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President Bush proposed a $2.4 trillion election-year budget that would boost defense spending, redistribute funds among government programs, and cross out the $477 billion deficit entirely.
“Nobody likes making cuts, but the nation’s current rate of spending and the decreased tax revenues we’ve seen since implementing my tax cuts have created a deficit that we can’t afford to carry,” Bush said in a nationally televised address. “Someone had to have the vision, leadership, and courage to go in and erase that line altogether, no matter how unpopular and impossible that may be.”
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $477 billion deficit is the country’s largest ever, easily topping the previous record of $290 billion in 1992. If the budget is approved, however, the deficit will roll down to $0.0 billion.
In the past, critics have accused the Bush Administration of responding to a mounting deficit and the ongoing recession with unsound fiscal policies like cutting taxes for the wealthy. Bush supporters say the deficit cut proves the wisdom of the president’s economic plan.
“Bush has taken a brave step, one that was long overdue,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said. “He has taken charge of the budget problem once and for all, simply by saying ‘The deficit stops here.'”
Faced with the difficult choice of either cutting government programs or raising taxes, Bush reportedly arrived at the radical new “deficit-cutting” solution late Sunday night, only hours before he was to announce his budget.
“I was staring at the figure for the deficit, and I decided that it simply could not stand,” Bush said. “It was too high. Something had to be done. But Americans have been taxed and taxed. I say ‘Enough taxes.’ By my estimation, this historical crossing-out of the deficit will save American taxpayers millions, billions, and perhaps even bajillions of dollars.”
The president then turned to Section 14-D of the official budget document, where the federal government’s total expenditures, the GNP, and the difference between the two were listed. Using a black Sharpie, the president crossed out the third figure, eliminating it entirely.
Bush then held up the newly marked-up page and said, “My fellow Americans, I have solved the federal budget crisis.”
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was told “deficits don’t matter” when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.
O’Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush’s economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from “the corporate crowd,” a key constituency.
O’Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due.” A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.
The vice president’s office had no immediate comment, but John Snow, who replaced O’Neill, insisted that deficits “do matter” to the administration.
University of California-Berkeley study released Tuesday revealed that broads have made significant progress in the workplace over the past decade.
A comprehensive, long-term examination of the career paths of over 4,500 broads from across the U.S., the study indicates that broads are earning 15 percent more on average and are twice as likely to be in positions of upper management than just 10 years ago.
“This is a tremendously exciting, very promising report,” said Stan Cullums, director of UC-Berkeley’s famed Institute For Gender Research, which conducted the study. “After several decades of status quo and periodic retrenchment, it would appear that broads are finally beginning to make strides toward equality in the workplace.”
The Institute’s survey revealed that the average earned income for broads relative to men rose from 64 cents on the dollar to 77 cents. Average salaries for professional broads also rose, from $21,500 to almost $24,000.
The Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks celebrated its 40th anniversary in March.
Here are some of the events that have shaped the company over the years:
- 1976: Starbucks begins selling coffee after five years of only selling a fermented moss-based cider
- 1987: The company’s fat, naked double-tailed fish-lady logo is simplified to entice consumers
- 1990: A rogue barista starts drizzling cute girls’ drinks with caramel, which he secretly dispenses through an improvised bladder hidden within his pocket
- 1997: Invention of the coffee cup
- 2002: Responding to complaints that its coffee tastes bitter and burned, Starbucks releases Metal Machine Roast, the chain’s most perversely unpalatable brew to date
- 2007: Following the success of its music and book sales, Starbucks begins offering life insurance, tax preparation, and living wills
- 2008: Iced coffee provided to set of Leatherheads
The economic recovery received an unexpected jolt today as the Labor Department announced that unemployment increased last week by two and a half men.
The 2.5 jobs were lost in the Los Angeles, California area and are “gone forever,” a Labor Department spokesman said in a surprisingly downbeat assessment.
But in a possible boost for the California economy, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer today announced plans to begin marketing a new blockbuster drug called Charlie Sheen.
A bill is already moving through the California State Assembly that would make the drug Charlie Sheen legal for medicinal purposes.
But Carol Foyler, a spokesman for a leading antidrug group in the state, warns that legalizing Charlie Sheen could have “disastrous effects.”
“The drug Charlie Sheen is a gateway drug that leads to harder stuff, like the drug Mel Gibson,” she said.
The group’s findings, which indicate nearly 80 percent of the nation needs to give it a shot at some point because, hey, you never know, suggest that the country can talk about it all it wants, but when it comes down to actually doing it, well, there’s talking about things and then there’s doing things.
The study confirmed that there’s not much more to say, really.
HOUSTON—Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), long a champion of the country’s most advantaged Americans, was honored for his 20 years of work with the overprivileged Sunday. “John has dedicated his life and career to helping the uptrodden, believing in the common billionaire oil man who just needs that extra push to be able to pick himself up and increase his wealth and power without having to worry about paying taxes,” said oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, adding that without Sen. Cornyn, he and dozens like him would just barely be hanging on to their spots on Forbes magazine’s World’s Richest People list.
Eighty six years after the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial opened Tennessee to the debate about the teaching of evolution, the state House is trying to slam the door shut again. Tennessee’s House Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday in the name of “academic freedom,” but in reality, it is a thinly veiled attempt to curtail the teaching of evolution. House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh (D) has even taken to calling it “the monkey bill.” From the bill’s summary:
This bill prohibits the state board of education and any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or principal or administrator from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warming.
Should this bill pass, Tennessee teachers will have official sanction to teach about evolutionary “controversies” that simply do not exist. Furthermore, it will allow teachers to teach pseudo-scientific ideas — such as creationism or intelligent design — as legitimate scientific theories comparable to evolution.
The GOP is In the process of attempting to pass legislation that would overrule the EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health. Its aim is to protect corporate interests by preventing the EPA from cracking down on the nation’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Today, the Democratic minority offered a straightforward amendment: one that simply stated the basics of climate change, that the global temperatures are rising, and human beings are likely to be the main cause. The GOP voted unanimously to deny the amendment. Essentially, the GOP leadership in the House Energy Committee has just voted to explicitly deny the existence of climate change.
Jason Brodeur, a local Tea Party newcomer in Florida who has cooked up a bill that would make it a crime – potentially punishable with jail time – for a doctor to ask a patient about whether there are guns in his or her home. For a devoted constitutionalist, the bill appears pretty troublesome. After all, the government isn’t allowed to limit an individual’s right to free speech just because some wing-nut in the Florida statehouse has a gun fetish. Or, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, the proposed law “protects the Second Amendment from the First.”
A group of hardline immigration foes in a handful of states are trying to get Congress to allow them to issue two kinds of birth certificates — one for children of citizens and another for the kids of undocumented immigrants. The problem is that according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, they’re all U.S. citizens, and all are guaranteed equal protection under the law.
What makes this proposal so obnoxious is that its authors are fully aware that it won’t go anywhere, and will likely result in a lot of costly litigation if passed, but they don’t care – they’re doing it merely “to get Congress talking about how we interpret the 14th Amendment,” according to Talking Points Memo.
Of course, Congress is already “talking about it,” with equally frivolous bills to redefine the 14th Amendment being floated at the federal level.
Amanda Terkel reports that Franklin “doesn’t like the term rape ‘victim.’ In fact, he has introduced a bill mandating that state criminal codes refer to these people as, simply, ‘accusers’ — until there’s a conviction in the matter.” To be clear, Franklin thinks it’s perfectly fine to refer to the victims of every other violent crime as such, but not rape victims.
And, as Terkel notes, “Rape and sexual assault are chronically underreported crimes.”
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, “60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to a statistical average of the past 5 years. Those rapists, of course, never spend a day in prison. Factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.” Under Franklin’s definition, all of these people who didn’t report their crimes aren’t actually victims — because there is never a conviction.
Channel Offers Welcome Break from Reality, Psychologists Say
Tracy Klugian, 37, a systems analyst from Lansing, Michigan, said that he was flipping the channels to find “anything but news” and found himself watching Fox for the first time.
“They had this guy on – something Beck I think his name was – and he was just going on and on, making stuff up,” he said. “I was like, this is the kind of mindless junk I need right now.”
Mr. Klugian says he now records the program and watches it every day when he gets home for work: “For one hour at least, I know that I can kick back and not hear anything that’s going on in the world.”
He said that watching Fox had also introduced him to “my favorite new comedian – this hysterical woman named Michele Bachmann.”
“She was doing this bit about how the American Revolution started in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts, and then she started mixing up where Lexington and Concord were,” he said. “Okay, I know it sounds really stupid, but I almost peed myself.”
Elsewhere, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he is not worried how history will remember him “because if I have my way, there won’t be any history teachers.”
Old version of Scripture “wasn’t reaching people anymore,”
so Lord shrinks psalms and other stories to 140 characters each and “live blogs” the Last Supper.
In the beginning, God tweeted:
Day 1: Lighting system installed. BRB.
Days 2-6: Some assembly required: sky, plants, cows, people. Left humans in charge, LOL. Day 7: Siesta
That’s how the story of creation is told in “The Twitter Bible,” God’s latest attempt to spread His message.
“The old version of Scripture wasn’t reaching people anymore,” He explained at a press conference where every question seemed to be anticipated before reporters could ask. “So I signed up on Twitter.com.”
The American print, broadcast, and online news media inexplicably continued reporting Wednesday on topics ranging from the budget debate in Washington to the recent tumult in Syria as if Saturday’s escape of a 20-inch Egyptian cobra from the Bronx Zoo—a snake whose venom destroys its prey’s nervous system and can kill a human being in 15 minutes—isn’t the only thing worth paying attention to right now. “The safety of nuclear power continues to be a hot-button topic,” said one reporter in a newscast that, bizarrely, wasn’t devoted entirely to a deadly snake that has no regard for human life and could be anywhere, coiled up in someone’s basement, hiding in a pillowcase, or at this very moment looming right behind an individual reading a news article, its neck-hood fully extended and its lethal fangs poised to strike into the back of one’s head. “And in sports news, [something else unrelated to the only two topics that could possibly be of any interest to anyone, namely, (a) what is being done to catch the snake and (b) how does one actively hide from it].” As of press time, Brian Williams should stop interviewing President Obama about Libya for Christ’s sake and ask him why, with a snake on the loose that can release a neurotoxin causing severe flaccid paralysis, the government isn’t setting up antivenom distribution centers across the country.
BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the “Personal Story” segment tonight: Donald Trump for president. The real estate mogul and TV personality says he’s considering a run for the Republican nomination in 2012. Mr. Trump has made millions building and selling real estate. His program “The Celebrity Apprentice” is very highly rated, and he is a no-spin guy. Just ask the ladies on “The View.” But he has not been closely questioned about policy until tonight.
O’REILLY: Obamacare. Do you believe the federal government has an obligation, a moral obligation, to provide people who can’t afford health insurance with health insurance?
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I certainly would like to see — you know, I have a big heart. I really do, despite what you may think.
TRUMP: And I have a great, big, fat, beautiful heart. And when people are in trouble, I like to help them out. We have a moral obligation to help people. I really believe that. I believe that strongly and not everybody does.
O’REILLY: So there will be Trumpcare then?
TRUMP: Well, it would be a form of much better. As an example, I have a big company. When I buy health insurance, I can’t go across state lines to buy it. You know why?
Discussing the situation in Libya with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren, foreign policy expert and noted wordsmith Sarah Palin said, “I haven’t heard the president state that we’re at war. That’s why I too am not knowing — do we use the term intervention? Do we use war? Do we use squirmish? What is it?” (Watch video clip)
As Jon Stewart quipped, “That’s either some sophisticated foreign policy analysis, or what happens when worms get into a fight.”
Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi tightened his grip on power today, saying he would step down only if protesters guessed the correct spelling of his name.
“Oh man, we’re doomed,” one rebel said. “Is it Moammar or Muamar? Gadafi or Qaddafi? Even Watson the IBM computer doesn’t know.”
News media outlets use dozens of different spellings. And Libya’s official government website also seems confused, referring to the dictator variously as Mu’ammar al-Gathafi, Moamar Qaddafi, Mallomar Kandinsky and Miami Quidditch.
“He’s like Rumpelstiltskin,” one diplomat said. “The protesters keep demanding his resignation, but they get the name wrong, so he stays. It also gets him out of parking tickets.”
Huckabee has just been caught on video, at a Christian supremacist conference, stating that Americans should be forcibly indoctrinated at gunpoint.
The organization which hosted the “Rediscover God In America” conference, United in Purpose, has edited Huckabee’s comment from footage of his speech, but not before People For The American Way’s Kyle Mantyla captured the unedited footage.
David Barton is the leading promoter of a brand of falsified American history altered to support the claim that America was founded as a Christian, rather than a secular, nation.
WASHINGTON—Expressing a reaction similar to millions of other dismayed Americans, Newt Gingrich admitted Monday that he too was feeling “pretty bummed out” about the prospect of a Newt Gingrich presidential campaign.
Have you heard of the Ready Reserve Corps? According to an email I got from uncle’s hunting buddy’s grandmother’s hairdresser’s nephew (who may actually be my uncle, though I’m not a hundred percent on that), it’s a private Gestapo-type army made available to President Obama under his Health Care Reform bill.*
Well, that’s terrible! Do you think this can in any way possibly (please!) have anything to do with the U.S. military non-war in Libya?
Just checked with Rep. Louie Gohmert, and the answer is yes…
“Its a bad bill. And then when you find out that the prior Congress not only passed that 2,800 page bill with all kinds of things in it, including a new president’s commissioned officer corps and non-commissioned officer corps. Do we really need that? I wondered when I read that in the bill.
“But then when you find out we’re being sent to Libya to use our treasure and American lives there, maybe there’s intention to so deplete the military that we’re going to need that presidential reserve officer commissioned corps and non-commissioned corps that the president can call up on a moment’s notice involuntarily, according to the Obamacare bill.”
This is ridiculous. Why would Obama need a presidential reserve corps when he’s already got that army of terror babies to work with? Come on, think about this, people!
Newt Gingrich on the terrible, terrible future of America…
“I have two grandchildren… I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
First of all, great point! If America doesn’t win in this battle against what America is all about, America will never be what makes America America. I’ve never heard this put quite so succinctly.
However, I remain unconvinced that America will become “a secular atheist country… dominated by radical Islamists.” I think it’s entirely possible that it could become a reform Jewish country dominated Zen Buddhists. Or possibly even a fundamentalist Zoroastrian country dominated by apathetic Hindus. Or we might just get eaten whole by John Travolta.
Anything can happen. It’s a very scary future.
* Hillary Clinton’s approval rating at all-time high. I’ll bet a lot of the country wishes she had won the Democratic candidacy. Then they could’ve still been hating her.
A new Gallup poll finds that 66 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, up from 61 percent in July 2010 and approaching the highest numbers ever for the former New York senator.
Those numbers make Clinton considerably more popular than President Barack Obama (54 percent favorable) and Vice President Joe Biden (46 percent.)
And, while as a Cabinet member Clinton is under far less partisan scrutiny than the president himself, Clinton also polls better than Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
At one point [Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando] suggested that his wife “incorporate her uterus” to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions. Republicans, after all, wouldn’t want to further regulate a Florida business.
Apparently the GOP leadership of the House didn’t like the one-liner.
They told Democrats that Randolph is not to discuss body parts on the House floor.
“The point was that Republicans are always talking about deregulation and big government,” Randolph said Thursday. “And I always say their philosophy is small government for the big guy and big government for the little guy. And so, if my wife’s uterus was incorporated or my friend’s bedroom was incorporated, maybe they (Republicans) would be talking about deregulating.
“It’s not like I used slang,” said Randolph, who actually got the line from his wife.
Wait. Uterus? What’s wrong with uterus? It’s a pretty common medical/anatomical term, right? A House GOP spokeswoman explained that Randolph’s comment lacked “decorum” and could pervert the kiddies:
…the Speaker believes it is important for all Members to be mindful of and respectful to visitors and guests, particularly the young pages and messengers who are seated in the chamber during debates. In the past, if the debate is going to contain language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests, the Speaker will make an announcement in advance, asking children and others who may be uncomfortable with the subject matter to leave the floor and gallery.
You know what I say to that? Take a long fallopian walk off a short doggoned uterus, you sigmoid colonoscopes!
Sorry, that was a little over the top…Oh dear, hope I don’t get fired.
One of the leading Democratic talking points in recent days has been that the GOP is unwilling to reach a budget deal with Democrats because Republicans are hostage to Tea Party extremists who won’t permit them to engage in anything approaching a reasonable compromise when it comes to spending cuts.
On the Senate floor today, Mitch McConnell pushed back on this notion with an extraordinary speech that served as a paean to the Tea Party movement, claiming that their goals are ”pretty reasonable” and that Democrats are the ones who are “extreme”:
Earlier this week, we posted the press release from the national teabagger group about their big rally here in DC today:
Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest grassroots organization, today announced that it will hold its first “Continuing Revolution Rally” outside of the U.S. Capitol challenging Congress and the members it helped sweep into power to take swift action on the budget. Tea Party stars in Congress such as Reps. Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann will join thousands of Tea Party activists to send a message to the rest of Washington. Thursday’s rally is co-sponsored by Let Freedom Ring, the Institute for Liberty, and Smart Girl Politics.
Yep. All the big names in teabagging were combining forces to show members of Congress how powerful they are. Thousands were expected. It was going to be HUGE.
It was a big bust. Pence and Bachmann were there. But, they weren’t joined by “thousands of Tea Party activists.” Not even close.
Think Progress tweeted from the event:
About 100 people at today’s “major” Tea Party rally:
Over at DailyKos, Jed Lewison has a clip from FOX News, where they blamed the weather for the pathetic turnout. Seriously, the weather. I can report that it was cloudy and a little drizzly here in DC today. That’s it. Jed notes:
Yeah, the weather really killed the rally. Just like the only reason the rallies were so big in Wisconsin was its gorgeous mid-winter weather (complete with sunny blue skies and palm trees!).
Or here’s another thought: maybe the tea party fizzle has something to do with the fact that the tea party isn’t popular anymore.
That probably won’t stop them from getting excessive media coverage, especially on FOX. But, I bet a lot of people on Capitol Hill are a lot less worried about the teabaggers today than they were yesterday.
UPDATE: It’s confirmed. Trump tried to fool the voters, did not produce his real birth certificate.
Fair is fair. What is the Donald hiding?
The background: Trump has been complaining for weeks that President Obama has refused to release his birth certificate, even though Obama did in fact release his birth certificate 3 years ago – I’ll be posting it below. Trump even suggested today that Obama was possibly not even born in the US. And in order to further buttress his false claims, Trump released his own birth certificate today.
The move, announced Wednesday in conjunction with cosponsors NBC and POLITICO, follows an unexpectedly slow start to the Republican presidential nominating contest.
Organizers worried that the May 2 debate, which was announced shortly after the midterm elections last November, would not attract candidates who will eventually get into the race but are delaying announcements for legal and political reasons. Only one top-tier candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has officially created an exploratory committee.
John Heubusch, the Reagan foundation’s executive director, said that pushing the debate back four-and-a-half months will allow “enough time for the full slate of candidates to participate.”
“The Reagan Foundation prides itself on sponsoring world class debates in which all of the major candidates in contention can make their point of view known to the widest possible audience,” he said in a statement. “Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May.”
CBS’ Atlanta affiliate reports that the lawmaker introduced a bill that would do away with drivers’ licenses, arguing that they “are a throw back to oppressive times.”
In his bill, Franklin states, “free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.”
What makes this such an odd position – aside from the fact that Franklin appears to believe driving a motor vehicle is an “inalienable right” – is that licenses are issued by the states and not the federal government.
Franklin has served in the Georgia legislature since 1996, where he claims to be “the conscience of the Republican Caucus because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.”
BALTIMORE—Neurologists at Johns Hopkins University confirmed Monday they remain completely baffled by Rockville, MD resident Erik Collins, a man who possesses an extraordinary and previously undocumented ability to fuck everything up.
“Our theory is that Erik approaches fucking up unconsciously, his mind automatically creating a fractal model of screwing the pooch that is not unlike the infinite images contained within facing mirrors,” Moore said. “If Erik has to make a withdrawal at an ATM, for example, he begins with a simple fuckup, such as accidentally selecting the Chinese language option. Then, instead of starting from the beginning the way an average individual would, he instinctively plows forward, creating concentric rings of fucking-it-up within his original mistake until eventually the machine has confiscated his debit card and his account has been frozen—and that’s just the beginning of a weeks-long mega-fuckup that continues once he attempts to call his bank.”
Collins reportedly first came to the scientific community’s attention late last year when, in a simple attempt to download pornography from the Internet, he somehow managed to crash a highly secure server in Fermilab’s particle physics department.
The Transportation Security Administration is reanalyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results.
The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.
At least one flier group, the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, is urging the government to stop using the $180,000 machines that produce a virtual-nude image of the body until new tests are concluded in May.
“Airline passengers have enough concerns about flying—including numerous ones about how TSA conducts its haphazard security screenings—so it is TSA’s responsibility to ensure passengers are not being exposed to unhealthy amounts of radiation,” Brandon Macsata, executive director of the group, said in a statement.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been a loud voice opposing the machines. Last week, it urged a federal appeals court to stop using them until further health studies were conducted. Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s executive director, is expected to tell the same thing to a congressional panel Wednesday.
“The agency should have conducted a public rule making so that these risks could have been more carefully assessed,” according to a transcript (PDF) of his expected testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Still, the government said the results proved the safety of the devices. “It would appear that the emissions are 10 times higher. We understand it as a calculation error,” TSA spokesman Sarah Horowitz said in a telephone interview.
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is sponsoring HR 205, The Geometric Simplification Act, declaring the Euclidean mathematical constant of pi to be precisely 3. The bill comes in response to data and rankings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, rating the United States’ 15 year-olds 25th in the world in mathematics.
OECD is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and the Paris-based NGO released its international educational rankings, placing the US in a three-way tie for math, equaling Portugal and Ireland, just beneath No. 24 Luxembourg.
“That long-held empirical value of pi, I am not saying it should be necessarily viewed as wrong, but 3 is a lot better,” said Roby, the 34-year old legislator representing Alabama’s second congressional district, ushered into office in the historic 2010 Republican mid-term bonanza.
Pi has long been defined as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius, a mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter “π,” with a value of approximately 3.14159. HR 205 does not change the root definition, per se. The bill simply, and legally, declares pi to be exactly 3.
Roby, raised in Montgomery, Ala., is on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.
“It’s no panacea, but this legislation will point us in the right direction. Looking at hard data, we know our children are struggling with a heck of a lot of the math, including the geometry incorporating pi,” Roby said. “I guarantee you American scores will go up once pi is 3. It will be so much easier.”
Democrats first responded to the measure with a mixture of incredulity and amusement.
“Really?” asked George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Education and Labor Committee. “Isn’t that an awful lot like assuming only even numbers can be negative? You can’t legislate math; that’s like making it illegal to rain on the Fourth of July,” the San Francisco Bay area representative chuckled.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) ridiculed objections from the left as further examples of classic elitist liberalism.
“Democrats don’t want our children to succeed, they would actually feel better if France one day bests our kids on that test,” Boehner said, unaware that, by tying Slovakia for 16th, France already does outrank the US in math. “Time after time, Democrats refuse to acknowledge American exceptionalism, and they’re doing it again by trying to deny our children another tool for success.”
Rep. Roby took a slightly more pragmatic stance.
“For decades, we’ve all been learning that pi is this crazy ‘irrational’ number. And any number with no end is, not, well, it makes it really hard,” Roby said. “We talked about making pi 3-and-a-third, but that wouldn’t really help, because you’re still then stuck with endless threes.”
HR 205 is expected to pass the House of Representatives but even if it also passes in the Senate – unlikely with Democrats maintaining a slim majority – President Obama has pledged to veto.
“I badly want to refuse to dignify HR 205 with acknowledgment, but… my Republican friends are serious,” Obama said. “And I don’t care how strongly Geometric Simplification has been polling, I just can’t be responsible for that.” The president added, “Unless there’s something on the table. Barack Obama does love a good compromise. Maybe if Republicans will agree to let Planned Parenthood perform AIDS testing. Or just convince the Tea Party Caucus to at least publicly agree it is the Earth that revolves around the sun, and not the other way around.”
New York City Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) responded to Roby’s legislation with a massive brain aneurysm. Democrats are hopeful to retain his New York City seat in an April special election.
Dr. Mason Jarvis, a leading researcher in the field, spoke by phone from his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts:
“Although we have documented cases of this debilitating condition in the occasional senator or representative, we’ve never seen the disease approach near-epidemic dimensions. We’re literally racing against time to curb this rapid spinal deterioration, which threatens to render most Democrats little more than babbling, floppy ragdolls by year’s end.”
First the Republican Party in Polk County, Wisconsin, pulled the tape of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) fretting about making ends meet on his $174,000 a year salary from its own website. Now they want it gone from the whole Internet.
For a couple hours, the local county GOP was successful. But we’ve put an excerpt of the video back up.
A day after TPM posted the video we obtained of Duffy talking about his salary at a Polk County town hall meeting earlier this year, the Polk County GOP contacted the video provider we used to host the video, Blip.tv, and demanded the video be taken down.
Duffy’s office said any Democratic criticism of his response was “a misleading attack.” For more on Duffy’s finances, see this post.
The county GOP took down the video from its blog after the Washington Post posted a short clip of it yesterday morning.
Here’s a one-minute clip, excerpted from roughly 45 minutes of video of the public Duffy townhall, that the Polk County GOP doesn’t want anyone to see:
Reports continue to pour in from around the nation today of helpless Americans being forcibly taken from their marital unions after President Obama dropped the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this week, leaving the institution completely vulnerable to roving bands of homosexuals. “It was just awful—they smashed through our living room window, one of them said ‘I’ve had my eye on you, Roger,’ and then they dragged my husband off kicking and screaming,” said Cleveland-area homemaker Rita Ellington, one of the latest victims whose defenseless marriage was overrun by the hordes of battle-ready gays that had been clambering at the gates of matrimony since the DOMA went into effect in 1996. “Oh dear God, why did they remove the protection provided by this vital piece of legislation? My children! What will I tell my children?” A video communique was sent to the media late yesterday from what appears to be the as-yet unidentified leader of the gay marauders, who, adorned in terrifying warpaint, announced “Richard Dickson of Ames, Iowa. We’re coming for you next.”
Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner (R) argued Tuesday that there should be no loopholes in the state’s abortions laws for victims of rape or incest, because then “someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.”
Turner had introduced HB 1210, which, among other things, would make most abortions illegal after the twentieth week of pregnancy. It would also prevent any insurance companies from covering abortions under the federal health care bill, something that has also been debated at the federal level.
State Rep. Gail Riecken (D) introduced an amendment that would create an exemption from Turner’s bill for victims of rape or incest, or in cases where the health of the mother was at risk.
Turner, in response, argued that this would create a “giant loophole,” where “someone who could — I want to be very careful, I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who’s gone through the experience of a rape, or an incest — but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.”
The law, another in the series of “Taking America Back” by the Republican controlled Legislature, would compliment the recently passed “Talking Only in English on Your Cell Phone While Driving” law. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed that law into effect and promises to add her signature to the latest law within days.
“The illegal non-English speaking people of Arizona need to learn to respect the centuries old historical significance of English in this part of the world,.” said the Governor, adding that she didn’t want to infringe upon the God given right to text or talk on a cell phone while driving, noting that the new laws would only make it a crime if any language was spoken other than English.
AND IN OTHER NEWS…
Tilikum, the killer whale that drowned trainer Dawn Brancheau at Orlando’s SeaWorld facility last year, performed Wednesday for the first time since last year’s death.Tilikum participated without incident in the marine park’s signature “Believe” show for the first time since dragging the 40-year-old trainer from poolside by her pony tail and drowning her during a performance Feb. 24, 2010.
Trainers on the platform stood Wednesday behind the stout metal bar shaped as an inverted “U” that was designed to prevent a whale from coming up out of the pool and biting and dragging a trainer into the water.
Plans to get trainers back in the water with the whales progressed earlier this month despite findings last summer by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that accused SeaWorld of recklessly putting trainers in danger.
SeaWorld Animal Training Curator Kelly Flaherty Clark says they feel it’s an important part of Tilikum’s physical, social and mental enrichment to perform again.
It may never make it on the political menu, but the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is urging city leaders in San Francisco to change the name of its legendarily gritty Tenderloin to something with decidedly less gristle.
In a letter to Mayor Edwin M. Lee sent Tuesday, Tracy Reiman, the group’s executive vice president, suggested that city officials rename the neighborhood the Tempeh District, a homage to a soy-based meat substitute.
“San Francisco is now renowned for some of the best vegan cuisine in the world,” Ms. Reiman wrote. “And the city deserves a neighborhood named after a delicious cruelty-free food instead of the flesh of an abused animal.”
Mayor Lee did not have an immediate comment, but Tenderloin aficionados were quick to point out that the moniker had little to do with meat and more to do with a neighborhood’s olden reputation as a place where the police were on the take, receiving “tenderloin,” or bribes, to turn a blind eye.
“It really referred to areas of vice and corruption,” said Randy Shaw, a longtime housing advocate in the Tenderloin who hopes to open a museum devoted to its rough-and-tumble past. “It wasn’t like they were giving them steaks. They were giving them cash.”
Mr. Shaw added that he had said as much to PETA in an e-mail this week, mentioning that the neighborhood’s official name was the Uptown Tenderloin, something recognized in the area’s recent listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
“They were pleased to hear that,” Mr. Shaw said.
PETA, of course, has always had a flair for publicity — another proposal this week promised to pay for the vasectomy of one man in the nation who agreed to neuter his cat or dog.
But Ashley Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the group, said the Tenderloin name change would be “reflective of the philosophies” of San Francisco’s famously liberal locals.
“If any town’s going to do it,” Ms. Gonzalez said, “ it’s going to be San Francisco.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what
we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.”
– Mark Twain
Happy April Fools’ Day. I’m going back to sleep! 😉