It’s taken five years but I feel I am now fully trained. I got really excited yesterday when the six Republican Senators voted to allow the vote on the bill to extend unemployment benefits. I was ready to email Rob Portman’s office and thank him for being one of the six! Positive reinforcement and all that. Cloture is now sexy!

Then, this morning while reading the transcripts of Obama’s speech, I thought about how I had gotten excited about a bipartisan vote (of the slimmest margin) to prevent filibuster, which of course doesn’t guarantee those same Senators will vote for the actual bill.

The bill would only extend benefits for three months, the media is still full of the “lazy poor” bullshit narrative and the House is floating the idea of passing it in return for a one year delay in the Affordable Care Act so its likely dead in the water anyway.

The political obstructionism we’ve lived with for the last five years has trained me to treat these scraps of cooperation as victories. Maybe it is progress but I sure felt conned. Congress has trained us to expect nothing from them so NOT having a filibuster counts as progress.

I must not be cynical about national politics yet if I can still be conned. That’s something at least.

1044px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Congress.svg

So it all boils down to this.

The GOP does not believe health care should be a government responsibility. War, prisons, executions, walls to keep immigrants out, tax breaks and subsidies for billionaires, restricting and limiting voting, these are all the governments business, but not health care. Unless that health care has to do with women’s reproduction, that of course is an acceptable place for GOP noses to go poking. Continue reading

…almost everything! The Republican sideshow we are being forced to endure is not only irresponsible, its destructive.

I just got a 16 page memo from a federal budget office about how to proceed with grant funded work if the shutdown goes forward. This does not affect the work that I do very much, but there are many others who will be hurt by this. Continue reading

The discussion, debate, screaming and posturing over the Edward Snowden leak   about the NSA Prism program is at a fever pitch. I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t have an opinion on what “trade offs” are acceptable for the ongoing safety and security of the American people.

I don’t happen to come down on the side that thinks you should willy-nilly violate civil liberties with laws, policies and presidential powers that will never, ever be undone. If you have read my previous political rants this isn’t news. My inherent liberal biases aside, the case against Snowden deserves extra attention for a number of reasons.

First, for some perspective, its important to know that the Germans are accusing the US of Stasi-style surveillance which gives you an idea of the gravity of the choices our government is making right now. These folks know from privacy invasion! They think our government is getting into dangerous territory so perhaps we should take note. When Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel  scolds Obama later this week, because of political pressure or because of her real concerns, there will be no ambiguity about how folks over in the EU feel about these developments.

The folks who are downplaying the gravity of the NSA trolling through massive amounts of data are doing so by saying Google & Apple are already looking at every key stroke to sell you stuff so whats the big deal? This is a very weak argument that will still manage to reinforce the attitude of millions of average US citizens who just don’t give shit about privacy or civil liberties. I think of this as the “Nothing to Hide” crowd. Their letters to the editor invariably conclude with “If you have nothing to hide, it wont matter if [the government swabs your DNA, taps your phone line, puts you on a terrorist watch list etc.].”

Short-sighted thinking like this is best cured by personal experience.

Most disturbing to me is the post 9/11 idea that we cannot have security and civil liberties at the same time. This is a false dilemma. How can we continue to allow the government to continue to make choices to violate our liberties based on the vague fear of “future harm”? The absurd American privilege of being complacent and uninvolved in politics is changing the landscape of who we can be as a nation in the future.

I anticipate a run of political rants on this blog in the next few weeks.

And just between you and me Diane Fienstein calling Snowden’s leak “an act of treason” is grandstanding. Because she cannot reveal the information deemed treasonous (we just have to trust her) she should be more circumspect with the name calling. Future harm is speculative at best and does not constitute a reason for hyper vigilance in my book. I’m sure I am not the only one reminded of the “Minority Report” poster.

The Future Can Be Seen. Murder Can be Prevented. The Guilty Punished Before the Crime is Committed. The System is Perfect. It’s Never Wrong. Until It Comes After You.

My husband is traveling for work.

When he is home we wake up to the alarm, her turns it off and goes to get coffee which he brings to me in bed. I know that makes me sound like a spoiled princess and I don’t care. It is a monumental kindness for someone who is a slow riser and “not a morning person”. When he is not home I lay there and listen to BBC news segue into NPR before I drag myself to the kitchen for the much needed coffee.

The real problem with this is that I then hear things like “House Republicans have vowed to defund as much of the Affordable Care Act as possible and will be addressing preexisting conditions today.” I know the GOP doesn’t like the ACA and would like to take every penny allocated for health care and convert it into a gun, but hearing the intention at 5:46 am is depressing. One of the supreme injustices of our world is the manner in which insurance is able to reject you just when you need it most.

Sort of like all those Boston store owners who are now finding out about the terrorism exception written into all of their policies. Their loses from that day, and the subsequent days lost revenue, are their losses to swallow.

The mishegas with the preexisting conditions is actually more sinister than it sounds. The Republicans created legislation that will undermine ACA prevention programs (immunization, nutrition, screenings, tobacco cessation) while appearing to help people with preexisting conditions, but then it would expire 12/31/13. Pretty slick and twisted. I’m starting to think that Eric Cantor is the actual Devil. If there is any doubt that this is a ploy and not intended to actually help people, the evidence is found in Grover Norquist’s public support of the bill.

So the question is do you spend the money allocated for prevention, now called the “slush fund” by the GOP marketing machine, so that fewer people get seriously ill between now and Jan 1, 2014, or do you divert the prevention money, enroll more people with preexisting conditions (who should’ve been kept on their insurance in the first damn place) for coverage that will expire 12/31/13?

The answer of course depends on what political points you are trying to score, not which pathetic little lives you are trying to save.

The GOP plan does a good job of making Obama look like a schmuck for not wanting to cover (more) preexisting conditions, and the White House & the Democrats are doing their usual piss poor job of countering the propaganda. Why do liberals suck so bad at the marketing and propaganda? Where’s James Carville? Barney Frank? People willing to call the GOP maneuvering what it is are conspicuously missing from the media landscape.

I really need to switch the alarm from the talk radio station to a chime or something when my husband is out of town. I’ll stick with the newspaper for my morning coffee. Better for my blood pressure & general outlook on life.

Like many people in the US, and around the world, I have been deeply affected by the mass killing of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th. When President Obama made his statement Friday afternoon I thought this has to be the single hardest thing he has had to do as President – be the POTUS while feeling like a father.

More than other acts of terrorism and public violence we have experienced in the last 11 years, this seemed personal. I found myself unable to concentrate once the story started to break, and spent the remainder of the day intermittently crying. As a parent, the idea that I could outlive my child is an abomination, and the idea that I might bury my child because of violence, a horror. That’s where everyones mind was on Friday.

Within hours the rage was unleashed, the natural companion to the compassion and sorrow. Rage against “gun nuts”, the 2nd amendment and the NRA lobbying dollars.  Rage against liberals who don’t understand the formula more guns = less violence (Rep. Gohmert, on Fox News wanted the Sandy Hook principal to be armed armed so she could have taken “his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”) Rage against the godless, gay agenda that causes such things to happen (Huckabee & Westboro Baptist). The usual.

As I have said on this blog before, I am a supporter of the 2nd amendment, and all the other amendments to the constitution for that matter, so I can’t get behind the folks who are saying things like “strike down the 2nd amendment”,  and “ban all guns”, because there are perfectly legitimate reasons for owning a gun…on a farm. Or for seasonal hunting. Or even for sport. Its tough to swallow, but there is a legitimate and compelling argument for maintaining and protecting the 2nd amendment.

I think instead we should reclaim the 2nd amendment for the people. Turn it back to the intent of the framers – common defense against a tyrannical government – rather than the modern interpretation of keep and bear arms to defend yourself. I would love to see semi-automatic handguns (used in Sandy Hook, Columbine, Chardon etc.) banned altogether.  Let the conceal & carry crowd have revolvers, “six-shooters”, 38-special – guns that no one has ever felt compelled to turn sideways when they shoot it in a movie. Can’t that be enough? Six bullets? To “defend your castle” and “stand your ground”?

There will be a great deal of opposition to any proposed changes in gun laws, the manufacture and sale of guns, or the regulation of gun owners because not only is the nonprofit, “grassroots NRA” funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers, but the firearm industry has  $11 billion in sales in 2012. So far. That’s a lot of skin in the game. The NRA spokespeople (some of whom are politicians) will try to deflect attention by advocating for increased mental health interventions rather than gun regulations. We need both so I hope they are successful. The Koch Bros. could redirect their lobbying dollars and make up children’s mental health services cuts in the 2013 Federal Health & Human Services budget. That would be a mitzvah.

The question that continues to worry me, is how long do we have for Congress to “take meaningful action” in regulating firearms before Sandy Hook fades to “another school shooting”. People were already irritated that the President’s speech on Sunday interrupted their football game and it was only 48-hours after it happened.

Given that many in our society follow football more closely than politics, is there “societal will” for gun control? Will this massacre of children, because they were so young, be enough to sustain US citizens through the intricacies and compromises of gun control legislation? Will the occasional reminder that someone else’s child will never grow old be enough to re-fuel the moral outrage that’s burning so brightly today?

Thinking about never seeing your child grow old should be the mental cliff we all stand on until meaningful gun regulations are passed.

Every year around this time I feel compelled to inventory and “use up” overstocked items in my house. I’m not sure how I end up with four different moisturizers with a 1/4 inch left, or three different kinds of aluminum foil, but the end of the year seems a good time to use one thing until its gone and make some room in the cupboard, medicine chest or linen closet.

This happens in the frig too, mainly with condiments. I think right now there are six different Asian sauces, five kinds of mustard, four salad dressings, three kinds of horseradish (ghosts of passover past), two kinds of ketchup …and a partridge in a pear tree.

If I trace it back my urge to purge started when my mom died in 2001 and I had to sort out her house. Always a bargain shopper I knew she “stocked” certain items, but the reality of dozens of tubes of toothpaste, cases of toilet paper and cans of pie filling that expired in 1982 was disturbing. I could almost understand the fact that she had saved every ATM receipt since they were invented, but looking at the amount of money she spent on bargains made me think a Just In Time buying strategy made more sense and I cut down on my own “stocking up cuz its on sale”. I also purged many, many papers from my own house that I’d been holding on to for no good reason.

A few years later I was doing laundry in my mother-in-law’s house (a much longer story there) and went to get Bounce out of her cupboard and discovered a jumble of products. So I started sorting & stacking. I’m a sorter. I know its a problem, but disorganized cupboards & refrigerators make me anxious. I literally put items in the same place in the frig (and force my family to as well) so that I know exactly where the sour cream would be if we had any. Middle shelf left.

Anyway, I start pulling things out of my MIL’s cupboard and by the time I am done I discover she has something like 20 cartons of wax paper, and a dozen rolls of foil along with many, many boxes of baggies, ziplock and the Bounce I was after in the first place. This was the wake up that made me start using up and reviewing what I already have in the house every year. Refraining from purchases until we actually need something, despite the siren call of the half-off coupon.

I’m hopeful, as I determinedly use up the body wash that was a little too sweet, that President Obama and Speaker Boehner are doing the same thing. A practical review of what we have and what we need. I am getting behind the analysis that no news is good news with respect to the silence about how the negotiations are going. There is a nearly infinite number of combinations of budget cuts, tax increases and tax “loophole” reforms that they can choose from. A veritable smorgasbord of ways to compromise and piss everyone off.

I was thinking about possible compromises they might be talking about. Maybe they’re considering cutting the $188 million a year dedicated to military music, or the $80 million a year for sport sponsorships for “recruiting” efforts. I bet boots on the street recruit more desperate high school seniors than NASCAR ads. Just a guess. Maybe if Boehner is motivated enough to keep the Lockheed-Martin F-22 fighter jet in production, despite the fact that its never worked properly, he might throw the bands under the bus, or into the NASCAR crash wall.

Or Obama could agree to raise the Social Security and/or Medicare eligibility. That would hurt the 95% the most, but maybe theres an assisted suicide amendment they could tuck in so the the old, ill poor can legally exit. They could call it Self-Deportation to Heaven. Might catch on if a major multi-national got behind it as a “green” initiative – Soylent Green Heavenly Foods, Inc.

As I finish my household inventory I wouldn’t be surprised if the federal inventory being conducted on the cliff results in tax increases with a higher threshold (I’m thinking $500,000 will go down easier than $250), a few tax loop holes closing (mortgage interest deduction restricted to one property), and an increase in medicare eligibility with a higher co-pay for high-income seniors. However it ends up, I think the federal government should be going through their cupboards every year to determine what is needed rather than just reflexively buying or cutting out of habit.

It is oh so tempting to let myself get caught up in the posturing and brinksmanship of the fiscal cliff (non)negotiations – I think Jon Setwart’s “Cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust” says it all. However, it reminds me too much of other things I worried about to no avail (the manufactured debt crisis, the endless house votes to repeal ACA,  Occupy Wall Street), so I am trying to be more detached.

Instead of obsessively reading news sites when I need to “take a break” at work I’m going to attempt to get up from my computer and walk around the block. This will be my Hanukkah gift to myself. Which allows me to start obsessing again on December 17th (post-Hanukkah), the date Nancy Pelosi said a deal would have to be inked by in order to get the paperwork done so politicians can leave DC by the 23rd. We’ll see if getting home to Church services with family (and constituents) is a motivator.

I’m glad we have a week break between Hanukkah and Christmas this year. We celebrate both in our little atheist household, so it gets to be a bit much when they overlap. My husband is not big on decorations, although he does tolerate the tabletop Christmas tree because it means something to me. Because he was raised Jewish and I was raised Catholic our daughter gets an amalgam of holiday traditions as we both choose only the bits we like and make up everything else.

For Hanukkah we light the Menorah and put out eight small presents for my daughter. I know non-Jewish kids get all jazzed about the idea of 8 nights of presents, but in our house at least it is not the major haul of their fantasies. I think the excitement for her is that they sit wrapped on the buffet so she can touch, shake and choose what to open each night. One is always a “gift certificate” to our local independent bookstore where we all choose new books, and then go for french fries & milkshakes at a favorite restaurant.

To her dismay I have a rule about no Christmas decorations overlapping with Hanukkah decorations, unless the calendar forces me, so we will not put up the tree until the 17th. And down it comes on New Years day. And of course, like all good Jewish/Catholic/Atheist families, we go to a movie & get Chinese food on Christmas day.

That reminds me, I don’t think I have 8 presents yet. 48 hours to finish my shopping, find the blue wrapping paper and see if the leftover Menorah candles melted over the summer.  Then I can start working on the Christmas gifts.

I continue to be amazed when I encounter people who do not understand the significance of voting in this country.

The work I do depends somewhat on federal funding, which is highly competitive and has gotten increasingly so over the last 10 years. The people I work with depend almost exclusively on federal research funding, not only to fund the science they do, but to demonstrate their value to their colleagues. The reasoning goes like this – funding is so tight only the best get funded, if you are any good you will get funded. Prima facie it sounds logical. In reality the funding pool has shrunk significantly each year so the quality is not the issue. Congress is.

Here is an example: the funding stream that supports my work in 2004 gave 20 awards. In 2012 they gave out four. For the whole year. Now those awards not only have to go to top candidates but have to take into account additional variables like size of institution, population served (and other unknown variables), so the actual pool for possible awards in my category is now 1. One person/institution will receive this award to conduct essential, knowledge-producing research in this category. Why is this? Because research federal funding was severely cut during the Bush years and is not a priority to a GOP congress.

So when I talk to academics and they tell me they are too busy to vote, or the hours don’t fit their schedule I want to shake them until I hear their giant brains rattle.

I want to shriek at them, “Who is in office matters to your livelihood and the intellectual progress of our WHOLE FREAKIN COUNTRY you over-educated IDIOT!” But I don’t. I patiently (I hope) connect the dots for them so they understand that people in office who do not believe in science will not fund pure research. Knowledge generation is not the priority of people who say things like “Jobs, jobs, jobs” or “Drill, baby, drill”.

I explain that they have a right to their opinion on abortion but that a Romney/Ryan ticket with its person hood stance also means that IVF is no longer possible. You see all those extra embryos created so your sister-in-law or best-friend can have a successful implant would be people to a Romney/Ryan administration. “People” created in a petrie dish would be prohibited from being destroyed, and doctors would be prosecuted. Those are the kind of policies that loom if the intellectual crowd, always purported to be liberal anyway, doesn’t get out and vote.

Think. Your vote matters and has wide-reaching implications. Locally, regionally and nationally.

Think. How will you fit a visit to the Board of Elections into your busy, busy day?

That’s it for today. I have a three grant deadlines breathing down my neck that I need to go work on. Because one, really amazing research project is too much of a gamble, gotta put in three simultaneously. So really, one person not voting is too much of a gamble in my opinion.

I woke up with a headache this morning from too little sleep and way too much stimulation from the presidential debate, but with a tiny bit more understanding of the bajillion people on this planet that are fanatical about sports.

I don’t watch any sports, live or on TV, other than tennis. And even then only if its on. My family, and many, many other people, spend hours looking at and talking about sports. The only time this obsession had any impact on  my life was when I celebrated holidays with my family and football was on. All of them are screamers. My brothers, sisters, and their spouses and children. As in screaming at top voice at the TV if things in the game are going well, or if they are going poorly. This is a loud & stressful experience.

Last night during the debate, as I was yelling, gesturing rudely, gloating and furiously checking twitter & facebook, I realized I was behaving like a sports fan. Politics, it turns out, is my sport. A blood sport with deeply important, far-reaching, societal and humanitarian implications, but a “sport” nonetheless. Good clean fun.

It certainly explains the disconnect between me and my family. I never understand why they thought football was important, and they never understood why I thought social issues were important. They would have been shocked and baffled to see me throwing my hands up in a touch down gesture when Obama scored laughs with the audience, or when Romney let his shovel of a mouth dig a hole with women.

Before I end this I just have to say – binders full of women? gosh, get married before you have babies?  a flexible work schedule so you can get dinner on the table? – does he really think women will join him & Ryan on their trek back to the 1950’s?

I know the seasons not over yet, but my team clearly won last nights game.

Since I only have a few minutes, I am only going to focus on a few minutes out of the Vice Presidential debate last night.

If you put aside all the “malarkey”, distortions and ideological nuances, what the debate last night gave us was a very clear picture of two forms of government. Answering the question asked by Raddatz, “What role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion”, the candidates gave voters a fundamental choice between systems of government. Continue reading

Everything that could be said about the presidential debate on Wednesday appeared to have been said by 9 am Thursday. God bless the Internet, Twitter and instant fact-checker blogs. I think we read most of it before we even went to sleep. What did we do four years ago? I can’t even remember. My daughter remembers the debate watch party we had in 2008, but not much about the debate. I wonder if she will remember this one.

The thing I will remember is the unabashed, repetitive lying and distortion.

We may never go back to truth telling in this country again. Or maybe we will get to the place where we require Fair Witnesses, white robes and all. Come to think of it I may need to re-read Heinlein as I no longer Grok how lies are told and become conspiracy theories, are reported as news and then endlessly commented upon.

I don’t know who is being persuaded by what at this point. The psychology behind it predicts more of the same. Democrats had better be running everything flat out as if we are about to lose tomorrow. Its the only way to win.

While I have not engaged in a scientific study I do believe I have recently heard the Worst Reason Ever for voting for Romney.

A potential voter said (I will find the link so you can listen for yourself) that he usually votes Republican but he gave Obama a chance so we could have the first black president. He is disappointed because he thought that would mean we would have a post-racial society and since it didn’t work, he’s voting for Romney. “Maybe he can fix all this race nonsense.”

I would bet that creating a post-racial society isn’t even on Romney’s radar. Furthermore, I would be knock-me-down-with-a-feather surprised if Romney and his allies didn’t consider themselves to be “color-blind”. You remember color-blind, that’s when someone with white skin pretends that the color of someones non-white skin is not a factor in their identity. Isn’t that nice of us to say we will completely ignore and disregard a part of your identity for your own good?

That’s the kind of post-racial Mr Disappointed Voter will be looking at with a Romney administration. All those pesky minority issues will go away because the majority doesn’t EVER have to pay attention to them unless they want to. And who wants to? It’s a depressing bore to be reminded that someone thinks they are being treated badly because of their color (or sex or religion).

“Nobody gives me a free pass just cuz I’m white right? I worked for everything I have, no one gave me any handouts…” Blah, blah, blah.

OK that was a little rant-y. If I had more time today I would circle back to the misunderstood comment Obama made that no one makes it alone. Not having to recognize your advantage is called White Privilege, sometimes its also white male privilege. You can learn about it at Teaching Tolerance, or Peggy Macintosh, or the white privilege conference or Tim Wise, a white man out teaching other white men.

Anyway I think Obama’s failure to create a post-racial America through his sheer existence wins Worst Reason Ever. It certainly beats my previous favorite. A West Virginia man said he was voting for Romney because, “Hussein – as in Barack Hussein Obama – means I hate coal.”

And that one was even a little bit funny.

On-Air-Sign

We are the 47% may not become a crowd chant but it sure does make for interesting news & commentary. Thank you Mr. Romney, for so firmly removing the foot from your mouth and speaking the truth as you know it.

Behind his comments about 47% of the US population believing they are entitled to food, housing and health care, lurks the fact that many people do believe it to be true. Many people, like myself, believe the US government should subsidize health care, food and housing for those who cannot acquire those things through their own work. The difference between Mr. Romney and this bleeding heart liberal is that I know for a fact that hard work does not always get you what you need.

People accuse Romney of “being out of touch” but this implies he was ever in touch with the experiences of working class or poverty class people in the US. I think he is insulated, as Obama is now too, from the day-to-day realities of working for a living. And not quite making it. A symptom of the Internet age if you ask me.

What we have is a social & cultural Bubble. Even though we each have access to scads of information and experience (especially the wealthy and privileged) it is still completely normal to live in a social Bubble where most everyone thinks like you. And, because the Internet makes it so easy, we can filter out all the information that does not reinforce our current beliefs. People tend to live near people with similar values, which means dissent is reduced or limited through social politeness. In other words, a Bubble. There is an interesting quiz you can take to find out about your Bubble.

Some people would say that they do not live in a bubble – they are informed citizens! I would argue that they probably spend more time reading the back of cereal boxes than they do reflecting on their information diet. The Bubble can be a place of perfect ignorance and safety.

I remember once hearing Clarence Thomas talk about how programs like Affirmative Action should be eliminated because they are not needed. The interviewer was incredulous and said something along the lines of what about all the people who experience(d) obstacles because of race or gender? and Justice Thomas answered, and I paraphrase: I don’t know anyone like that. Its hard to fathom the monumental hubris it takes to imply that something not part of my experience, cannot be part of yours.

But thats the key. Thomas didn’t know anyone who experienced prejudice and Romney doesn’t know anyone who works really hard and still can’t get ahead. It is also a valid experience that bootstraps break off and you can find yourself suddenly on your ass. I doubt that’s part of the Romney narrative. Their bootstraps seem to be sewn on good and tight.

The 47% comment has put us back at the fundamental question of who we believe we are as a country. I have ranted about this before – are we a country who takes care of our citizens? Or are we a country that protects the morality of our citizens? Or maybe we are simply a country that works hard to stay in our Bubble.

 

more-n-more-blue-bubbles-hi

I freaked my husband out this morning.

I told him that my father refused to fill out the FAFSA for me when I wanted to attend college. In case you have not reached that point in your life yet, the FAFSA‘s the very long and intrusive document you complete to see if you qualify for student aid, scholarships and work study. Its income based and counts all sorts of parental assets.

The topic came up because the man of the moment, Mitt Romney, had remarked last March that if students couldn’t afford college they should “borrow money from their parents”. If this doesn’t officially qualify as Romney’s “let them eat cake” comment I can’t imagine what will. Obama correctly pointed out that not everyone has parents that can give them a loan for college.

Mitt’s parents paid for his college but not his living expenses. His hard work/hard luck story is that he and Ann lived by selling off stock that his dad bought him with his birthday money each year. They were frugal and had to suffer bad furniture. That is so very different than the consequences from reducing the amount, number and eligibility for Pell grants given to low income students and raising the interest rates for all other student loans.

My parents didn’t get into all that student loan stuff when I graduated from high school. They didn’t help me pick out colleges nor did they fill out applications. If I was going to college, which they fully expected, I had to figure it out myself and pay for it myself. My dad had a kind of queasy feeling about the federal government.

The feds obviously had his social security number and DOB and so forth because he was in the Air Force and the Army, and he paid his taxes, but he really didn’t hold with giving them any information that wasn’t required, and the FAFSA wasn’t required. My eldest brother also refused to fill out the FAFSA for his daughter but his only excuse is that he is an idiot.

I can kind of understand my fathers position, it probably stemmed from his upbringing in rural Pennsylvania. Family lore was that his beloved grandmother (for whom I am named) was a bootlegger during prohibition. That’s just one reason to be wary of the federal man.

My larger point is that as queasy as one might be with federal governments involvement in day to day life there are sound reasons why this is preferred over the Ayn Rand/Every Capitalist for Himself system. My parents tax return probably would have qualified me for those Pell grants that Republicans insist are the very milk that addicts you to the government teat, so really, they did me a favor. 

I don’t know what the qualifications were in 1983 but the ones that send R&R into fits are a family of 4 has to make $30k or less in order to qualify for ~$4,900, the student has to attend full time at a 4 year college and you can’t use funding for summer classes (which are shorter and cheaper). Why cancel funding to a program that excludes so many already?

The problem is the recession and lack of low-middle wage jobs. Because laid off/downsized workers need training and retraining to qualify for the jobs that remain in the US, people need to go to college. In 2006, 5.2 million low income students qualified for Pell grants and went to college. In 2010 that ballooned to 9 million. You see why R&R have to cut this off right now?

Those folks need to ask their parents for a loan to go to college not the government. Or maybe they could ask some republicans with off-shore accounts and foriegn corporation addresses (Eaton anyone?) to consider manufacturing in the US and paying their actual taxes.

Just a thought.