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The Morning Grumpy – 8/15/12

15 Aug

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Good news for secular humanists, rationalists, and free thinkers; our numbers are increasing.

A  new poll suggests that 1 in 20 Americans now call themselves atheists, a fivefold increase from the last time the survey was taken in 2005. The Religion News Service reports that, to go along with the jump, just 60 percent of Americans now identify as religious, down from 73 percent the last time the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism poll was taken seven years ago.

If we can also increase the number of people who believe in climate change and decrease the number of people who believe in ghosts and astrology, we’ll really make some progress.

2. The veil of ignorance versus the veil of opulence and what this philosophical war means for our politics.

The question of fairness has widespread application throughout our political discourse. It affects taxation, health care, education, social safety nets and so on. The veil of opulence would have us screen for fairness by asking what the most fortunate among us are willing to bear. The veil of ignorance would have us screen for fairness by asking what any of us would be willing to bear, if it were the case that we, or the ones we love, might be born into difficult circumstances or, despite our hard work, blindsided by misfortune.

Fairness will be a major theme in this election, but it is a subjective idea, informed by the veil of our choosing.

3. Loving this animated GIF.

Obama needs to sustain this simple, big-picture messaging.

4. More like this, please.

Charles F. Feeney sits in an armchair and explains how he will get rid of his last $1.5 billion, give or take, by 2016.

Just as he did with his first $6 billion, it will all be awarded through Atlantic Philanthropies, the group of private foundations he created in 1982 and managed to run anonymously for its first 15 years, even though it was one of the largest sources of grants in the United States, Ireland, South Africa and Vietnam.

“When you’ve got the money, you spend it,” Mr. Feeney said. “When you’ve spent it all, let someone else get going and spend theirs.”

By its end, Atlantic will have invested about $7.5 billion in direct medical care, immigration reform, education, criminal justice advocacy and peace-building initiatives. It was an invisible hand at the end of armed conflicts in South Africa and in Northern Ireland, providing funds to buttress constitutional politics over paramilitary action. It has supported marriage-equality campaigns, death penalty opponents and contributed $25 million to push health care reform.

An incredible man.

5. If you thought SuperPACs were an affront to Democracy, it’s time you were introduced to the 501(c)(4)s, aka the “dark money” groups.

Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show.

These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don’t have to disclose their donors to the public.

The two nonprofits had outspent each of the other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle, including political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, a ProPublica analysis of data provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, found.

Elections have always been fueled by money and men of means, however, we’re losing the last remaining facade of free elections. It’s long past time to strike at the root of our national political disease and publicly fund elections.

Fact Of The Day:  I know that it is Shark Week, but did you know that cows kill 27 times more people in America than sharks? Well, now you do.

Quote Of The Day: “Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection: they have many friends and few enemies.” – Wendell Phillips

Video Of The Day: A prescient vision of the tablet computer as designed by Knight-Ridder in 1984 as they envisioned the end of print newspapers. 

Song Of The Day: “A Good Idea” – Sugar

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com