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|Tuesday, February 10th, 2015|
|Wednesday, February 4th, 2015|
|Thursday, January 29th, 2015|
|Republicans Continue To Corrupt Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a non-partisan office within Congress designed to provide actual information on what impact legislation will have on the economy and the overall cost to the government. Because good budget information is critical to good decision making, both political parties have traditionally left CBO alone.
Republicans violated that principle as soon as they controlled Congress by mandating "dynamic scoring" for things like tax cuts. Whether or not one believes in dynamic scoring (it is controversial), the fact that Republicans mandated its use for circustances where they think it helps (e.g., tax cuts) is a shicking corruption of the truth spell woven into CBO.
Now, Republicans are planning to get rid of the current head of CBO and replace him with an economist with appropriate conservative credentials.http://thehill.com/policy/finance/231058-gop-interviewing-budget-referees
This is extremely bad from an institutional perspective, and is a splendid example of the genius of Republicans. They understand how this kind of change, which the rest of the world hardly notices, has HUGE impact. They are also aware that, when Democrats get control of both chambers again, the public memory on this is sufficiently short term that they can make a HUGE deal about it and make it look like it is the Ds that are 'politicizing' the CBO.
To recast the old slogan of "give a man a fish/teach a man to fish." Give me a majority and I can pass legislation for a term. Alter the institution and I can screw things up for the long haul.
|Wednesday, January 28th, 2015|
|High Impact/Low Ego Leadership Models
I am much impressed with this piece on high impact/low ego leadership
and the #BlackLivesMatter social change movement. For many years, I have urged that modern movements that are successful work on a de-centralized "rough consensus and running code" model. This is often mistaken for "no leadership" and lack of movement.
One of the elements of high impact/low ego leadership is that by shifting focus from a single, anointed charismatic leader (or a handful of leaders representing different "factions"), the movement and the change become much more bottom up. Consider, as another example, the social change movement around legalization of marijuana, or marriage equality. One cannot point to a single leader or organization that is the spokesperson. One can point to many individuals and organizations operating at various levels (local, state, national) that have contributed to dramatic changes in state legislation and on the ground well in advance of federal legislation.
|Tuesday, January 27th, 2015|
|Hope everyone north of us is fine
We got a little dusting here in DC. Even the locals aren't *too* wigged out. School is closed, tho. But not for Aaron, since Hebrew Academy opted not to follow Montgomery County and is only on a 2 hour delay.
|Thursday, January 22nd, 2015|
|Wednesday, January 21st, 2015|
|I Liked The State of the Union Address
There, I said it.
Now don't get me wrong, I love my annual tradition of giving #SOTU the MST3K treetment on Twitter. As for policy, I got two goodies (a net neutrality shout out and a munibroadband shout out), but also got two stinkers (fast track authority for trade agreements like TTP and the Cybersecurity Bill, which still includes much suckage).
But overall, i enjoyed the speech and its general direction. It's also the most relaxed and authentic I've seen Obama in years. It's consistent with the idea that after the November mid-term he finally told the remaining centrists "guys, this 'centrist' thing is not working. We got nothing less to lose, and we certainly can't do worse
following my instincts rather than following your advice."
And yes, it would have been nice to see Obama make that realization back in 2010, or even 2012. But I'd rather have it happen in 2015 than not at all.
The practical value of a #SOTU like this is two-fold. First, there are still plenty of "centrist" Ds that the President and the progressives need to hold in order to have bargaining power in Congress. For those looking for a historic analogy, you need to go back to Bush I, where Dems had a decent majority in both Houses and the President was a not terribly charismatic centrist Republican. The Bush I administration was marked by a ton of vetoes, only a few of which were over-ridden.
Second, it provides a good contrast with the goals and approaches of the two parties. This is especially important as Republicans tack to what are traditionally progressive issues. Obama reminding people that his policies are working overall and calling for a bunch of concrete things (affordable childcare, free community college, progressive tax reform) contrasts with Republic efforts to cast progressive policies as failures.
I'm not terribly interested in speculating about 2016 at this point. Lets talk 2015 instead. The critical point here is that the PResident is rallying the remaining Dems to fight very publicly for progressive values and to avoid caving to Republican legislative efforts in the name of "compromise." Hence the emphasis early in the speech on the power of his veto pen, but closing with an appeal to actually try to work together.
I will close by saying that I really liked Obama's closing on a lengthy plea to remember that we really are one country and we really should behave that way. It is much better to have ideals and fail then to not trouble ourselves with ideals at all. I would much rather we at least preserve the idea that our current state of partisan rancor and division is neither the natural order of things or inherently desirable than simply shrug and assume all those who disagree with me are swine and benave swinishly.
And yes, I say that as one who enjoys my snarking. I do not see this as inconsistent. As with many things in society, we seem to have lost the idea of moderation and reasonableness. Some snark every now and then is hardly the same as mean-spirited name calling. A thing that is useful for us all to remember.
|Monday, January 19th, 2015|
|What's This About Fencing And A Fencing Peerage
Granted i haven't followed SCA politics all that closely since life intervened after Aaron was born, but I'm surprised that the SCA is still debating the "peerage for the fencers" thing. To quote John Oliver, "how is this still a thing?"
I'm also somewhat surprised that the White Scarf treaty didn't take care of all this. Or how what Aethelmarc proposes to do is different from simply ratifying the White Scarf Treaty.
|Friday, January 16th, 2015|
|Factchecker Gives Claim of New Internet Taxes 3 out of 4 Pinnochios
And moring gets underway with authors of study claiming $15 bn in new taxes and fees if the FCC reclassifies as Title II (now reduced to $11 bn after extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA)) that a rating of 3 out of 4 Pinocchios by the Washington Post FactChecker is a total vindication.
Basically, the Factchecker found that while reclassification would likely lead to some customers somewhere seeing new fees of some kind, anything more specific is impossible to quantify based on the vagaries of state tax laws, whether Congress continues to extend ITFA (or makes it permanent), whether the FCC preempts the charges because it is a mixed jurisdicitonal service (which I think is their way of dealing with the rather complicated USF question), and many other factors. The authors claim vindication because they noted that their projection was a "worst case" scenario.
Curiously, I'm OK with that because this is Washington. But the flip side is also true. Free Press is totally vindicated in their argument that subscribers will not see "one penny more" from reclassification because that is the best case scenario. And, frankly, IMO, Free Press is a lot more likely to be accurate as well as vindicated.
I also stand by my statement that there will be no "sticker shock." Whatever we ultimately decide to do about tax policy and USF, it won't happen the day after reclasification and we would have had to have this debate and make these decisions regardless.
As I told one of the authors who was annoyed at Free Press "attacking" him as a total liar, "if you put on gloves and step into the boxing ring, don't be all mad when the other guy with gloves hits you back."
|Thursday, January 15th, 2015|
|Verizon Wireless and the unkillable "Zombie Cookie."
Remember the Verizon Wireless Super Cookie I ranted about last fall? Turns out third parties are using it to create "zombie cookies" that can't be purged. Anyone who actually cares about their online privacy might want to freak out now.
And yes, this is much worse than what Facebook or Google does, because it breaks the rules for how tracking software is supposed to behave and breaks encryption. You can be the biggest privacy person in the world, but it doesn't matter, because the company that provides you with your Internet access is messing with your bitstream.
Happily for you, the Republicans in Congress are going to take away the jurisdiction of the FCC to do anything about this. But that is a story for another time.
|A Progressive Defends The Humor of Charlie Hebdo By Providing Some Much Needed Context
I recommend to everyone this Daily Kos piece explaining the context of the controversial Charlie Hebdo humor.http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/11/1356945/-On-not-understanding-Charlie-Why-many-smart-people-are-getting-it-wrong#
Context in humor is, in fact, important -- especially for those who are not native speakers. The author essentially argues that Charlie Hebdo is similar to Borat
, and that the French readers familiar with the context fully understand this, as evidenced by the fact that Charlie Hebdo is regarded in France as a leftist publication rather than a conservative anti-immigrant right-wing publication. Many of the infamous cartoons (such as the Bokko Haram women claiming that they want welfare) are actually satires of the right wing publications which -- if we Americans were familiar with the actual racist comments these cartoons are satiring -- we would understand.
Whether or not one agrees, I highly recommend it for those uncomfortable with #JeSuisCharlie.
|Why this piece from Alexandra Petri is really good
First, if you don't read Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post, you should.
That said, I highlight this Petri piece
for a really good example of someone observing the difference between a debate on whether men and women have different spiritual needs and/or complimentary roles in the Church (in this case, Catholic) v. "women are icky."
|Wednesday, January 14th, 2015|
|Taking Pride In My Rude Single Mindedness
Sheryl Sandberg recently wrote a NYT op ed
on the problem of "speaking while female" in the professional world. i.e., that women who "lean in" and participate vocally in meetings -- in addition to being potentially penalized for it in ways men are not -- find themselves constantly interrupted, over-ridden and their ideas appropriated without credit.This Vox piece
emphasizes that many (perhaps even most) men interrupt without even realizing they are doing it. Nor is it just men. Women interrupt other women more frequently than they interrupt men. It is a problem of implicit bias.
Which brings me to a story of my own some years back. I took part in a training exercise in which an undisclosed (until the end) function was an analysis of implicit bias. My results back were that I did not display significant changes in behavior based on race or gender. Rather, when I had a particular thought or idea, I was equally signle-minded and rude to everyone and as likely to argue, interrupt and pushback regardless of race, gender or any other factor. But when not being single-minded and rude, I was equally respectful to everyone.
I take great pride in my single-minded rudeness to all, regardless of race, gender, secual orientation or religious affiliation.
|Friday, January 9th, 2015|
|A Really Good Blog Post By EFF About Online Harassmanet
I highly recommend this blog post from EFF on the very real problem of online harassment and the tremendous difficulty in crafting solutions that address it. Lengthy, and recognizing both the terrible impact online harassment can have and the dangers of overbroad solutions.
To sumarize, the danger of new laws, or in application of existing laws to online situations, is that we have poor enforcement both in terms of underenforcement (dismissing dangerous behavior by telling people to just ignore it) AND over enforcement against specific targeted populations (e.g., Muslims). Clearly better training and education in law enforcement needs to be part of the solution, and this should be emphaiszed rather than rushing to pass new laws which will likewise be over enforced and under enforced. Additionally, the concern that overbroad laws can themselves be used to bully and censor is real, with a demonstrated history unde existing law. This does not mean we should have no laws targeting specific types of harassing behavior, but that we must not view these as either easy to implement or sufficient in themselves.
|Thursday, January 8th, 2015|
|Nazi Cows? Srsly?
Nazi cows. Srsly? Friggin' Nazi Supercows! Hiding in the pastures of England since 1940, until it was time to strike!
"Wait, it's a trap! You're not the Red Heffer! You're The RED COW SKULL!!!"
"Hail COW-dra! Cut of a head . . . . um . . . horn and two more will take its place! We have returned. And now we are COWS WITH GUNS!!!"
"Sadly, you came back as a kosher animal, Red Cow Skull. Big mistake, Nazi Supercow . . . really . . .big . . . mistake. For I am the Jewish super hero -- "
"Yes! I am THE RUEBEN!!! Now prepare for some Supersized hurt, and yes -- there will be fries with that!"
(Yes, I know Reubens aren't kosher. IT A JOKE. Deal.)
|Friday, January 2nd, 2015|
|Started New Year With Tahara
Tahara last night after the fast. Not a bad way to start the (secular) New Year.
Happily for me, I had a perfectly good 2014. It was hardly the perfect year, but I am not one of those who was in the "2014 you are so fired" camp as many of my friends seemed to be.
January 1st coincided with the Jewish fast day of Assarah B'tevet. And I got a call to do a tahara. A fairly straightforward job, which was good because we had 2 relative newcomers to the team. As always, I find washing the dead a contemplative experience. it is the last duty and respect we show to a fellow member of Klal Yisroel
One of the new people remarked afterward: "It's hard to imagine that someday that will be me stretched out like that." To which I replied: "Yes, and we too will depend on the kindness of others" It is a thought i find comforting.
|Wednesday, December 17th, 2014|
|Tuesday, December 16th, 2014|