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I know that there has been a vote going on for awhile with 40 or so nominees, some of wwhom are very deserving, but the vote should stop now.

The Sandy Hook teachers showed up to work yesterday with their usual lesson plans, and probably a bag lunch. They've practiced some emergency fire drills, but had no formal training for a crisis like this.

Some remarkable stories are trickling out. A first grade teacher named Victoria Soto, only 27, hid her entire class and told the shooter that they were sent to the gym. She was shot and killed, but her class is alive. Another hid her entire class in the bathroom, and when the police knoked on the door, she had her wits about her and wouldn't open the door until she was sure it really was the police. Another thought that they were all going to die but her only thought was to keep her kids calm and tell them all that they were loved, so that they could hear reassuring words and not the sound of gunfire.  The late principal or administrator who flipped on the intercom to let everyone know of the danger could be included in this as well to expand it to teachers and administrators.

We ask a lot of our teachers, but this is the last thing in the world that we would ever think that they would need to do. They had nothing to rely on but their instincts and they had to protect dozens of innocent kids scared out of their minds.

It is hard to find good in a story like this, but a lot of children are alive due to the heroism of the adults who are trusted to take care of them, some of whom sacrificed their own lives to do so, which isn't supposed to be part of the risk of the job they signed up for.


I'm sure someone on Kos has linked to this before, but it is worth a reminder. Something that we can point out in various discussions we may have with independent voters and people on the fence (if there are any left).

Mere months after getting into office, our president coordinated training exercises to prepare for a hurricane hitting New York City. This story is from 2011, dealing with preparations for Irene.

In May 2009, the Obama administration conducted a simulation exercise around the possibility of a Category 3 hurricane hitting New York City, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

The National Level Exercise, as it is known, was part of a coordinated effort by federal officials to prepare for a variety of disaster scenarios, including one very similar to what is likely to take place this weekend. President Obama himself participated in the exercise, one of the first of its kind by the new administration.

"The federal government's preparation for this storm didn't just begin as the clouds started to gather and form a tropical depression," Earnest told reporters traveling with President Obama to Martha's Vineyard.

"The federal government and this administration in particular is constantly exercising and preparing and testing and evaluating our readiness for situations like this," he said.

Fri Oct 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM PDT

George H.W. Bush

by Summers

I know this way off topic 10 days before an election, so feel free to ignore, but if you want something else to discuss, I'm sort of "opinion-surfing".

I was still sort of young and apolitical when Bush 41 was in office as I skated through college. Clinton was my first vote in 1992, when I voted on the basis of the economy stinking after I graduated (I also remember I was appalled by our military action in Panama, but that was on the basis of a movie I saw about it with graphic footage, so I might have been swayed moreso back then just by the shock factor).

Anyway, I was having a political discussion yesterday with some older left-wing relatives, who pretty much hate everything Republican, and they have warmed up to George H.W. Bush a bit with time (the Gulf War coalition and navigating the diplomatic challenges of the Soviet Union collapse were the primary things they gave him credit for). Basically, the consensus was that as far as modern Republican presidents go, he wasn't all that awful. I was sort of surprised. One of them joked that the worst thing that he ever did was procreate.  

Obviously, he's lumped in with Reagan as the Reagan-Bush years, so it is tough to separate him from his predecessor, who my relatives can't stand (primarily for starting the destruction of the middle class and fostering a selfish culture that we in many ways have never recovered from). But I was curious if the folks here who were more politically in tune during those years consider him no better than the other Republican presidents we've had in our lifetimes, or consider him somewhat tolerable, now that 20 years have passed.  


Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 10:41 PM PDT

Could there be a 401K bounce?

by Summers

Quarterly statements are just coming in and most should have a decent increase this quarter. Does enough of the middle class have 401K plans where they could feel personal good economic news, which could help lend credence to the good (or improving) economic statistics on a national level of late (7.8, declining deficits, start of housing recovery, etc.).

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'd like to think some fence-sitters could be swayed by listening to all the truther crazy over the BLS stats for the last couple days and then seeing tangible evidence that things are improving. If there are enough people in this subset (people with 401Ks who only check them out when the quarterly statement comes in and who are undecided).


The question came up around the office and it was split 50-50 - some thought it would be an attempt to appear human, others thought he doesn't have it in him.

Just for fun, I'm curious what the Kossacks think. If you had to make a bet...


Will they program Mittbot to say Happy Anniversary?

57%29 votes
42%21 votes

| 50 votes | Vote | Results


Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:47 PM PDT

I'm not in Mitt's 47 percent

by Summers

I've never really taken anything from the government in my adult life, although I consider myself lucky to be able say that - it isn't anything that I consider a badge of honor. If I was in a situation where I needed the social safety net, I would want it and take it. I believe in it (I've paid the 1040EZ form every year, even if maybe I could have saved a few dollars by sweating deductions), and have contributed into it when I haven't needed it.

However, I am also wise enough to know that my life could have turned out much differently. It took me three years after college to get a full-time job with benefits - before that it was a cycle of unpaid internships, working as a temp, freelance writing, sorting my life out kind of things. I didn't get sick or get in an accident then, but I easily could have. It wasn't like I was thinking about my benefits much - I was healthy and naive.

After my parents were divorced when I was nine, my Mom worked a couple of minimum wage jobs until she finished her degree, scraping by. Our family got through it, and I do remember blocks of government cheese in the refigerator. My Mom also said she bounced checks one year so my brother and I could have Christmas presents. I was oblivious to all this back then, but what if my Mom had gotten sick and couldn't finish her education? Or what if my brother or I had gotten sick as kids, and my Mom had to stop working her minimum wage jobs to try to take care of us? Would it have ruined us?

I also could have had a different situation financially trying to afford college - my parents were divorced and they split the tuition, with each finding their own creative ways to pay their half. My Mom sold our house and we moved into a cheaper, more convenient one, took out a few loans, and I think there was a Pell Grant mixed in with the loans. But what if we never had that house in the first place? Or what if my Mom needed to sell it to pay for medical care back when we were scraping by? Would I have been able to get the same education? Probably not.

My Grandmother ran into a multitude of health problems after she was already on Medicare. She's doing fine now - she doesn't have much money at all, but her daughters are nearby to take care of her and she'll tell you she has nothing to complain about. But what if her health problems came a couple years earlier, before Medicare kicked in? I was getting ready to go off to college then, but I know I couldn't look my family in the eye and tell them that my tuition was more important than my Grandmother's life.  

Instead I was able to go to college, graduate in four years without needing anything more than a work study job, and made it through my "figure it out" years unscathed. I found a career path with middle-income pay and will never be rich, but my job is stable and has excellent benefits. Had I hated this career path, and gone out on my own to do freelancing or consulting work and gotten sick, maybe I'd have needed some government help. Maybe I'd be personally thankful for Obamacare, so that I couldn't be denied benefits when they became available. Instead I am not personally affected by Obamacare, but I appreciate what the legislation does for many others (and I wish we could go further and take the profit motive out of healthcare entirely).

See - what Mitt and his ilk don't understand is that you don't have to need the Government's help to appreciate the value of the safety net. It didn't happen to me. But maybe my neighbor isn't so lucky. I don't want to see him and his family having a bake sale to try to pay for chemo. Or maybe my kids someday want to do what I did and spend a couple years after college figuring out their lives, and DO get in a car accident or get sick before they have benefits. Or maybe it's somebody else's kids I've never met - those kids are important too. Maybe if I get sick pre-Medicare, I don't want to be a burden on my family financially.

I mean, maybe I'll make it from cradle to grave with only some blocks of cheese and a Pell Grant from the government, and pay much more into the system than I get out of it.  But I am 100 percent fine with that. And I'll never vote Republican as long as that party holds the belief that those who do need the hand up are somehow lesser people, and that they should be left to fend for themselves, instead of getting a hand up from what is supposedly the richest country in the world.

So make it 47.0000001 percent, Mitt.


Or close to it. I know there is a lot of competition for that honor. This thing manages to be wrong on so many levels in just a few short sentences. Hard to know whether to use the Beirut withdrawal, the fact that there was no apology, or frickin' Pan Am Flight 103 as the first counterpoint (yeah, real quiet - 189 Americans died on that plane).

But I think my favorite counterpoint would be that Libya now has a democratically elected, moderate government that has been in support of us (as well as the Libyan people in support of us), and we're not just having a death scoreboard with them trading bombs. Yes, there were killings, and maybe we'll find out the people who did it were of Libyan descent, but the entire dynamic is different now. That may take too much explanation, though, for the party that doesn't have the elite smart people in it.

I swear I've seen this thing posted by four different people on Facebook, including some who don't even know each other.


Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM PST

A Weak Effort, Even By Fox Standards

by Summers

So Fox decided to do a little story on the tax returns of Romney and Obama. The headline blares "Obama Gave 1 Percent To Charity, Romney 15 Percent."

Of course, the one percent figure that they give for Obama is from 2000-04 (after their readers are worked up into a frenzy, they throw in that their donations went up over five percent in 2005 after their income soared from book sales). The 15 percent for Romney is from obviously the last two years, because that's all we have from him, and most of that was donated to the Mormon Church (which is fine - he can donate his money however he chooses, but let's not pretend that there's not a self-serving element to that).

If we compare current charitable figures, they are virtually identical (Obama donated 14 percent last year). Of course, you can't compare 2000-04 between the candidates because we don't have those years for Romney. The Obamas are much more visible now, and are probably donating money with that in mind, but Romney has been planning this presidential run for a long time, so his last two years worth of donations have just as much of a public relations motive.

And this is more subtle, but look what else they did. They lumped the five years from 2000-04 together to say that the Obamas made $1.2 million - if you read it quickly without much thought (or like a Fox News reader), you'd immediately think they were millionaires back then, donating a tiny fraction of their wealth.

Now a lot of us would like to make $200,000 a year, and perhaps one percent isn't terribly generous in hindsight. But to put those tax returns in context, think about what life-changing events may have happened in the Obama household around those years (hint: Malia is currently 13 and Sasha is 10). Both parents had good careers at the time (Barack was a state senator, Michelle was the assistant dean of student services at the University of Chicago), but I can't condemn people who only donate $2000-2500 to charity a year when they are in the middle of starting a family - on either side of the aisle.

I just thought this was a particularly weak attempt at cherry-picking statistics and blaring a misleading headline. Even by their standards.  

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