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Next read; link to the publisher's site. Listen to Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview, from Oct. 6.

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27.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mum's the word Permalink to this item

Idaho news went national again, almost never a good thing. The Washington Post picked up Rebecca Boone's report for the AP, summarized in the headline: Idaho universities disallow abortion, contraception referral.

The 2021 legislative session, in its "regular" attack on women's autonomy (before Roe v. Wade was binned) went well over the top, driven by an extremist more effective at legislating than our run of the mill. Bruce Skaug's NO PUBLIC FUNDS FOR ABORTION ACT, a whole chapter under Title 18 Crimes and Punishments.

This morning's front page news in the Idaho Press notes that "almost all those who testified from all sides of the issue in front of the House State Affairs Committee testified against the bill," which the lawmakers routinely discount. With "abortion" mentioned 48 times in 4 pages, the 3 mentions of "emergency contraception" as defined by the FDA were a bit under the radar. It doesn't say anything about "contraception," generally.

But in the memo from "General Counsel <noreply@uidaho.edu>, the specific was made general, and "the areas of abortion and contraception" lumped together. One may, General says

"Have classroom discussions on topics related to abortion or contraception limited to discussions and topics relevant to the class subject and instructor neutrality" and

"Provide condoms for the purpose of helping prevent the spread of STDs and not for purposes of birth control"

What the fuck, you might be tempted to ask. Topics relevant to instructor neutrality? The advice is "a conservative approach," "that the university not provide standard birth control itself."

Boone's piece notes that the more general prohibition for contraception is in Idaho Code §18-603, dating back to 1972 (it says there), and "a law written in 1867, 23 years before Idaho became a state," according to Boone. (I looked for said law of the Territory of Idaho, and did not find it.)

"Every person, except licensed [healthcare providers and their direct agents] who wilfully publishes any notice or advertisement of any medicine or means ... for the prevention of conception ... is guilty of a felony."

Those licensed people can, in "good faith judgment" that a person is "is sufficiently intelligent and mature to understand the nature and significance thereof" can non-feloniously say things about contraception.

But wait, there's more! In Boone's piece, attorney Mike Satz, former faculty member and interim dean at the UI College of Law adds this twist:

The federal government also provides abortions through the Veteran’s Administration, Satz noted, and the “No Public Funds for Abortion Act” bars the state from contracting with abortion providers.

So... no more contracts with the federal government! This is what happens when you give legislating over to zealots, ideologues and extremists.

It's been pointed out that Griswold v. Connecticut protected contraception in 1965, based on marital privacy, and extended to unmarried people's access in Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972). The Idaho law passed in 1972 prohibiting related speech was unconstitutional soon after it was passed. Of course, the current SCOTUS has already laughed any "right to privacy" out of court.

2-image panorama of Boise front

And in football news Permalink to this item

Yeah, I know, not generally my thing, but with our local sports section bleeding blue and orange daily, this thing in the mix about Boise State University's football program in disarray caught my eye: Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier to enter the transfer portal. Sounds a little sci-fi, as if he were about to go to another dimension. Anyway, one of the coaches got fired, and the 2nd year head coach is getting a lot of stink-eye with a 1-2 start on the season and after "the Broncos were embarrassed in El Paso, Texas, getting outcoached and outplayed in a 27-10 loss to a subpar UTEP team.

Ouch. If you lost that badly to a "subpar" team, where does that leave you? But anyway, the young man who's off to a portal, with my emhpasis added:

"Because Bachmeier only played in four games this season, he can actually redshirt this season and transfer with two years of eligibility. Also, because he has already graduated, Bachmeier can enter the transfer portal immediately instead of having to wait until the end of the season."

He's already graduated, and he can play "college" football for two more years? "[A]fter a three-and-a-half year career" [sic] here in Boise?! That's some might funny higher education business.

Come for the big news, stay for the color commentary. This year's team "lacked an identy and floundered," had "an offense without rhythm," its once ascendant QB all of a sudden all at sea, after he'd started as "a fireball buzzing with energy," "charismatic," "goofy and loveable and caring," but then became "riddled with rampant change," an injury, a pandemic, and so on.

And an ugly sendoff from the fans: "two weeks ago, Bachmeier was booed during pregame warmups. When a gut-wrenching hit knocked him out of the game and Green ran out to replace him, the fans cheered." Wow, stay classy, Boise. And the sportswriting pièce de débâcle:

"Now, just like Bachmeier’s next landing spot, the future of Boise State football is up in the air."

P.S. Also noted that the Packers and Aaron Rodgers beat Tampa Bay and Tom Brady, yay.

"We have impact!" Permalink to this item

What a headline: NASA Spacecraft Collides with Near-Earth Asteroid, complete with a 70 second video of the last images from the Double Asteroid Redirection Test—DART—before it smashed into the tiny moon of a small asteroid at 14,000 mph. Oddly, the caption transcriber biffed the declaration someone labored over, showing it "[unclear]," but it was clear to me:

"And we have impact. A giant leap for humanity in the name of planetary defense."

This is rocket science extraordinaire: 10 months after its launch last November, operating autonomously for its last four hours, "DART had spotted Dimorphos only about an hour earlier, as a dot of light," out of the glare of the larger Didymos, and hit its target, 7 million miles away from earth, within 50 feet of center. As ever, pics or it didn't happen:

"About 40 [telescopes on Earth] were pointed at Didymos and Dimorphos, according to NASA and the mission’s managers. So were the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes as was the camera on Lucy, another NASA spacecraft. The LICIACube, a spacecraft about the size of a shoe box built by the Italian Space Agency, trailed DART to take photographs of the impact and the plume of debris. Its trajectory was shifted to the side so that it did not also crash into the asteroid."

Equinox #2 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Stop thief Permalink to this item

Picked up on Teri Kanefield's blog via Twitter recently. Tweets I saw today had mention of her "weekly" blog post, and as my own predilection slips from multi-daily to sub-daily, it occurs to me to wonder if weekly might not be a good idea. Developing ideas vs. pinging from one BREAKING NEWS to the next. (I can keep doing that on Twitter of course.)

Judge Cannon and the Future of Democracy became dated rather quickly. (An unfortunate stylistic choice: the post has no date visible; under the hood I see it says it was posted 9/17, modified 9/18, "early" in my TZ.) A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit produced a best-case (or at least a better-case scenario) in The Case of The Purloining FPOTUS, a per curiam decision to grant the DOJ's requested limited stay of Cannon's order. A big lose for Aileen Cannon, and a big win for justice. The lower court “abused its discretion in exercising jurisdiction ... as it concerns the classified documents,” they wrote. WaPo coverage can't help but mention the earlier "legal setback" of the day, NY AG Letitia James suing the whole clan for $250 million for "flagrantly manipulat[ing] property and other asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities to get better rates and lower tax liability.

But anyway, Kanefield's post provided a tidy synopsis of former guy's prolonged malfeasance, in (a) taking documents, and (b) stonewalling the National Archives:

19.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On incivility Permalink to this item

Photo of Datura fruit, 2004

There's nothing quite like "social media" for advancing the art. My first on-line read of the day was former BSU president Bob Kustra's op-ed in the Idaho Statesman, Here’s how Idaho GOP Chair Dorothy Moon failed in her attack on the Boise Pride Festival. Dot Moon is leaving the legislature, after her aspiration to be a 2020 election-denying Secretary of State failed in the primary. This year's state party convention buoyed her and the extremist wing up to leadership, of a sort. Her first big splash was to dog whistle for the torches and pitchforks crowd to try to disrupt this year's capital city Pride.

"...Moon sent a letter to the festival’s sponsors alerting them to the Drag Kids event, which she claimed promoted the “the sexualization of children” and used taxpayer-funded resources to do so. After Moon’s accusation, which the festival apparently thought might bring out vigilantes who could do harm to the performers, the festival chose to cancel that event.

"Moon’s memo to festival supporters also urged her sympathizers to place a “civil” call to the festival’s supporters expressing their disappointment and urging them to withdraw their sponsorship. Then, she repeated her plea to “maintain civility.”

"Let’s hit the pause button there. How many civic organizations in Idaho must warn their readers or members to maintain civility? How about the Chamber of Commerce, the City Club of Boise, Idaho Business for Education, the various service clubs in town? I’ve attended many meetings in Boise over the years and not once have I heard leaders of civic organizations warn members twice in one communication to maintain civility.In case there is any doubt where incivility is nurtured and spread, Dorothy Moon just gave it away. It’s in her own branch of the Republican Party of Idaho."

My second task was emptying the slop bucket, where "gopmaga" dot org is at the forefront these days, teasing a "1300% Match" against the possibility that He Who Must Not Be Named is about to be SILENCED! Be still my heart. One message from their channel addresses me as "Patriot," inside and out (putting that text on my email address in the header). The subject is "and her emails...", so no one is saying irony is dead. "Where's Hillary?" is the lead question, with a sales pitch for, wait for it, "limited-edition golf balls" with (I presume; my filter withholds dodgy images) the likeness of the former First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on them.

"We don't know where she's hiding, but YOU can have the chance to drive her straight into the woods," it says. "Who knows, you may even find her emails there too!" Order now. Send Hillary Flying, get it?

It's Rick Scott teeing off an email fundraiser. I took a look on the web for what the embedded image might look like, satisfied my curiosity, and along the way dredged up one of the waypoints of the devolution of civility, and the Republican Party, back when Stephen Bannon's campaign to "flood the zone with [excrement]" was finding its stride, in unpresidented ways. More about that in a moment.

It's relevant to know that yes, it's mostly true that Rick Scott oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history. When he was CEO of Columbia/HCA about a decade ago, the hospital company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. (The "mostly" part of the assessment is because that magnitude of healthcare fraud was surpassed in the years following. GlaxoSmithKline settled for a whopping $3 billion for improper promotion of certain drugs in 2012, for example.)

The Florida man failed upward from there, serving two terms as the state's governor, and then winning the 2018 US Senate seat by just 10,033 votes of 8.19 million cast; a 0.12% margin. (Florida failed upward as well, electing Ron DeSantis governer to succeed Scott.) He's the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee now, and the author of an 11-Point Plan to Rescue America by taxing the poor more, and feeding the rich.

If you do your Senatorial term math correctly, you'll note that he's not up for reelection, or anything this year, just, you know, off-year fundraising for the funds of it. By selling Hillary-themed golf balls. Maybe his derivative pscychopathology is groundwork for a 2024 presidential run. That would be quite the Florida cage match between him, Ron DeSantis, and Mango of Mar-a-Lago.

Speaking of whom, the first round of trash-talking Hillary on the links made news, a little, back in September 2017. The UK's "the poke." is as good a source as any: Donald Trump’s weirdest tweet yet – hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. "We’d call it peak Donald Trump but we know better than that, after the so-called president shared a mocked-up video of him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball."

Yes, indeed, that was not the Bizarro World "peak," nor anywhere near the depth of incivility that we continue to plumb.

15.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The hunt is over; we know who you are Permalink to this item

The subject line is Our Day 1 Agenda, which, you won't be surprised to learn, is the Festivus Airing of Grievances. (Great cover for grifting.) The buried alt-text is "Does this work for you?" The message is mostly in images (Paid for by McCarthy for Congress) that my spam protection doesn't load, so unintended humor: the answer is "not really."

It's remarkable to me that their machine cannot figure out who I am. It's definitely a blunt weapon. Here's what I can see of the "greatest hits" pantload, feebly relying on ALL CAPS to deliver the punches:

The DOJ has been completely WEAPONIZED as the Democrats' enforcement arm!

Make no mistake - they're doing everything they can to silence, smear, and intimidate the Left's political enemies!

House Republicans have HAD ENOUGH.

This UNPRECEDENTED political persecution by the DOJ must not go unanswered.

If you're as outraged as we are, we need every single pro-Trump Patriot to DEMAND AN INVESTIGATION.

Do NOT let Biden's DOJ get away with this.

What you choose to do next will determine everything.

Stand with Trump.
Stand with the GOP.
Drain the SWAMP.

And the big red button says

STOP THE WITCH HUNT

This after McCarthy walked back from the brink of ever so briefly talking about "responsibility." ("Some" responsibility, good lord.)

"Let me be clear to you and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if ands or buts," McCarthy told House Republicans on January 11, 2021, according to the readout obtained by CNN from a source listening to the call. "I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened. If he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to acknowledge that."

The bipartisan committee has investigated a great deal, despite McCarthy's reversion to form and stonewalling, and yes, thanks to the rejection of right-wing clown-conspirators Jim Jordan and Jim Banks. We don't need the Fox to be a member of the Committee to Investigate the Stolen Eggs.

14.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Vandal Vibe: JOE AND JANE ARE BACK! Permalink to this item

Photo from UI promo email

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the VandalStore has brought back "the popular Joe & Jane logo" at the Moscow store, "as well as featuring [it] on apparel and accessories." I've never seen an explanation of why the stopped using it (quite a while ago), and now they just toss off it being "popular"? Huh.

Anyway, they're having a "special sale on a limited edition Title IX crew for $19.72, to commemorate the year Title IX was established." (Versus $35 retail.) September 16-18. You know what to do.

The govandals page commemorating the anniversary features the elegant logo created by University of Idaho Publications Creative Director Leo Ames in 1978, the year I (first) graduated. It had a 20 year run before inexplicably being replaced by the perfunctory "first rendition of the I-Vandal logo" and its successors.

I see from the promo photo, they now have two girls for every boy, as well! That's definitely an upgrade from when I was in Moscow. (It was just about 1:2 back then.)

Hello patriot, Permalink to this item

The trope that the right wing is using for salutation these days, brought to mind the (Steven Van Zandt) song Jackson Browne covered in days gone by:

And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous,
some day...

I am a patriot
And I love my county
Because my country
is all I know...

Don't know how much of Van Zandt's lyric was self-disclosure, and how much was intended as irony, but "I only know one party / And it is freedom" as declaration can only be a statement of privilege, and confession of ignorance. Not possibly true, it seems to me, for aging rock and rollers well and truly installed in the Hall of Fame.

But in the daily cesspool of my spam bucket, there is a ton of "freedom." The top floater this morning is from a candidate using "theamericanfreedom" dot com. Speaking of irony. (She says she doesn't want money, just my signature. Sounds like a bit fraudish.) There's insurrectionist Josh Hawley (who remains a US Senator, incredibly) using that same domain, whaddayaknow, declaring that "President Trump and his MAGA A-team are bringing American greatness across the country!"

The "A-team" beggars imagination. There's magatoon, touting freedomtoons and offering "trending news" such as a new executive order that should give Americans "chills." (Their scare-quotes.) A 1000% Matching Check Activated, someone "fighting to keep our communities safe"; Patriot, you must salute Law and Order. The "1776 Project PAC" with a "FAVORITE quote" from Tucker Carlson, who "has a lot of great things to say." (He says to send them money, duh.) Magasupports dot com.

Herschel Walker's machine, JD Vance, Tim Scott ("An oxymoron"), little Marco Rubio with an anemic 400% Matching will lock at midnight, and one of my favorite new memes, [DELETE AFTER READING] from magaalert dot com, knowing its readership can't be trusted to guard secrets. "Patriot, as a top Trump patriot we need to loop you in as well." But just 10 minutes to read & delete, after I press the big red button tokenized for paramountcommunication dot com.

The suspense is killing me.

13.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The time of our lives Permalink to this item

Five o'clock, crickets were still rubbing their legs together, appreciating the widening darkness and summer's remnant warmth. That has—finally—eased back from the record-setting parade of 100°-plus days. The moon came up in a fuzzy dream last night; this morning the cloud layer heavy enough to hide it, and even rain! a little bit. That's cleared the air nicely; the last couple days, it's smelled like we'd pitched our tent to close to the campfire.

A friend posted to Facebook that she was drawing the curtain on her fifth blog, moving on from writing about experiencing joy, to focusing on the experience. I commented that I had yet to experience ending a blog, while wondering if maybe I should experience that. But I don't feel like stopping what has been a lifelong process, from an ad hoc, mimeographed newspaper in grade school, delivering real newspapers, a brief stint as h.s. photog, an opinion writer for my college newspaper, starting (and ending) an alternative weekly, going off to "a real job" for a while, and then leaning into the web from the get-go. By the time I expanded beyond the corporate intranet, "blogging" was starting to be a thing (that you still had to explain to almost everyone), interwoven with platform development as the how-to chased the tail of what-to, and vice versa. Op-ed style essays gave way to hyperlinked commentary and various kinds of interaction. My earliest efforts look like Twitter's "microblogging," without headlines, and often without much depth (beyond referral).

The crickets are in a race against time, without knowing they're racing. Their season is short, and their song the only ticket to the future. My season is longer (presumably, still), but this song might be most of what I leave behind, briefly catching someone's attention, and then gently fading away.

This weekend, we had the delayed-from-spring Pride festival in Boise, and it was pretty much a huge success. There was a gross preamble manufactured by the Idaho Republican Party, now led by a John Birch Society aficionado, Dorothy Moon, parading dog whistles to the base and hoping to scare corporations away. It's come a long, long way, as Betsy Russell's blog post, Pride and pushback notes, "protestors with nooses in front of the Statehouse" in 1991. Somehow, there was nothing more than one minor skirmish that made news I saw. But "Drag Kids" was this year's lightning rod for the right, and they did all they could to djinn up "a wave of political pressure and anonymous threats."

Festival organizers envisioned a short performance where kids could put on sparkly dresses and lip-sync to songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “People Like Us” on stage. But others, including Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon, expected a lurid scene where children would “engage in sexual performances with adult entertainers.”

It's almost—almost—like the extremists are ready to champion "decency," some years after they loaded their last remnants onto the garbage scow S.S. Drumpf, and sent them out to sea. It's not just that the lack of introspection is unbounded, it's mostly about weaponizing a perverse claim to the moral high ground. They did manage to scare off a bank and a couple credit unions, Idaho Power, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, while others stepped up to pick up the slack. And the organizers decided to dial it back, cancelling one planned event. So yay for decency?

The president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (no stranger to a little scandal himself) remarked upon the elephant in the room, pointing out that:

"[State GOP Chair Dorothy] Moon voiced support for convicted rapist and former Idaho legislator Aaron von Ehlinger, and has yet to condemn her former Republican colleague for raping a teenage legislative intern. Moon listed IACI as an organization for Idahoans to call in her statement.

"LaBeau said Moon does not have the “moral compass” to make a statement about sexualizing children after she supported von Ehlinger.

“For Dorothy (Moon) to come out and have any sort of say in this—obviously this is coming from a woman who blamed a rape victim and said it’s OK for legislators to sleep with a teenage intern,” LaBeau told the Sun.

I'm guessing Moon didn't take LaBeau's advice to "take a deep breath," and "have a conversation with the Pride people." Just not her thing. After our church had to split up to have a regular worship service (our minister, Rev. Sara LaWall, just back from sabbatical, preached on "The Queer Church") and represent in the biggest-ever parade, we went to Cecil B. Andrus park to check out the party. Security was prominent (including our Chief of Police on the scene, at the one, controlled entrance to the park); and all but a ragtag group of sad protesters kept on the outside were having a good time. One good friend shared her experience:

"In 20+ years in Boise I have never seen as much public support and love for the LGBTQIA+ community as I did yesterday. It was so heartening and frankly, helped renew my faith in humanity and bolster my belief that more often than not, even when it doesn’t always feel like it, love & goodness win over hate. Reflecting on that support filled me with gratitude..."

The Boise Pride Festival shared a thank you on their Facebook page, and included this nice (Kyle Green) photo of Boise's Mayor Lauren McLean leading the Sunday parade.

Photo from 2022 Pride festival

10.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Beyond saving Permalink to this item

Organizing an insurrection, watching the US Capitol attacked by terrorists and doing nothing, stealing and probably selling state secrets, and only "3 to 5 percent" of Republicans can be peeled off the MAGA storm front? Beyond imagination. But it's fascinating to watch Bill Kristol rethinking the "conservative dogmas" that enabled our descent into psychopathy.

"It is fair to say that conservatism had aspects that were distasteful — and even somewhat dangerous. It is probably fair to say that some of us didn’t do enough to fight those aspects."

It's fair to say more than just "somewhat" dangerous, hmm?

"But it’s also fair to say that at the end of the day, it was a very different party when it was nominating George W. Bush or John McCain or Mitt Romney than it is today."

So, the road to hell was paved with good intentions, or something? Ok, "it was a mistake" to try that added soupçon of populism with Sarah Palin in 2008 and it was the financial crisis, not Iraq that did that election in. "The party was more oligarchic than I realized." And intellectually exhausted, "the degree to which people had just not rethought anything since the 1980s or the 1990s." We're "sliding into full authoritarianism," Sargent notes, and Kristol "think[s] that's right."

Sargent: It sounds like you don’t think the Republican Party can be saved.

Kristol: At least not in the short term. And if we don’t have two reasonably healthy parties, the unhealthy party has to be defeated.

9.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bad sequels Permalink to this item

In the Nexus: Heather Cox Richardson's daily starts with yesterday's 48th anniversary of the "full, free and absolute pardon" for Tricky Dick, "remov[ing] from our democratic system the principle that all of us are accountable to the same laws." It was the illustration of the "some animals are more equal than others" principle, ratcheted down through subsequent administrations (remember Dick Cheney and the "unitary executive"?) to the nadir of "I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want" in 2019. (Speaking of "grooming," that item in The Week reminds me that that former guy's psychotic ejaculation came at the Turning Point USA's Teen Action Summit, no less.)

Our never-elected pardoning president, Gerry Ford, was relegated to political obscurity for his service, paving the way for our screen actor president and the epic Iran-Contra scandal, for which

"Fourteen administration officials were indicted and eleven convicted in the scandal, but when he became president, George H.W. Bush—himself implicated in the scandal—pardoned them on the advice of his attorney general, William Barr."

The pardons went all the way up to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger that time, as NPR's 2014 piece on the passing of independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, at age 102 describes.

(Speaking of the passing of royalty; it was a hell of a shock when Bush III, Jeb, was shoved aside by the nouveau riche playboy belligerent in 2016, wasn't it? His little brother had poisoned the well, leaving Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to try to out-psychopath the front-runner.)

Now on the verge of another tectonic election, never mind it being a mid-term, Greg Sargent contemplates what awaits if there's a MAGA takeover of the House. "Retribution" is too genteel a word for "flagrant bad-faith abuses of power" from the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, enough to make Benghazi blush. It's the difference between pre-railing about "voter fraud" (with no evidence) and jury-rigging state legislators to simply override the results of an election with the will of a ruling class.

"Republicans are pre-fabricating a fake rationale to abuse their investigative powers in a way that isn’t remotely comparable to anything Democrats are doing," and, likely "using its fiscal and investigative powers to try to defund or hobble any and all investigations and prosecutions involving Trump....

"The threats of chaos won’t be about realizing fiscal priorities in any meaningful sense; they will more likely be cultishly devoted to preserving one man’s absolute impunity. A sizable bloc of House Republicans may well see it as a higher mission to put Trump beyond the reach of accountability and above the law."

It's not all bad news these days, though. Pick up your spirits with Sargent's Plum Line column about the right-wing grift machine blowing up in Steve Bannon’s face. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

5.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A rant is seriously justified Permalink to this item

Still life: Two pears

Ron Lieber, for the NYT: Why Aren’t Student Loans Simple? Because This Is America. "Administrative burdens" are a heavy load, indeed. I'm not sure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if it had been incarnated and staffed as its best self, would have been more befuddling than genuine help. I still want to believe, but Congress' bipolar disorder (and a genuinely malevolent presidential administration) did its damndest to keep it from actually providing consumer financial protection. (And don't get me started on the Education Department, and what happened under DeVos' misrule.)

"Politics got in the way of free community college, and the Inflation Reduction Act that Mr. Biden signed last month did not include it. Instead, students who borrow would get a subsidy on the back end through the more generous repayment program, years later, if they know it exists, enroll without incident, clear every hurdle over a decade or two and their loan servicer doesn’t make a hash of it.

"There are bad words and associated acronyms that we could use to sum all of this up as we scream into the void. But our framing could just as easily center on a single word: Respect.

"Professor Herd surprised me this week when she said the word in passing. I asked her to elaborate.

“Respect includes everything from respecting people’s time to not treating them as if they are trying to cheat or game a system,” she said. “It’s about treating them as if they are full-fledged citizens and human beings who have basic rights to access services and benefits for which they’re eligible.”...

"Disrespect is calling student debt cancellation “forgiveness” when it’s really an apology for a dysfunctional higher education financing system. Disrespect is doing little to make tuition cheaper on the front end of this process."

A good friend told the story of her experience of "the intricacies of the systemic failures" a week ago on Facebook, after she'd finished an undergraduate degree "with a few thousand dollars of debt," and then graduate school with a total of $32k in student loan debt.

"I have been making on time payments in accordance to my borrowing agreement for 11 years. I owe $44k; $12,000 MORE than I borrowed, and I consider myself lucky to only have that much.

"We didn’t fail to do basic math. We entered school and had the price jacked up on us. We then were faced with the difficult decision: drop out and still have loans but no degree to show for it, or keep going and take on more debt than planned....

"We diligently paid our debt, often times making a choice between necessities and loans only to have our balances go up month after month....

"The student debt crisis happened to us, just like a flood or wildfire happens to the person who bought a home in a flood plain or the LA foothills. Yes, maybe some of the warning signs were there, we weren’t at all in the position to see or understand the consequences of the whole picture."

There's a ton of "disrespect" built into a system that reduces loan payments based on income, while allowing compounding interest to increase the loan balance.

Not fixing a hole, where the rain gets in Permalink to this item

Marty Trillhaase: Idaho's education hole runs deeper than you think. Governor Brad Little's special session produced a $billion effect (with a $2 billion surplus, for which are any of our state Republicans acknowledging how much federal help got us here? They are not), but not as much as we need. $410 million is "a lot of money [but] a mere Band-Aid when it comes to rescuing Idaho education from the deep hole Republican[s] have been digging these past two decades." It might be only a third of what's needed, to address the infrastructure needs, teacher shortage, inflation, and the widening gap between have and have-not school districts, as the latter group struggles to come up with supplemental levies to overcome shortfalls.

The Totally Optimistic Advocates Dedicated to Students (TOADS), including former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley, former Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Jerry Evans, former Boise School District Superintendent Don Coberly, former Nampa School District Superintendent and one-time West Ada School Board member Russell Joki and former “teacher of the year” Cindy Wilson, estimate the hole is more like $1.2 billion.

"As eye-popping as $1.2 billion may seem, it was not insurmountable given the state’s $2 billion surplus — until Little and lawmakers began depleting it with a $500 million one-time income tax rebate and another $161 million in permanent tax cuts.

"But like any alternative view, this idea could not even get a hearing. Little called the session. He held virtual control over the agenda.

"His message to the Legislature, education advocates and the public in general: Take it or leave it."

Image of Madonna ceramics

In passing: Kazuo Inamori Permalink to this item

Scanned the NYT obits listed in the daily update, and one caught my eye: Kazuo Inamori, Major Industrialist in Postwar Japan, Dies at 90. It mentioned "two giant companies" he'd founded, and I was curious which two. Kyocera is the one I recognized, one that my big corp employer used as a supplier for something back in the day. High energy ceramic magnets, maybe? Ceramic bearings? They have a remarkably broad product line these days. The name is cut and paste from Kyoto Ceramic Company; so, three syllables, not four as we Americans made it.

Inamori put his unique combination of engineering, religion, and business philosophy into a book in 1997 under the title Keiten Aijin, "which means 'Respect the Divine and Love People." Fifteen years later, he reviewed, revised and added to it ("more than half ... newly written") while he'd come out of retirement (as a monk) to rescue Japan Airlines. It was published (in Japanese) in 2012 as Zero kara no chosen, and in an English translation in 2020, as From Zero to Kyocera: A Company Philosophy to Grow People and Organizations. Our library system doesn't seem to have have it, but Google Books shows me a large swath of it, artfully preventing direct copying of content it has copied. Interesting (and annoying), but I guess that (and the big gaps in the preview) are essential to selling e-books, which Google is doing. All rights reserved, yada yada.

I don't mind a little Zen typing exercise this morning under Fair Use. (I wonder how Inamori would feel about it?) You can go to Google Books for more of the preview if you like. From Part 2, Chapter 2, "Management Based on Human Minds" (just after he talks about working behind picket lines at Shofu Industrial, and his later reconciliation with a labor leader):

The Decision to Leave

"At age 27, although I was only in charge of the Special Ceramics Department, I took the lead in new ceramics development for the company. I was also in charge of producing and selling the products I devleoped, and so I put all of my effort into my work without regard for organizational frameworks.

"As I continued working in this way, I received a request from Hitachi, Ltd. to develop a ceramic vacuum tube. I began working on it using forsterite, the material I had personally developed. Despite my best efforts, however, satisfactory results eluded me.

"It was at this juncture than an outside engineer suddenly came in as a technical director and announced, without any knowledge of the work we had done, that we were to discontinue working on the project and leave the rest to him. When I heard this, I immediately decided to leave Shofu Industrial and submitted my letter of resignation. The company tried to dissuade me from leaving, but I couldn't forgive that director's cavalier words after our team had put body and soul into our pursuit of development.

"...[M]y team, who had experienced both the joys and frustrations of developmental work with me, said that they, too, were going to leave the company. In fact, even some of my mentors and superiors said that they wanted to go with me.

"Those who had made the decision to leave gathered and swore an oath, promising that we would cooperate, experience joy and sorrow communally, and work for the happiness of all employees as well as the benefit of the world's people. With that, we committed ourselves to founding our own new company. We also wrote this oath down and signed it in blood. This old-fashioned and dramatic pact testified to our heightened emotional state at the time."

That was in 1959. From there, "Every Employee is an Owner," "The Human Mind is the Strongest Material," and on to Part 2, Chapter 3, "A Compassionate Heart." Talk about counterprogramming, here in the 2020s! 2.4 is "The Good you do for Others is Good you do Yourself." Happy Labor Day.

2.Sept.2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bears repeating Permalink to this item

While looking for video of last night's presidential address, I found the as-delivered text, on the White House website, and read it before seeing the speech, or attending to much in the way of comments. This seems to be the signal truth of the moment:

"Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.... They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies. ("Lies told for profit and power.")

And other excerpts:

"[H]istory tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.... We’re all called, by duty and conscience, to confront extremists who will put their own pursuit of power above all else.

"Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans: We must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to — to destroying American democracy....

"I believe America is big enough for all of us to succeed, and that is the nation we’re building: a nation where no one is left behind....

"The soul of America is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created equal in the image of God. That all are entitled to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect. That all deserve justice and a shot at lives of prosperity and consequence. And that democracy — democracy must be defended, for democracy makes all these things possible. Folks, and it’s up to us....

"We have never fully realized the aspirations of our founding, but every generation has opened those doors a little wider to include more people who have been excluded before.

"My fellow Americans, America is an idea — the most powerful idea in the history of the world. And it beats in the hearts of the people of this country. It beats in all of our hearts. It unites America. It is the American creed."

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007