The Two Kinds of Bowe Bergdahl Backlash – The Atlantic

No sooner had the yellow ribbons started to come down from the trees than the backlash started up. Not everyone is delighted about the Obama administration’s deal to free American POW Bowe Bergdahl by exchanging him for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

It’s pretty easy to view this cynically, as a sign that in these times, everything is political and the country can’t come together over anything. And to a certain extent that’s true: If dueling, pro-forma charges of politicization from official Democratic and Republican spokesmen don’t instill pessimism, what will? But while there are plenty of controversies that seem far from producing any meaningful revelations, despite extensive inquiry—Benghazi comes to mind—there are important constitutional and policy issues at stake in this case.

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Sixth-graders bill education officials for time spent as standardized test guinea pigs

Laura Clawson

The students were randomly chosen to try out the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test. That meant spending 150 minutes in March and 180 minutes in May taking a trial test rather than being taught math. After hearing another teacher joke that they should be paid for that time, students approached their math teacher, Alan Laroche:

“I thought it was unfair that we weren’t paid for anything and we didn’t volunteer for anything,” said [student Brett] Beaulieu. “It was as if we said, ‘Oh we can do it for free.’”

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The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter – NYTimes.com

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WHENEVER Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” He’d pile all of his anger into a note, “put it aside until his emotions cooled down,” Doris Kearns Goodwin once explained on NPR, “and then write: ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” Which meant that Gen. George G. Meade, for one, would never hear from his commander in chief that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.

Lincoln was hardly unique. Among public figures who need to think twice about their choice of words, the unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence) believed provided “unallowable frankness & freedom.”

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America’s Highways, Running on Empty – NYTimes.com

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WASHINGTON — IF you think your commute is getting worse, it’s probably not your imagination. And no, it’s not because there are more cars on the road. The potholes, the stalled construction projects, the congestion — it’s because the highway trust fund is almost empty and, without a fix, could run out of money this summer.

Federal transportation funding relies heavily on user-based fees, in the form of gas taxes. While that worked for decades, it began to break down after Congress stopped raising the tax, which has been stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon for over 20 years. Since then, people have begun driving less and using more fuel-efficient cars, which means less tax is paid. Even worse, the tax is not indexed to inflation.

Curated from www.nytimes.com


Rima NYT Comment SmallUnfortunately, this congress is nowhere near passing laws that are going to address the problem in any real way. In the absence of the enactment of a real infrastructure and jobs bill since 2010, and the exhaustion of stimulus funds, states have been scrambling to find ways to meet their needs. Many states have resorted to privatizing roads. Obviously, putting toll booths on every highway of every state is not a workable or fair solution.

We hear from McClatchy-DC that congressional Republicans want to siphon money to transportation from cutting USPS mail delivery to 5 days a week. 

“Rather than raise the tax or find some other stable source of revenue, Congress has borrowed $54 billion in general funds since 2008. The House Transportation Committee projects that as much as $15 billion would be needed to extend the highway fund for just one year.

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