Archive for March, 2010

Copyright and the White House Photostream

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]A kerfuffle arose over this at slashdot a month ago – in which the White House was accused of changing how they posted works on Flickr “since January.”

In reality, this has been the case for some time. I first noticed this discrepancy after I noticed that the RNC was adapting images from the White House Flickr stream in this ad from August 2009. I recognized the pictures and noticed that it clearly violated the terms of use provided with the images.

Specifically, for each photo uploaded on this account and listed as an “Official White House Photo by Pete Souza,” a notice states:

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

However, under copyright information provided for all Flickr photos, this work has been classified (by the uploader) as “United States Government Work.” This change occurred in May 2009 after a number of commentors noted that even the most lax Creative Commons license provided more copyright protection than the works were allowed. The copyright status of all the pictures was changed then to “United States Government Work,” and the link provided on the page directs you to this which states:

A work that is a United States Government work, prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties, is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no U.S. copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work.

The discrepancy between what the White House claims and what the law actually says is significant. I presumed this was an error – and still do.

I write this in part to justify my editing of the White House photo of Hillary Clinton embracing Barack Obama in celebration of the health care victory – and partly because it puzzles me why it has persisted for nearly a year. Especially as the 2 licenses so clearly cannot both be claimed. I’ll ask the White House for comment on this and get back in the unlikely event I get a response.

We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

A transcript of President Obama speaking to the House Democrats over the weekend, which has taken on added meaning now that the bill has passed:

Sometimes I think about how I got involved in politics.  I didn’t think of myself as a potential politician when I get out of college.  I went to work in neighborhoods, working with Catholic churches in poor neighborhoods in Chicago, trying to figure out how people could get a little bit of help.  And I was skeptical about politics and politicians, just like a lot of Americans are skeptical about politics and politicians are right now.  Because my working assumption was when push comes to shove, all too often folks in elected office, they’re looking for themselves and not looking out for the folks who put them there; that there are too many compromises; that the special interests have too much power; they just got too much clout; there’s too much big money washing around.

And I decided finally to get involved because I realized if I wasn’t willing to step up and be true to the things I believe in, then the system wouldn’t change.  Every single one of you had that same kind of moment at the beginning of your careers.  Maybe it was just listening to stories in your neighborhood about what was happening to people who’d been laid off of work.  Maybe it was your own family experience, somebody got sick and didn’t have health care and you said something should change.

Something inspired you to get involved, and something inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican.  Because somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own, that we are proud of our individualism, we are proud of our liberty, but we also have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community — (applause) — and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck and give them a pathway to success and give them a ladder into the middle class.  That’s why you decided to run.  (Applause.)

And now a lot of us have been here a while and everybody here has taken their lumps and their bruises.  And it turns out people have had to make compromises, and you’ve been away from families for a long time and you’ve missed special events for your kids sometimes.  And maybe there have been times where you asked yourself, why did I ever get involved in politics in the first place?  And maybe things can’t change after all.  And when you do something courageous, it turns out sometimes you may be attacked.  And sometimes the very people you thought you were trying to help may be angry at you and shout at you.  And you say to yourself, maybe that thing that I started with has been lost.

But you know what?  Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments.  This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here.  This is why I got into politics.  This is why I got into public service.  This is why I’ve made those sacrifices.  Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself.  And this is the time to make true on that promise.  We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true.  We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.  We have been debating health care for decades.  It has now been debated for a year.  It is in your hands.  It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow.

As the House Democrats began chanting to counter the Republican chants of, “No” as the bill neared passage: “Yes We Can.”

[Image not subject to copyright.]

Thumbnail Sketches of Democrats and Republicans

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]David Brooks, yesterday, in the New York Times:

For the past 90 years or so, the Republican Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of personal freedom and economic dynamism. For a similar period, the Democratic Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of fairness and family security. Over the past century, they have built a welfare system, brick by brick, to guard against the injuries of fate.

As usual, Brooks’s column was thoughtful. But I had a bit of a problem with his summary of each party, even acknowledging he means each party at its best.

It’s always hard to come up with a thumbnail sketch of each party – because there are always things which contradict what you say. Each party can be said to contain multitudes, even though a casual glance almost always reveals just enough to confirm whatever stereotypes you might have.

To my mind though, the real difference between the Republican Party and Democratic Party, even only on domestic matters and with each party taken at it’s best, is not fairness versus freedom and economic dynamism versus economic (or family) security. The difference between the parties is not primarily determined by what positive things they seek to provide: I wouldn’t say that Republicans value fairness less or freedom more for example. Rather, the difference can best be summed up by either looking at what each party views as a more legitimate way of achieving social ends or by looking at what each party sees as the bigger threat to citizens.

There are going to be counterexamples and such to this summary, but I think it reveals deeper truths than Brooks’s.

Legitimacy: Republicans attack the idea that government can legitimately be used as a tool to achieve broadly agreed upon ends. They look to private institutions to guide the course of society – the invisible hand even; this means private capital markets, private corporations, and religious organizations. Democrats accept these institutions, but they see the government as legitimate tool as well.

Threats to Citizens. In area of domestic policy, Republicans see the biggest threat to citizens as the government – which they blame primarily for impinging on citizens’ freedoms, creating unfair results, and undermining family security. In the area of domestic policy, Democrats see the biggest threat to citizens coming from corporations, unchecked by the government – which they blame primarily for impinging on citizens’ freedoms, creating unfair results, and undermining family security.

Alternatively, the version of Republicanism becoming more dominant today sees the biggest threat to citizens as coming from an ideology called liberalism – which brainwashes citizens through the media and seeks power anywhere it can – churches, corporations, the media, the government. This view sees politics as a cultural battle.

I’ve tried to make these non-judgmental and descriptive – and I think it is evident which approach makes more sense. Neither political party seems to me to have a very different view of what they want America to look like: They both support personal freedom and fairness, economic dynamism and family security. America has established a complex system of tradeoffs between these values – and few in either party seek to overturn that. They seek slight modifications this way or that – it’s just a matter of rather small degrees of difference. The bigger difference is in how each party sees the path forward – what is sees as the legitimate ends to achieve the necessary changes, and how it diagnoses the problems that need to be changed.

Any alternate sketches of this difference – along the same lines – attempting to be non-judgmental and descriptive – are welcome in comments of elsewhere.

For what it’s worth, I would say the Tea Party and much of the energy on the left comes from those rejecting each of these frameworks – and who see both corporations and government as the problem. I’m not sure what countervailing force they propose though.

Check out an older post of mine for my view of the basic principles of liberalism.

[Image not subject to copyright.]

Worth a Thousand Words

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Secretary Clinton congratulating Barack Obama on the passage of health care legislation before a meeting in the Situation Room.

[Ed. corrected Clinton’s title. That was a silly mistake to make.]

[Image adapted by me and from one not subject to copyright. This is true despite notice on image that it cannot be altered, etc.]

Obama’s Self-Interest Lies With the American People’s; the Republican Party’s Self-Interest Does Not.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]Andrew Sprung – who I read semi-regularly thanks to links from Andrew Sullivan – sees Obama’s success with health care as part of “a recognizable pattern in Obama’s approach to setbacks – pause, regroup, rethink, collect new input, amend and re-present plans, and set a deadline.” You see this in Obama’s response to the loss in New Hampshire, to the Reverend Wright scandal, to Sarah Palin’s selection, to Afghanistan, to being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and now to health care.

But Sprung points out another factor that in some way should motivate some more skeptical voters to trust Obama a bit more:

Another key strategic element for Obama– as a matter of policy rather than politics — was emphasizing cost control at the expense of more generous coverage expansion. That decision reflects I think a fundamental calculation that only effective cost control will enable lasting coverage expansion — and more broadly, only evident progress in deficit reduction will enable a domestic agenda that includes new government initiatives. [my emphasis]

To put it another way: If my livelihood depends on the amount of anger people have towards the government, then I don’t have much incentive to make the government do a good job. Irresponsible governance proves my point. As a pundit or legislator, I have the incentive to make government look as bad as possible.

On the other hand, if my livelihood depends on whether or not I solve a problem, or at least make things a bit better, then I have every incentive to use every tool at my disposal to make sure that happens. Responsible governance then proves my point. As a pundit or legislator, I have every incentive to fix the problem, or failing that, make it look like it’s being fixed.

Obama, aiming for historical achievements, has every incentive to accurately diagnose the problem and take steps to fix it – even for purely selfish reasons. If his reform bankrupts America and undermines our power, he won’t be remembered kindly. The Republicans, aiming for 2010, have every incentive to “throw their bodies on the gears” to destroy the system – because in destroying the system they not only get short-term gains but ideological traction.

(Thomas Frank explored this last idea at some length in his book, The Wrecking Crew.)

[Image not subject to copyright.]

The Unhinged Anger on the Right Leads to An Ill-Advised and Unhedged Bet Against Reform.

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]There are 2 broad lessons to take from last night:

1. Unhinged Anger Makes For Great Ratings.

Hell no!” John Boehner frothed, spittle flying as he cursed on the floor of Congress yesterday.

“This health care bill will ruin our country. It’s time to stop it…We’re about 24 hours from Armageddon,” Boehner had claimed earlier.

Baby killer!” an as yet-unnamed Republican congressman screamed at pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak on Sunday.

Nigger!” a chorus of protesters chanted to Rep. John Lewis, who also heard such things while being beaten nearly to death fighting for civil rights in the 1960s on Saturday.

Faggot!” screeched other protesters at Barney Frank that same day.

Just a few days earlier, a disturbing video recorded a man barely able to walk due to Parkinson’s disease being mocked and ridiculed by anti-health care Tea Party protesters.

A short time before that, a conservative millionaire was promising guns to “patriots” concerned about “what was coming.”

This overheated Manichean good-vs-evil rhetoric in which slight changes in wording transform you from a pro-lifer to a “baby-killer,” in which subsidies for the uninsured constitute a “government takeover,” or in which America is about to be overrun by destroyed yet again eventually must discredit it’s purveyors. At least, it must decrease in its effect over time.

Common sense has taught people that “when there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And Republican operatives epitomized by Karl Rove have taken advantage of this. Top-line Republican operatives have adopted with more vigor than the left ever did the tactics of the radical New Left of the 1960s: from attacks on the legitimacy of political institutions (from the CBO – which Rove accused of Madoff-style accounting this weekendto the Senate Parliamentarian to Congress to the Courts to the media to presidency) to the maxim that the “personal is political.” Unlike the New Left, they have virtually no agenda but to hold onto power and to, having lost it due to incompetence, tarnish the other side enough to get it back. Their hysteric charges represent the triumph of moral relativism. Their escalating outrage is an attempt to fool the American people.

This is how the rage has been created over a bill whose provisions are broadly popular and that is based on a plan offered by Republicans a generation earlier. David Frum cogently explained last night how even those Republicans “who knew better” were driven to bend before this unhinged anger that led the Republican Party to take an unhedged bet against reform, how it provoked them to declare this fight a make-or-break fight, and to take out all stops to their opposition, even though they stood little chance of succeeding:

There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or – more exactly – with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?

…Yes [such talk] mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

That’s point #1: Cynical politicos out for short-term partisan gain and entertainers trying to get ratings foment unhinged anger to push their party to make a suicidal unhinged bet against reform.

Point #2. This Was Waterloo.

The Republican Party made a huge wager that they could block health care reform, and lost. Senator Jim DeMint rather infamously declared in a secret call to anti-reform advocates:

If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.

Newt Gingrich echoed this point:

This could be the bill that drags his whole presidency down and they look back on it and suddenly the whole thing is unraveled.

Ralph Reed wrote in an email last week:

Our goal: To shock Congress into abandoning Obamacare (which will also effectively end the Obama Presidency and save freedom in America).

That was their game plan, their goal. They wanted a repeat of 1994. Their strategy in opposing the bill presumed it would never be able to pass. They escalated the rhetoric to insane levels. The less hysterical merely called it the “government takeover of 1/6th of the economy.” Bent on manipulating public opinion, the more cynical asked “innocent” questions:

Will America become another failed Cuba-style Socialist state? [Source.]

Do you think your political affiliation might eventually play into the decision on whether you get the life-saving medical treatment you need? [Source.]

A nation of Terri Schiavos with a National Euthanasia Bill? [Source.]

The more hysterical began to panic about legislation containing death panels, killing grandma, forcing government-mandated abortion, euthanasia, and reparations for slavery, authorizing government jackboots invading your home to take your children for socialist indoctrination, and overall, destroying America as we know it unless we arm ourselves and “prepare for what is coming.”

As the American people find out the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “No!” – as they find out that the claims were made to monger fear for partisan gain – and that the bill that a plurality of people oppose contains mainly provisions that most people support – as the reality of this reform sinks in, the Republican Party will lose traction. As David Sanger quoted David Axelrod in the New York Times:

“This only worked well for the Republican Party if it failed to pass,” David Axelrod, one of the president’s closest political advisers, said at the White House as he watched the vote count for the final bill reach 219 in favor. “They wanted to run against a caricature of it rather than the real bill. Now let them tell a child with a pre-existing condition, ‘We don’t think you should be covered.’”

Now that the bill has been passed, we can focus on whether the health care plan’s tinkering with our dysfunctional system is making things better or not – as Ross Douthat says. And we can focus on the 10 things health care legislation will do right away. Obama can make his case for what he is doing (again to Sanger): “to sell the government’s oversight role over doctors and insurance companies the way he is trying to sell financial regulation: as a leveling of the playing field, in favor of consumers.” The passage of the bill re-shapes the coverage from “what could happen” to “what it is doing.” And the Democrats are more comfortable with that argument. Perhaps most frightening of all for Republicans, if this bill accomplishes what its supporters claim it will, it will re-shape the political landscape – as Bill Kristol explained in warning Republicans against cooperating in 1994:

It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle-class by restraining the growth of government.

This won’t necessarily benefit the Democrats. Republicans don’t need to keep doubling down on their anti-government rhetoric; but for the present, it seems they will.

Today, the most profound effect though is a different one. By passing this bill, Obama has proved he has yet again broken the backs of the idiocrats who threw every rhetorical, legislative, and political obstacle at him. He has showed the patience and passion which won him the presidency can be translated into presidential achievements. The bill only tinkers. It isn’t dramatic reform. But it’s core accomplishment is dramatic: a change to our core social bargain; as explained by James Fallows:

[T]he significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)… TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage.

This is an historic achievement. It is a moral one, and it is, counter intuitively, an important step towards controlling societal spending on health care.

[Image not subject to copyright.]

Brief Thoughts for the Week of 2010-03-19

Friday, March 19th, 2010
  • Must-Reads of the Week. http://2parse.com//?p=4912 #
  • @KamaainaInOC The relevance of that is? I mean-anyone can grab obscure quotes of congressman, take them out of context, and make them awful. in reply to KamaainaInOC #
  • Conservatives look to rich Hollywood elite to lead #hcr protest to deny help to poor Americans! http://bit.ly/b6sjzb (H/t @KamaainaInOC) #
  • CBO: Health-care reform bill cuts deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years, covers 95% http://bit.ly/bkG3yT #
  • A minor Google Maps miracle. http://bit.ly/9ffZeB (H/t @BuzzEdition) #
  • AEI member/legislative scholar Norm Ornstein on Republican outrage over reconciliation, "Is there no shame anymore?" http://bit.ly/9Ry4hS #
  • @Stranahan Hey! Love good news from Twitter! Go Kucinich! #
  • @Stranahan I understand you oppose it. I just think you're being naive. If Kucinich ends up supporting it, does it make him a sellout too? #
  • @Stranahan The Swiss model isn't better than our current one – which is not only unsustainable but is the worst of all worlds? #
  • @Stranahan There's a difference between a "shared presumption" about what's possible and a deal to kill something. #
  • @Stranahan But read what the Times reporter said – and can't you see the headline exaggerates it? #
  • @Stranahan But my question is: Will this bill improve the system and will it make American lives better? in reply to Stranahan #
  • @Stranahan Of course deals were made! They always are! Social Security excl. blacks to start! Lincoln only freed slaves he had no power to. #
  • @Stranahan But show me how to get the votes for a stronger bill. Tell me who'll switch. Show me the evidence of bad faith on Obama's part. #
  • @Stranahan Call me an Obamapologist if you must, and use charged language like: Obama's a sellout in bed with ins. industry! #
  • @Stranahan Just because the health ins. doesn't hate it as much as they might doesn't make it worse than what we have. It's an improvement. #
  • @Stranahan Yet there's a lot to like about the reform bill. The exchange has the potential to change the way people think about hc. #
  • @Stranahan Explaining when health ins. switched: http://bit.ly/bVOup0 Health ins caught bribing people playin FarmVille http://bit.ly/aLrglH #
  • @Stranahan Actually, yes: they are: http://bit.ly/9zfabD http://bit.ly/aZbm9z #
  • @Stranahan Yet, ins. industry still is opposing the reforms. They want the best deal they can get, and if reform inevitable, to shape it. #
  • @Stranahan What's your theory then as to what Obama is doing? #
  • Reversing stereotypes. http://i.imgur.com/yGtxq.jpg #
  • The political debate of 2012 [pic] http://bit.ly/c1aMcZ #
  • "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." http://bit.ly/auwBCO #
  • Those storms you don’t hear about actually do the damage – while the ones hyped by local news end up fizzling. http://2parse.com//?p=4909 #
  • Sometime this morning, a big tree in my backyard (in Wantagh) was uprooted. Several pics here. http://bit.ly/9SSETj #
  • Happened earlier today, but here's a pic of the downed tree on Beech Street in Wantagh. http://bit.ly/caPrV0 #
  • So far, I've got a shattered window, a blown-down fence, and a National Guardsman around the corner from me setting up flares. #
  • Wantagh takes on Glenn Beck. http://bit.ly/caFSzA #

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Must-Reads of the Week: China’s distortionary exchange rate policy, Mario Savio, David Brooks, Ezra Klein, & Dana Priest’s The Mission

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Apologies for the very, very light posting. There are quite a number of personal issues I’ve been dealing with – aside from the uprooted tree in my yard and miscellaneous damage.

But let me still give you some must-reads for the week.

1. China’s distortionary exchange rate policy. On Sunday, Keith Bradsher in the New York Times gave a good primer on how China is using currency manipulation and the global trade organizations to gain economic advantages as part of a global strategy to increase China’s power. China has also been using the global financial crisis to further their economic aims:

China is starting to describe its currency interventions as stimulus. But unlike extra government spending in the United States and other countries, currency intervention does not expand global demand, but shifts it from other countries to China.

Paul Krugman followed this up with a column urging action regarding China:

Today, China is adding more than $30 billion a month to its $2.4 trillion hoard of reserves. The International Monetary Fund expects China to have a 2010 current surplus of more than $450 billion — 10 times the 2003 figure. This is the most distortionary exchange rate policy any major nation has ever followed.

And it’s a policy that seriously damages the rest of the world. Most of the world’s large economies are stuck in a liquidity trap — deeply depressed, but unable to generate a recovery by cutting interest rates because the relevant rates are already near zero. China, by engineering an unwarranted trade surplus, is in effect imposing an anti-stimulus on these economies, which they can’t offset. [My emphases.]

My first attempt to make sense of this issue here.

2. Mario Savio. Scott Saul of The Nation follows up with an excellent profile of Mario Savio who at one point seemed poised to lead the 1960s radical New Left, but who then dropped out of public view:

Savio was a revolutionary and civil libertarian, logician and poet, scientific observer and self-aware partisan–and in his heyday a virtuosic extemporizer who seemed not so much to perform all these identities as to incarnate them. He was, in short, an icon of possibility for his generation of student activists; and so it’s a great historical riddle, tinged with pathos, why he was, in Berkeley in 1964, the lightning rod of his time and, almost immediately afterward, a man who couldn’t conduct the energy he’d summoned.

3. David Brooks on Obama. David Brooks wrote an excellent column last Friday arguing that both the right and left have Obama wrong, as they accuse excessive fealty to an extreme left wing ideology and of being a weak, passive, unprincipled traitor respectively. Brooks describes Obama as I have always understood and described him – and in fact, as he has described himself:

Obama is as he always has been, a center-left pragmatic reformer. Every time he tries to articulate a grand philosophy — from his book ”The Audacity of Hope” to his joint-session health care speech last September — he always describes a moderately activist government restrained by a sense of trade-offs.

4. Ezra Klein. Ezra Klein best summarized the CBO score released yesterday and how it gave the Democrats exactly what they needed:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill cuts deficits by $130 billion in the first 10 years, and up to $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years. The excise tax is now indexed to inflation, rather than inflation plus one percentage point, and the subsidies grow more slowly over time. So one of the strongest cost controls just got stronger, and the automatic spending growth slowed. And then there are all the other cost controls in the bill: The Medicare Commission, which makes entitlement reform much more possible. The programs to begin paying doctors and hospitals for care rather than volume. The competitive insurance market.

This was a hard bill to write. Pairing the largest coverage increase since the Great Society with the most aggressive cost-control effort isn’t easy. And since the cost controls are complicated, while the coverage increase is straightforward, many people don’t believe that the Democrats have done it. But to a degree unmatched in recent legislative history, they have.

Klein then succinctly explained what was missing from the Republican approach to the deficit that this health care bill – to its great credit – attempted to address:

Our long-term deficit is not a function of our current spending, which is manageable. It is a function of our expected spending growth, particularly in health care. With the system growing at 8 percent a year and GDP growing at 2 percent or 3 percent a year, there’s a real long-term problem there. But you can’t cut, or even tax, your way out of it. If you cut 5 percent from the system in one year, that cut disappears by the next year.

5. The Mission. I’m currently reading this 2003 book by Dana Priest who writes for the Washington Post on the military’s mission and how it evolved after the Cold War through the 1990s and into the War on Terror. Absolutely excellent. I highly recommend it.

[Image by me, this morning.]

Massive March Storms Hits Wantagh, New York

Monday, March 15th, 2010

[digg-reddit-me]Usually this blog focuses on larger national or international issues, but over the weekend, Long Island in general, and specifically Wantagh where I live, was in the news for two reasons. First, an evangelical leader in Wantagh took on Glenn Beck who was going after any religion that preached “social justice” with a sign. Frustratingly, though I pass the sign walking back home a few times a week, CNN got the story before I did.

Then, a massive storm hit Long Island. Driving home on Saturday night was a matter of literally dodging fallen trees and power lines hanging down across the road. The National Guard was apparently out setting flares and doing emergency work as cop cars blocked off especially dangerous roads and set up flares and emergency tape. Of course, I decided to go out and take a few pictures, mainly of the massive tree downed in front of Wantagh Elementary School before the rain and wind drove me back indoors:

[Source.]

[Source.]

[Source.]

(Click on any picture for a bigger version.)

Sunday morning, I woke up to a tree in my backyard crashing onto the house and snapping:

[Source.]

By Sunday, almost every road was blocked by a fallen tree, including this one just around the block from me on Island Road near Wantagh Avenue:

[Source.]

Walking to work this morning, the tree down in front of Wantagh Elementary was being taken care of, with Channel 12 with a live correspondent there. (Notice the camera to the right of the picture on a tripod.) I saw Erin Colton of Channel 12 in her car watching it next to the news van.

[Source.]

Personally, I thought these leaning trees at the train station were a bit more dramatic:

[Source.]

Chris Corradino took some more dramatic photos in the immediate aftermath of properties destroyed (when I was further east instead of in Wantagh.)

News reports indicate several fatalities around Long Island, but none in Wantagh. Property damage though is another story. It always seems like it happens to be those storms you don’t hear about that actually do the damage – while the ones hyped by the weather stations and local news end up fizzling.

Brief Thoughts for the Week of 2010-03-12

Friday, March 12th, 2010

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