Majority of the majority

Bob A. pointed me to this nice NYT editorial that explained just how wrong it is that the Republican House will not take a vote on any legislation unless a majority of their caucus approves – this majority of the majority rule:

That informal rule, which bars a vote on legislation unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans, has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to progress and consensus in Congress, and, in its own way, is even more pernicious than the filibuster abuse that often ties up the Senate. Under the 60-vote requirement to break a filibuster, at least, coalitions can occasionally be formed between the Democratic majority and enough Republicans to reach the three-fifths threshold…

But under the majority-of-the-majority rule in the House, Democrats are completely cut out of the governing process, not even given a chance to vote unless Republicans have decided to pass something. Since 2010, there have been enough extremist Republicans in the caucus to block consideration of most of the bills requested by the White House or sent over from the Senate. If President Obama is for something, it’s a safe bet that most House Republicans are against it, and thus won’t bring it up…

The majority-of-the-majority requirement, however, is relatively new and entirely a Republican creation. Newt Gingrich occasionally used it when he was speaker, but it was institutionalized in 2004 by Speaker Dennis Hastert (and Tom DeLay, the power behind the throne).

Some commentary I was listening to the other day suggested that debt ceiling “crisis” would go away immediately if not for this rule.  It’s also safe to say Ronald Reagan would have never passed anything of substance if the Democrats had been using this rule back in the 1980’s.  As long as Republican apply this rule its going to be very hard to get anything worthwhile done in Obama’s 2nd term.

Photo of the day

A very cool set of In Focus photos of Summer in Australia.  The weather-related ones are pretty amazing.  Like this:

A white shelf cloud caps brownish dirt from a dust storm, or haboob, as it travels across the Indian Ocean near Onslow on the Western Australia coast in this handout image distributed by and taken January 9, 2013. (Reuters/Brett Martin/

Algebra and the liberal agenda

I swear not only does watching Fox News probably cost you IQ points, a number of the Fox hosts are clearly deficient in intellect.  This would be great satire if it weren’t sadly true:

Fox News host Eric Bolling on Wednesday accused some schools of “pushing the liberal agenda” for teaching an algebra lesson about the distributive property.

During a segment about “indoctrination in schools,” Bolling reminded viewers of a 2009 video of children chanting, “Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Barack Hussein Obama,” which outraged conservatives at the time.

“But even worse is the way some textbooks are pushing the liberal agenda,” the Fox News host explained, pointing to an algebra worksheet that Scholastic says gives students “[i]nsight into the distributive property as it applies to multiplication.”

“Distribute the wealth!” Bolling exclaimed, reading the worksheet. “Distribute the wealth with the lovely rich girl with a big ole bag of money, handing some money out.”

Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle explained that the algebra worksheet had put her on “high alert” for the liberal agenda in her 6-year-old son’s curriculum.

And if you’ve forgotten the distributive property from your Algebra days, you presumably at least remember it’s got nothing to do with politics.  In my case, I help on algebra homework most days of the week, so I found this especially funny.  Anyway, here’s your reminder:

The Distributive Property lets you multiply a sum by multiplying each addend separately and then add the products. The Distributive Property helps with mental math and should be taught to children as a method to multiply much quicker in their heads. Children need lots of experience using the Distributive Property. Children make greater ‘connections’ with the ability to use the distributive propertly for mental math. For instance:

Let’s say I have to quickly multiply:

4 x 53
(4 x 50) + (4 x 3)
200 + 12

The Distributive Property in ALgebra:

The Distributive Property is handy to help you get rid of parentheses.

a(b + c) = ab + ac

To multiply in algebra, you’ll use the distributive law:
= 3x(x) + 3x(4)

Damn liberals!!

Mis-using history

Decent enough Kathleen Parker column in which she professes her gun bonafides before calling for reasonable restrictions.  In her even-handed way, she goes way too far to use history to justify the position of the gun nuts:

[Parker’s father] He also might have liked a slogan I read recently: “With guns, we are citizens; without them, we are subjects.”

By today’s standards my father would be considered a gun nut, but his sentiments were understandable in the context of his time. Like others of his generation, he had witnessed Germany’s disarming of its citizenry and the consequences thereafter. Thus, the slippery slope of which gun-rights advocates speak is not without precedent or reason.

Seriously?!  I’m not exactly an expert on the rise of Nazi Germany, but I’m thinking I’ve read a hell of a lot more on the subject than Parker.  And to suggest that the Nazi rise to power was primarily based on the disarming of it’s citizenry?  Absolutely ludicrous!  And therefore, the gun nuts aren’t really nuts.  Please!!  Right, because limiting the size of magazines and where/how you can carry a gun is the slippery slope to Nazi Germany.  There’s a place for slippery slope arguments, but sadly, it seems more often than not they are the symptom of a facile mind.  And Parker’s a Pullitzer Prize winning columnist.  Ugh.

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