 – “This course is a unique opportunity for W&M undergraduates to be directly exposed to the views of leading scholars on perhaps the most central feature of contemporary American politics – the striking polarization that exists between the two political parties. The course will be structured around six recent scholarly books about the causes and consequences of party polarization.”
  • From A Sow’s Ear? – “A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that consuming saturated fat is not associated with cardiovascular disease. Never mind the usual problem of noticing an association and then confusing it with cause and effect … these researchers say there’s not even an association:
    . . .
    The once high-flying theory that fatty diets cause heart attacks and low-fat diets prevent them has been shot down over and over by the evidence.”

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