Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Shocking News From the Library of Congress

July 27, 2016

Shocking News From the Library of Congress

Before leaving Washington for a seven-week vacation, the U.S. Congress did something unprecedented: It approved the appointment of a professional librarian to run the Library of Congress. What a concept! Dr. Carla Hayden, head of Baltimore’s public library system and former American Library Association president, is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post, appointed after a six-month delay, of course.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with 162 million items in its collections. Not exactly the U.S. “national library,” it was established in 1800 to help Congress in its deliberations and, even though today those are largely fact-free, the library remains. It also runs the Copyright Office, has 3,200 employees, and an annual budget of $630 million.

More:

“Senate Approves Carla Hayden As New Librarian Of Congress,” Camila Domonoske, NPR

“Can Carla Hayden Reinvent the Library of Congress?” Alex Duner, U.S. News & World Report

“The Library of Last Resort,” Kyle Chayka, N+1 Online

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Paul Ryan Coronation Today. Make That ‘Paul D. Ryan.’

October 29, 2015

Paul Ryan Coronation Today. Make That 'Paul D. Ryan.'

After refusing the crown three times, like Caesar, Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) accepted it, along with the sable, sceptre and orb, and was anointed as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Henceforth, he shall be known as “Speaker Paul D. Ryan.”

Okay, he’s not Emperor, but the GOP’s Tea Party and Freedom Caucus loons resent the imperial powers invested in the office by Newt Gingrich while he was Speaker.

More:

“Paul D. Ryan elected House speaker, but GOP divisions remain,” Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

“Paul Ryan Is Elected House Speaker, Hoping to Manage Chaos,”Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

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Image (“His Speakerness”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Paul Ryan Wants Job Security, Weekends Off

October 22, 2015

Paul Ryan Wants Job Security, Weekends Off

Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI-1), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and former Oscar Myer salesman, has deigned to replace Rep. John Boehner (R, OH-8) as Speaker of the House under the following conditions:

  1. A Change in House Rules so that he can’t be removed as Speaker
  2. House Republicans need to vote the way he tells them to
  3. Weekends off so he can spend time with his family
  4. Reduction of the Speaker’s Republican Party fund-raising duties
  5. All GOP House Members must immediately read Atlas Shrugged and start P90X workouts

Okay, we lied about that last demand but Mr. Ryan’s GOP colleagues are choking on the rest of them, especially Items #1 and #2.  That goes double for the mysterious but powerful anarchists of the Freedom Caucus. No matter what you’ve heard, the Freedom Caucus didn’t quite endorse Paul Ryan as Speaker in a vote Wednesday night, and the real vote isn’t for another week, anyway. Plenty of time for FC members to reconsider and throw their typical fits of rage.

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Happy Fiscal New Year

October 1, 2015

Happy Fiscal New Year

May old encumbrance be forgot, and never brought to mind . . ”
– Singer and retired Federal employee Joe Hickerson.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 1 — Today Federal employees throughout the Washington region and across the country observe their traditional holiday, the Fiscal New Year. Fiscal 2015 ended at midnight last night; today is the start of Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016 for short).

The weeks leading up to Fiscal New Year’s Eve were hectic with preparation of the Continuing Resolution. The “CR” is last-minute stopgap legislation allowing the federal government to function despite the resolute obstructionism of our Tea-Party-Republicans in Congress. It provides a few months of funding for the activities of the civil servants who do the work citizens actually need while politicians bloviate about petty, symbolic issues to distract the media and voters.

From Capitol Hill, a Safe & Happy FY 2016 to you and yours.

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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John Oliver on the District of Columbia’s Missing Political Rights

August 6, 2015

Americans who live in the District of Columbia pay Federal taxes, die in U.S. wars, but have no vote in Congress. What they have had, for over two centuries, is Taxation Without Representation. Sound familiar? John Oliver explains it all to you:

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Centennial: Southern Civil War Revisionism vs. the Civil Rights Movement

July 10, 2015

Centennial: Southern Civil War Revisionism vs. the Civil Rights Movement

On Thursday the South Carolina State Legislature voted to end display of the Battle Flag of the Army Northern Virginia (“Confederate Battle Flag“) on the State Capitol Grounds, and the flag came down on Friday. Defenders of the flag appeal to “Tradition” and “History,” but this statehouse flag “tradition” only dates from April 11, 1961, and its “history” is really in the Civil War Centennial (1961-1965), when symbols of the Confederacy were adopted and manipulated by white Southerners opposed to the era’s desegregation, the Civil Rights movement, and Federal efforts to guarantee racial equality in elections, education, employment opportunity, and residential choice. Chief among those symbols: the Battle Flag.

Laura McCarty of the Georgia Humanities Council explains this aspect of the Centennial:

“The anniversary coincided with the height of the civil rights movement in Georgia and the South. Some white Georgians used the commemoration to glorify the Confederacy, adopting its leaders, rhetoric, and symbols as a means for expressing resistance to civil rights ideals. While not all centennial efforts were driven by that agenda, the official commemorations upheld an idealized vision of antebellum plantation culture, celebrated Confederate military heroes, and omitted references to slavery as a cause for the war ….”

Southerners now in their fifties and sixties absorbed this symbolic system as children, and passed it on to their children and the children they educated and influenced. That’s the “heritage” the flag represents for them, not 150-year-old military gallantry but the ugly race politics of the 1960s.

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Q & A: 2 Minutes with Elizabeth Warren

June 4, 2015

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the re/code Conference, May 26, 2015.

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The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math

May 26, 2015

The Lottery: The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math
Ambrose Bierce defined the lottery as “a tax on people who are bad at math,” but it’s really a tax on the dreams of the poor.

Last year Americans spent $70 billion on state-sponsored lottery tickets, more than on books, video games, movies and sporting events combined. The poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets, and state lotteries advertise most aggressively in poor neighborhoods, as Derek Thompson points out in The Atlantic.

Why do the poor play the lottery?

“It’s not that poor people don’t understand that the lottery has a near-zero chance of making them dynastically wealthy. It’s that they think everything else has an actually-zero chance. ….  State lotteries, in other words, don’t just prey on poor people’s dreams—they do that for everyone—but rather on desperate dreams.”

— “Why you should never, ever play the lottery,” Matt O’Brien, Washington Post

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Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch

April 25, 2015

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch

After symbolically stonewalling for 161 days, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed the appointment of federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States on Thursday by a vote of 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans voting “Aye.” Maybe those 10 GOP senators wanted a tough prosecutor running DOJ or were anxious to see the back of incumbent AG Eric Holder, but several may have thought they were voting for country singer Loretta Lynn.

Not country music fan Ted Cruz, though. The Texas Tea Party senator skipped the vote, the only senator to do so. He was too busy raising campaign money in Dallas for his presidential crusade.

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Schock & Awe

March 17, 2015

Schock & Awe

Aaron Schock, Earl of Peoria and the Viscount Sangamon, has retired from the Imperial Government and will return to his country estates. Lord Aaron was aghast to discover he was sitting in the House of Commons, not the House of Lords.

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