Death and Taxes 2014: US Federal Budget Infographic

I received an email today from the good folks over at Visual.ly. One of the charts they sent, really an infographic, is one depicting the United States Federal Budget as proposed by President Obama. There has been a good bit of controversy on the 2014 budget. Not just because of the content of the budget but because of how late it was.

Obama presented his first budget on May 11, 2009, a month and two days longer than President George W. Bush’s budget was released during his first year in office. However, every year after that his budget was delivered in February, just like George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. This year, on the other hand, Obama was two months late. Not the end of the world but this was the latest submission by an incumbent president as far as I could go back, 1923. Continue reading

The Real Cost of the 2012 Election

Today is the day that millions of Americans will cast their vote for the next President of the United States, for members of congress and thousands of other state and local issues. And as with any election, the most important thing you can do is get out and make an educated vote for the candidate and issue that matters most to you. That being said, here is something I meant to tweet out today but realized would not fit into 140 characters.

I’m going to keep this as short as possible but here’s the gist of it. Remarking only on the presidential election, here is why I am voting to re-elect Barack Obama as President. I would list the accomplishments of his first term but The Washington Monthly already did that. Read that.

My argument for Obama isn’t all the great things he has done and it isn’t all the great things he will do. It’s also not just because I can’t stand to stand for the ever changing ideals of Governor Romney or ignorant beliefs of Paul Ryan. Yes, those are incredibly important factors, however there is something of great consequence that will out-last his presidency and many more that follow. The Supreme Court.

  • Anthony Kennedy (Reagan) – 76 years old
  • Antonin Scalia (Regan) – 76 years old
  • Clarence Thomas (George H. W. Bush) – 64 years old
  • Stephen Breyer (Bill Clinton) – 74 years old
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Bill Clinton) – 79 years old
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice) (George W. Bush) – 57 years old
  • Samuel Alito (George W. Bush) – 62 years old
  • Elena Kagan (Barack Obama) – 52 years old
  • Sonia Sotomayor (Barack Obama) – 58 years old

There are of course nine justices on the Supreme Court. President Obama was given the opportunity to appoint two in his first term, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He elected two of the only four female justices in history.

Four of the current Surpreme Court Justices are 74 years or older and it is expected that two, and even perhaps all four, will be replaced through retirement or for health reasons by the end of 2016. If Obama does not get re-elected, this gives Conservatives up to four more Supreme Court justices on their side of the issues. Two of the four potential retirees were appointed by Bill Clinton. The rest (excluding Sotomayer and Kagan) were appointed by President Reagan, President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

That means, if Mitt Romney wins the election, he will be given the opportunity to replace as many as half of the Democrat-appointed justices with Conservatives. That means the 5:4 split we currently have could become a 7:2 split.

What does a 7:2 split mean? It means Marriage Equality would be dead for 15-30 more years. That Roe v. Wade could likely be repealed. It means horrible legislation like Citizens United will stand. That immigration reform and dozens of other civil rights issues will be dust in the wind. That healthcare reform would be repealed.

I’m voting for President Barack Obama’s reelection because I want to get married. Because I respect my female friends and family. I’m voting for President Barack Obama because without healthcare reform, I cannot get insurance.

I’m voting for President Barack Obama because I’m afraid of what would happen to my rights and the future of civil rights for decades to come should Mitt Romney win.

The West Wing Tackles the Debt Ceiling

If you’ve been paying attention to the news in any form, you know that Debtageddon is on the horizon. What’s Debtageddon? It’s the day we hit our debt ceiling, the day we can no longer borrow money as a country and coincidentally the day before my birthday.

Tonight the House of Representatives were unable to pass a vote to raise the debt ceiling. The deadline before we hit true crisis mode is August 3rd. After that, no one knows just how badly our economy will be affected. Michelle Bachman thinks everything will be fine, while economists everywhere else are sounding the alarm.

By the way, pretty sure this is just the Grand Old Party, aka the Republicans and John Boehner, trying to screw me out of a great birthday. You can look at it one of three ways.

  1. My birthday will be followed by the absolute financial crash of America and we will remember it as the day before the end.
  2. Or, if you’re an optimist, all that will happen but we will remember it as the day we no longer gave a damn and had one hell of a party!
  3. Unlikely option, they agree to raise the debt ceiling and August 3rd is uneventful.

Whatever happens, the following clip from the West Wing illustrates what is going on.

It’s scary how many times I have been able to look back at this show and go, oh yeah, that exact thing is happening right now. I have a conspiracy theory that, in an effort to stay relevant a decade after his show would be canceled, Aaron Sorkin traveled to the future. There (here) he ripped headlines from Reuters and brought them back to 1999.

Or perhaps the West Wing is so accurate because it has happened 74 times before…

Criticism Of The Right Is Well-Deserved

Here’s an interesting article Ryan sent me regarding the Right’s rhetoric with some great quotes and examples. Here’s a snippit: Continue reading

Brian S. Brooks, Oopsies

Yesterday I posted an email I received from University of Missouri Chancellor Brady J. Deaton.  The email elaborated on a previous email received by University students regarding vandalism on the University’s Black Culture Center.

This email was followed up by the one I posted yesterday.

These emails were met with general appreciation on the decision made by the University to suspend the studies, while simultaneously surprised with the Chancellor’s posting of the students’ full names.  Access to the full names of the alleged perpetrators hate crime through a newspaper or  the actual police report would not be surprising.  Nevertheless, for the chancellor of a university to openly post the full names in a system-wide email, that’s interesting.

Locally, Twitter was full of students’ commentary on various facts connected to the events from their involvement in the Navy ROTC program at the University to Zachary Tucker’s home address being on Cotton Tree Drive. (click here for screenshot)

However, if you were one of the  “best students” on Mizzou’s campus, you got another email… (thanks to @ColbyWG @tdankmyer @Temrey89, who are apparently in the category of Mizzou’s “best”, for sharing this information) (click here for screenshot)

Students,

As you may be aware, two MU students were arrested today in connection with a racist incident that involved dropping cotton balls on the lawn of the Black Culture Center. I am thankful that neither appears to be a student in the School of Journalism.

In general, the best students at MU are Journalism students, as evidenced by the selection of twelve Journalism majors among 39 graduating seniors honored as The Mizzou 39. Through this program, the MU Alumni Association honors MU’s most exceptional graduating seniors. Our graduates have the highest GPAs among graduating seniors on campus, and about a third graduate with Latin honors, which is the highest percentage of any school on campus.

You are, simply, the best.

When you have a great School like ours, it is imperative that it be a welcoming and open place for students of all races and religions. It also should be a place where political, sexual and other preferences are respected.

I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but I will in light of the recent events: The School of Journalism stands for diversity and tolerance. Please make sure your actions reflect those qualities, and please report any violations to me or the appropriate authorities.

Brian

I have put the most interesting sections in bold for emphasis.

I’m not someone that is particular sensitive to the word choice of “tolerance” or “preference”.  Normally it’s just one of those difficult things to dance around.  Is President Obama our first Black President of our first African-American President?

We of course know that saying you have an “Oriental” friend is not the same as saying you have an “Asian” or “Chinese” friend.  There is a right way and a wrong way and there is also the context in which this diction is included.  That seems to be what has Journalism students and students from several other Schools at the University upset.

Brian S. Brooks is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Administration at the School of Journalism here at Mizzou.  He called his students, “the best”, gloating at their achievements and their history.  He segregated his students from the others at the University.  He pointed out the differences between J-School students and every other major, touted their superiority, in an email about diversity “tolerance” and a hate crime on a minority!

However, when “tolerance” and “sexual…preference” are used in the context of an email promoting segregation and a superior population I do take offense, as do many others, including those marked as superior.

I did not choose my sexuality, just as I didn’t choose to be white.

I chose my degree, I choose this school, I chose my religion, I chose my political views.

To call my sexuality a preference, to suggest that diversity should be tolerated, rubs me the wrong way.  It’s a sort of “separate but equal” situation.  In a time where a crime against a minority group has occurred, in an email where that is being issued, segregating your students as “simple the best” is in poor taste and entirely inappropriate.

It falls along the lines of politicians using terrorist attacks to raise money for their re-election campaign, ie Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI).

I was in the dark about this entire scandal until last night and into this morning when I finally asked for info through Twitter, where the tweets were flying.   Apparently, Brooks sent out another email today.

Seriously?

So, Brian, since we’re on a first name basis, let’s discuss your latest email.  Was the first actually a message “in support of MU’s African American students?”  I sure didn’t see anything in there giving support towards them, words of inspiration, inclusion etc.  It was an email about the accomplishments of your students, how they are better than the other students.

Saying you have a “35-year track record of embracing diversity” is like when straight guys call someone a “faggot” or that something stupid/wrong is “gay” and then follow up with “I have a gay friend” as if that makes it ok for them to say something like that.  It doesn’t.

It doesn’t make it ok for former Vice President Dick Cheney to support anti-marriage equality (aka anti Gay Marriage Rights) because his daughter is gay.  Challenging those who disagreed with the first email to check your “track record” is nearly as insulting as the original email.

You can’t tout a track record of not discriminating.  What if I said…

I have a 25-year track record of not drowning puppies and I have dozens of pet owners who would attest to that.

I have a 25-year track record of not murdering Jews and I have dozens of Rabbis who would attest to that.

I have a 25-year track record of not disrespecting minorities and I have dozens of black/latino/gay/transgender/Muslim friends who would attest to that.

It doesn’t work that way.

Furthermore, it would appear you have violated the MU Mass Email Policy.

…Mass e-mail is considered an appropriate form for communication of an informational item under the following circumstances: Emergency or crisis situations (including closings and delays due to hazardous weather conditions or power outages, the need to provide special assistance to students, etc.); occurrence of crimes that threaten public safety; sudden changes in traffic, campus vehicular access, and parking due to emergencies; planned or sudden disruption of significant computer network features; other critical and time-sensitive situations affecting the campus as a whole.

This wasn’t an emergency or crisis situation, the crimes were not active (the email wasn’t really even about the crimes) and it had nothing to do with traffic, roads, vehicles, network outages etc.  According to the Policy, there is a fee for violations like this.

I’ve spent entirely too much time on this, plus I’m not one of the Journalism Elite.  I’m sure whatever I’ve written is far below Brian S Brooks standards (insert sarc mark).

What are your thoughts?

Keith Olbermann on Healthcare

There’s really nothing I can say to preface Keith Olbermann‘s one-hour “special comment” on the healthcare debate here in America.  It’s honest, frightening and often times brought me close to tears.

This special tells the truth behind the lies of what healthcare reform will bring and exposes what will happen if we don’t get healthcare reform here in America.  The statistics are startling. For instance, if you are without insurance in America, you are 40% more likely to die than someone with insurance.  40% more likely to die.

It’s worth watching, and watching again.

[flv:Countdown_Healthcare.flv 600 340]

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Ferris Beuller Would be Proud

One of those Kennedy/Lincoln situations.

In Ferris Beuller‘s day off, Ferris faked his health as an excuse for a day off.  Barack Obama is being blamed for using the healthcare crisis to draw away attention from the war and economic problems.

Ferris Beuller was from Chicago. Barack Obama was Chicago senator.

Ferris Beuller borrowed his friend’s dad’s car, convincing him there was no other way.  Barack Obama convinced Congress et al. that we needed to borrow money and buy out General Motors.

Ferrish Beuller was an incredible speaker that ultimately always got what he wanted.  Barack Obama (see Ferris Beuller).

So what do we have here?  Like a scene out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off when Ferris runs through a Chicago parade getting the entire city in on his song and dance.  Well, Barack Obama is pushing for a more socialized health care system, not unlike Canada, the UK and France‘s systems, for America while simultaneously trying to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, which of course would bring a lot of song and dance to the city.

Follow me?

So here’s the two coming together.  A French Canadian, university (UQAM) gathers 172 of their communication students to perform a massive lip-sync of an American hip-hop group, The Black Eyed Peas, in a style ripped from the venerable 1986 film.  They did the entire thing in two hour and fifteen minutes and as you’ll see below, it’s pretty freaking incredible.

Moral of the story?  We need socialized healthcare, the 2016 Olympics and more mass-lip-sync performances.

Not too proud of my Americanism to say… I’d kill to be a French Canadian going to l’Université du Québec à Montréal!

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