Map of the day

Super-duper cool.  Animated gif of internet usage by time of day.  Via Amazing Maps.

Well, damn.  It works great in my preview, but not on the actual blog.  Worth the click-through.  Sorry.

Photo of the day

National Geographic’s photo of the month:

Photograph by Cory Richards

Suspended from an anchor in the rock hundreds of feet above the ice and snow, Mike Libecki hauls himself up a granite tower in remote Queen Maud Land.

Republican cancer survivor and Obamacare

There’s some quote out there that runs along the lines, “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.”  Now , I know many liberals who’ve been mugged and it doesn’t seem to me they move in a starkly more individualistic direction, but presumably some adopt the “tough on crime” mentality of conservatives.  I can’t help but thinking on the other side, a liberal is a conservative with a pre-existing condition who gets cancer.  Not quite as pithy, but you get the point.  I enjoyed this Jonathan Cohn post about this Republican political operative who cannot seem to get health insurance because he is a cancer survivor (of course, Obamacare ends that problem next year):

Lots of people have been telling Republican Party leaders that simply opposing Obamacare isn’t enough—that they need to develop an alternative. But few can offer such advice with the authority, or the insight, of Clint Murphy.

One reason is that Murphy, 38, used to work in Republican politics. The other reason is that Murphy is a cancer survivor—and that, because of pre-existing conditions, he has apparently struggled finding health insurance. “When you say you’re against it,” Murphy wrote on his Facebook page, in an open letter to Republicans, “you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance…

Murphy, who lives in Georgia, told the full version of his story to Jim Galloway, a columnist of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here’s how it goes:

Political work is an on-again, off-again for many, as it was for Murphy. Some of that work offered insurance — the McCain presidential campaign had an excellent plan, for instance.

But in his supplemental occupation, as a real estate agent, Murphy hit a roadblock. “That’s when I got into the pre-existing thing,” he said.

The year 2010 was a rough one. Murphy lost his mother to brain cancer. He left politics, weary of its meanness, and went full-time into real estate. After a decade of living cancer-free, he thought the insurance companies might lighten up. Instead, they found something else.

“I have sleep apnea. They treated sleep apnea as a pre-existing condition. I’m going right now with no insurance,” said Murphy, now 38.

When Georgia’s health insurance exchange opens in October, Murphy will sign up. “Absolutely,” he said.

Good for Murphy.  But again, what frustrates me about this is the utter lack of imagination it implies for many conservatives who cannot seem to empathize and imagine themselves in a similar situation.  Much like the conservatives who are for gay rights only because they have a gay family member.   How about simply realizing that you or people you know would be utterly uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions without the Obamacare provisions and caring about their health?  Apparently not.

When is a cut in education actually an increase?

Why, when you are a Republican in NC, of course.  For an average person, if your costs go up $1000/month but your income only goes up $500/month, you certainly wouldn’t say “I’m richer than ever; I’ve never been earning more!”  But, that’s basically what the Governor has been doing with the school funding. WRAL’s intrepid Mark Binker explains:

“We don’t have substitutes,” [elementary school principal Laura] Rigsbee said. The budget isn’t there to hire temporary replacements for teachers who are out sick, so teachers aides, gym coaches, librarians and even the principal fill in.

“It’s very frustrating when you hear the governor say, ‘We’re giving more to the schools,’ and then see all the red numbers on our side of the ledger,” Rigsbee said. “If we’re getting all this money, where’s it going?”

How can it be true, as Gov. Pat McCrory recently proclaimed, that the state has “the largest K-through-12 budget in North Carolina history,” and at the same time principals and teachers are scrambling for supplies and rearranging staff as the bulk of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students return to the classroom this week?

The answer to that question is relatively simple: growth in public school spending has not kept up with the growth in North Carolina’s student population. More complex, say educators around the state, are the consequences for the classrooms  this year and into the future.

When is an increase a cut?

“If you’ve heard the media reports, you’d think funding for K through 12 has been cut,” McCrory told business executives at an Aug. 1 Chamber of Commerce event. “It has not been cut. In fact, at $7.8 billion, this is the largest K-through-12 budget in North Carolina history. This year’s K-through-12 budget is $23 million more than we spent last year.”

That “$23 million more” that McCrory talked about is the increase in year-over-year K-though-12 spending for the budget year that began July 1…

While McCrory was not lying, his speech didn’t tell the whole story. This year’s $23 million funding increase represented a .3 percent boost in overall public schools funding in terms of raw dollars. At the same time, public schools expect enrollments to grow by 1.1 percent statewide this year. Or put another way, student population is expected to grow four times more quickly than funding.   [emphasis mine]

The rest of the article details many of the actual hard cuts being made throughout the state and the ongoing problems created by our anemic teacher salaries.  For the governor to be out their bragging essentially, “best education budget, ever!!” is truly offensive.

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