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Gettysburg Address @ 150

November 4, 2013 in History

November 04, 2013 5:19 p.m.

Calling all history buffs: We need your help this week — and your videos! This month marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address. Help us honor the occasion by sending us a video of you, your students, or your child reciting the Address. We need your videos by NEXT WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13!! If your video is selected, it will be one of many featured on the American Experience website and social media sites.

Here’s what we need:

— Videos of individuals or groups reciting all or part of the Gettysburg Address. We’d love it if you have the whole Address memorized, but we know that’s a tall order. So fee free to stop and start, or to send us a video of you reciting just part of it.
– We expect most people will be filming on their smart phones — that’s great! Just be sure that you’re in a quiet space where we can clearly hear the audio.
– Videos should be shot HORIZONTALLY.
– People on camera should be centered in the frame, fairly close up (from the chest up,) and looking at the camera.
– Videos should be submitted as .mov files, if possible. (If you don’t know what kind of file you have, send it to us anyway! We’ll figure it out.)

Submit your video via email to with the subject line Gettysburg Address. In the email, be sure to include your first and last name and the first and last names of anyone who appears in the video. Attach your .mov file to the email.

We can’t wait to get your videos! Remember, the deadline is NEXT WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13!

IMPORTANT! Terms and Conditions:
By submitting your video: (1) You acknowledge and agree that PBS and WGBH may use your video and your name and likeness in connection with this project, including on their websites, third party sites, and social media; and (2) You represent and warrant that you have obtained permission for such use from everyone featured in your video, and you have read and will abide by PBS’s term of use and WGBH’s Terms of Use All submissions become the property of WGBH and are not returnable.

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Could a Peaceful, Well-Organized Protest Movement Help Save Us from Obamacare?

November 4, 2013 in Economics

By Jim Powell

Jim Powell

Principled House votes, brave Senate filibusters and aggressive Capitol Hill lobbying have failed to save us from Obamacare, in part because they’re inside-the-beltway strategies, all wrong for the situation we find ourselves in now — namely, millions of Americans alarmed because, contrary to President Obama’s cynical promises, we cannot keep the health insurance policy we like, we cannot work with the doctor we like, we face astronomical Obamacare premiums, and we fear catastrophic health care costs if we go without insurance.

What could concerned citizens do now?

Well, we already tried staying home and watching TV to see what Washington might do.

The worst option would be to remain passively on the sidelines, hoping for the best, waiting to see whether Republicans will come up with enough compelling candidates and focus on an effective strategy or whether Republicans will become distracted by other issues and self-destruct amidst intramural struggles. Sometimes it seems Republicans have a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ordinary people in tough circumstances have changed history before, and it’s possible we could do it again.”

Concerned citizens need to consider a more pro-active strategy that will generate pressure on members of Congress from both parties to save us from Obamacare. Most people seem to think that means running to Washington, but actually pressure must be generated out in the country where we live, among voters in the 50 states, and pressure must be directed at Washington. The most effective way to change the direction that the wind blows in Washington is to change the direction that the wind blows in states and congressional districts.

Now in pain because of Obamacare, increasing numbers of Americans might be motivated enough to participate in nonviolent nation-wide protests, to testify about how their policies were cancelled, how their premiums skyrocketed, how they were denied access to their doctors and how they’re gaining new hope through solidarity.

People who show up for a well-organized protest attract more media camera crews than somebody writing a blog. Also, people who take the trouble of showing up someplace tend to be more highly motivated than people who stay at home. So, well-organized protests can make a difference.

Ordinary people in tough circumstances have changed history before, and it’s possible we could do it again. Just recall some of the most successful mass movements. None of them developed in a capital where entrenched interests …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Economics of Writing Poorly

November 4, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

In a brilliant and entertaining new book, aptly titled Learn to Write Badly: How to Succeed in the Social Sciences, Professor Michael Billig explains why social scientists typically write so poorly.  For Billig, who is not an economist, the main point is simple economics:

If we want to understand why academics today write as they do, then we should bear in mind one simple fact: in current times academics are writing and publishing as part of their paid employment.  We will not get near to understanding what might be going wrong in the social sciences unless we accept this.  By and large, academics today are not writing in answer to a higher calling or because they have dedicated themselves to the pursuit of truth.  We are, to put it bluntly, hacks who write for a living. . . . Given that our products are academic words, then we learn how to promote our academic words as part of our employment.  These are conditions where the rewards do not go to those who only write when they have something to say and who then take trouble to write as clearly as possible.

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Liberty Is What Matters: Why Americans Should Ignore Scoffing Foreigners

November 4, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For two weeks most Americans didn’t notice that the federal government had closed. Other nations complained that the shutdown undercut America’s position as a great power, but Americans must debate fundamental issues despite the criticism of foreign governments.

For years Congress has failed to approve individual appropriation bills, instead funding most of the government through an omnibus “continuing resolution.” This time House Republicans refused to approve money to implement ObamaCare, while Senate Democrats voted to provide the cash.

The ensuing deadlock generated criticism abroad as well as concern at home. Some analysts warned that a partial shutdown—only about 17 percent of funded activity actually came to a halt—would ruin America’ international reputation and wreck the global economy. For instance, Sina Toossi of Foreign Policy in Focus predicted “the weakening of U.S. soft-power” and worried that “As politicians wrangle with one another in the halls of Congress, rival powers are watching with concern and no doubt grim satisfaction as the United States takes the world economy to the edge of a cliff.” Toossi added: “It is clear that politicking in Washington is reaching the point where consequential damage is being done to the broader and longer term national interests of the United States.”

What other think matters far less than preserving liberty at home.”

Of the separate possibility of a debt default—never likely, since even if the “debt ceiling” was not raised Washington could prioritize its spending and service past obligations—the International Monetary Fund warned: “The effects of any failure to repay the debt would be felt right away, leading to potentially major disruptions in financial markets, both in the United States and abroad.” IMF head Cristine Legarde worried: “It is mission critical that this be resolved as soon as possible.”

Secretary of State John Kerry joined the America-bashing. Although he told foreign leaders that the controversy was merely temporary, “a moment of politics,” he also warned that if the partial shutdown was “prolonged or repeated,” people might question America’s ability to “stay the course.” Indeed, other states might wonder if America can “be counted on,” whether “the Congress [will] come through” and a presidential agreement “will be held.” He claimed that “the shutdown created temporary but real consequences in our ability to work with our partners and pursue our interests abroad.” After the GOP caved he said that the political fight “didn’t impress anyone about the power of America’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Fifty Years after Dallas: Time to See beyond John F. Kennedy's Many Camelot Myths

November 4, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

Nov. 22 — a little over two weeks from now — will mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963. But unless you’re on a starvation-level “media diet,” you probably knew that already.

Politico notes a looming “media tidal wave,” with more than 100 new Kennedy books, dozens of TV specials and several new iPad apps accompanying the unhappy anniversary.

Kennedy’s murder was a national tragedy, to be sure, but an honest assessment of his record shows that our lawless and reckless 35th president was anything but a national treasure.”

In a December 1963 interview, the president’s widow gave a name to the Kennedy mystique, telling journalist Theodore White of Jack’s fondness for the lyric from the Lerner and Loewe musical about King Arthur: “Once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.”

Much more than a “moment,” Camelot has proven an enduring myth.

JFK places near the top 10 in most presidential ranking surveys of historians, and in a 2011 Gallup poll, Americans ranked him ahead of George Washington in a list of “America’s greatest presidents.”

Kennedy’s murder was a national tragedy, to be sure, but an honest assessment of his record shows that our lawless and reckless 35th president was anything but a national treasure.

Shortly after the then-Massachusetts Democratic senator announced his presidential candidacy, Kennedy gave a remarkable speech, titled “The Presidency in 1960,” outlining a remarkably broad view of the president’s duties and powers.

“Today a restricted concept of the presidency is not enough,” JFK argued: the presidency must be “the center of moral leadership” — “we must endow that office with extraordinary strength and vision.”

And the president “must be prepared to exercise the fullest powers of his office — all that are specified and some that are not.”

Indeed, JFK rarely let legal specifics deter his exercise of presidential power. At his behest in 1961, the Internal Revenue Service set up a “strike force,” the Ideological Organizations Project, targeting groups opposing the administration.

In 1962, outraged that American steel manufacturers had raised prices, he ordered wiretaps, IRS audits and dawn FBI raids on steel executives’ homes.

In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning national security journalist Thomas E. Ricks opined that JFK “probably was the worst American president of the [20th] century.”

In foreign policy, Ricks said, “he spent his 35 months in the White House stumbling from crisis to fiasco.”

True enough, after …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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You Aren't a Total Kook if You Oppose Common Core

November 4, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Just about anyone who opposes the Common Core national curriculum standards, under serious reexamination in Florida right now, is either a kook or a goof. That, at least, is the impression an impartial observer would get from listening to Core supporters.

But the reality is quite the opposite: education thinkers from across the political spectrum are taking on — and apart — the Core.

There is an extremely well-informed opposition to the Core, and dismissing opponents as loony does children no service.”

In the face of powerful and growing grassroots concern, there is a major effort underway to paint Core opposition as grounded in “misinformation” and plain old craziness. For instance, former governor Jeb Bush, arguably the Core’s greatest champion, has repeatedly questioned the motives and knowledge of Core opponents. Recently, he accused them of employing conspiracy theories, and several months ago he berated the Republican National Committee for voting to condemn the Core “based on no information.”

Mr. Bush is not alone. In a recent oped, Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute characterized Core opponents as a “small but vocal minority of conservatives” coupled with a bit of “the far left.” In other words: scary fringe types.

Like in every group, there are some Core opponents who say outlandish things, but that is the exception, not the rule. Much more important is the diverse group opposing the Core who are the exact opposite of the “kook” stereotype: education experts.

The Common Core is opposed by scholars at leading think tanks on the right and the left, including the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute. My research has shown that there is essentially no meaningful evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.

Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek, an education economist and supporter of standards-based education reform, has reached a similar conclusion, recently writing: “We currently have very different standards across states, and experience from the states provides little support for the argument that simply declaring more clearly what we want children to learn will have much impact.”

Hanushek’s conclusion dovetails nicely with Common Core opposition from Tom Loveless, a scholar at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. In 2012, Loveless demonstrated that moving to national standards would have little, if any, positive effect because the performance of states has very little connection to the rigor or quality of …read more

Source: OP-EDS