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There is so much that the federal government could do in education. Besides taking the obvious first step of reducing student loan rates to those given by the Fed to commercial banks, it could take steps to equalize spending across the nation for public schools, use its influence to reduce the shackles of strict certification guidelines to enter the profession of teaching, and work to promote learning in liberal arts as well as STEM subjects.

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From the moment that Michael Brown was gunned down by Officer Darren Wilson, it’s been virtually impossible to get credible and reliable information about what actually happened August 9, 2014 on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, MO. That came to an end on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 when the U.S. Department of Justice issued “Department of Justice Report Regarding the Criminal Investigation into the Shooting Death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson.”

More below the fold:

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Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” truly insulted me and most of his viewers last Thursday.  He asked us to leave to room, go cook something, do the dishes, or take a walk.  He wanted a very narrow audience, the twelve new Senators elected on November 6.

His point was that their political future would best be ensured if they maintained a low profile with the national media and instead limited their appearances to local media within their state.  His reason was that voters in their states want to feel special; that their newly elected senator was exclusively dedicated to the interests of his or her constituents and did not have aspirations to rise into the national spotlight.

The example that he used was Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.  Franken has exclusively appeared on Minnesota outlets with one exception.  That was when he was sandbagged into an interview at the Democratic National Convention by one reporter.  The reporter happened to be none other than Lawrence O’Donnell.  Franken knew that he was stuck; that he couldn’t just run away from an interview.  However he justified his appearance because he was standing in the middle of the Minnesota delegation at the convention.

O’Donnell took special care to direct his advice to newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  She has already established herself as a spokesperson for national consumer protection and fiscal reform.  She is the person to whom her peers in the Senate, as well as citizens across the nation, take to lead this movement.  Without her engagement, it’s possible that President Obama will not give high priority to these issues.  So she may be the exception to the rule.

O’Donnell, who worked for seven years for New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, learned at the foot of the master.  Moynihan eventually became a spokesperson for a number of issues, but not until he had kept a low profile in his first term.

O’Donnell’s suggestion is empirically based.  It is a difficult task that he is asking the freshman to follow.  But clearly it seems wise.

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Here's why it would be a good thing if Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the Electoral College:

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It’s a somewhat esoteric question to ask what was worse, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 or the four commercial jet plane attacks on America on September 11, 2001. In one case, the victim was an inspiring and idealistic president of the United States; in the other it was 3,000 innocent people.

What we can attempt to do is to assess how America and the rest of the world responded to each of these tragedies. There is an enormous difference. and yet it is rarely analyzed

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It’s become sport to knock the leading GOP candidate de jour off his or her pedestal. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry were easy targets. Herman Cain has maintained a position at or near the top for nearly a month. While some mock him as just a glorified pizza man or another bogus “motivational speaker” from the right, he has succeeded in doing what no candidate from either party has done in recent memory. He has Republicans and Democrats alike talking about real issues – ones which often challenge our embedded thoughts and generate fresh thinking.

You may not like the 9-9-9 plan, but chances are that you have a pretty good idea of what it is. That means that you’re thinking about personal income taxes, corporate taxes, and sales taxes. If you watched the debate from Las Vegas, you heard a great deal about the value-added tax and how it Cain’s opinion, that’s not part of 9-9-9.

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Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:45 AM PDT

Our leaders need more sleep

by ahl

As Bill Clinton reflected upon his presidency, he said that the biggest obstacle to making good policy decisions was operating with unceasing sleep deprivation. This is the same Bill Clinton who as a young man was remarkable at running on empty. His all-nighters at both Georgetown while an undergraduate and at Yale Law School were renowned. As a semester trudged on and many students were slaving away night after night, Clinton found a variety of ways to have a good time, ranging from thoughtful discussions with colleagues to serious partying. But if he had a paper due the next day or was scheduled to take a final exam, the night before he would create his own “hermitage” and often do a semester’s worth of work in one night. Fatigue was not a problem if he was taking a final the next day; his academic record shows consistently high grades.

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Tue Oct 11, 2011 at 10:10 AM PDT

We need politicians to do their day jobs

by ahl

It’s present in the rhetoric of virtually all politicians. “We need to have a work ethic; it’s not American to be lazy.” Like so much that is said by politicians, the high esteem with which they regard work has an exclusion clause in it. The rules don’t apply to them.

Actually, many politicians do work hard, just not doing their day jobs – you know, the one that we elected them to do. Texas Governor Rick Perry makes $150,000 a year, not a king’s ransom for those who do the bidding for the wealthy, but still a healthy chunk of money. It’s certainly enough money that if your state is on fire you would want to at least pretend to be in charge. You might fly in, wearing your custom hard hat for a photo op while the fire fighters are cursing you under their breath as they wait for you to leave so they can do their day (and night) jobs.

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Tue Oct 11, 2011 at 09:52 AM PDT

We need politicians to do their day jobs

by ahl

It’s present in the rhetoric of virtually all politicians. “We need to have a work ethic; it’s not American to be lazy.” Like so much that is said by politicians, the high esteem with which they regard work has an exclusion clause in it. The rules don’t apply to them.

Actually, many politicians do work hard, just not doing their day jobs – you know, the one that we elected them to do. Texas Governor Rick Perry makes $150,000 a year, not a king’s ransom for those who do the bidding for the wealthy, but still a healthy chunk of money. It’s certainly enough money that if your state is on fire you would want to at least pretend to be in charge. You might fly in, wearing your custom hard hat for a photo op while the fire fighters are cursing you under their breath as they wait for you to leave so they can do their day (and night) jobs.

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Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT

Republicans need Democrats in their debates

by ahl

You may recall that in one of the earlier Republican debates, all candidates were asked if they could support a debt reduction plan that involved $10 spending cuts for every dollar of revenue enhancement (taxes). None raised his or her hand. This is not the only issue in which the Republicans walk in lockstep. When it comes to reproductive choice, all the candidates are against it. When it comes to gun control, all the candidates are against it. When it comes to strict interpretation of the 10th Amendment, all the candidates are for it.

They all feel that the key to economic growth is reducing taxes and eliminating regulations. They all trust the private sector to manage health care.

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Conservatives breathe the same air as progressives; they drink the same water. They fly the same planes and they eat the same food.

It would stand to reason that conservatives are just as concerned as liberals about longevity, avoiding toxins, safety in our skies and avoiding food poisoning.

Yet conservative are willing, even anxious, to reduce or eliminate the regulations that we have to protect ourselves from illness, injury, or even death. They cite the burdens of regulations and taxes on businesses as reasons why our economy is in neutral at best, as the job market continues to stagnate.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 01:17 PM PDT

Will the U.S. pay for Libya's WMDs?

by ahl

Conservatives are very concerned about strengthening America’s military while reducing the debt. They are also concerned about threats of terror, sometimes when no threat exists (e.g. Iraq).

I became somewhat alarmed when it was reported that Libya has massive amount of weapons of mass destruction. This includes ten tons of mustard gas and sarin contained in thousands of canisters. Additionally it is reported that Libya has one thousand metric tons of uranium yellowcake, a stockpile of Scud B missiles and perhaps as many as a thousand shoulder-launched missiles capable of bringing down a commercial airplane

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