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June 2009 Archives

July - August 2009 Legislative, Communication, and Media Training from TheCapitol.Net

July - August 2009 Legislative, Communication, and Media Training from TheCapitol.Net

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June 30, 2009 11:37 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/28/09

Three Worthwhile Health Care Videos

  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • How California Became Ungovernable - "The fiscal effect of Proposition 13 itself is only part of the damage the initiative did to California. Even worse have been the methods Capitol politicians devised to try to lessen the measure’s financial impact." What's missing is any mention of the growth of special interests, including public employee unions.
  • The Albany-Trenton-Sacramento Disease - "President Obama has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It's hard to miss the irony that he's pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years -- California, New Jersey and New York.

    A decade ago all three states were among America's most prosperous. California was the unrivaled technology center of the globe. New York was its financial capital. New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation after Connecticut and Massachusetts. All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due."
  • Degrees of employment - "A majority of college graduates 25 and under are working in jobs that don’t require a college degree--if they’re working at all--concludes a survey by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. ... Going to community college to learn vocational skills is a good bet for young people who lack academic interests. The 20-year-old with the medical technology certificate is going to trump the 22-year-old with the degree in journalism or political science--and a pile of loans to pay off."
  • Barack Obama vs. International Law - "By characterizing its demand that Israel prohibit Jews from building homes in Israel's capital city and its heartland as a legal requirement, the Obama administration portrays Israel as an international outlaw. After all, if building homes for Jews is a crime, and Israel is not prohibiting Jews from building homes, then Israel is at best guilty of enabling a crime to take place, and at worst, it is a criminal state.
    The problem with the Obama administration's characterization of a ban on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as an Israeli legal obligation is that Israel has never taken upon itself a legal obligation to prohibit such building activities. Israel has never signed an agreement that has characterized any Jewish communities as 'illegal.'
    Multiple news reports in recent days have indicated that the Obama administration is working to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian government that will include Hamas. US efforts to legitimize the incorporation of a terrorist group in a Palestinian government are a severe violation of US and international law. This is the case since it would clearly involve aiding a designated terrorist organization and helping to provide it with a safe haven.
    Obama, the former law professor, never tires of invoking international law. And yet, when one considers his policies toward Israel on the one hand, and his policies toward illegal terrorist organizations on the other, it is clear that Obama's respect for international law is mere rhetoric."
  • Michael Jackson - "One isolated case doesn’t prove anything, of course. But obviously his vegetarian diet didn’t make him immune to cardiac arrest, if that’s what killed him. And if he was abusing alcohol, a diet consisting of vegetarian foods that metabolize easily into blood sugar may have made him crave the stuff, as I talked about during my interview with Nora Gedgaudas.
    Meanwhile, cancer is virtually non-existent among hunter-gatherers. There’s a reason cancer, heart disease and Type II diabetes are called 'The Diseases of Civilization.' They barely show up in populations that still live on a primal diet.
    So the moral of the story is: don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, and don’t eat junk food. But a steak isn’t junk food. Biscuits are junk food."
  • Grumpy Old Man: How did I become such a curmudgeon? - "What happens to middle-aged men to make them so irritable? It is almost as if there’s a hormone, a bit like testosterone, that is released into the bloodstream once we reach a certain age.
    . . .
    It must be something to do with becoming a stakeholder in society: Once men become fathers, we have a vested interest in preserving public order. Overnight, we go from being apathetic Bohemians to the Elite Republican Guard of the bourgeoisie. I used to be a party animal, but in the last five years I have become a trustee of a blindness charity, the patron of a residential community for adults with learning disabilities and the head of fund-raising on the PTA of my daughter’s primary school. It’s official: I’m a pillar of the community.
    . . .
    But the flipside is that I’m also about a hundred times more grumpy. Now that I’ve been press-ganged into joining the officer class, I won’t tolerate any bad behaviour in the lower ranks. I have all the Messianic zeal of a born-again non-smoker -- and don’t even talk to me about smoking in front of my children. I’m Mr Angry. If I was allowed to issue tickets to people parking illegally on my street, I would.
    . . .
    Quick, give me some beta-blockers. I feel a heart-attack coming on." ht 2Blowhards
  • Natural History Magazine's Picks From the Past
  • The End of Transparency (Before It Ever Began) - "If legislation of this sort, which establishes the first-ever regulatory controls on the most ubiquitous byproduct of modern industrial society, imposes new efficiency requirements on all-manner of appliances and consumer products, could trigger the imposition of tariffs on foreign products (likely in violation of U.S. trade commitments), furthers the federal government's environmentally destructive love affair with corn-based ethanol, contains numerous provisions drafted or urged by various special interest groups, and (at least in one version) contained provisions designed to create a national housing code, can be adopted by a House of Congress within hours of being written (let alone becoming public), then any claim of transparency in government is a farce.

    UPDATE: FWIW, the Waxman-Markey climate bill passed 219-212. Any guess how many of those 219 (or, for that matter, the 212) really know everything that is in the bill?

    SECOND UPDATE: As it turns out, there was not even a copy of the final bill language available in any form when the bill passed. Rather, as David Freddoso reports, the House Clerk had a copy of the 1090-page bill that emerged by committee and a copy of the 300-page set of amendments agreed upon at 3am Friday morning, and many provisions in the latter consist of the likes of 'Page 15, beginning line 8, strike paragraph (11) . . .' In other words, it is highly doubtful that more than a handful of member of Congress knew the contents of the legislation they voted on."
  • The know-nothing party - "To become a citizen, immigrants must answer six of 10 basic civics questions, such as: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? Who was the first president of the United States? When the Goldwater Institute asked Arizona public high school students 10 random questions from the citizenship list, only 3.5 percent got six or more questions right, writes Matthew Ladner in a preview on Jay Greene’s blog. Half the students got only one question right."
  • Last Journey: A Father and Son in Wartime, a review by Anthony Swofford - "The elder Mr. Griffin and his son had been engaged in a decades-long debate that they called "The Great Conversation." The senior Griffin guided his son's reading when the boy was younger and then was led by the son as he grew older and hungrier for knowledge. The men decided that when Skip returned from Iraq after his second tour they would write a book together, based on their intellectual engagement. One father wants to take his son to a bar; another wants to write a book with his son. This fact alone is rather remarkable." ht ALD
  • Youth Not Liking Catcher in the Rye - "The classic (1951) book of teenage angst, Catcher in the Rye, is about a young man, Holden Caulfield, who finds the world filled with phonies. Adults are shallow, hypocritical, insignificant. He seems to have Tourrette's syndrome, as every other word is 'goddam'. The New York Times reports current teens find the protagonist whiny, as opposed to 'deep'. Perhaps reality television and more complex TV shows are paying off."

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June 28, 2009 12:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Proxy Vote"

Proxy Vote: The practice of permitting a member to cast the vote of an absent colleague. Proxy voting is permitted only in Senate committees if committee rules allow them.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

June 27, 2009 12:37 PM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/25/09

The No-Rights List

  • How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories, June 26, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • States Fight Medicaid Expansion - "Some governors are pushing to scale back or kill proposals to expand Medicaid to provide health-care coverage to the uninsured, raising a new challenge to President Barack Obama's effort to overhaul the system. Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor, is funded through a combination of federal and state tax money. Proposals in the House and Senate would expand the program to cover at least a third of the nation's 46 million uninsured, but states are worried they would get stuck with a big part of the tab."
  • AmeriCorps feared bad press if IG investigation continued - "Walpin's objections were the subject of a now-controversial May 20 meeting in which Walpin, to use his term, 'lectured' the board on what he believed was its mistake in approving the Johnson settlement. On the morning of the meeting, the Sacramento Bee reported that a man named Rick Maya, who worked with Kevin Johnson in the St. HOPE project, claimed that Johnson's emails had been deleted during the time of Walpin's investigation. The Maya news suggested that there might have been obstruction of justice in the St. HOPE affair, and Walpin used it to drive home his point that the board should have let his investigation stand. ... Later in the meeting, members questioned Walpin about his intentions. It was at that point that they say Walpin became confused and disoriented. But whatever Walpin's demeanor, it appears that board members, of both parties, were worried about the possibility of embarrassing new revelations involving a sensational case they thought had been closed. After the meeting, the board began an accelerated effort to remove Walpin, compiling an informal list of grievances against him -- he could be difficult, he telecommuted, he was somehow disabled -- that the White House would ultimately cite as cause for his firing. But there is no doubt that, whatever the other reasons, the board feared that a revival of a scandal they thought was in the past would be embarrassing to the newly-prominent AmeriCorps."
  • BigLaw: How to Work With Very Difficult Clients
  • Housing Bust and Mobility
  • Deflating our way to Prosperity: Five Major Sectors of our Economy Pointing to Demand Destruction Price Deflation. Education, Wages, Housing, Stocks, and Automobiles. - "As we highlighted early in the article, only two areas are now seeing inflation. Those are medical care and education. Education I hate to say is also experiencing a bubble with easy financing. How many people do you know who went or sent their kids to a private non-elite college paying $40,000 a year in tuition to pursue a career that wouldn’t pay more than $30,000 a year? Clearly, many of these people would have never been able to afford the tuition cost if it wasn’t for easy access to student loans."
  • How Difficult Is It To Post A Bill On The White House Website For Five Days?
  • Insightful books on politics, written by politicians
  • Daredevil: Riding motorbikes without a helmet, flying planes while half asleep--not to mention discussing books he’d never read and using words he didn’t understand--William F. Buckley courted adventure in all that he did. Here, the conservative godfather’s onetime protégé and longtime nemesis [Garry Wills] fondly recalls their friendship--and argues that Buckley was not the snob many thought him to be.
  • PBGC Assumes Pensions at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc
  • Beating the Heart Association diet is child's play - "Elimination of wheat and sugars yields dramatic effects on basic lipids, especially reductions in triglycerides of up to several hundred milligrams, increased HDL, reduced LDL."
  • How Much Dough Did Clear Burn Through? - "Clear was, as I said yesterday, a very expensive failure. With two or three people staffing its access lanes at 18 airports, and with one or two others staffing the enrollment kiosks in terminals, the weekly nut had to have been quite impressive.

    And that doesn't count the money spent on the GE-produced electronic shoe-scanner kiosks that the TSA adamantly refused to approve for security use, or the equipment to produce biometric ID cards at each Clear location. Or the development of other technology, which was well underway.

    Clear was the brand name of the version of the ill-fated 'registered traveler' program that Steven Brill's Verified Identity Pass Inc. tried mightily, and futilely, to install as a component of airport security. The TSA, as I said yesterday, wanted no part of private-enterprise incursion on its security turf, and successfully bled Clear to death."

  • The U.N.'s 10-Year Plan to Eradicate Drugs: How'd That Go? - "In 1998 Pino Arlacchi, executive director of the U.N. Drug Control Program, declared: 'Global coca leaf and opium poppy acreage totals an area less than half the size of Puerto Rico. There is no reason it cannot be eliminated in little more than a decade.' How's that going? Today Antonio Maria Costa, Arlacchi's successor at what is now the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), issued a 314-page report that takes stock of what was accomplished during the U.N. Decade Against Drug Abuse. Among other things, estimated global production of opium more than doubled, from 4,346 metric tons in 1998 to 8,890 in 2007. During the same period estimated cocaine production rose from 825 to 994 metric tons. But don't be discouraged, Costa says; a century after the dawn of international drug control efforts, we're about to turn the corner."
  • Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on glycemic control in outpatients with severe type 2 diabetes
  • Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius - "Multiple intelligences put every child on an equal footing, granting the hope of identical value in an ostensible meritocracy. The theory fits well with a number of the assumptions that have dominated educational philosophy for years. The movements that took flower in the mid-20th century have argued for the essential sameness of all healthy human beings and for a policy of social justice that treats all people the same. Above all, many educators have adhered to the social construction of reality -- the idea that redefining the way we treat children will redefine their abilities and future successes. (Perhaps that's what leads some parents to put their faith in 'Baby Einstein' videos: the hope that a little nurturing television will send their kids to Harvard.) It would be difficult to overestimate the influence of Gardner's work, both in repudiating that elitist, unfair concept of 'g' and in guiding thought in psychology as it applies to education.
    Finally, as Waterhouse noted in her exchange with Gardner, the theory of multiple intelligences has little value for clinical testing of intelligence or the prediction of future performance. 'G' alone is highly predictive of both academic and work success. The other intelligences, or whatever they are, add very little.

    Part of the confusion that has allowed the theory to survive long past the stage of empirical disrepute is the irascible debate regarding what intelligence is in the first place. Intelligence is among the most stable of psychological constructs. It is as possible to define it both operationally and conceptually as it is for almost any other psychological variable, although that might not be saying much. At worst, intelligence is like pornography: I may not be able to define it to the satisfaction of all, but I sure know it when I see it (or, in the case of intelligence, when I come across its absence). At the optimistic extreme, a reasonable definition of intelligence is not hard to come by. Intelligence: an innate cognitive ability that powers learning. Perfect? No. But that's basically it.

    Aren't there plenty of Ph.D.'s who can't fix their cars? Sure, but the majority of them could learn if they were so inclined. An individual with low 'g' is going to struggle at both book learning and auto repair (although perhaps car mechanics would prove more manageable than literary theory or quantum physics). In other words, individuals high in "g" are going to be able to learn a wider range of activities with greater ease than individuals low in 'g'.
    Many people like to think that any child, with the proper nurturance, can blossom into some kind of academic oak tree, tall and proud. It's just not so.

    Multiple intelligences provides a kind of cover to preserve that fable."

  • A&P Mechanic's Cable Key Ring
  • Amazing footage of lunar probe's final moments before it crashes into Moon
  • Bing and Google Agree: Slow Pages Lose Users
  • Richard Marx, One Of The Artists Jammie Thomas Supposedly Shared, Blasts Verdict, Apologizes
  • Amanda Palmer Connects With Fans, Gives 'Em A Reason To Buy... And Makes $19k In 10 Hours

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June 25, 2009 09:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments: A Hands-On How to Program for Professionals

TheCapitol.Net Hosts Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments: A Hands-On How to Program for Professionals

Do you or your staff need assistance shaping a piece of legislation or an amendment? If yes, look no further than TheCapitol.Net’s comprehensive, one-stop course, Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments on July 29, 2009.

Attendees gain a hands-on, how-to guide from faculty, starting with putting their thoughts on paper, to drafting, style, and organizational guidelines. This course is meant for professionals who have advanced negotiating, strategic thinking, and written communication skills. Participants should have familiarity with congressional documents, operations and procedures.

Experienced legislative drafters will show attendees how to:

  • Research and define your audience
  • Improve your measure's appeal
  • Assess existing law and policy objectives
  • Structure bills and amendments to streamline the drafting process
  • Comply with the U.S. Code rules of construction, style, grammar and punctuation
  • Use drafting styles that work in your favor
  • Apply drafting language to your ideas and goals

Attendees will learn about guidelines for writing a piece of legislation, drafting styles, and approval and transmittal motions for federal agencies including the Office of Management and Budget clearance process.
As part of the course, attendees participate in hands-on exercises where they dissect errors in a sample piece of legislation to draft their own legislation, while faculty give one-on-one feedback and guidance.

The conference is approved for .6 CEU credits from George Mason University. Fee includes all course materials, the training edition of the Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook, a continental breakfast, and a networking lunch. To preserve the small-group, hands-on atmosphere, seating is limited. This course is an elective for TheCapitol.Net Certificate in Congressional Operations. To register, learn more, or view the complete agenda, please visit or call TheCapitol.Net directly at 703-739-3790.

Based in Alexandria, VA, TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan firm that since 1999 has offered media, legislative, budget and advocacy training for thousands of government and business leaders each year.


June 23, 2009 11:27 AM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/23/09

What they are chanting in Iran

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June 23, 2009 08:27 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/21/09

St. Louis Blues - 1958 - A Jazz Dream?

Watch Walpin for yourself: does this man seem confused?

  • Tracking and Monitoring Legislation: How to Find and Use Congressional Documents, June 25, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories, June 26, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • Khamenei on the Ropes? - "Iran is not a theocracy. It is a military dictatorship headed by Khamenei and advised by a coterie of generals from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Army, as well as hard-liners in the secret police. Ahmadinejad is little more than the spokesman for this group"
  • Keep the $3.65 - I Don't Need it Anymore - "I truly cannot believe what it took to get a $3.65 refund from the Metro system in D.C., also known as WMATA, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It required a chat with station agent, filling out a paper form and mailing it, two phone calls and two emails. I purposely put myself through this to test the system. When my farecard didn't work last month (I usually use a more technologically advanced 'SmarTrip' card that I just flash at the barrier and the gates open, but I'd left it at home) I showed it to the station manager. He gave me the option of sending the dead card in for a refund of the amount left. Yes, $3.65 is a trivial amount but this can be a bigger issue for people who load a card up with, say, $100."
  • A Swat At PETA - "I realize the PETA folks like to blur the distinctions between various life-forms, but flies aren’t animals. They’re insects. They don’t plan for their futures, they don’t fall in love, and they don’t miss their cousin Boo-Boo if he has an unfortunate encounter with a presidential hand. A fly is probably about as intelligent as a medium-sized potato - and therefore only slightly more intelligent than a medium-sized PETA volunteer. ... p.s. - some months ago I wrote a little poem in a comment on Mike Eade’s blog:

    PETA, PETA, Pumpkin eater,
    Had a wife but served no meat her.
    Fed her corn and pasta shells,
    And only killed her beta cells."

  • The Newsweekly’s Last Stand - "The Economist prides itself on cleverly distilling the world into a reasonably compact survey. Another word for this is blogging, or at least what blogging might be after it matures--meaning, after it transcends its current status as a free-fire zone and settles into a more comprehensive system of gathering and presenting information. As a result, although its self-marketing subtly sells a kind of sleek, mid-last-century Concorde-flying sangfroid, The Economist has reached its current level of influence and importance because it is, in every sense of the word, a true global digest for an age when the amount of undigested, undigestible information online continues to metastasize. And that’s a very good place to be in 2009."
  • Coldwell Banker CEO: "Move-up buyers absent"
  • More Layoffs at Cessna in Business-Aircraft Malaise - "Cessna Aircraft is cutting another 1,300 jobs, following the 6,900 job cuts it announced last month, citing lower demand for new aircraft. Last year, Cessna employed over 15,000 people."
  • Down with capitalism! (sort of) - "Yet again we find evidence that the current global economic crisis hasn't resulted in political swings against markets."
  • More New Regulation! - "The problem with Washington oversight is they haven't a clue what is important, only what is popular. The pitchfork and torches crowd is against 'rich guys in suits' and derivatives, and want to appear pro-active. ... Warning labels? Has anyone seen a mortgage in the past 5 years? There are tens of pages, and you have to initial it in 17 places, so many none are read by your average borrower. So now we will have to initial in 34 places. If the warning light is always flashing, people ignore it. But to prioritize implies understanding the relative magnitudes of risk, and that is outside their scope. This doesn't change anything. ...The positive feedback loop of nonprofits getting Federal grants, giving money to poor people to buy homes they could not afford, supported by homebuilders and lenders who would then donate to legislators, could not be more corrupt."
  • House Prices and the Unemployment Rate - "this graph suggests that house prices will not bottom (in real terms) until the unemployment rate peaks (or later, especially since the current bubble dwarfs those previous housing bubbles). And it is unlikely that the unemployment rate will peak for some time ..."
  • Obama Lawyers Talk Gitmo and Judge-Picking at ACS Convention - "The final question of the night-- 'What does the Obama presidency mean to you?'-- came from an audience member. It even gave [Jones Day partner Noel Francisco, the sole conservative on the panel], who represents oil and tobacco companies now grappling with tougher regulations, an opportunity to see the bright side of a Democratic administration. His answer: 'Enormous amounts of business.'"
  • No, Obama can't govern like FDR in 1933 - "But this is not 1932, and Obama is not FDR. FDR came into office with 20+% unemployment and a banking crisis that was wiping out peoples' life savings every day. FDR also came into office with a trivial national debt, and a Federal government that consumed less than 4% of GDP. He had a lot of run room. Maybe more importantly, he came into office without the kinds of institutional arrangements that made it politically difficult to pass his policies. ... No president will ever again face a Congress as ready to follow a president and as unprepared to set a different course as the Congress Franklin Roosevelt called into special session in March 1933."
  • Is the revolution over? - "I'd just like to repeat a simple question I asked at the beginning of the Obama administration: which would you rather have, the fiscal stimulus or $775 billion in public health programs?"
  • Foreclosure Reality Check: 1.6 Million Foreclosure Filings with 5 Months of Data. California Notice of Defaults and Foreclosures Skyrocketing. - "Foreclosures are jumping not because of home prices falling but because home prices went too high! Can you imagine during the tech bubble bursting someone explaining that the bubble burst not because of over valuation but because was falling and we need to put a bottom on prices? How about giving tax breaks for those buying AOL stock? The same thing is occurring with housing. In fact, the easiest way to fix this problem is to give every American $20,000 more as 'wages' and you’ll see prices of everything go up. Not a smart idea but neither is giving trillions to Wall Street and banks who designed the eco-system of this bubble. We are giving those 'wages' to Wall Street and that is why they are now back up. Have you taken a look at Goldman Sachs recently? ... How people can be calling a bottom while foreclosures reach historic levels is beyond me."
  • P.J. O’Rourke on the American Car
  • Book Review: 'The Birth of Plenty' Is a True Economic History of the World - "The Birth of Plenty is meant to be an economic history of the world. A tall order, for sure. But it delivers. Bernstein’s basic premise is that healthy institutions promote prosperity. In particular, countries must possess the following basic institutional ingredients in order to prosper:

      1. Property Rights
      2. The Scientific Method
      3. Capital Markets
      4. Effective Means of Transportation and Communication

    After describing the historical development of each of these institutions, Bernstein then goes on to describe which countries were able to develop such institutions, which countries were not, and to what effect. "
  • "Public debt could represent 80% of GDP before today's third-graders graduate from high school."
  • Dr. Frank Luntz: Evil Genius Preventing the Cure for Cancer - "Back when I was merely middle-aged and the Golden State was considering a mandated-insurance statewide health care reform proposal, I had fun trying to get Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to use the word 'coercion' in describing how he was going to get hundreds of thousands of Californians who didn't want to buy insurance to buy insurance. His response -- that he was seeking to change the 'mentality of people' in order to make Californians more closely resemble the Austrians he once bragged about fleeing -- was instructive. Schwarzenegger's health care overhaul failed specifically because its breezy assumptions couldn't survive the light of day. And that was in the land of the nuts and the fruits. Imagine how much bogus language remains to be unpacked as the realities of multi-trillion-dollar state-run programs and death's inescapable victory reveal themselves through the summer."
  • Cooperating Against the Censors - "One of the consequences of governments attempting to crack down on dissent is increasing cooperation among groups in different countries pushing for greater liberty and human rights. For instance, some of the most important aid for Iranian protestors is coming from Chinese dissidents."
  • Signaling and Solidarity - "So folks on Twitter have been turning their avatars (little profile photos) green to show solidarity with the protesters in Iran. There are websites to help you do this. But why do this? How does it help? I want the Iranian people to live in freedom, just as I want all people to live in freedom. But the point of the gesture eludes me, unless the point of the gesture is to be seen making the gesture by others who will credit you for it. Like so many political gestures, it is vanity dressed up as elevated moral consciousness."
  • Hard to Understand - "A low-time GA pilot buys a hot new ride, gets trained and certified by the company to fly it exclusively in visual meteorological conditions, inadvertently enters IFR and crashes, killing himself and a passenger – pretty much the oldest story in the books."
  • Another watershed moment in American indebtedness - "The people lending us the money know that we will eventually have to further weaken the value of the dollar to pay off the loans or we would start defaulting. The price we pay to lenders has risen 2 percent since January -- billions more in interest. So the interest rates will keep rising as lenders try to stay ahead of the inflation they know will eventually follow, just as it does in other desperately indebted nations."
  • How do recessions affect friendships?
  • Reports: State income levels plunge - "States racing to cobble together new budgets for their July 1 deadline could find themselves sinking back into red ink sooner than they think, as Americans’ income and the taxes they pay on it shrink, new data show."
  • In tough times, consumers tend to trade down on college choices too - "Just as grocery shoppers trade down to private-label products in hard times, consumers of college services are making a similar value-for-the-dollar transition. ... 'The primary way a bubble bursts in higher education is a reallocation of students,' said Andrew Gillen, research director at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. 'The schools dependent on charging students $30,000 a year are really going to be in trouble.'"
  • Google Voice to Offer Phone and Messaging Services
  • Using Gmail Aliases for Better Organization
  • 21 of The Coolest VoIP and Skype Gadgets
  • Update on ‘Barrel Monster’
  • Beware of These Speeding Ticket Myths - "If you're going to fight a ticket, don't believe everything you read. I've listed some common myths...."
  • Consumer Reports Rates Digital Cameras
  • MySpace: That Great Club Everyone Used To Go To
  • Kindle DX vs. Kindle 2 - "If you like to read on the go and portability is important to you – go with Kindle 2. If you need to work with PDF files or graphically intensive content that K2 can’t display properly because of lack of support or small screen size – go with Kindle DX."
  • Kindle’s DRM Rears Its Ugly Head… And It IS Ugly - There is a limit on how many times you can download a Kindle book. "This entire episode makes me question whether or not I will purchase any additional books from Amazon. I never wanted to get on the 'DRM-Complaint Bandwagon'."
  • Gnome Sweet Gnome - "You see them in gardens, peeking out from shrubbery; they even star in TV commercials for an online travel agency, for some odd reason. They're garden gnomes, and love 'em or hate 'em they're a fixture of the suburban landscape. The question is, WHY??"
  • Why Laptop Battery Claims Are So Useless, And Why That Won't Soon Change

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June 21, 2009 08:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony

TheCapitol.Net Hosts Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony: Audience Analysis, Research, Drafting, and Delivering Congressional Testimony

Are you being called to the Hill within the next few months? Does the thought of testifying in front of Members of Congress make you nervous? If so, TheCapitol.Net course, Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony on July 30, 2009, will prepare you with the tools you need to impress the big shots on Capitol Hill.

Taught by faculty who have more than 10 years' experience working with and helping professionals prepare for testifying before congressional committees, this course eases the nerves and jitters of those being called to testify.

Attendees learn all aspects of testimony preparation including research, persuasion and the effective structure of written and oral testimony. Delivery techniques to enhance oral delivery, ways to deal with stress, and techniques for addressing Q&A sessions are discussed.

This course is open to all attendees who write or deliver testimony before Congress. Faculty will answer attendees’ questions about the do’s and don’ts of congressional testimony.

This course is approved for .6 CEU credits from George Mason University. Fee includes all course materials, a continental breakfast, and a networking lunch. To preserve the small-group, hands-on atmosphere, seating is limited. This course is an elective for the Certificate in Communication and Advocacy. To learn more, please visit or call TheCapitol.Net directly at 703-739-3790.

Based in Alexandria, VA, TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan firm that since 1999 has offered media, legislative, budget and advocacy training for thousands of government and business leaders each year.

June 19, 2009 06:37 PM   Link    Training    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/19/09

James Randi and Steve Novella

  • Tracking and Monitoring Legislation: How to Find and Use Congressional Documents, June 25, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories, June 26, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • Advanced Federal Budget Process, August 3-4, 2998
  • Advanced Legislative Strategies, August 5-7, 2009
  • No master of that domain - In California, "a domain name is not something a judgment creditor can have 'turned over' as an asset of the debtor"
  • The Neocon Right Swoons for Iran - "I can’t get too pumped about what’s going on in Iran. Perhaps on balance Mousavi would be better for the United States and the Iranian people. It’s hard to say. But lots of angry people in the streets does not mean he’s a great guy with a great plan to support a more liberal and decent regime in Iran. Muqtadr al Sadr used to get the crowds out too. Indeed, so did Khomenei. It’s just as likely, considering the people and history involved, Mousavi would spend much of his energy oppressing his erstwhile oppressors if elected. This is the way politics runs in the Third World."
  • Unrest In Iran -- Why Obama Is Proceeding With Caution - "While the election of Ahmadinejad or his rival and more pragmatic fellow insider, Mir Hossein Mousavi, may ultimately have no effect on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons or its support for terrorism, the outcome is likely to dramatically affect how Iranians live and conduct their internal affairs."
  • Trying to Cover the Unenthusiastic Uninsured - "[A]ny government plan would have to confront and overcome a troubling characteristic of the uninsured that rarely gets discussed in reform debates: Many of them, perhaps nearly half of the 47 million Americans without coverage, earn enough to afford insurance, or qualify for existing government health programs, but still remain without coverage. Why do they lack coverage, then? One reason is that some of them have simply decided to spend their money elsewhere. ... Designing a health care effort that offers newfangled options for all of these folks won’t mean much unless we actually get them to participate. And to do that we need some honest assessment of why people in this huge group aren’t insured already. You won’t get much of that in a lot of the coverage of America’s health care woes. ... Some 45 percent of uninsured adults without children who earn more than three times the poverty level are in their 20s and 30s, and 93 percent of this group report their health as good or excellent."
  • How to Strategically Cut Your Healthcare Bill - "Rather than paying for an all-inclusive healthcare plan, CNN Money says that now might be a good time to ditch the vision and dental options. The article suggests running a quick calculation to determine if this method would benefit your situation."
  • The Illinois Admissions Scandal - "Illinois, the state where Senate seats are sometimes sold, has now scandalized higher education with the revelation that hundreds of applicants to the University of Illinois were placed on a special 'clout' list, many receiving favorable treatment. According to a series of investigative reports by The Chicago Tribune, state legislators, university trustees, and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich successfully pressured University of Illinois officials to admit less qualified applicants, including a relative of influence peddler Antoin (Tony) Rezko."
  • The Second Coming of Corn Flakes - "Remember not too long ago, when I was talking about the history of the Protestant churches and how it all started with Henry the VIII and Martin Luther and went downhill from there? I was admonished by some for being 'too simplistic', a criticism I fully embrace. My excuse? It's only a blog. Each denomination could take up several volumes. As time goes on, new denominations spring up like weeds in a vacant lot and their seeds blow in the wind and plant even more denominations."
  • The Politics of the REAL ID Revival Bill - "But while all the stars aligned for repeal (or continued rigor mortis), one cloud came across the sky: State lobbying groups, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures found in REAL ID an opportunity to gain influence. (Or perhaps it was just the lobbyists within those groups.) If REAL ID were to move forward, and if they could make a plausible case that the federal government would fund it, the state lobbies would cement their role as supplicants in Congress for their 'clients,' the governors and legislatures. They would have a permanent job begging Congress for money and managing federal control of state driver licensing policy. ... With its huge tax revenues - and willingness to borrow on the credit of future generations - the federal government may put up the tens of billions of dollars it takes to fund the national ID system. The states will get to grow their driver licensing bureaucracies, even though they lose power to decide what their driver licensing bureaus do. NGA and NCSL - the real winners - lock in their lobbying business. This is not the kind of bargain our politicans and government are supposed to produce, though. The distinct roles that the Constitution sets out for the states and federal government are supposed to create conflict among them, not collaboration. When governments get together, the result is not good for liberty. And the national ID system found in the 'PASS ID Act' is not good for liberty."
  • Zotero - "Zotero is a free program for citations management and bibliography generation designed to be competitive with Endnote and similar products. ... If you are looking at a paper on JSTOR, for example, you can "one-click import" the citation. One-click import is also available from Amazon, Cite-Seer, ABI-Inform, the Library of Congress, many university library catalogs, Medline, Google books and many others."
  • The Simple Fitness Rules

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June 19, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Engrossed Measure"

Engrossed Measure: Official copy of a measure as passed by one chamber, including the text as amended by floor action. Measure is certified by the clerk of the House or the secretary of the Senate.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

June 18, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/17/09

John Williams and Julian Bream: C.Debussy-Clair de Lune

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June 17, 2009 08:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/15/09

Katrina Pierson Invites Janeane Garafolo to Dallas Tea Party

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June 15, 2009 08:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/13/09

As Time Goes By

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June 13, 2009 08:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Glossary of Legislative Terms: "Cordon Rule"

Cordon Rule: Senate rule that requires a committee report to show changes the reported measure would make in current law.

Congressional Deskbook

This definition is from the Glossary in our Congressional Deskbook.

Perfect reference tool of Congressional jargon and procedural terms.

Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael Koempel and Judy Schneider.

TheCapitol.Net offers training and a Certificate in Congressional Operations and Federal Budgeting. We show you how Washington and Congress work. TM

June 12, 2009 07:37 AM   Link    Tips and Terms    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/11/09

How to Slice and Dice an Onion Like a Pro
See also "How to Chop a Red Onion"

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June 11, 2009 08:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/8/09

Trailer for Mr. Hulot's Holiday

  • Capitol Hill Workshop, June 10-12, 2009
  • Tracking and Monitoring Legislation: How to Find and Use Congressional Documents, June 25, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories, June 26, 2009 - with WiFi Classroom
  • Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments, July 29, 2009
  • Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, July 30, 2009
  • 40,000 Fewer Students: Good or Bad? - "Those not going to college now, on average, have lower cognitive skills, less motivation, less already accumulated human capital, than those who do. Pushing those currently not attending college into universities is setting up millions of Americans to fail --either out of school (probably with big debts), or successfully graduated with the prospects of taking relatively menial jobs."
  • Why U.S. health care policy is especially egalitarian - "I am amazed (but not surprised) by how frequently people think of egalitarianism in terms of social markers of status rather than actual forward-looking endowments. It is common for more egalitarian policies to be less efficient."
  • The problem of nationalization: Barney Frank pressures GM to keep warehouse open - "It's common sense that putting the government in charge of a company opens that company up to all sorts of politics."
  • Work Till You Drop? - "We are ignoring the pensions timebomb at our own peril. Unfortunately, for far too many people this means that they will have to work till they drop - if they still have a job."
  • Militant Unions Raise Muni Risk - "This intersection of finance and politics has resulted in a steady increase in local debt and, more disturbing, an increase in offerings that circumvent state and local legislative debt limits. States and cities have created a bevy of public authorities and other bodies that they use to issue debt that’s officially off-the-books but still leaves taxpayers on the hook. Several years ago an audit in New York State found that public authorities there had issued some $43 billion in so-called ‘backdoor debt,’ that is, debt not approved by voters--one reason why the state will spend nearly $5 billion this year just to service its debt."
  • Reports: Bleak state budgets through 2011 - "Even if the national recession ends this year as many predict, state budgets will likely be in the red for the next two years, with budget gaps topping $230 billion as tax collections of sales, personal and corporate income lag, two new reports show. ... Some of the revenue drops are eye-popping."
  • NY's Pension Peril - It's Worse Than They Say - "But the situation isn't as bad as it sounds. It's actually worse -- when you realize that New York, like most other government employers across the country, systematically understates the true value of its long-term pension promises."
  • Geithner faces sluggish market, rents out NY home. Treasury secretary grapples with sluggish market -- for his own suburban NY home
  • A diploma isn’t enough - "Students who lack the motivation or academic skills to earn a college degree should be encouraged to aim for a vocational certificate at a community college. The effort will pay off."
  • The Reckoning - "A sojourn at an elite university, you see, can sometimes become a very dangerous thing indeed."
  • "Study, Study, Study" - A Bad Career Move - "I asked him why he considered it important to tinker with admissions instead of just letting the chips fall where they may. In an unguarded moment, he told me that unless the university took steps to 'guide' admissions decisions, UC would be dominated by Asians. When I asked, 'What would be wrong with that?' I got an answer that speaks volumes about the underlying philosophy at many universities with regard to Asian enrollment. The UC administrator told me that Asians are 'too dull - they study, study, study.' He then said, 'If you ever say I said this, I will have to deny it.' ... There is one truth that is universally applicable in the era of 'diversity,' especially in American universities: an absolute unwillingness to accept the verdict of colorblind policies."
  • What should university presidents and provosts know about economics that they don't?
  • The Tyranny of Shelter - "[The Poorhouse] makes a compelling case that the modern homeless shelter is more draconian than the 19th century almshouses he studied."
  • Presidential Signing Statements -- The More Things Change - "I'm sure it's only a matter of time until the ABA denounces as 'contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers' President Obama's use of signing statements to voice constitutional concerns about legislation he signs into law."
  • Chrysler to Emerge from C11 on Monday - "Provided, that is, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) turns down Indiana’s request to overrule the sale of assets from Old, Crap Chrysler to New, Italian-controlled Chrysler. This after the U.S. Appeals Court told the gearbox-factory-jilted state’s lawyers to piss off. Or, more specifically, 'You can’t wait for a better deal to come in from Studebaker.'"
  • How Patents Are Harming Small Companies Too - "While there have been plenty of high profile fights between patent holders vs. big companies, that's only a small part of the issue. And, in fact, it's often smaller, more innovative companies that are the most harmed by patents."
  • No PDFs! - "This week, Speaker Pelosi asked House administrators to post House members’ expenses on the Web, for the first time. ... Congress needs to be urged to provide these reports in a format that is structured, searchable, downloadable and mashable. This will enable the reuse of information to improve public scrutiny. Assurances should be given to the public that these records will be permanently archived and the House should be encouraged to make these reports happen in as close to real-time disclosure as feasible."
  • Sotomayor and the ADA/bar-exam case
  • Selflessly Giving…to Themselves - "A couple of days ago, I was driving through the streets of D.C. and ended up behind what appeared to be a new, black Jaguar. Now, trailing a Jag wasn’t all that extraordinary--D.C. is home to a lot of fancy cars. What was extraordinary was the wholly inconsistent declaration printed on the frame of the status symbol’s license plate: 'Proud to be a social worker.' ... public-service-as-a-synonym-for-sacrifice is largely a political myth, a narrative repeated by public employees to win your sympathy while they grab for your wallet."
  • Can't Get Your Act Together? Embrace Your Inner Eccentric - "A tweak here, an adjustment there, and we will seem charming, zany, madcap, instead of just disorganized and haphazard. After all, what's the difference between eccentric and flaky? A certain touch of whimsy, perhaps? A sense of purpose? A willingness to embrace the peculiar?"
  • The Learjet repo man - "Nick Popovich is a repo man, but not the kind that spirits away Hyundais from suburban driveways. Popovich is a super repo man, one of a handful of specialists who get the call when a bank wants back its Gulfstream II jet from, say, a small army of neo-Nazi freaks. For the past three decades, Popovich has been one of a secret tribe of big game hunters who specialize in stealing jets from the jungle hideouts of corrupt landowners in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil and swiping go-fast boats from Wall Street titans in Miami and East Hampton"
  • Book with Low-Fare Carriers to Maximize Leg Room "consider booking with a low-fare carrier to get the most leg room possible."
  • More biking = safer biking

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June 8, 2009 06:57 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Lobbyist Registration and Compliance Handbook

Lobbyist Registration and Compliance Handbook
Lobbyist Registration and Compliance Handbook
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act Guide, House and Senate Rules, and Lobbying Regulations for Nonprofits

The Lobbyist Registration and Compliance Handbook is an easy-to-use manual that compiles information, forms, guides, rules and regulations governing federal lobbying, including an overview of HLOGA. The Handbook has 23 chapters and includes Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance; user guides for the official Lobbying Disclosure Electronic Filing System; congressional rules for and examples of allowed and prohibited gifts, gift exceptions, travel, and conflicts of interest; gift-giving under executive branch regulations; the restrictions on lobbying after leaving the House or the executive branch; observations on lobbyists' compliance with the disclosure requirements; and a guide for lobbying by non-profits.

Softcover, 2009, 376 pages, $47.50
ISBN: 1587331527 ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-152-7

Complete Table of Contents, sample pages, and online ordering here.

June 6, 2009 08:57 AM   Link    Congress    Comments (0)

Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't)

They reached the conclusions that the more selective an institution, the higher the graduation rate, and that there exists wide discrepancy in completion rates among schools that admit similar types of students (lowest at the most selective colleges).
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[S]tudents ought to know their chances of receiving a degree at a particular school -- Diplomas and Dropouts makes this possible.

Making Graduation Rates Publicly Available

Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't). The full report is an 80 page pdf.

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June 5, 2009 08:47 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/5/09

A Vision of Students Today
I'm a fan of anthropologist Dr. Michael Wesch

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
BiG Mess
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

Daily Show: The BiG Mess

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June 5, 2009 07:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/3/09

Rappin' Jesus, Ronald Reagan and Atlas Shrugged

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June 3, 2009 06:47 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Assorted Links 6/1/09

Beniamino Gigli - O sole mio

How The Lock Industry Put Its Head In The Sand, Rather Than Deal With Vulnerabilities To Locks
The Ultimate Lock Picker Hacks Pentagon, Beats Corporate Security for Fun and Profit

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June 1, 2009 08:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)