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(by) For Your Consideration
Critics can be brutal. Michael Deacon is clever and funny.
From London's The Telegraph:
The snobs and critics will have a field day with the US author’s latest work – but I’m not joining in - -
Renowned author Dan Brown woke up in his luxurious four-poster bed in his expensive $10 million house – and immediately he felt angry. Most people would have thought that the 48-year-old man had no reason to be angry. After all, the famous writer had a new book coming out. But that was the problem.
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There has seldom been a greater controversy, with more volume, with less popular interest than the deaths in Benghazi, on the shoreline of Libya.
Part of that may be because the issues are cloudy and become murkier with each passing day. Loud proclamations of scandal, predictions of new revelations, dark public mutterings about coverups, come across as more hysteria than serious study. Queen of Hearts logic tends to be self limiting to any who are not already committed:
They are guilty, guilty, I tell you.
And we will conduct a careful, impartial investigation to prove, prove, prove it.
Republicans publicly pursue elusive evidence to conform to their conclusions.
The malfeasance being charged is cloudy. There have been some attempts at specificity, but they have been too feeble to stand for more than a few moments at a time.
Republicans have produced cables, predating the killings, over the name of Hillary Clinton regarding details of embassy security. Didn't that prove she lied when she insisted under oath she had not personally read or authored such memos?
It wasn't hard for writers to find thousands of similar routine cables dealing with everything from hotel room availability to plane ticket prices. The name of the Secretary of State is put under a great many cables that are handled by subordinates.
Military personnel were frustrated at being ordered not to fly to Libya, staying in Egypt to protect facilities from what seemed like a growing threat. Shouldn't commanders have made different decisions?
Such issues are of vital interest to partisans. Most Americans, at least most who pay any attention, see only a bewildering set of retrospective second guessing of granular decisions made in the dead of night during a chaotic time of unreliable information. It scarcely qualifies as Monday morning quarterbacking. Criticisms have fallen into a pattern of you-turned-left-when-you-should-have-turned-right.
Conspiracy oriented lawmakers turned from cloudy allegations during that chaotic night to the coverup that happened later.
Coverup theories are a bit strained for a very simple reason. A coverup needs something illegal or unsavory or unwise: something, anything, worth hiding.
Some folks do go to the hotel room availability and security detail cables and left-should-have-been-right military decisions. Wiser heads are confined to items more nebulous. For example:
The president was in the middle of his reelection. One of his talking point was that terrorism had been defeated and that he had defeated it. And this ran counter to that narrative. They didn’t want to admit it was a terrorist attack because to admit it was a terrorist attack was to admit that terrorism was still out there and reaching us.
- Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), May 9, 2013
The problem with that sort of reasoning is that the premise itself is demonstrably false. First, you can look forever without finding President Obama saying that terrorism no longer exists. If it was mathematically possible, you could look even longer than forever without finding a Vice President, cabinet member, sub-cabinet official, campaign spokesperson, or family dog that said that there is no more terrorism in the world, no more terrorism directed at the United States, that terrorism had been eliminated.
You could produce video of Joe Biden saying the obvious: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. Not exactly the same thing. Unworthy of a coverup. In fact, the central implication Vice President Biden made was that terrorism is alive and well and we need a tough President who can intelligently fight back. A violent reaction from the remnants of al Qaeda would have played into that.
Those Americans who are not Obama haters and who continue devoting any attention to the matter are likely to recall three words: Please proceed, Governor. An angry President Obama was talking about the continuing threat of terrorism, specifically in connection with the Benghazi attack, the very next morning after the killings.
In fact, some conservatives, desperate for some new angle, insist that killing bin Laden, then rubbing al Qaeda's face in it, irritated terrorists, provoking them to strike back.
On his radio show this afternoon, Rush Limbaugh suggested that President Obama having ordered the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden and subsequently “bragged about it” inspired the sort of sentiment that led to the terrorist attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last fall.
- Andrew Kirell, Mediaite, May 6, 2013
The notion that terrorists might have been pacified if only the rhetoric had been kinder and gentler has not, so far, caught on with the general public.
As confusing as that night of demonstrations, riots, and death were, allegations are becoming more confused with each new day of shouts and hearings.
And that is a shame.
Benghazi does raise serious issues. They are serious precisely because of the murky chaos that presented itself that horrible night. Confusion happens in a chaotic world. Sometimes that chaos is life threatening. It is dark of the night confusion that makes careful planning and procedure essential. With predetermined tactics and well considered protocols, people will still die. Without planning, many more will die.
Foreign service, when done well, is risky. People who conduct it in person are brave. They are heroes, and they deserve the best we can provide.
That is why an administrative review within the Department of State was well directed, focused, and tough, very tough.
Questions about what procedures were in place, whether they were followed under pressure, and whether they should be changed, ought to be essential in the aftermath.
One side benefit that can accrue to an opposition party is some political advantage. It is a side benefit that tends to vanish if it is the obvious primary public goal.
The overstated, hyperventilated, unfocused screaming by Republicans has made any potential political advantage evaporate. Openly exploiting such a tragedy purely for political gain is less effective politically than conducting a search for truth, insisting on policy changes, then letting elective chips fall where they may.
More important than the political effects, those vital policy questions, how to make decisions in nights of violence and confusion, are also lost to this Republican Congress. That is America's loss.
We do have one responsible branch of government left. It certainly is not the perfect place from which to conduct such analysis. It is not even a good place. It is not how we were taught in civics class in long ago days. But at least it is something.
As Republicans ineffectively showboat, the administration, quietly but publicly, takes on the task of investigating itself.
Now here's a resume worth looking at.
Jason Richwine is a quantitative analyst at The Heritage Foundation specializing in education policy and its intersection with public-sector compensation and labor issues. He also contributes to studies touching on immigration, welfare and religion.
Wow. What a guy!
You know how we know all that? The Heritage Foundation has it on their website. They are right to boast about this scholar. They should be proud to have Jason Richwine as a contributing member. And they are.
He not only contributes to studies on immigration, he co-authored the most recent major contribution of the think tank to the national debate on immigration. And this was a very important contribution.
One unexpected bit of controversy caught non-conservatives by surprise. Which is to say, I did not anticipate it. I shouldn't speak for everyone. Here's what caused the first part of what happened.
The Congressional Budget Office has been an irritant to economic conservatives for more than a generation. The CBO is required to calculate the effect of proposed legislation, and they pretty much always make Republicans look a bit wild-eyed. Republicans had a theory that has become a theology, which they call Supply Side economics. It holds that lowering taxes always increases tax revenue. It's a beautiful theory that has every virtue except factual backing. When it's been tried, it has failed.
But Republicans have a perpetual demand that the CBO apply the assumption that any tax cuts will cause such an explosion of economic expansion that tax revenues will go up as a result of every cut. That assumption is called Dynamic Scoring. The CBO does apply normal multiplier effects. Spending does create or increase paychecks of somebody. That somebody will spend some or all of that, which will create or increase other paychecks. But that isn't Dynamic Scoring. It's just following a lot of data generated by many decades of actual measurement.
Anticipating explosive economic effects is what economic conservatives live and breathe these days. They live in a dream state that does not rely on such mundane evidence as figures and documentation. They want tax cuts for the wealthy. Dynamic Scoring is their bread and butter. It's their meat and potatoes. It's the entire nutritional basis of the Republican economic main course. Desert is cutting anything that benefits the middle class or those struggling to get out of poverty.
The Heritage immigration study was eagerly anticipated by some conservatives as a slap at the CBO. Former Senator Jim DeMint, the new President of the Heritage Foundation, calls the CBO "puppets of the Congress" because they have applied ordinary multiplier economic effects to previous immigration proposals. They have found that pro-immigration policies will grow the economy and more restrictive policies will hurt the economy. Now can we guess what the newest Heritage study revealed?
Sure enough, the new immigrant study contained the startling conclusion that giving undocumented immigrants, already here, a path to eventually earning citizenship would cost government 6.3 trillion dollars. It assumed no economic contribution. No new businesses formed. No increase in available jobs. No multiplier effects.
And economic conservatives discovered, to their horror, there was no Dynamic Scoring. The 6.3 trillion dollars cost to government assumes no net increase in tax revenues versus costs. Only additional costs. Lots and lots of costs.
Well, now it turns out there is another little problem. Those who wondered about the premise to the analysis, the main underpinning, the primary basis, questioned the assumption that Hispanics and their children and their eventual grandchildren, and their descendants would not, could not, contribute to any increase in the national economy.
That's an extraordinary assumption.
Then someone read a book. It is based on a college dissertation. The book is called IQ and Immigration Policy.
Here's the idea the book promotes:
The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market.
A lot of folks thought that sort of thing evaporated over a hundred years ago in this country as the Eugenics movement died out. The assumption was that certain types of immigrants were incapable of meaningful participation in the national economy because they inherently would not be able to keep up intellectually. They would pass this inability on to their children and grandchildren and future generations.
They would be a perpetual drag.
Now, it isn't fair to tar one study with another piece of work that happens to have a similar starting point. In fact, scholars who have reviewed the book, say IQ and Immigration Policy is not a very good piece of scholarship. It's not much more than a compilation of other non-reviewed studies compiled into a series of spreadsheets. Lots of crank sources can be found for this sort of thing.
The striking thing about this book is that it circles around to the co-author of the Heritage study. The book was written by Jason Richwine. That's the same Jason Richwine that The Heritage Foundation boasted about, the fellow who "contributes to studies touching on immigration."
And it's the same Jason Richwine who co-authored the Heritage study on immigration. That Jason Richwine. He elaborates in his earlier book: "No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against."
Outside of CPAC panel discussions that get sidetracked into the merits of slavery, most public conservatives consider overt racism to be a bit passe. At least that is true outside of Pat Buchanan type paleo-conservatives.
The Heritage Foundation reacted to the unfortunate new controversy on the Heritage study and the Book/dissertation from a few years before:
Dr. Richwine did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations in the Heritage paper; he provided quantitative support to lead author Robert Rector. The dissertation was written while Dr. Richwine was a student at Harvard, supervised and approved by a committee of respected scholars.
So there you have it. Jason Richwine provided some support. But the vaunted co-author of the anti-immigrant screed had nothing to do with the actual study he co-authored or the conclusions that were published over his name.
That raises a critical question. I can do nothing as well as the next writer.
Where can I apply for that sort of employment?
Republicans have split into Jets and Sharks, complete with knives, but without West Side Story's music. And it's getting vicious. It's violent, horrifying, blood in the streets, back against the wall, gory.
You gotta love it.
Thing is, it's a conflict that is between two dumb ideas that have been killed over and over by actual data. It's a battle between Zombies and Vampires. It's a competition between two theologies, both proven to be false.
Sometime around 1980, conservatism changed. The seeds had been planted a few years before at a dinner table, when Professor Arthur Laffer drew a curve on a napkin, mesmerizing several notable Republicans, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
The idea was that, under some conditions, a decrease in tax rates could produce more tax revenue. If taxes were high enough, the attractiveness of return on risk and hard work would reduce to the point where people would not take financial risks and would not work hard. If that happened, reducing taxes might get folks to invest more and work harder. That would produce more tax revenue than the original higher taxes had been generating.
It was not a new idea. Economist John Maynard Keynes, whose ghost has been haunting the nightmares of conservatives for generations, had endorsed the idea way back when he haunted conservatives by being alive. It was a pretty old idea even then.
But Professor Laffer put it in graph form, which gave it an instant credibility, in a napkin sort of way.
The new part of the Laffer idea, apart from the curved line on the napkin, was that taxes at the very top rate, had gone above the point of reversed returns. If conservatives could get the top tax rate reduced, the economy would experience explosive growth, incomes would go up, and tax revenues would actually increase.
This was a little different from Keynesian theory. Keynes had suggested that governments in a recession could promote economic growth by spending lots more than they took in. They should generate deficits during hard times. The money flow would boost economic activity and get the economy out of the dumps. When this had generated enough growth, recession cured, and prosperity prevalent, spending should be cut or taxes raised so the deficits could be repaid.
When Ronald Reagan cut taxes for the very wealthy by lowering top rates to 50%, tax revenues fell. Some spending increased as well. This was what folks who follow such things call "structural deficits." This is automatic during a recession. Unemployment benefits go up. So do food programs for impoverished little kids, and other things that keep people from dying in the streets. Congress added other programs to boost things, and the economy began to look better.
Keynesian economics worked, and the Laffer napkin didn't.
Naturally, conservatives expanded their theory. Instead of insisting that, under certain conditions, tax revenues could be increased by cutting taxes, Republicans insisted that tax revenues would always, always, always go up if rates were cut. Always. This was regardless of circumstance. And it was regardless of the old or the new rates. That's kind of what always means.
It isn't hard to see the absurdity in the new dogma. You don't even have to go to the data, which actually does show that application of the conservative reduce-taxes-and-produce-more-taxes theology hasn't worked. You just have to think about what would happen if taxes were reduced to zero. That is to say nothing. Not no new taxes. No taxes period. Would rate of zero produce more taxes?
Everybody get the same answer?
The new type of economic conservatives called their adopted theology "Supply Side." And they went to war against uncooperative data.
One of the biggest generators of that uncooperative data in government has been the Congressional Budget Office, which everyone knows as the CBO. The CBO is required to "score" legislation before Congress votes on it. They run figures to show how it will affect the federal budget. Will it increase the deficit? Will it decrease it? What will be the side effects?
Conservatives get pretty mad when pesky liberals start waving around CBO reports to show how Republican proposals will hurt little kids, or old people, or veterans, or people in general. But they really get bug-eyed, red faced furious when the CBO says tax cuts on the very wealthy will increase deficits. The fact that CBO estimates usually turn out to be pretty reliable doesn't help much.
So conservatives have, for a long time, demanded that CBO personnel change the way they do the calculations. Conservatives have insisted analysts perform "Dynamic Scoring."
Dynamic Scoring adds revenue to the calculations on the theory that any tax cut on the wealthy will explode the economy and produce more revenue than is lost. The CBO has, so far, refused to part company with reality to that extent. They have always included a moderate degree of what you could call Dynamic Scoring, building in multiplier effects and calculating secondary and tertiary results. But they have stayed with proven data.
This outrages economic conservatives, and they have proclaimed a holy war in the name of Dynamic Scoring.
Which brings us to the Heritage Foundation.
You see, if there is anything paleo-conservatives hate, it's people who are different. That's why Pat Buchanan objects to war on the basis that too many of the casualties are white and not enough are black or brown. It is why Donald Trump seriously preached at CPAC, the recent conservative conclave, that immigration laws should be changed to let in more white immigrants from Europe, and fewer of those other people.
The Heritage Foundation performed an analysis and sent it around. It was on allowing immigrants who came here illegally a way to eventually become citizens. They did it in a way that was kind of laughable to serious students of immigration. Data was pretty selectively chosen. We can be thankful that it's unlikely to influence the immigration debate about to consume the attention of the Senate.
But here is what upset the new breed of economic conservative. The analysis didn't include Dynamic Scoring. In fact, it went way the other way. It didn't even include the traditional multiplier effects that everyone agrees on. It left out new taxes that would be paid, goods bought, paychecks generated, and so on. It amplified costs. Everything from infrastructure to medical care to food stamps to schools to wear and tear on sidewalks. Okay, I'm making up the sidewalks.
Most of all, it wasn't Scored Dynamically. The additional tax revenues and the reduced costs would allow more tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. Which, of course, produces more tax revenue. Immigrants, released from fugitive status will be more likely to begin businesses, generating more economic activity, with more tax revenue.
The horrible picture painted by anti-immigration activists and the bright sunshiny image of Eden held sacred by Dynamic Scorekeepers are clashing. It's like two virtual realities in some creative video game. It's like two contradictory conservative dream states. Nightmare versus sparkling blue skies.
What do you get when the Great Flood of Noah's time inundates the pits of Hell?
You get a lot of conservative steam.
And conservatives on one side are pretty steamed at bewildered conservatives on the other.
Enjoy it while it lasts. In the conservo-world of unity-through-mutual-hatred, the mighty and enduring centripetal force of Barack Obama will bring them all back together.
Conservative T. Paine and I have never met, except in writing. Yet we have become, over the years, close friends. One of the most difficult recent periods for my loved one and I was the deployment of our young Marine to Afghanistan. My friend's cautious encouragement was combined with prayer. We had a sense that he shared our fear.
One unexpected aspect of gnawing worry is the loneliness of it. The feeling that a distant friend was with us in spirit, that his hand was on our shoulder, that his pleas to God were as fervent as our own, was a greater blessing than he may have known.
Even our most bitter policy debates are pretty much devoid of the sort of venom often associated with political disagreement. That is partly because T. Paine is an unfailing gentleman. It is also because we simply like each other.
This exchange strikes me as one that a reasonable person (which is to say me) would find interesting.
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, goes after President Obama on abortion. Fair enough. In this case, he succumbs to the temptation to overstate his case. Two points strike me immediately. He cites the case of Kermit Gosnell, providing unsafe and illegal abortions to desperate women who cannot get safe and legal abortions under Republican state government. Murder of occasional live, viable babies is a sometime additional result. T. Paine seems to believe this is proof that safe and legal abortions are too available. He goes on to repeat a long ago discredited allegation that, years ago, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama promoted late term abortions, a old slur that I dealt with five years ago.
Mr. Deming, I was not singularly criticizing President Obama alone for our abortion culture. He is only one of the three major issues I discussed as contributing to our culture of death. I am certain that Obama would appreciate your defense of him nonetheless. Further, Obama’s record is quite clear on his pro-abortion stance. He received 100% ratings for many years from NARAL. As for his political support for abortion, the truth can be found here: http://www.ontheissues.org/social/barack_obama_abortion.htm
Further, I am incredulous that you think the murders attributed to “Doctor” Gosnell are simply indicative that women do not have easy access to safe abortions in Republican states. Last I checked, Pennsylvania and indeed the entire northeast part of the country is pretty staunchly Democratic. Indeed, in PA in 2008 (most recent data I found) the abortion rate was 17%. Nearly a fifth of all conceived children were aborted, in other words. It is even worse for neighboring New York where in 2009, 41% of all conceptions ended in abortion. Excluding miscarriages, nearly 60 percent of pregnancies among 15- to 19-year-olds in New York end in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute analysis. Blaming the deaths of patients and their often born-alive children that Gosnell subsequently killed on a lack of access to abortion because of Republicans is the height of cynicism. Further, the argument simply does not hold water whatsoever.
How in the hell is abortion “safe” and “rare” when we have rates that high? By implication, do you think that the heinous murders by Gosnell would have occurred if there were MORE abortion clinics nearby? This ghoul was reported on numerous occasions to the state authorities, who did NOTHING. Having even more abortion clinics nearby would not have changed Gosnell’s practice and how he “helped” poor women.
Thank you, T. Paine.
I do not recall arguing that murders are "simply indicative that women do not have easy access to safe abortions." Murder is murder.
I do suggest that Pennsylvania is in the hands of a Republican state government that promotes the unintended consequence of back alley abortions.
I appreciate your new assertion that President Obama supports abortion rights. With some restrictions, that is true. Your original assertion was this:
"He himself effectively voted for, as an Illinois senator, for legislation authorizing even the most extreme forms of abortion which even many 'pro-choicers' find repugnant, such as 'partial birth abortion'."
That is why I directed your attention here:
If you believe I did not adequately correct your original assertion, I will be happy to answer any remaining question you have on that.
- Private Note from Burr Deming to T. Paine, May 6, 2013
(Referring to my last reply)
Are you actually going to let me get away with this without rebuttal?
Okay, perhaps that last turned out not to be so private. We'll see whether my friend is feels up to the task of tearing my lungs out in his next note.
It can be hard to judge public figures decades or centuries after the fact. Revisionists tell us Lincoln was a racist. Most abolitionists then were as well. FDR is recorded expressing antisemitic opinions. Careers were damaged or destroyed after the making of Gentlemen's Agreement.
Many of us needn't go to history books. We can simply consult our own memories to know what it is like to be on the wrong side of the moral arc.
William F. Buckley pointedly described the political positioning of a lisping Bobby Kennedy as Lyndon Johnson's war policy in Vietnam lost popular support.
At the eye of the hurricane, taking advantage of the centrifugal quiet of his station, is Bobby, whose way is swept clean by the ravaging winds of his associates. He must of course occasionally lisp into the act
- William F. Buckley, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1966
Gore Vidal, ever ready to bite at Buckley's kneecaps, and fresh from his televised "pro crypto Nazi" encounter, does mention the sly homophobic reference in order to savage his old enemy.
Now the late Senator's voice was known to us all and he did not lisp. Why say that he did? Because the word "lisp" suggests softness, weakness, and, above all, effeminacy. The mad cuckoo behind the little door could not resist casting a shadow upon the virility of his enemy, just as the cuckoo astonishingly characterized those who demonstrated against the war in New York, October 1965, as "epicene" and "mincing" slobs, thus slyly assigning to sodom's banner such unlikely recruits as I. F. Stone, Ossie Davis, and Father Philip Berrigan. Charity forbids me mentioning what he has written or said of many others; it is all, however, in the record, as his great idol Joe McCarthy used to say.
- Gore Vidal, Esquire magazine, September 1969
It was a different world. Those of us alive in those days, and old enough at the time to absorb prevailing attitudes, may know how terrible those attitudes were, and how unremarkable they seemed to us. Homophobia was not considered a prejudice.
Times change, although not without struggle and sacrifice. At first, heroes are few and unrecognized. Movements grow, sometimes slowly. As historical developments, expansions of acceptance, gay rights to a life like any other in America have accelerated beyond the expectations of most.
Not everyone gets the memo at the same time.
At a conference in California, History Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard educated a conservative audience on the basic flaw in standard Keynesian economics. It seems John Maynard Keynes was gay. According to reports, the attendees were stunned. A few later said they were offended.
Ferguson was ostensibly making a point beyond sexual orientation. Future generations would be affected by deficits. Ferguson had no children, hence no biological concerns with the ultimate effect of his economic models.
It was a dumb point made with an offensive stereotype. Kathleen Geier brings us context at Washington Monthly. She quotes economist John Aziz: "There’s wrong, there’s very wrong and then there’s Niall Ferguson."
To his credit, Ferguson apologized two days after his remarks went public. As apologies go, it was classy. No to-anyone-who-might-be-offended claptrap. He begins with this:
During a recent question-and-answer session at a conference in California, I made comments about John Maynard Keynes that were as stupid as they were insensitive.
- Niall Ferguson, May 4, 2013
The rest expands on that theme.
There is one sentence that stands out. "My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation." Articles, books, and remarks over the years seem to indicate otherwise.
Ferguson's stray comments don't focus entirely on economists from 80 years ago. He compared President Obama to Felix the Cat of cartoon fame. The joke might not have been apparent until Ferguson explained it:
President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920's, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky. And that pretty much sums up the 44th president of the US...
- Niall Ferguson, August 10, 2009, writing for the Financial Times.
So Felix was black and very, very lucky. Get it? Felix the Cat? Black and lucky?
Reactions to the apology vary.
I kind of like the idea of redemption. We all need it. We tend to overdo it when we apply our own rules of life to others. It does seem to me appropriate to judge whom and what we choose to consider as credible. I am inclined to keep Niall Ferguson's lapses in mind when I encounter other samples of his wisdom.
I try to apply the lesson from my redeemer of not throwing the first stone, most emphatically not being without sin myself. I also wonder if, in his wonderful apology, Professor Ferguson might join us in remembering that Jesus spoke to the woman he had just rescued from stones of people like me.
He gave to her a wonderfully impossible instruction, one beyond our grasp.
Just a suggestion. The good professor might consider carefully the next time he thinks about such stereotypes. It might go some distance toward meeting that rule:
Go and sin no more.
Some of the rest of us can continue working to accept God's forgiveness for the way we, in those days, unthinkingly participated in the same attitudes a Harvard professor recently expressed in California.
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Forget Protecting Your Gun - Obama's After All Your Ammo - Click for Podcast
For Your Consideration:
Just to sum up, this year in MD:
Same sex marriage is legal
Medical marijuana bill passed
Death penalty has been repealed (this may be a referendum soon)
Undocumented immigrants can get driver's licenses
the implementation of the federal health care law requirements were signed into state law
early voting has been expanded
- cyberbullying is now a crime (although I think this was pretty much accepted by everyone)
From the Washington Post:
Maryland became the sixth state in as many years to abolish capital punishment when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the death penalty.
The new law could face a challenge at the ballot box next year, however. A group that has led successful petition drives in the past said it would announce Friday whether it will move forward with an expected bid to put the issue to voters in November 2014.
The bill was the first to get the governor’s signature during a ceremony that included 265 other measures passed during the extraordinarily busy 90-day legislative session that ended last month.
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Oh, and taxes are probably going up (if congress doesn't allow sales tax collection on internet sales, Maryland gets a higher gas tax)
For Your Consideration:
Sometimes you just need to watch chickens hatch.
We're gearing up for the 2013 Chickam hatch scheduled for April 20th, 2013! Sometimes the hatch is early though, so start checking here 2 days beforehand. We placed eggs in our incubator on March 30th and have 15 healthy embryos! We'll update…
For Your Consideration:
From The Washington Post:
Lawyer Robert Miller has visited five prisons and 17 jails in his lifetime, but he has reviewed only three of them on Yelp. One he found “average,” with inexperienced and power-hungry officers. Another he faulted for its “kind of very firmly rude staff.” His most recent review, a January critique of Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, Calif., lauds the cleanliness, urban setting and “very nice” deputies.
Miller gave it five out of five stars.
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From the Baltimore Sun
Surrounded by religious leaders, civil rights activists and others who have fought for years to stop executions in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the state's death penalty.
Unless the law is overturned in a referendum, Maryland will become the 18th state to end capital punishment, leaving life without parole as the maximum penalty for any crime.
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Perhaps it is endemic to those still growing into maturity, still learning about the nature of, and the limits to, relationships. I doubt it.
The astonishing thing about reports of the latest arrests is that the three, presented with sudden knowledge that a friend was a murderer and a terrorist, acted immediately to cover for him. They disposed of evidence, or so they thought, in the form of a knapsack with explosive materials. One of the three is charged with lying to police.
I was pretty dumb as a kid. And the time of childhood turning into adulthood, my late teens, was a long time ago. I struggle to recall being quite that dumb way back then.
This case has to involve more than a blindness toward consequence. It seems to have involved a moral obtuseness that values personal loyalty above all else.
We are told that young men reacted to very grown up crimes, life-and-death acts, as if they were helping out a mischievous prankster who had gone too far. No, sir, we have no idea who threw eggs at your house.
Word is that they are not yet being charged with aiding and abetting terrorists. But that window is far from closed: day ain't over yet.
There are holes in the information that the FBI has released. They are clearly deliberate holes. A computer belonging to the suspected (Suspected? hah!) bomber is not mentioned, but it was among the items missing from the initial inventory. Was it recovered? Had they produced it when asked? Was it in the miles and miles of trash in the landfill that lines of searchers had combed through?
Authorities are pointedly saying the three were not involved in the bombing murders and the subsequent killing of a police officer. Still, accessories after the fact are still accessories. Grownup actions have grownup consequences.
There is a relationship of sorts to another incident, this one in a Florida school.
A sixteen year old straight 'A' student got curious about chemical reactions. She filled a water bottle with toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil. There was a very loud pop. The cap blew off the bottle. There was some smoke.
No damage except to the bottle cap. No danger to the student or to anyone else.
The principal says it was an impromptu science experiment motivated by childlike intellectual curiosity. Presumably, intellectual curiosity is what schools say they want to promote in developing minds.
But the school has a no tolerance policy. The straight 'A' student with scientific curiosity has been expelled. She will complete her high school education in a special program for expelled students. She is now considered a juvenile delinquent.
Here is the connection between the high school student who damaged a water bottle in Florida and the three slackers who thought it would be cool to help out a buddy in Massachusetts who had just killed three people and maimed or otherwise injured over 170:
She, and they, have all been arrested by law enforcement authorities and are being charged with felonies.
The Florida school says in an official statement that they are sending a message that there are consequences to actions.
Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.
You can see their point. As the twig grows, so grows the tree. Catch bad behavior before it becomes something worse later in life.
Students have to be taught "there are consequences to actions." Otherwise they won't learn to exercise judgment. Such children, without that sort of severity at the right time, can grow up with no moral sensibility at all.
Without any sense of moral judgment, some children could even grow to become school administrators, unable to discover a distinction between a lethal bomb in the hands of a murdering terrorist and a water bottle in the hands of a curious science student.