The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance has finished its study of 15 potentially burdensome regulations, and in a final report issued Tuesday urged the Education Department to immediately review the regulations to see if suggested changes from the committee's survey are applicable. Such reviews should become routine in the future and take place at least every two years, the committee wrote.
The committee surveyed more than 2,000 higher education officials across all sectors, and convened two panels of college and university stakeholders and experts to review regulations considered potentially burdensome. The response was overwhelming: almost all of the regulations should be changed. The respondents' suggestions on how to change them are detailed in the report, but are not binding until the Education Department conducts its own review.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
- "Among the worst offenses found in the law: $522 billion in destructive new taxes, much of them on medical devices and investments--exactly the sort of lifesaving breakthroughs that improve healthcare. $2,100 per family in higher premiums according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)." -- "ObamaCare: No Repeal, No Budget Deal," Human Events, October 23, 2011
- "For the first time since its creation, Social Security is now operating in the red. The Congressional Budget Office says it will continue to operate at a loss until its structure is reformed." -- A Nation Like No Other, 2011, p. 186.
- "In preparing for health reform in 2009, the Congressional Budge Office (CBO) estimated that litigation reform in medical malpractice would save the federal government $53 billion over 10 years." -- To Save America, 2011, p. 35.
- "And health insurers will recoup the new $70 billion tax on them by raising your premiums -- so said Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas Elmendorf when discussing the proposed fee on insurers: `Our judgement is that that piece of legislation would raise insurance premiums by roughly the amount of money collected.'" -- To Save America, 2011, pp. 106-107.
- "[Arthur Laffer and Steven Moore] cite a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study, backed up by a later Treasury Department study, finding that `from 1994 to 2004 Americans in the bottom 20 percent of income actually had the highest increase in incomes.'" -- To Save America, 2011, p. 186.
- "And what could they [Obama supporters] possibly be saying about a budget that the nonpartisan predicted last week will lead to deficits $2.3 trillion larger than the Obama White House is telling us?" -- "Americans Are TEA'd," Human Events, March 25, 2009.
- "Based on the bipartisan Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection (E-Meds) Act, introduced by Sens. John Kerry and John Ensign, Medicare will now pay higher Medicare reimbursements to those doctors who use e-prescribing to improve care. The act also includes a financial penalty for those physicians who still refuse to e-prescribe. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this market-driven, carrot-and-stick approach will save Medicare $2.5 billion." --"Taking Health Care High-Tech Deserves Broad Support" (coauthored with Sen. John Kerry), San Jose Mercury News, August 1, 2008
- "Now, I was here in the minority, I sat right there where the gentleman from California is sitting, in the Whip's chair, and I watched the President of the United States, Mr. Clinton, right there is his first speech to the Congress. And he said to us: `We should score all of these things with the Congressional Budget Office.' He said it. Why? Because historically it was more honest, it was more accurate, and it was not under the political control of the President. -- Congressional Record, November 15, 1995
It is always a great challenge to discern the difference between genuine expression and calculated pandering. One way that may help minimize distortions is to consider the totality of the evidence. Evaluate the campaign as a whole by asking questions such as: What are the central themes? What kind of tone does the campaign set? What messages are repeated consistently?
Words are easy to script, but actions are not. Look to the candidates' actions over many years and see what patterns emerge. Is the candidate loyal and a person who engenders loyalty in followers? Do you see someone willing to admit mistakes and learn from them? After leaving jobs or positions, does the candidate appear to have left people and places better able to thrive, or do you see evidence of destruction in his or her wake?
After considering all of the evidence, ask one final question: If your life or the lives of those you love most were in peril, whom would you instinctively trust to respond with wisdom and grace?
Monday, November 28, 2011
[T]he academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of "Earth-based." Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.
Witches in the Air Force? Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy, sighs. A punch line waiting to happen, and he's heard all the broom jokes.
For the record, there are no witches among the cadets this year. But the two spiritual leaders for all Earth-based religions — one a civilian, one an Air Force reservist — are witches and regularly cast spells, which they say is not so different from offering prayer. There also are no druids this year. But there could be next year.
"We're here to accommodate all religions, period," Duncan says. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year's 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.
"This part of the state is a swinging part of the state," said Jean W. Harris, Ph.D., chairwoman of the University of Scranton political science department.
So swing-area Scranton could be a perfect place to start rebuilding his support with a visit billed as "official," focused on passing a key part of his jobs plan and in a place at the heart of a metro area whose unemployment rate has been the state's highest for 18 months.
To Dr. Harris, Mr. Obama's re-election is the only reason to use Scranton as a backdrop now.
"I don't think there's any other reason for him to be coming to Scranton in late November 2011," Dr. Harris said. "At this point, you know it's a campaign visit."
A Minneapolis man was arrested and illegally detained for 43 days by federal immigration agents who sought to have him deported even though he is a U.S. citizen, according to a lawsuit filed recently in federal court in Minneapolis.
Federal agents arrested Anthony A. Clarke during a late-night raid in 2008 at his sister's house in Columbia Heights, then shuttled him back and forth between a Sherburne County jail and an unidentified detention facility in South Dakota, the suit says.
The case is thought be the first federal suit of its kind in Minnesota, and it appears to follow a national pattern. A recent study at Northwestern University found thousands of cases in which U.S. citizens were arrested in error and held for deportation. Collectively, they raise disturbing questions about the tactics of immigration agents and the adequacy of checks and balances in a parallel court system overseeing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
But FBI records available at the time of Clarke's immigration arrest in 2008 clearly show him to be a U.S. citizen, and documents in his immigration file show that immigration agents were aware of his status the day he was taken into custody.
Clarke, 53, is seeking more than $1 million in damages for false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Deliberation is a major theme of our book. One of the major criticisms of the contemporary Congress is that it has become less deliberative. The mass media and the polarization of parties have played a part, and so has the decline of the committee system.
Professor Todd Eberly of St. Mary's College of Maryland writes at The Baltimore Sun:
Woodrow Wilson once observed: "Congress in committee is Congress at work." But what was once a keen observation is now little more than an anachronism describing a Congress that no longer exists. In theory, the committee structure is crucial to a functioning Congress. By dividing the work among specialized "mini-congresses," the committee system allows Congress to become greater than the sum of its parts. Committees allow Congress to overcome the challenges of managing a diverse and numerous body through specialization and structure. Perhaps of greater import, committees offer the promise of deliberation, moderation and compromise as a multitude of voices contribute to the crafting of legislation … in theory.
In reality, the committee system in Congress has become increasingly irrelevant, especially with regard to what might be considered major or controversial legislation. Instead, most major policy decisions are made, not through a process of deliberation, but through the concerted efforts of party leadership and often with the total exclusion of not only minority party members but most of the rank and file membership of the majority party as well.
And that's why the joint select committee on deficit reduction — or supercommittee, as it is commonly known — failed. It represented an attempt to return to a congressional approach to legislating that is foreign to most current members and party leaders, especially in the House of Representatives: lawmaking by committee.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court's most outspoken and combative conservative, is not often described as friendly to criminals.
But in recent years, Scalia has led an unusual pro-defendant faction at the high court in reversing convictions for murder, drug dealing, wife beating and drunken driving.
Next up in early December is a Chicago rapist who claims his 6th Amendment right to confront his accusers was violated because prosecutors did not put on the witness stand a lab technician from Maryland who conducted the DNA test that sent him to prison.
This claim might have been a loser even during the court's long-past liberal era. But with the relentless Scalia leading the charge, it may well succeed, a prospect that worries prosecutors and crime lab directors across the nation.
Sometimes, Scalia's insistence on following the "original" Constitution leads to unexpected results. And for him, there are no shades of gray and no halfway measures.
The 6th Amendment to the Constitution says the "accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him." To Scalia, this clause not only gives defendants the right to challenge actual witnesses, but also the right to bar testimony from all those "witnesses" who did not or cannot testify in court. He takes this view even if the witness is dead.
Friday, November 25, 2011
In 2012, the Web phenomenon most likely to change the political dynamic is Twitter, the social networking site that creates a real-time loop of communication among its users.
Patrick Hynes, a communications consultant who worked for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and Tim Pawlenty’s Political Action Committee in 2011, said Twitter can be an effective tool for pushing stories onto the media’s radar.
“If they tweet the story, you’re nearly guaranteed to get a couple hundred re-tweets,” Hynes said. Once a story goes viral on Twitter, he said, it becomes impossible for mainstream media outlets to ignore it.
While the potential for a story to explode on Twitter can be a powerful tool for campaigns, it also creates new challenges.
“Traditionally, before Twitter, stories ran in the morning. You had time to get to reporters,” said Jason Miner, director of public affairs for the Glover Park Group and a former research director for the Democratic National Committee. “Now that conversation takes place in real-time, in a matter of minutes. That piece of news is out there without full context.”
Miner emphasized that campaigns should not treat Twitter as separate from the rest of their communication strategy.
“It’s only as effective as your core messaging and core strategy.”
In 1992, Jerry Brown kept repeating his campaign's 800 number so people could phone in contributions. In 2008, and especially this time, candidates are raising money through email. That's far faster and cheaper than snail mail.
Money can rush in rapidly. Scott Brown's Massachusetts Senate campaign was taking in $1 million in the last days after polls showed him within striking range. Herman Cain was deluged with millions after the news media reported he had been accused of sexual harassment.
But current Iowa polling But current Iowa polling shows Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney in a tie for the lead there. According to the tracker, in the 38 days since Oct. 15, Gingrich has had Iowa campaign events on eight days, Cain on three and Romney on two. Rick Santorum has had Iowa events on 19 of those days and is the only candidate to have held them in all the state's 99 counties. But he's averaging only 4 percent in Iowa polls taken during that time.
Instead of personal contact, voters seem to be making decisions based on performance in debates, which thanks to cable news have been viewed by many more voters than in the past, and by what they've been reading and watching on the Internet. [See here for a survey on how debates are influencing Republicans.]
Third, religious and social conservatives drive GOP nominations.
Iowa caucuses are open to anyone who shows up, and in 2008 only 119,000 Republicans did so in a state of 3 million. That leaves a large potential reservoir of newcomers this time.
Iowa pollster Ann Selzer reports less enthusiasm among evangelical Christians in this cycle, and some local Republicans predict a larger turnout this time. That could mean an infusion of new participants, with results that can't be extrapolated from past contests. [Also note that libertarian Ron Paul is doing well in some Iowa polls.]
Giffords arrived in the dining hall at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at midday Thursday wearing a ball cap and an apron with her nickname of "Gabby" sewn on the front. She was accompanied by her retired astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, who also donned an apron.
Giffords used only her left hand as she served, a sign that physical damage remains from the injuries she suffered when she was shot in January.
Kelly supported her from her left side as she worked the turkey station on the serving line. He served ham.
Giffords has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head. She was among 19 people shot Jan. 8 as she met with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. Six people died.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote the famous nursery rhyme, had lobbied for decades for a Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated nationwide on a specific day. She persuaded President Abraham Lincoln that such a celebration could help unify a nation fractured by the Civil War. Lincoln’s proclamation, dated Oct. 3, 1863, established the last Thursday in November as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
The task of drafting the proclamation falls to the president’s speechwriting staff – and it can be a challenging assignment. James Humes, a speechwriter for several Republican presidents, once complained, “You try sometime writing the presidential Thanksgiving Day message and not sounding trite!”
What the proclamation omits also can be troublesome. In 2009, conservatives criticized Mr. Obama because the proclamation mentioned God only when it quoted George Washington.
Last year, Obama’s message said: “We lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings....” This year, it says, "... we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives."
The failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or "supercommitteee", didn't come as a surprise to many Americans, ISU professors said.
"It seemed doomed from the start," said James Strohman, professor of political science.
The "supercommittee" was created Aug. 2 by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to prevent sovereign default, in which the government fails or refuses to pay back its debt, that would have resulted from the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis.
The committee was made of up six Democrats and six Republicans, both having three coming from the Senate and three coming from the House. The group had until Monday to formalize a plan to reduce the country's deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.
"It was a good attempt," said David Peterson, political science professor. "Private deliberation by a select group of people might be the only way to get anything done."
Republicans are particularly worried about threats made by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Strohman said Norquist created a pledge that called for Congress to never to raise taxes. Norquist has threatened Republicans in Congress by saying if they agree to raise taxes, they will have to run against primary competitors.
"He's exerting influence over Congress," Strohman said. "They are afraid to raise taxes."
Because Republicans refuse to raise taxes and Democrats refuse to continue tax cuts, the discussion has ended in a gridlock, Strohman said.
"There's a conflict between fundamental beliefs," he said. "It's playing off as chaos."
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
While most Americans today have family members who once served or are currently serving in the armed forces, a new Pew Research Center study finds there is a large gap on this measure between older and younger adults.
More than three-quarters (77%) of adults ages 50 and older said they had an immediate family member -- a spouse, parent, sibling or child -- who had served in the military. For many of these adults, their military family members are likely to have served prior to the phasing out of the military draft in 1973. Younger adults are much less likely to have family members who served in the military. Some 57% of those ages 30-49 say they have an immediate family member who served. And among those ages 18-29, the share is only one-third.
This gap may be attributable in part to a life-cycle effect - younger adults are less likely to have a spouse or a grown child, so they have fewer opportunities to have a family member who has served in the military. They may accumulate more military family members as they age. But even when controlling for these factors, the age gap persists. Adults under age 50 who are married and those who have grown children are less likely than their older counterparts to report that these immediate family members served in the military.
This study is based on two nationally representative surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center from July 28 through Sept. 15 -- one of the nation's military veterans and another of the general public.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."A year ago, Stephen Gillon wrote at The Huffington Post:
There was a great deal of confusion on the plane and in Washington about a very basic constitutional issue: When did the vice president assume the powers of the presidency? Everyone knew the vice president succeeded the president in the event of death. But did LBJ become president when Kennedy was declared dead? Or did he need to take the oath before he assumed the powers of the presidency? No one was sure. (The opinion of the assistant attorney general was that Johnson assumed the title of president, but lacked the power of the office until after he took the oath. These issues would not be clarified until ratification of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment in 1967).
Johnson was no constitutional scholar, and the abstract debates about the oath were of little interest to him. At a time when the operating assumption was that the assassination was part of an international conspiracy, Johnson needed to make sure there was no ambiguity about who was in charge of the nation. Taking the oath in Dallas was the right thing to do.
Monday, November 21, 2011
The number of organizations engaged in religious lobbying or religion-related advocacy in Washington, D.C., has increased roughly fivefold in the past four decades, from fewer than 40 in 1970 to more than 200 today. These groups collectively employ at least 1,000 people in the greater Washington area and spend at least $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy. As a whole, religious advocacy organizations work on about 300 policy issues. For most of the past century, religious advocacy groups in Washington focused mainly on domestic affairs. Today, however, roughly as many groups work only on international issues as work only on domestic issues, and nearly two-thirds of the groups work on both. These are among the key findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life that examines a total of 212 religion-related advocacy groups operating in the nation’s capital.According to the report, the groups contribute to deliberation:
About nine-in-ten groups that responded to the questionnaire report that they contact policymakers in person (90%) and in writing (93%). Leaders of the groups say they use both issue-specific research and broader moral or theological arguments in these communications.They also use social media:
About seven-in-ten of the groups that returned a questionnaire say they give testimony at hearings (70%) or author policy papers (75%).
Six-in-ten of the groups that responded to the questionnaire (61%) maintain blogs on their websites, and more than eight-in-ten use targeted emails (85%) or mass emails (89%) to mobilize constituents. As of 2009, when the questionnaire was administered, more than six-in-ten groups already were using social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to engage and grow their audiences. Since new media usage – particularly social networking – has continued to grow since then, it is likely that new media use is even more prevalent today.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
In his interview with the Special Counsel, Mr. Gingrich said the idea for the course was first developed while he was meeting with Owen Roberts, a GOPAC Charter Member and advisor, for two days in December of 1992. Mr. Gingrich wrote out notes at this meeting and they were distributed to some of his advisors. A review of those notes indicates that the topic of discussion at this meeting centered mostly on a political movement ... Mr. Gingrich's role in this movement was to be the "advocate of civilization," the "definer of civilization," the "teacher of the rules of civilization," the "arouser of those who form civilization," the "organizer of the pro-civilization activists," and the "leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Even if you put aside the somewhat loaded terminology of cultural superiority, Americans simply don’t seem to feel very positive about America at the moment. A Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has been on the decline in the past few years.
And an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted earlier this month found that most Americans believed that we aren’t simply going through tough times as a nation but are at “the start of a longer-term decline where the U.S. is no longer the leading country in the world.”
We are settling into a dangerous national pessimism. We must answer the big questions. Was our nation’s greatness about having God or having grit? Is exceptionalism an anointing or an ethos? If the answers are grit and ethos, then we must work to recapture them. We must work our way out of these doldrums. We must learn our way out. We must innovate our way out.
All in all, thinking about where the United States is today, do you feel we are experiencing the kind of tough times the country faces from time to time, or is this the start of a longer-term decline where the US is no longer the leading country in the world?
- Experiencing a tough time ....... 40
- Start of a longer-term decline .... 54 [emphasis added]
- A little of both (VOL) ..... 3
- Neither (VOL) .... 1
- Not sure ...... 2
Friday, November 18, 2011
At the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, more than 51,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were wounded, missing, or dead. Many of those who died were laid in makeshift graves along the battlefield. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin commissioned David Wills, an attorney, to purchase land for a proper burial site for the deceased Union soldiers. Wills acquired 17 acres for the cemetery, which was planned and designed by landscape architect William Saunders.
The cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863. The main speaker for the event was Edward Everett, one of the nation’s foremost orators. President Lincoln was also invited to speak “as Chief Executive of the nation, formally [to] set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.” At the ceremony, Everett spoke for more than 2 hours; Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes.
President Lincoln had given his brief speech a lot of thought. He saw meaning in the fact that the Union victory at Gettysburg coincided with the nation’s birthday; but rather than focus on the specific battle in his remarks, he wanted to present a broad statement about the larger significance of the war. He invoked the Declaration of Independence, and its principles of liberty and equality, and he spoke of “a new birth of freedom” for the nation. In his brief address, he continued to reshape the aims of the war for the American people—transforming it from a war for Union to a war for Union and freedom. Although Lincoln expressed disappointment in the speech initially, it has come to be regarded as one of the most elegant and eloquent speeches in U.S. history.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said he would vote against the balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution later this week, a high-profile Republican defection that will make it one vote harder for the GOP to find the 290 votes needed to pass their amendment on Friday.
Speaking on the House floor, Dreier said that while he supported an amendment in 1995, he has changed his mind, and now believes that Congress does not need to amend the Constitution in order to balance the budget. He said his 1995 vote was based on the belief that an amendment was the only way to balance the budget.
"I was wrong," Dreier said. "Two short years later, we balanced the federal budget. We balanced the federal budget and that went on for several years.
"What I found … is that we were able to balance the federal budget without touching that inspired document, the U.S. Constitution," said Dreier, a 16-term congressman and member of the GOP leadership who might be serving his final term.
Mr Speaker, it was once said that’s what’s good for General Motors is good for America. With rather more confidence it could be said that what’s good for America is likely to be good for the wider world because the United States is the most benign, the least self-interested superpower the world has ever seen. America is great, said de Tocqueville, because America is good and if America ever ceased to be good she would also cease to be great.
As has long been the case, American values differ from those of Western Europeans in many important ways. Most notably, Americans are more individualistic and are less supportive of a strong safety net than are the publics of Britain, France, Germany and Spain. Americans are also considerably more religious than Western Europeans, and are more socially conservative with respect to homosexuality.The report deals with religion:
Americans are somewhat more inclined than Western Europeans to say that it is sometimes necessary to use military force to maintain order in the world. Moreover, Americans more often than their Western European allies believe that obtaining UN approval before their country uses military force would make it too difficult to deal with an international threat. And Americans are less inclined than the Western Europeans, with the exception of the French, to help other nations.
These differences between Americans and Western Europeans echo findings from previous surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center. However, the current polling shows the American public is coming closer to Europeans in not seeing their culture as superior to that of other nations. Today, only about half of Americans believe their culture is superior to others, compared with six-in-ten in 2002. And the polling finds younger Americans less apt than their elders to hold American exceptionalist attitudes.
Americans also distinguish themselves from Western Europeans on views about the importance of religion. Half of Americans deem religion very important in their lives; fewer than a quarter in Spain (22%), Germany (21%), Britain (17%) and France (13%) share this view.Moreover, Americans are far more inclined than Western Europeans to say it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values; 53% say this is the case in the U.S., compared with just one-third in Germany, 20% in Britain, 19% in Spain and 15% in France.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they've lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.
Other factors play a much smaller role: 14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively. [emphasis added]
The survey was conducted Apr. 26-May 22, 2011. Read the full report for more information about the degree to which different age and ethnic groups value social media.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
"This is a golden age" of opposition research, said Jeff Berkowitz, who dug dirt on Democratic candidates for the Republican National committee from 2002 to 2010. The sort of search tools that discovered presidential candidate Joe Biden's plagiarism in 1987 have become more sophisticated and the outlets to shop damaging information are now virtually unlimited.
When these advances are "combined with outside funding," Berkowitz said, "you will see significantly more opposition research from significantly more sources." And it will all happen at warp speed, as both Republican candidate Herman Cain and the women who accused him of sexual harassment quickly learned, amid a barrage of daily revelations about their personal lives.
American Bridge is typical of the new reality. It was founded in November 2010, after the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case opened the door to "SuperPACs," political action committees that are able to raise unlimited amounts of anonymous money to craft attack and advocacy ads during campaigns. The fledgling Democratic research organization now has 15 trackers nationwide filming GOP candidates for Congress and the White House and 25 researchers in Washington poring over this footage and pushing it out to the public.
"The fastest way to disseminate information is through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook," American Bridge's Communications Director Chris Harris told Reuters. "And if it's good footage, it will spread exponentially."
Berkowitz agrees: "Now YouTube is old hat. Now you have Twitter. Twitter is better because it breaks news faster. You can push things around on Twitter. It's like wildfire. Twitter both provides information and also provides the dissemination mechanism. Campaigns are going to have to adapt to that."
Monday, November 14, 2011
If the federal government can require people to purchase health insurance, what else can it force them to do? More to the point, what can’t the government compel citizens to do?
Those questions have been the toughest ones for the Obama administration’s lawyers to answer in court appearances around the country over the past six months. And they are likely to emerge again if, as expected, the Supreme Court, as early as Monday, agrees to be the final arbiter of the challenge to President Obama’s signature health care initiative.
Neverthless, Judge Laurence Silberman voted with a majority of a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit to uphold the law. Jon Healey writes at The Los Angeles Times:
Citing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's concurring opinion in Gonzales v. Raich, a lawsuit that unsuccessfully challenged the feds' seizure of marijuana plants grown ostensibly for medicinal use, Silberman wrote: "A single individual need not even be engaged in any economic activity -– i.e. not participating in any local or interstate market -– so long as the individual is engaged in some type of behavior that would undercut a broader economic regulation if left unregulated. And a single individual need not even be engaging in the harmful activity that Congress deems responsible for a national economic problem; it is enough that in general, most do."
In dissent, Judge Kavanaugh praised the majority for its honesty in describing what followed from its ruling.
“The majority opinion here is quite candid — and accurate,” he wrote, adding: “The majority opinion’s holding means, for example, that a law replacing Social Security with a system of mandatory private retirement accounts would be constitutional. So would a law mandating that parents purchase private college savings accounts.”
Within hours of the decision on Tuesday, opponents of the health care law were issuing statements, and their theme was predictable. “Like the government,” said Randy E. Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown, “the majority could identify no limit to an unprecedented power of Congress.”
Sunday, November 13, 2011
- The news outlets studied varied widely in the number of Twitter feeds or channels offered and in how frequently they posted. On average, the news organizations offered 41 different organizational feeds. The Washington Post, at the top of the list, offered 98, more than twice the average. The Daily Caller, on the other hand, offered a single Twitter feed. The level of activity also ranged widely. While as a group the outlets in the sample averaged 33 tweets a day on their main organizational Twitter feed, that number ranged from close to 100 a day to fewer than 10.
- The news organizations were much more similar in the focus of their Twitter activity. The vast majority of the postings promoted the organizations' own work and sent users back to their websites. On the main news feeds studied, fully 93% of the postings over the course of the week offered a link to a news story on the organization's own website.
- News organizations were far less likely to use Twitter as a reporting tool or to curate or recommend information that originated elsewhere. Just 2% of the tweets from the main news feed analyzed were information-gathering in nature-seeking views or first-hand accounts from readers. And only 1% of tweets studied were "retweets" that were reposted from a Twitter feed outside the organization.
- The news agenda these organizations promoted on Twitter closely matches that of their legacy platforms. A comparison of the top stories across these Twitter feeds and across the same mix of legacy outlets reveals four out of the top five news stories were the same on Twitter as in the legacy outlets. For the week studied, February 14-20, 2011, unrest in Middle East and the U.S. economy topped both lists.
- His 1985 Oxford debate and a 1994 Oxford-style debate in the House;
- His history as a Rockefeller Republican;
- His record on brain research;
- His support for Lincoln-Douglas style debates;
- His ability to prosper amid bad poll numbers;
- His relationship to Tiffany's;
- His (mostly unhappy) relationship with Tom Coburn;
- His general background (including my 1996 APSA paper about him);
- His pivotal 1984 confrontation with Tip O'Neill;
- His lessons from government shutdowns;
- His affection for zoos;
- His largely-unheralded role in Reagan's 1980 campaign;
- His 1996 role as "Dolegingrich."
But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted -- well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.
The way I think about it is, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.
So the implication in this argument is that we've somehow lost something important -- that perhaps because of the very prosperity we've built over the course of generations, that we've given up that fighting American spirit, that sense of optimism, that willingness to tackle tough challenges, that determination to see those challenges to the end, the notion that we've gotten soft somehow.
I reject that argument.
A prize concept pioneered by the Carter administration -- ''zero based budgeting'' -- has been awarded its own zero by the Reagan administration.
In a formal order, budget director David Stockman rescinded the technique throughout government Friday. It was an inauspicious end to an accounting innovation heralded as an antidote to government waste and poor planning.
The system, introduced in 1978, was supposed to make departments build their spending requests from nothing -- justifying entire categories of expenditures, not just the yearly increases.
Instead, Stockman said, ''The technique had proved cumbersome in some respects and had not achieved significant results in holding down federal government spending.''
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Rick Perry had barely gotten through his gaffe in Wednesday's Republican primary debate when a rolling commentary on the TV screen declared his campaign on life support.
“Perry is done,” came a Twitter posting from a viewer called @PatMcPsu, even while the Texas governor struggled to name the third of three federal agencies he said he would eliminate as president. Another, called (at)sfiorini, messaged, “Whoa? Seriously, Rick Perry? He can't even name the agencies he wants to abolish. Wow. Just wow.”
Perry insists his campaign isn't over and has vowed to move on from his meltdown.
One used to have to wait for several minutes after the debate ended for analysis of the 2012 presidential contest. But if Wednesday's exchange is any indication, social networking has become the instant punditry. The 140-character messages known as tweets came from ordinary viewers and prominent campaign strategists alike.
- As of October 2010, more than 68 percent of households used broadband Internet access service, up from 64 percent one year earlier . Approximately 80 percent of households had at least one Internet user, either at home or elsewhere.
- Cable modem (32 percent) and DSL (23 percent) ranked as the most commonly used broadband technologies (Section 3.1, Figure 3). Other technologies, including mobile broadband, fiber optics, and satellite services, accounted for a small, but growing, segment of households with broadband Internet access service.
- Over three-fourths (77 percent) of households had a computer – the principal means by which households access the Internet – compared with 62 percent in 2003. Low computer use correlates with low broadband adoption rates.
- Broadband Internet adoption, as well as computer use, varied across demographic and geographic groups. Lower income families, people with less education, those with disabilities, Blacks, Hispanics, and rural residents generally lagged the national average in both broadband adoption and computer use. For example, home broadband adoption and computer use stood at only 16 percent and 27 percent, respectively, among rural households headed by a Black householder without a high school diploma
- Also, households with school-age children exhibited higher broadband adoption and computer use rates than other households.
Patrick McGreevy writes at The Los Angeles Times:
With temperatures dropping in Sacramento, some state lawmakers are migrating to the sunny beaches of Hawaii this week for a conference at a luxury resort, subsidized and attended by special interests that lobby the Legislature.
About 15 lawmakers are scheduled to attend the annual gathering in Maui, where they will stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani hotel on the tab of the Independent Voter Project, a nonprofit policy group largely funded by business and labor interests.
The group's financial supporters include cigarette maker Altria, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn., Chevron and the state prison guards union.
The five-day event, running this weekend through Nov. 18, features panels on prison issues, biofuel and pollution at the Salton Sea, according to organizers including former Democratic state Sen. Steve Peace. He co-founded the group with former Republican Assemblyman Jeff Marston.
Peace said the conference allows lawmakers to "get to know each other and talk about issues in depth," away from Capitol pressures. "It's those kinds of relationships that allow people to bridge partisanship."
Open-government advocates say the occasion also allows representatives of corporations and unions undue access and influence as they garner one-on-one time with decision-makers at poolside or on the golf course.
Friday, November 11, 2011
U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich won praise today for an impressive defense of U.S. Central American policy but lost an Oxford "debate" to a team led by Nicaragua's vice president, who made his case and then left before the Gingrich spoke because the conservative U.S. lawmaker was of lower rank than he.
At the end of the evening Thursday, the vote was 285 to 158 in favor of the question, "American involvement in Central America is an affront to Western values."
The Oxford Union president, Roland Rudd, said the Georgia Republican also was a good sport for agreeing, with only three hours' notice, to the unusual format that permitted Sergio Ramirez to make a diplomatic point by walking out.
Rudd said Gingrich spoke brilliantly and deserved the standing ovation he received from the crowd of more than 1,000 people.
"Ramirez got his (ovation) because of what he represented," Rudd said. "Gingrich earned his by sheer brilliance."
Watching the re-run of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's latest gaffe, Dr. David Crockett, a political science professor at Trinity University, could only shake his head and laugh."I feel his pain in the sense that we all have our lists and we forgot one," Crockett said....
He said Republicans are looking for a candidate who can hold his own against President Obama's renowned speaking skills."That may be the problem with Rick Perry, he's failed the audition," Crockett said.He said although debates rarely are the deciding factor in the general election, voters use them to gauge whether a candidate is worth their time.Crockett said he thought Perry tried to handle his brain freeze with humor, but the awkward moment only reinforces his prior reputation of not doing well in debates.He also said it was a missed opportunity for Perry to redefine himself.Crockett said, "It put the nail in that coffin."
"Romney tops the list," said Dave Dulio, associate professor and chair of the political science department. "He had some really good reactions from the crowd in the debate hall, and I think his answers would really resonate with the Republican electorate."As expected, moderators asked Romney about the federal bailout that ultimately saved General Motors and Chrysler. While the Detroit native's continued opposition may not be popular with many in Michigan, observers praised his consistency even as critics questioned his accuracy.
"I thought his answer was very well stated," said Terri Towner, assistant professor of political science. "He had a different solution for the auto industry, one that may resonate with some Michiganders. He proposed a different solution, which he said was a better solution. It wasn't a bailout, it was structured bankruptcy, and he said the industry would have come out stronger."
"I thought it was going to be the first one," he said. "I think Cain handled it about as well as he could. He handled it better than the first time he was asked about it, that's for sure. He had a good night, in part, because he dealt with it and it was over."