Saturday, December 10, 2011

Anticipation | 3rd Sunday of Advent, 2011


from Starfish235 on flickr

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah." — Luke 2:25-26

 Did those who eagerly waited for "the consolation of Israel" know what a troublemaker the child would grow up to be? 

A friend posted a silly button that made me laugh out loud. Not the sort of thing that person usually posts. 

Others were not amused. After half a dozen readers took my friend to task, I commented: 
At the risk of fanning the flame, here's a question put to former Daily Show writer David Javerbaum by Salon, about research for his new comedic book about modern religion: "So spending all this time thinking about it: Does a New York liberal emerge with any new insights on religion as a result?"
A: As a Jew reading about Jesus, I thought he’s a pretty good guy. It’s the same conclusion Monty Python drew in “Life of Brian” – if people actually live what he did, it would be a pretty good world. But Jesus and Christianity have a tenuous relationship at best.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy | If You See Something, Say Something

— Department of Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano, August 17, 2011

If you see something, say something.

This is what citizens who identify with the Occupy movement in a thousand cities and towns across the U.S. are doing. They see suspicious behavior in the financial sector — acts that look fraud, bribery, confidence games, conspiracy and looting. And like the good citizens they are, the Occupiers are saying what they see.

The Occupiers point at smoke rising from the ruins of the real economy and say, "We think someone set this fire by negligence, if not on purpose; and we think it's probably the ones who devised ways to make mad sums without regard for consequences — including burning it down and collecting insurance after the fact in the form of bets laid against their own clients."

Occupiers would like to know if anyone is looking into this, because it's unclear that anyone is, while it's become quite clear there are serial offenders who will be happy to pay hundreds of millions in out-of-court settlements as long as that leaves open the option to take in billions committing the same infractions again and again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

BLUE LIKE JAZZ | finally!

I stayed up late with several hundred of my closest friends at the National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego to watch a rough cut of Donald Miller + Steve Taylor's film, Blue Like Jazz.

In the spirit of full disclosure. Mr. Taylor and I have been friends for something on the order of 30 years. That said, we have an informal agreement not to kid each other. So, I can tell you what I told him: "It's really good; stop listening to other voices; finish it."

Of course, he's too polite to stop listening, but he sees things too clearly to make false compromises at this point.

Taylor directed Donald Miller's screenplay and I think it's funny, thoughtful, unpredictable and real — by which I mean two things. First, Blue Like Jazz will earn a PG-13 rating because freshman year at Reed College — the very same institution from which Steve Jobs dropped-out back in the day — was a PG-13 experience (give or take an R). So don't take your grandmother or your middle school Bible Study when this film is released next April and then pretend to be shocked — shocked! I tell youat the language and debauchery. It's not a movie for 12 year-olds. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We won't even debate the American Jobs Act?



Last night the United States Senate failed to muster 60 elected officials willing to even debate the merits of the American Jobs Act.

That's how things work under current Senate rules. The Act itself might be passed with a simple majority of 51 votes. But 60 votes are required to bring the matter up for debate.

What part of we need jobs makes this proposal so distasteful that it can't be discussed?
  • Incentivizing employers to hire returning Iraq and Afghanistan Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines?
  • Hiring, rehiring and preventing the layoff of tens of thousands of firefighters, law enforcement officers and teachers?
  • Training to refit capable but unemployed American workers to take jobs requiring knowledge and skills they lack?
  • Modernizing more than 30,000 schools across the U.S.?
  • Adding — if Moody's Analytics is in the ballpark — 1.9 million jobs — lowering the unemployment rate by a full point and growing the U.S. economy by two percent? (Could your enterprise use a two percent bump at the closing of the year?)
Read the American Jobs Act for yourself. If your Senator voted against even debating the measure, you have a right to know why. Here's where you'll find Senate contact information

Friday, October 07, 2011

Press Conference on the Economy | 10.06.11


"If Congress does something, then I can’t run against a do-nothing Congress."
— Barack Obama

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

News Conference by the President

East Room
11:00 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I will take your questions in a second. But first, I just want to say a few words about the economy.
Next week, the Senate will vote on the American Jobs Act. And I think by now I’ve made my views pretty well known. Some of you are even keeping a tally of how many times I’ve talked about the American Jobs Act. And the reason I keep going around the country talking about this jobs bill is because people really need help right now. Our economy really needs a jolt right now.
This is not a game; this is not the time for the usual political gridlock. The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it’s already fragile. But this jobs bill can help guard against another downturn if the situation in Europe gets any worse. It will boost economic growth; it will put people back to work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The 'F' Bomb | Make it Stop


There's a petition to stop the 'F' Bomb.
 Dear Members of Congress,
The famine in Somalia has killed 30,000 children in 3 months. In 2011 we have the opportunity to make famine a thing of the past. Lives are in your hands. Please fully fund Feed the Future and help break the cycle of famine for good. 
The reasons for the famine in the Horn of Africa are complex and solutions are difficult, especially in Somalia, but we can’t lose sight of some simple facts: 
1. 30,000 children have died in just 3 months. Thirty thousand. With over 12 million people at risk.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The President Talks Tough | + most of us hear just part of the story

Whatever you think President Obama said to the Congressional Black Caucus last weekend, don't believe it until you see it in context.


When people...press, pundits, political opponents...take words out of context, how is that not lying?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

bizarro world | the wealthy + the poor in America | a respectful exchange

I repeat here a brief exchange on the post, bizarro world | the wealthy + the poor in America, because the Comments feature — properly, I expect — doesn't allow for embedded links and I thought it was important to highlight the Forbes 400 List and David Kay Johnston's Reuters reporting; which I've done below.

Nate commented on my bafflement about those who characterize America's working poor as pampered tax dodgers while painting our wealthiest citizens as beleaguered victims. Nate wrote:
And yet both of these characterizations can be found to be true. Wealthy & middle-class citizens over-spending and tying themselves to every penny of a paycheck, underwater in a mortgage and indebted up to their eyeballs. The working poor doing enough to stay under the gov't threshold and continue to get assistance, while buying new cars, digital cable packages and the latest kicks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

bizarro world | the wealthy + the poor in America

Somehow I woke up this morning in an America with people who characterize our wealthiest citizens as beleaguered victims living from paycheck to paycheck and our working poor as lavishly pampered tax dodgers.

I find this bizarre. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Headline from the Future | Health Coverage


Official Denied Emergency Treatment

(Arlington, VA) U.S. Senator Tom Brown died yesterday in the parking lot of a Washington area hospital after being denied entrance because he lacked proof of insurance. 

The senator was taking a run, an aide said, when he complained of chest pains. “We took him straight to the hospital, but he didn’t have his wallet and they wouldn’t let us in.” 

Speaking off the record, a hospital employee who is not authorized to speak to reporters told the Post, “They said, ‘He’s a United States Senator!’ I said, ‘I don’t care if he’s effing Ron Paul: No insurance equals no treatment.’ If I make an exception for some clown who says he’s a senator, where does it stop? Treat first, ask questions later? What kind of business model is that?”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The American Jobs Act | Letter to My Congressman


September 13, 2011

Congressman Bilbray, 

I urge you to use your position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to fast-track passage of the American Jobs Act. If it is signed into law, your constituents can begin taking advantage of the provisions of this bill on October 1, 2011 — exactly when we need the help. 

Please sir, call your colleagues to account if they attempt to game this important legislation. 

The need is now, the time is now. I call on you to act now. 

respectfully, 

Jim Hancock

[Read it for yourself — click to download a pdf of the American Jobs Act to your download folder]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

THE AMERICAN JOBS ACT | FACT SHEET


Yesterday, I posted the transcript of President Obama's American Jobs Act speech before a joint session of Congress.

Here is the Fact Sheet that accompanied that address, concluding with round costs associated with each item. Next week, the Administration will deliver the President's detailed proposal to Congress. 

THE AMERICAN JOBS ACT | FACT SHEET 

1. Tax Cuts to Help America’s Small Businesses Hire and Grow
  • Cutting the payroll tax in half for 98 percent of businesses: The President’s plan will cut in half the taxes paid by businesses on their first $5 million in payroll, targeting the benefit to the 98 percent of firms that have payroll below this threshold.
  • A complete payroll tax holiday for added workers or increased wages: The President’s plan will completely eliminate payroll taxes for firms that increase their payroll by adding new workers or increasing the wages of their current worker (the benefit is capped at the first $50 million in payroll increases).
  • Extending 100% expensing into 2012: This continues an effective incentive for new investment.
  • Reforms and regulatory reductions to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

The American Jobs Act | Transcript

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Address by the President to a Joint Session of Congress

United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.
7:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and fellow Americans: 
Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country.  We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that’s made things worse.
This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?” 
But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics.  They have real-life concerns.  Many have spent months looking for work.  Others are doing their best just to scrape by -- giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 
These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.  They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share -- where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while.  If you did the right thing, you could make it.  Anybody could make it in America.

Monday, September 05, 2011

For Labor Day | The Book of Common Prayer


Almighty God, who hast so linked our lives one with another
that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide
us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but
for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for
our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of
other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out
of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and
reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Robert Reich connects the dots in the US economy in 2.5 minutes

University professor — and former US Secretary of Labor — Robert Reich connects the dots in the US economy in two and a half minutes .

Friday, June 10, 2011

Martin Marty on Torture, Then + Now

Torture, including torture by Americans: Who could have predicted that this would be a live topic here in the twenty-first century? We know how to associate torture with the accused and accusing other, with Inquisitors and witch hunters five centuries ago, or with far-away twentieth century totalitarian regimes and religious terrorists. But today the theological, humanistic, and tactical themes connected with torture have appeared close to home, giving new significance to those distant times, places, and events.

Accordingly, a very distinguished historian, Princeton 's expert on the Renaissance, is speaking up. Not known for ideology or pamphleteering, Anthony Grafton takes pains not to oversell the relevance of his subjects. He favors patient historical work and writes in a moderate mode. Recently he looked up from his Renaissance research to see how things are going today. Alert to contemporary controversies and mildly allusive about events in America, he stops short of issuing indictments. Grafton seems to be writing in the haze of "where there's smoke there's fire," but clearly sees enough to issue cautionary words.

His article in the November 5th [2007] New Republic, entitled "Say Anything," refers to what he has learned from the transcripts of those Inquisitors and witch-hunters. He knows enough to say enough about the practical ineffectiveness of torture. Americans, we were always told, do not torture for a number of reasons: Torture violates our moral codes, including those based on religious notions that humans are made in the image of God; religious leadership is almost unanimously against torture, and America is a religious nation; for us to torture is to enter a dangerous game, since if we torture we have no moral claim to demand that "the other," our enemies, should not torture our people when they are captured; and we are a practical people and like to work with things that work. Grafton concentrates on this last piece, the ineffectiveness of torture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bible Believers

And that's when Virginia understood: These people didn't believe the Bible; they believed what they believed about the Bible.
Discuss

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

President Obama at the 2011 Easter Prayer Breakfast


To all the faith leaders and the distinguished guests that are here today, welcome to our second annual -- I’m going to make it annual, why not?  (Laughter and applause.)  Our second Easter Prayer Breakfast.  The Easter Egg Roll, that’s well established.  (Laughter.)  The Prayer Breakfast we started last year, in part because it gave me a good excuse to bring together people who have been such extraordinary influences in my life and such great friends.  And it gives me a chance to meet and make some new friends here in the White House.
I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason -– because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection -- something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective. 
We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work.  And everybody in this room has weighty responsibilities, from leading churches and denominations, to helping to administer important government programs, to shaping our culture in various ways.  And I admit that my plate has been full as well.  (Laughter.)  The inbox keeps on accumulating.  (Laughter.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Martin Marty on the New York Times Food Writer Who Fasted


“Why We’re Fasting” is the title of columnist Mark Bittman’s essay in Wednesday's New York Times, the “we” being himself and David Beckmann, here described as a “reverend,” and “this year’s World Food Prize laureate.” The pastor heads “Bread for the World.” Yes, why fast? Readers can do their own sighting and hearing of all the media-reported clashes over the national budget, now in final crunch time. That scan will reveal the obvious: that lost in the necessary political and economic debates blighted by the side-tracking but focal partisan and sub-partisan disputes on the issue is one set of people. Biblical scholars in this “Judeo-” and “Christian” nation call them “God’s people.” They are the poor, disabled, disadvantaged, undersheltered and, yes, hungry, about whom some of the budget debates were supposed to have been waged.           
Bittman and Beckmann discuss Isaiah 58, essential reading for believers and bystanders alike at such a time and place as this. G. K. Chesterton famously observed that one can look at something 999 times and then, on the thousandth sighting, see something revelatory, as if for the first time. We are asked to do such looking now. To bid each other to do so will sound embarrassingly pious, and yet. . . .           
As Bittman tells it, he is fasting, or was, last Monday, when thousands of others also fasted to draw notice to those Congressional budget proposals (H.R. 1) which would “quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than they are doing now.” Adds Bittman: “And: The bill would increase defense spending.”
Bittman confessed to some skepticism about whether things work out the way Isaiah 58, reporting on God’s revelatory word, suggests. That chapter also reflected God’s being bored by all of Israel’s fussing about how strenuous the people were about holy fasting. The prophet—in my own loose translation—says, for God: “You think you are going to impress me by fasting, but all you do is get hungry and thus get angry and then beat up on each other. Is that the fast you think I want?”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Plato | Benefactors of One Another



You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

— Plato, The Republic, Book VII

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unlinked | Will American Millennials Reboot Marriage and Parenting?

This week the Pew Research Center reported on the attitudes of 18-29 year-old Americans toward parenting and marriage. In a nutshell, the study found that being good parents is more important to a majority of these Americans than having a successful marriage. You can read the report for yourself.

Not in the report is what I thought I caught, whispered between the lines, floating on the wind. I wrote it down as I heard it this morning. Perhaps it was only in my mind.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

"Do as You Would Be Done By" | One More from Professor Lewis



I have said that we should never get a Christian society unless most of us became Christian individuals. That does not mean, of course, that we can put off doing anything about society until some imaginary date in the far future. It means that we must begin both jobs at once—(1) the job of seeing how ‘Do as you would be done by’ can be applied in detail to modern society, and (2) the job of becoming the sort of people who really would apply it if we saw how.
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001 edition, p. 88

Friday, March 04, 2011

C.S. Lewis | ...the same old game under the new system

What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system: but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001 edition, p. 73

Follow the Money: Jon Stewart on Teachers + Wall Street

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lincoln in Wisconsin | "capital is the fruit of labor"

Abraham Lincoln gave a great speech to farmers at the Wisconsin State Agricultural Fair on September 30, 1859. The address builds beat after beat to make a big point about the nobility of work and the value of workers. 


Here then, a substantial excerpt drawn from pages 499-502 in Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings. Roy P. Basler - editor, World Publishing, Cleveland, OH, 1946. A new edition, apparently printed from the same plates, is available from Amazon.


Mr. Lincoln's reference to the "mud-sill theory" represents a  challenge to his contemporary, South Carolina's James Henry Hammond, and the notion that progress demands a lower class of workers — the mudsill on which the foundations is laid — to support the advancement of people in the upper class. 
Mr. Lincoln jokes:
According to that theory, the educating of laborers is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. Those same heads are regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which ignites them. A Yankee who could invent a strong-handed man, without a head, would secure the everlasting gratitude of the "mud-sill" advocates.
Hmm...is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker a mudsill advocate? Not in so many words, I'm sure. But what about underneath the rhetoric? The excerpt from Mr. Lincoln's speech after the jump...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow the Money: What's a Teacher's Worth?


OK, First:

In the same time frame as the screen above, the average salary in Wisconsin for:
Gaming Managers was $65,760
Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents was $72,550
Art Directors was $72,840
Fashion Designers was $77,780
Broadcast News Analysts was $79,610
Public Relations Managers was $84,900
Athletes and Sports Competitors was $97,250
Marketing Managers was $103,150
I don't begrudge the salary of anyone doing honorable work — certainly not teachers. On average, I don't think practitioners in any of these categories add more value to Wisconsin's (or the U.S.) economy than teachers.

Second: Aren't some of the people moaning about teacher salaries today the same ones who steadfastly argued two years ago that $250,000 a year is barely a living wage? You know who you are; pick a side.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Joseph + the Amazing Technicolor Tax Plan*


“Okay, everybody, gather round; it’s time for a story!” Mr. Shepherd said with a big grin.

“What kind of story?” asked Miss Dollar, pretending she didn’t know.

“A Bible story!” Mr. Shepherd exclaimed.

And all the the children cried, “YAY!”

When everyone was still, Mr. Shepherd said, “Today’s story is about Joseph. How many of you remember him?”

“I do! I do!” said the children, raising their hands.

“Of course you do!” Mr. Shepherd said. “Joseph is a Bible hero! Does anyone remember why?”

“He’s a Bible hero because he loved his family!” said Ben.

“That’s right; Joseph loved his father and brothers very much, Ben. And what else?”

“Joseph refused to have premarital sex,” said Chastity. “He ran away naked when his boss's wife tried to…um…what do you call it?”

Monday, February 14, 2011

E.B. White | 1952 | This is Bad


We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. This is bad. I think the most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a communist.
—E.B. White, April 27, 1952, Letters of E.B. White,  p 328

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

William Barclay | Everything Matters




Nothing has done the church more harm than the repeated statement that the things of this world do not matter. In the middle thirties of this century unemployment invaded many respectable and decent homes. The father's skill was rusting in idleness; the mother was trying to make a shilling do what a pound ought to do; children could not understand what was going on except that they were hungry. Men grew bitter or broken. To go and tell such people that material things make no difference was unforgivable, especially if the teller was in reasonable comfort himself.
— William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (9:1-9), Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Edition, Edinburgh, Saint Andrews Press, 1975

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Anything Government Can Do... Part 02

Following my post, Anything Government Can Do, The Free Market Can Do Better | An exchange between friends, my friend replied:
In response, I did not say better, but more cost effectively. Cost efficiency does not always equate as better. I can drive a well maintained 10 year old Toyota Corolla more cost efficiently than a new full sized auto, but that does not mean it is a better auto. Secondly, I never said anything about "the unfailing efficiencies of the free market". I believe it is the fact that the free market can and does fail that makes it pure. Government, on the other hand is able to prolong and deny failure by extending budgets, increasing debt and raising taxes. 45 out of 50 states are now insolvent and several are headed for bankruptcy while still spending at record levels. That is not "philosophy', but is backed up by government audits.A federal employee is paid 64.47% more (including benfits and pensions) than a free market employee with full benefits doing the same task. By the Governments on records there were 72 Billion dollars spent on improper payments in 2008. The government also discovered that 22% of the programs they finance (at a cost of 123 Billion annually) fail to show any positive impact on the population they serve. The beauty of the free market, is that it can not operate like this. Most free market enterprises operate on less than 6% profit and would long since be out of business if they operated so inefficiently. Many of the businesses I shooped at or resturants I ate in 10 years ago no longer exist. I am not aware of many (any) governmental agencies that have been aloowed to fail in that time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Don't Be Silly | Lawrence O'Donnell + Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) wrangle over how many bullets constitute a full load

On September 10, 2004 my post in this space included this:
They [the Administration of George W. Bush) have de-clawed law enforcement. The Brady Bill—the Assault Weapons ban—will expire next Monday after proving its worth over ten years. Mr. Bush has shown zero leadership in calling for the extension of the ban on weapons needed by no one except soldiers. On Tuesday the National Rifle Association will endorse Bush/Cheney 04. I will hold Mr. Bush responsible for every assault-weapon death from Tuesday on. 
The January 2011 gun violence in Tucson was an ugly episode of the sort of lethality I feared.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anything Government Can Do, The Free Market Can Do Better | An exchange between friends

An old friend responds to my post on The Costs of Repealing Health Reform:
There is one flaw in her reasoning and that is that Government can provide any service more cost efficiently than the free market. The only way they will be able to reduce premioums to the amounts that she is talking about would be for the government to subsidize the difference and that will mean further National debt, and/or increasing taxes to Canadian and European levels.
To which I reply:
I'm not sure we're reading the same historical and contemporary background sources. 
I wonder if your a priori assumptions about the costly ineffectiveness of government and the unfailing efficiencies of the free market are exactly and no more than that: philosophical positions you bring to the conversation, before the evidence is weighed and perhaps sometimes regardless of the evidence. 
The founders showed zero interest in reviving The Plymouth Company or inviting the Hudson Bay Company down to run the show for profit. They wrote the US Constitution in order to form a more perfect union of the states, to establish domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence and secure the blessings of liberty in perpetuity. They were — and I am —  convinced those things can be accomplished better by the government they formed (and reformed by the constitutional amendments they proposed and the states ratified two years later).
I don't think it's a big stretch, looking at what they said in those documents and the laws they enacted pursuant to those powers agreed upon by the states, to say they did not intend to relinquish their liberty to individuals and companies motivated by profit any more than to those motivated by the entitlements of royalty. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Simple Arithmetic of US Gun Homicides

For every 100 people in the U.S. there are about 90 civilian-owned firearms. [1]


More than 12,000 Americans are murdered with firearms every year. [2]


Let's call that 1,000 gun homicides a month
250 firearm murders each week
36 every day
three an hour


Guns don't kill people
People kill people...mainly
People clutching guns


Do the arithmetic.


[1] Small Arms Survey 2007
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Geneva, Switzerland.

[2] Table 2
National Vital Statistics Reports 
Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008 
by Arialdi M. MiniƱo, MPH; Jiaquan Xu, M.D.; and Kenneth D. Kochanek, M.A. Division of Vital Statistics 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Barack Obama in Tucson | the video 01.12.11

Quite a few friends appreciated easy access to the transcript of President Obama's remarks at yesterday's memorial gathering in Tucson, AZ. Here's the video.

Barack Obama in Tucson | full text of speech 01.12.11



Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona
McKale Memorial Center
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
6:43 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Please, please be seated.  (Applause.)
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants who are gathered here, the people of Tucson and the people of Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow.  (Applause.)
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this:  The hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through.  (Applause.)
Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ben Stein | The Gift of Forgiveness

The Twelve Days of Christmas have passed; now on to this year's real work.
Thank you Mr. Stein.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Thomas Jefferson on Constitutions + Founders

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. 
— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval Monticello, July 12, 1816, The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl246.htm