Obama's Plan a Chance to Get Strategic on Infrastructure
September 09, 2011

The focus on infrastructure in President Obama’s jobs speech was much-anticipated and necessary. While much the attention is on increasing funding for fixing roads and bridges, the president also reiterated the call to improve the way the federal government invests in infrastructure. (“No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere.”) He also called for the kind of transformative infrastructure investments that made the U.S. an economic superpower.

Why Do Republicans Hate Democracy?
September 07, 2011

Richard Cordray, President Obama's choice to head the new consumer financial protection bureau, came to Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearings on Tuesday. And, by all accounts, even Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee were impressed. Via ABC News:  He appeared to be liked personally by [Ranking Minority member Richard] Shelby and Bob Corker of Tennessee, the other Republican at the committee confirmation hearing.

It Seems Like National Gang Week Starts Earlier Every Year
July 21, 2011

I've now heard two anecdotal instances of people receiving this chain email: Subject: FW: Driver beware National Gang Week is starting: This is their new target method while driving on any roads, If you see a baby car seat sitting on the side of the road DO NOT STOP!!!! These are gangs targeting people, especially women, to stop their vehicle to help a baby. They make this baby look as if it has blood on itself or on its clothes, when you get out of your vehicle in attempt to help, the gangs jump out from cornfields or tall bushes.

Welcome to the Poorhouse
May 18, 2011

Jerry and Helen Peterson are a married couple in East Orange, New Jersey, earning $252,000 per year. Jerry, a CPA, and Helen, a public relations executive, understand the need to close the deficit, but don't understand why their taxes have to go up. “I don’t feel rich,” says Jerry, as Helen frowns the worried frown of a woman who has been singled out by the Obama administration for brutal economic reprisal of the sort Stalin imposed upon prosperous peasants.  Jerry and Helen are not real people.

Cicadas Confounding Scientists!
May 10, 2011

While some parts of the South are dealing with (or bracing for) record floods, others are anticipating another kind of flood: a flood of cicadas. A brood that emerges every 13 years started appearing late last month in southern Alabama, and the insects have since appeared in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and a number of other southeastern states. The cicadas will mate with each other en masse before dying, which frankly seems like a pretty hasty end after 13 years underground. But why every 13 years (or, with some other species, 17 years)?

The Planned Parenthood P.R. Coup
April 08, 2011

All day Friday, there were two big, conflicting narratives floating around Capitol Hill about why there wasn’t yet a budget deal to keep the government open for the rest of the fiscal year. The Republican story: We’re still bickering over how much spending to cut. And the Democratic version: False! Both sides have basically agreed on an amount to cut—somewhere in the vicinity of $38 billion. The only holdup is that Republicans still want to slash federal funds for Planned Parenthood, and that’s an absolute no-go for us Dems. Someone had to be lying, right? But who?

Arguments Before Evidence
January 13, 2011

[Guest post by James Downie:] Like Jon, I have a hard time connecting right-wing rhetoric to the shooting in Tucson. Yes, the half-term governor of Alaska and Murdoch’s propaganda machine have contributed more than the left to a “climate of hate.” But to tie that climate to Loughner, one has to resort to assumptions, without a direct connection, which have allowed conservatives room to claim innocence.

When Philosophy Mattered
January 13, 2011

Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos By Peter E. Gordon (Harvard University Press, 426 pp., $39.95) I. The Swiss town of Davos was once famed as a sanatorium. It provided pastoral balm for mental breakdown (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner), relief from chronic illness (Aby Warburg), and an Alpine antidote to tuberculosis (Robert Louis Stevenson finished Treasure Island there). This concentration of ailing artists and intellectuals produced its own distinctive cultural life, immortalized by Thomas Mann in 1924 in The Magic Mountain.

State Budgets’ Unsound Structures
January 07, 2011

There’s been a lot of talk about state budget woes across the country as impacted by the Great Recession.

Get Used To It
January 06, 2011

We’ve all heard that Democrats are in for a very difficult two years. The new GOP majority in the House of Representatives will wage a campaign to disable health reform, financial regulation, and the EPA; stonewall executive and judicial appointments; slash nondefense discretionary spending (thus undermining the economic recovery); gut Social Security and Medicare; and launch investigations into every possible White House indiscretion—potentially leading to a vote for impeachment.