Saturday, April 30, 2005
A Sunday School teacher began her lesson with a question, "Boys and girls, what do we know about God?"
A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy.
"Really? How do you! know?" the teacher asked.
"You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "
you didn't make yourself.
from an old friend.
way to work or shop.
little things to rejoice in...
happiness and perfection--
So I was thrilled to read this article which suggests that we work on getting reporters to report numbers in a meaningful way. The article makes a great argument about the fact that Americans are not going to support programs that they wrongly believe make up a large part of our budget already. I'm guilty of some of the misconceptions stated in the article as well.
Public opinion polls consistently show that people hugely overestimate the portion of public spending that goes to programs like welfare or foreign aid. For example, a Kaiser poll from the mid-’90s found
that 40 percent of respondents ranked welfare as one of the two largest items in the federal budget, and 40 percent put foreign aid in this category. At the time, the two largest items in the federal budget were Social Security at 22 percent and military spending at 18 percent. The share of the budget going to Aid for Families with Dependent Children, the core welfare program, was less than 1 percent. Adding in food stamps, housing subsidies and other low-income programs could push this figure close to 4 percent. Less than 0.5 percent of the budget went for anything remotely resembling foreign aid.
The extent of this misinformation is important. If a person believes that 25 percent of the budget is already going to welfare, then she is likely to have a very different attitude toward further spending than if she knew the real numbers. She would believe that welfare spending is already imposing a substantial tax burden—one that must have a real effect on the living standards of many middle income families.
For example, when the New York Times discussed the political battle over the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bill last summer, it reported that the current budget provided $16.5 billion dollars for TANF. This number provided almost no information whatsoever. Only a small group of wonks is sufficiently familiar with the budget to recognize the significance of this level of spending. For the vast majority of people, $16 billion is simply a very large number, as would be $160 billion or even $1.6 billion. The problem is made worse when stories present budget numbers that refer to 5- or 10-year totals, often without even making this fact clear.
Reporting on the budget in ways that actually convey information is not rocket science. The most obvious way is to simply express spending and tax items as a share of the total budget. For example, the $16 billion TANF bill can be described as 0.6 percent of federal spending; the $5 billion foreign aid appropriation can be referred to as 0.2 percent of federal spending. This would immediately inform readers and listeners of the context and relative importance of this item in the budget.
Read the rest.
Friday, April 22, 2005
The bad news: There isn't enough help.
In addition, a recent study of four combat infantry units by the New England Journal of Medicine found that 15 percent to 17 percent of those who had served in Iraq and 11 percent of those who had been
in Afghanistan showed signs of major depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
"The mental toll that this war has had on our newest generation of veterans is severe and growing," said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran and founder of Operation Truth, a nonpartisan group that reports on the war from service members' perspectives. Post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, "could very well be my generation's Agent Orange."
The legislation comes a day after the Republican-controlled Senate killed a Democratic plan to add $2 billion to supplemental spending legislation to help pay for a predicted increase in veterans health-care services. The plan contained more than half a billion dollars for mental health care.
PTSD is very real. Let's hope our government does what it needs to in order to ensure that the soldiers coming home are able to lead productive and fullfilling lives. We owe them at least that much.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Someone leaked Bush's playlist. Interesting read.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
-- Interview with TVR, Romania, Nov. 23, 2002
And we want Russia to be a country based upon the values which we share, because we believe those values are the best values for the human condition of everybody. I like to tell people, freedom is not an American gift. Freedom is a gift from the Almighty God. And I firmly believe that.
-- Dubya ultimately inferring that American-ness is only next to godliness, and Russia needs to learn that, interview with LNK TV, Lithuania, Nov. 21, 2002
We say in our country, everybody matters, everybody is precious in the sight of an Almighty.
-- Reverend Dubya chimes in again, Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Oct. 31, 2002
It's also important for people to know we never seek to impose our culture or our form of government. We just want to live under those universal values, God-given values.
-- Great, that's not an imposition at all, Reverend Dubya! Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2002
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Members of Congress from both parties have raised sharp questions about the exclusion of political opponents from two taxpayer-funded appearances by President Bush.
Three people were ejected from the president's Social Security town hall meeting in Denver March 21 after they arrived in a car with a "No more blood for oil" bumper sticker.
The Denver incident happened after a list was discovered in Fargo, N.D., naming 42 people to be barred from a Bush speech there in February attended by 8,000 people.
North Dakota's two Democratic senators, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, have jointly called for an investigation into the list. And the state's lone congressman, Democrat Earl Pomeroy, was quoted by the Fargo Forum as saying the list now appears to be standard operating procedure for the White House, rather than an isolated incident. "I had been inclined to view the North Dakota incident as a
fluke ... not to be repeated," he said. "The fact that this happened in Denver shows they didn't learn any lesson."
The White House apologized and blamed the Fargo list on an overzealous volunteer." But it never named the person responsible. In Denver, Leslie Weise, 39, Karen Bauer, 38, and Alex Young, 25,
say they did nothing inappropriate, but were bounced from Bush's speech by a man dressed and acting like a Secret Service agent, who threatened them with arrest if they misbehaved.
Emphasis mine. Read the rest here.
Update: How I ended up on a list over at Salon is beyond me, but hello everybody. On a whim, I checked sitemeter and when I saw all the hits, I figured I'd find out where they all came from.
Then I notice that all the buzz is about an article I didn't write and pretty much said nothing about. Many thanks to my mom for sending me the newspaper by email.
In case you haven't noticed, I post irregularly and I've drifted away from the long, thoughtful posts I used to write. I'm a teacher so my schedule is full and erratic.
Anyway, can you believe that even with the election over, the Right is still getting hung up about people who disagree? Scary stuff. Was there ever a time when the president served the whole country?
Just to set the record straight: Terri's death was not painful.
The article is very imformative, but if you are pressed for time, here's the sentence you need:
Schiavo, who hasn't had any food or water since Friday, has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years that makes it impossible for her brain to recognize pain, doctors say.
The frog hopped into the princess' lap and said, "Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so."
That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sautéed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself: I don't f------n' think so.
As a former member of the "glorified infantry", I'd like to start setting the record straight:
In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, five women were killed in action and 10 were nonhostile casualties. In the Vietnam War, women's roles were restricted to administrative, medical and communications work that was mostly performed in more secure rear areas. During that war, only one
woman was killed in ground combat. Five others died in military plane and helicopter crashes; two died of medical problems.
Shortly after the Gulf War, the Pentagon opened more military jobs to women, including piloting attack and scout helicopters. The military also spelled out the kinds of assignments that would remain off limits - any job requiring a female soldier to "physically collocate and remain with" ground combat units that are closed to women.
The distinction then was clear. Now, the Army is redesigning its main fighting forces to make them "modular," or interchangeable.
This is an issue that matters to me. I'll keep trying to find more information.
-- Making one-parent families sound like a lonely affliction, similar to drug abuse or dyslexia, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 29, 2003
Cpl. Isaiah Ramirez endured the rigors of Marine Corps basic training and two tours of high-risk duty in Iraq.
But since his lower right leg was shot off in January, Ramirez says
he'll be happy just to walk again.
Ramirez, 21, took his first steps toward that goal this month at Brooke Army Medical Center, where two dozen amputees wounded in the Iraq
war have become a tightly knit group as they adjust together to life-altering injuries.
Read about them here.