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The Morning Grumpy – 9/20/12

20 Sep

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


1. Yesterday, Republican Senators refused to allow a vote on a bill that would have authorized a $1bn jobs program to put unemployed veterans back to work as firefighters and police officers and in public work projects. Shameful.

The bill, which had bipartisan support in the Senate and would have given priority to post-9/11 veterans whose employment prospects are three points below the national average, fell two votes short of the majority of 60 needed to waive Republican objections.

After the vote, at midday on Wednesday, Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate veterans affairs committee, accused Senate Republicans of “shocking and shameful” obstructive politics.

She said: “At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families.

“It’s unbelievable that even after more than a decade of war many Republicans still will not acknowledge that the treatment of our veterans is a cost of war. Today they voted down a fully paid-for bill that included bipartisan ideas to put veterans in jobs that will allow them to serve their communities. Jobs that would have helped provide veterans with the self-esteem that is so critical to their successful transition home.”

The bill had enough votes to pass, but as usual, the Republicans would not vote for cloture to allow an up or down vote on the Senate floor. This is not governing, it’s a constant hostage negotiation with the out-party.

2. Aside from insulting 47% of Americans and offering to kick the idea of Middle East Peace down the road for someone else to deal with, there was another interesting snippet in Mitt Romney’s speech before sex party enthusiasts and wealthy donors. He’s just an unlikeable douche.  Mitt was asked the following question:

“Right now I’m very concerned. Women do not want to vote for you. Hispanics, the majority of them, do not want to vote for you. College students don’t. After talking to them and explaining and relating to them on a one-on-one basis, we are able to change their opinions. But on a mass level, what do you want us to do, this group, as your emissaries, going out to convert these individuals?”

His answer?

“Frankly what I need you to do is to raise millions of dollars … that’s by far the most important thing you can do,” he said. “

Nice. However, the point remains that Mitt just isn’t very likeable or relateable for most Americans and that’s because American demographics have shifted away from old white guys.

Just looking at Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, you might not think of them as cultural pioneers. But the Republicans make up the first presidential ticket in history not to feature a Protestant.

Fifty years ago, the military, foreign service and top political offices were all dominated by WASPs — white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

“The minimal but unrelenting qualification was to be white, Anglo-Saxon in heritage and Protestant in religion,” the cultural critic Joseph Epstein writes in his book Snobbery. “If one was Catholic, or surely Irish Catholic, or Jewish, forget about it; if one was black, don’t even think about it.”

Because of the country’s changing population and shifts in educational opportunities, none of that is true anymore.

All of this represents a long-term problem for the Republican Party. The party has shut down its “big tent” and left the growing minority populations on the outside.  The Republican Party has become the home of aspiring wealthy plutocrats, undereducated rural voters, and religious zealots. Libertarians have even left the Republican tent and are now voting for their own candidates on the fringes in greater numbers than ever. This is not a good place for a political party to be in a rapidly changing nation.

3. Last year, I wrote about a great little kid named Caine and his cardboard arcade. The end of the first video featured a huge cash mob that descended on Caine’s Arcade and changed lives in his community. It got a little dusty while I watched the video. Well, Caine is back and his story has gotten so much bigger and better. Absolutely inspirational.

4. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett convinced eleven more billionaires to sign on to The Giving Pledge, an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals in the world to donate the majority of their assets to charity.

The newest members of the club include Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, and Charles Bronfman, the Canadian-born former head of Seagram Co.

The Giving Pledge, announced in 2010, was launched by Microsoft mogul Gates and investment guru Buffett who want to convince the richest people in the country to give 50 percent or more of their fortune to charity.

The group includes CNN founder Ted Turner, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Hollywood director George Lucas, as well as Buffett and Gates.

The most interesting note in the story is about the Chairman of Progressive Insurance, Peter Lewis.

Lewis said in his pledge letter that he would make donations aimed at “promoting a healthy democracy, broad civic participation and public policy — from the support of progressive think tanks to leadership training for public servants, to investigative journalism, ethics in government, and a democratic media.”

He added that another effort he would fund is “is taboo for most philanthropists yet exemplifies disastrous public policy… our nation’s outdated, ineffective marijuana laws.”

I love a liberal billionaire.

5. Steve Jobs may have made cooler products, but there is no question that Bill Gates was the better man. So far, Gates has donated more to charity ($28 Billion) than number eight on the Forbes Rich List (Stefan Persson) is worth ($26.0 billion). Our world will be forever changed by a man who performed the greatest tech hack ever.

Bill Gates has pulled off one of the greatest hacks in technology and business history, by turning Microsoft’s success into a force for social responsibility. Imagine imposing a tax on every corporation in the developed world, collecting $100 per white-collar worker per year, and then directing one third of the proceeds to curing AIDS and malaria. That, effectively, is what Bill Gates has done.

For more information about the incredible impact Bill Gates is having on our world, click here for an awesome infographic.

Fact Of The Day: Apple used ‘Carl Sagan’ as a codename for a computer in the 1990s. Carl Sagan sent Apple a cease-and-desist letter, and Apple changed the name to ‘Butt-Head Astronomer’. Carl Sagan sued for libel and lost, and Apple changed the name to ‘Lawyers are Wimps’.

Quote Of The Day: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra

Video Of The Day: Save $340 on the new iSuitcase cell phone from Radio Shack. Give one to your son so he can call home if he’s molested by his scout leader!

Song Of The Day: “Act Like You Know” – Fat Larry’s Band

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