Posts Tagged ‘Yes’

Yes, Bush v. Gore Did Steal the Election

June 29, 2012


This Is How We Mythologize Now


Slideshow: NYC Goes All Out for Gay Pride Parade 

The general topic of wildly partisan Supreme Court rulings is on everybody’s mind right now for some reason. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carneywants everybody to know that the Supreme Court really, truly did not hand the presidential election to George W. Bush. “You can disagree with the ruling in Bush v. Gore,” writes Carney, “but you can’t honestly argue that it decided the election.”

Well, yes, you can. In fact we know nearly for certain that the recount stopped by the Supreme Court would have given Gore the lead. (Of course, it’s entirely possible that the Republican-controlled Florida legislature would have simply overridden the results of the count and handed the state to Bush, as itthreatened to do.) But Carney is repeating a common misconception.

The myth that Bush would have won had the recount proceeded dates back to a recount conducted by a consortium of newspapers that examined the ballots. The consortium found that “If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin.” But the newspapers decided that this was not how the counties would have actually tabulated the votes. By the variable standards they would have used, the papers reported, Bush would have prevailed. Thus the national news reported a slew of headlines asserting that Bush would have prevailed.

The conclusion was erroneous. The newspapers assumed that the counties would only have looked at “undervotes” — ballots that did not register any votes for president — and ignored “overvotes” — ballots that registered more than one vote for president. An overvote would be a ballot in which the machine mistakenly picked up a second vote for president, or in which a voter both marked a box and wrote in the name of the same candidate. A hand recount in which an examiner is judging the “intent of the voter” would turn those ballots that were originally discarded into countable votes.

Counting overvotes in which the intent of the voter was clear would have resulted in Gore winning the recount. And subsequent reporting by the OrlandoSentinel and Michael Isikoff found that the recount, had it proceeded, almost certainly would have examined overvotes. (Most of the links have been lost over time, but you can find references here and here.)

The newspapers’ error has to be understood in the context of the time. After Bush prevailed in the recount, there was massive pressure to retroactively justify the processes that led to his victory, in the general spirit of restoring confidence in the system. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, that pressure intensified to the point where it was commonly opined that the newspapers ought to entirely cancel the recount (scheduled to come out in November 2001, at the height of the rally-around-Bush moment). In that atmosphere, the newspapers grasped for an interpretation that would both reassure most Americans of what they wanted to believe and avoid placing themselves in opposition to a powerful and bipartisan rallying around Bush that was then at its apogee.

Now, the actual effect of the recount is obviously something of a side issue when assessing the actions of the Court. Nobody knew the outcome of the recount, only that it threatened to make Al Gore president, and stopping it would guarantee Bush’s victory. That is the environment in which five Republican-appointed justices essentially invented a one-time-only ruling to stop the recount. And that’s the relevant history in which to understand the Court’s decision to make up its own new legal theories about the regulation of the health-care market now.


Yes, the economy could soon run on (mostly) renewable power

June 19, 2012


By Philip Bump

Along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a series of billboards sponsored by FORCE, a pro-coal lobby, make the argument for coal-based power by arguing that “wind dies” and “the sun sets.” Coal wants you to think renewable energy is unstable, uneven.

Bad news, coal. A massive study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) modeled the impacts of a national energy grid with renewable power comprising between 30 and 90 percent of the mix — including the requisite generation, transmission, and storage. In short:

The central conclusion of the analysis is that renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.

That quote scratches the surface of the NREL’s findings, which follow collaboration with 110 contributors from 35 organizations inside and outside the government. (The list of abbreviations used in the report itself runs two-and-a-half pages.) Another study released in 2010 found that Europe could similarly make a transition to a renewable-heavy energy infrastructure.


The United States currently generates 3.6 percent of our energy from renewable, non-hydroelectric sources, meaning that a target of 80 percent renewable generation by 2050 seems, well, optimistic. Even if the political will for such a transition existed — which it very much does not, as reinforced by those turnpike billboards — such a shift would require a massive investment and shift in energy economics. But it’s by no means impossible.

While this analysis suggests such a high renewable generation future is possible, a transformation of the electricity system would need to occur to make this future a reality. This transformation, involving every element of the grid, from system planning through operation, would need to ensure adequate planning and operating reserves, increased flexibility of the electric system, and expanded multi-state transmission infrastructure, and would likely rely on the development and adoption of technology advances, new operating procedures, evolved business models, and new market rules.

In short: daunting.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t note the most broadly engaging aspect of the NREL’s findings: the projection maps.

The animation above is an inelegant representation of the NREL report’s animated map of possible growth of renewable energy over the next 38 years. More amazing: an hour-by-hour look at energy flow in the year 2050. Watching these provides more than a little sense of living in a world of science fiction. But the more important point is what they demonstrate. We can build the renewable energy we need and even project how it will work in a national grid.

Even in 2050, the NREL projection indicates, coal has a role. But it’s unlikely our self-driving cars will pass any billboards touting it.

Other findings from the full report [PDF]:

  • Electricity supply and demand can be balanced in every hour of the year in each region with nearly 80 percent electricity from renewable resources, including nearly 50 percent from variable renewable generation, according to simulations of 2050 power system operations.
  • High renewable electricity futures can result in deep reductions in electric sector greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
  • The direct incremental cost associated with high renewable generation is comparable to published cost estimates of other clean energy scenarios. Improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful lever for reducing this incremental cost.
  • With higher demand growth, high levels of renewable generation present increased resource and grid integration challenges.



Yes, the Climate is Changing

May 13, 2012


Video: People around the world show how climate change is already affecting their lives.
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posted May 10, 2012

connect the dots stillThe effects of climate change come in many guises: increasingly intense storms, too much snow, not enough snow, heat waves, droughts, floods.

We have to start seeing the climatic connections between these weather events, says advocacy group Only then will we realize how much of what we hold dear is threatened by climate change—and react accordingly.

On May 5, 2012 people around the world “connected the dots;” combined, the images the created illustrate how profoundly climate change is already affecting us.


Yes, We Can Have Free College Education–Here’s How

March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012

Yes, We Can Have Free College Education–Here’s How

By Bernard Starr

The outrageous cost of higher education and the crippling burden of student loans that are now approaching a trillion dollars are generating a frightening college dropout rate that will harm our economy well into the future. The answer to the crisis in higher education is free college. We had it during the great depression and we can have it now.


Lecture Hall by

In a recent article I made a bold proposal: Bring our nation’s workers up to competitive speed by offering a free college education to all qualified applicants. The crippling cost of higher education is fueling a frightening college dropout rate in the U.S. while China and other countries are vaulting ahead in preparing a 21st century ready workforce.

I was gratified to see the strong positive response to my proposition — clearly readers are concerned about the costs and challenges of higher education. Several people dared me to demonstrate how such aprogram could work. Here’s my answer. It’s based on an existing program that I helped found that has been consistently successful in delivering minimal cost education.

The Center for Learning and Living (CL&L) at Marymount Manhattan College began in 1992 with a proposal for a low-cost program of college level continuing education courses for adults over age 55. To keep costs down and still maintain high quality the goal was to recruit only volunteer instructors — retired college professors, other teachers, and professionals from various fields. The proposal raised eyebrows. Skeptics asked, “Why would anyone teach for no pay?” Who indeed! What a surprise when a few advertisements in local publications, postings on bulletin boards — as well as a vigorous word-of-mouth and networkingcampaign — promptly produced a faculty that any educational institution would be proud to have. In fact, it turned out that an impressive number of highly qualified people were not just willing to teach for no pay, they clamored for the job — college professors, business executives, artists, judges and high level government officials in foreign relations, international affairs, economics, and much more.

Charles Carshon was an early faculty member. For 35 years he was Chairman of the Arts Division and Head of the Studio Theater at Sarah Lawrence College. He was also an acting coach at The Stella Adler Theater Studio, where his students included Robert De Niro, Jane Alexander, and Warren Beatty. His drama, poetry, and literature courses at CL&L were student favorites. Rita Satz, an Emmy award-winning producer at WNBC News for 22 years, teaches the popular “Inside TV News.” Ina Schlesinger, Professor Emerita of political science at the State University of New York, has given exciting courses like “The Great Illusion: Russia in the 20th Century.”

The list goes on and includes world-class retired teachers from Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and other leading institutions. Even younger volunteer teachers have joined us. Jasmin Cowen, aprofessional harpist with a doctorate in music education has taught courses on opera. Her most recent offering was “Love, Sex and Other Vital Operatic Themes.” Jasmin is a charismatic teacher who always attracts a full house.

At its height, CL&L served 200 students and offered 18 courses per semester. The program was only limited by the two classrooms that were available. Then two years ago, Marymount announced that they needed our space in order to expand its undergraduate programs. We set out to look for a new home for our program. After an intense search we lucked out with a wonderful space in a new high-rise building connected to St. Catherine of Sienna Church on East 68th Street in Manhattan. Fr Jordan Kelly resonated with our program and its philosophy. The classroom he offered us accommodates a hundred students and can be divided into two rooms. This setting was perfect for the new independent launch. With Fr Jordan’s generous low-rental and the use of the church’s computer, projector, and an LCD TV for DVD presentations, we are able to run the program with minimal cost to students. In fact, the cost is lower than at Marymount, since the program is now administered by talented volunteers led by Richard Frankel who formerly organized medical symposiums and worldwide medical congresses for major pharmaceutical companies.

For $230 a student can enroll in all 11 courses. That bare bones price covers the rental fee and necessary supplies for the program. And now that we are running at a profit — even from the low tuition — we will turn the surplus back into the program to pay for scholarships, equipment, and social events, which will help promote a collegial atmosphere. Although the program is not entirely free, $230 for 11 courses is a far cry from the $1,314 per credit at colleges like NYU, where one three-credit college course costs $3,942.

The CL&L experience — and similar programs throughout the country — offers convincing evidence that it is possible to recruit dedicated, enthusiastic, and talented volunteer teachers. But how does this translate into a program of free — or nearly free — college education for undergraduate students?

The free college, which I’ve given the working title TAFWU (Third Age Free Wisdom University), would deliver all its courses to students anywhere in the country using interactive technologies like Skype. And just as the students can be located anywhere, so can the faculty. That mobility opens an exciting opportunity for recruiting vast numbers of faculty.

This proposal is not pie in the sky or science fiction. In fact, more and more colleges are relying on the internet and interactive technologies to deliver courses, even to resident students. And distance learning that uses technology is proliferating. Some education experts predict that within a decade cyber world technology will be the standard in college teaching. And why not? The traditional medieval teaching model, which dates back to the first universities in the 11th (University of Bologna) and 12th (University of Paris and Oxford) centuries is long due for an overhaul.

How will TAFWU teachers access the technology for delivering their courses? They can use personal computers in their homes, retirement communities, and/or locations that can be established near where they live. Space can be donated by local businesses or public schools, which are accessible in every community. Not much room is needed for a Skype type communication. Many companies and businesses — including Crown America Corporation, Boscov’s Department Stores, and Wachovia Bank — are already donating free space for public use. Others can be persuaded to do the same for the compelling cause of making higher education widely available.

How will TAFWU handle the one-on-one relationships that colleges offer, with teaching assistants (TAs) and fellows (TFs) who lead individual and group discussions? TAFWU can duplicate that, and possibly do it even more effectively. Given the large potential corps of teachers available in every community, TAFWU could supply mentoring and personal interactions using teachers even more qualified than the graduate students that universities provide. These mentors could meet with local students in the same rooms donated for course deliveries in store fronts, banks, department stores, local schools, senior centers and other such locations.

Will TAFWU take jobs away from teachers? Not from those who aren’t employed because students have dropped out. And if TAFWU teachers are serving dropouts and others who can’t afford college, that’s not taking, it’s giving a lot for America’s future. Perhaps TAFWU will pose a threat to traditional colleges and universities. That could be good. The competition may help impose President Obama’s “lid” on higher education costs and even bring tuitions down.

The education crisis has dramatically underscored our pressing economic challenges. Standing still is not an option. But are we ready to step out of our ideologies — left and right — to confront reality on its own terms? If free college education is a potential solution, in a skimpy field of meaningful solutions a national debate is in order.

Not heeding this call means we will remain mired in lame rhetoric. We have only to be reminded of Desmond Tutu, who remarked, “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘let us close our eyes and pray.’ When we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land.”

When we open our eyes after chanting the mantras of our politicians, will we own the 20th century and China the 21st?

I have no illusions that this initiative will be easy to put in place. What will move TAFWU from wish to reality is a chancellor with the prestige, skills and pulling power to assemble support and the right leadership. Will that person step forward?


Submitters Bio:

Bernard Starr, Ph.D. is professor emeritus at the City University of New York (Brooklyn College) where he taught developmental and educational psychology and directed a graduate gerontology program. He is founder, and for 25 years the managing editor, of the Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics (Springer Publishing Co.); also editor of the Springer Series, Adulthood and Aging and Lifestyles and Issues in Aging. For seven years he was writer, producer and host of an award winning radio commentary, The Longevity Report, on WEVD-AM Radio in NYC. He currently produces and hosts television documentaries on meaningful, active and productive living in the third age of life for Phoenix Rising Television Productions. His numerous op-ed and commentary articles for the Scripps Howard News Service have appeared in newspapers throughout the United States. He is currently president of the Association for Spirituality and Psychotherapy and is the main United Nations representative for the Institute of Global Education that founded the Mucherla Global School in Mucherla, India. His latest book, Escape Your Own Prison: Why We Need Spirituality and Psychology to be Truly Free, is published by Rowman and Littlefield