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Dear Senator __,

No one wants to die of ebola. The current outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented and unique in that it has not been quarantined and is out of control. The local countries, Doctors Without Borders, WHO, and the UN do not have sufficient resources to respond to the outbreak. The longer it continues to spread unchecked, the more costly it will ultimately be to bring under control for the world community. Make no mistake. Viruses do not respect borders, nor do they respect nationality, wealth, or anything else that divides people.

If this virus goes unchecked in Africa, it will eventually reach to the U.S. sooner or later. Virginia has a number of densely populated metropolitan areas that would be vulnerable to a highly contagious, biohazard level 4 virus with no cure. Please, let's take this seriously now and use resources to save lives instead of selling more weapons to terrorist in the Middle East.


President Obama wants $500 million for weapons for Syrian rebels. This is so some Syrians can go and kill other Syrians. Meanwhile, countries in West Africa are scrambling just for enough medical kits, suits, and staff to respond to the spreading ebola sub-regional crisis.
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This is the top reccommended comment on Politico right now on an article on the Affordable Care Act. I'll admit the article got me feeling a bit down, but that all changed when I read the comments. It appears "socalphysicist" has it all figured out:

What do you think?

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Tensions are escalating quickly on the Korean peninsula.

Officials in Seoul say there are possibilities that the North may fire off several missiles from different sites, in case of an unsuccessful launch of the Musudan missile, which has never been tested before.

   According to satellite imagery, four or five more TELs were recently spotted in South Hamkyung Province, sparking speculation that the North may fire off missiles in several places.

   The TELs were believed to be launch platforms for short-range Scud missiles, which have a range of 300-500 kilometers, and medium-range Nodong missiles, which can travel 1,300-1,500 km, the source said.

Separate reports indicate that North Korea's largest border crossing with China has been closed and it is evacuating its embassy in London.

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Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:29 PM PST

PPP - Hillary with lead in Texas

by randomfacts

I know it's early, and I already knew Hillary polls strongly, but wowza.

The results are within the margin of error, but Clinton leads Marco Rubio 46% to 45%,
Chris Christie 45% to 43% and Rick Perry 50% to 42%. She has a +7 favorability rating
(50/43) with Texas voters and strong support among moderate voters—72% view her
favorably, and she crushes her potential GOP opponents among this voting group.
“If Clinton is the 2016 nominee, she could conceivably expand the electoral map for
Democrats in deep-red Texas,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling

Needless to say, the Democratic nominee doesn't need to win Texas.

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The whole idea of the upcoming debt limit showdown enrages me-- after all, it's inherently contradictory and hypocritical on the part of Congress to first pass laws mandating certain spending, and then refuse to give the Executive branch the means to spend what Congress mandates that they spend. The Republicans are openly trying to convince everyone that they're willing to blow up the economy in a big way simply because in their minds, anything bad that happens will be blamed on Obama regardless of how much the Republicans are to blame for precipitating the situation.

But I've thought of a way the Democrats might be able to handle this situation. This assumes that the Treasury department can avoid default simply by prioritizing payments to bondholders. That is, even without an increase in the debt limit, all bondholders can continue to be paid if Treasury uses what cash it does have (and has hoarded) to pay them first. Hence the threat of default is taken off the table.

It's other people who are owed money by the Federal Government who do not get paid. Doesn't Treasury get to choose which people these are? Here's where Obama can use the Republicans' refusal to increase the debt limit against them.

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I had a great conversation with an undecided voter tonight phone banking. It's not the first time it's happened, but I had a particularly in depth conversation with this gentleman. It was a really positive experience for me to discuss the issues for a long time with a voter who was open minded and thoughtful, so I decided to post what I could recall from our conversation here, a rough summary from memory.

He was an older gentleman, I think white, and living in a rural area of Virginia, but he was open minded and really wanted to know about the issues. I have a feeling he started out leaning towards Romney even though he told me he was undecided. I decided to spend a lot of time talking with him even though in phone banking, the goal is to move quickly, and at least I felt that it worked out well.

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I have worked for small businesses since the start of my career, and before that in college. And I have noticed a glaring loophole in Romney's argument that cutting income tax rates on businesses will spur investment and hiring:

Businesses are not taxed on all of their revenue. The income tax rate on business is only on their profits. In other words, a business is only taxed on an investment if it is already making money off the investment.

Under no circumstances will an increase in the rate of that tax make what would have been a profitable investment turn into an unprofitable one, because the tax doesn't come into play unless the investment is profitable in the first place.

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Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:06 AM PDT

Why Austerity Doesn't Work

by randomfacts

Deficit hawks think of government, and indeed all economic actors, as a household: just as households' finances improve when they spend less and save more, so will national economies do better if government saves more and spends less. Therefore, the best policy, they say, is austerity.

But an entire economy is very different from a single household. In these single household analogies, income is assumed to be fixed, but in a national economy, it is precisely the growth of income that makes an economy successful.

This is part of a three-part series that addresses three central issues that Romney is running on:
 1. There is a debate over the role of government in the economy
 2. The recovery has been slow
 3. Obama has added to the national debt
Part One is here and Part Two is here.
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Whenever Republicans talk about not enough jobs being created or the recovery being slow and blame it on overregulation or Obama’s policies, it angers me.

A single fact can explain why the recovery has been slow and it has nothing to do with regulation, taxes or "uncertainty", and it is nothing that Romney would be able to fix. Summed up in one word: debt.

This is part of a three-part series that addresses three central issues that Romney is running on:
1. There is a debate over the role of government in the economy
2. The recovery has been slow
3. Obama has added to the national debt

The first part is here.

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Each side understandably tends to focus on the issues that favor them. However, I want to step across the aisle for a moment and engage the Republicans on their own issues.

The central arguments of the Romney campaign could be summarized as these:

1. There is a debate over the role of government in the economy
2. Obama has added to the national debt
3. The recovery has been slow

I will go through each of these and show how they are all related to one another and how the GOP badly misinterprets the concepts behind their arguments.

This diary is Part 1 of a three part series. I address only the first argument here.
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Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 03:17 PM PDT

In Defense of Hilary Rosen

by randomfacts

The media narrative on the Hilary Rosen / Ann Romney controvery is way out of hand and the outrage is completely manufactured. Politico now asks: "Dem war on Moms?" That is the height of absurdity. Hilary Rosen herself is a mom. Is she warring on herself?

Most of the sources don't put her quote in context, they just take out the "she hasn't worked a day in her life" and then pile on paragraphs of irrelevant faux outrage from Ann Romney. Here is what Rosen actually said:

What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country saying, well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I am hearing.  Guess what?  His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.

She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and how do we worry - and why we worry about their future.  I think, yes, it's about these positions and, yes, I think there will be a war of words about the positions.

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"A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town." So ends It's a Wonderful Life, probably the most well-known film with a communitarian climax, where the lead character George, both finds meaning for himself through his sacrifices to others, and sees it come back to him as family, friends and respect in the community bring him real wealth, literal and figurative.

Katniss Everdeen is no solitary heroine. The theme that through mutual help and cooperation with others, we can achieve more than we could on our own also pervades the popular book and film series the Hunger Games. We see this through the decision of Gale and Katniss not to run away from the District in the beginning, Katniss volunteering to take the place of her sister Prim as a tribute, the critical help given to Peeta and Katniss by Haymitch their mentor, Cinna the stylist, the help Peeta and Katniss give to each other, the strategy of forming teams within the game including between Katniss and Rue, and through the gifts, which depend on the ability of the tributes to win sponsors. Finally we see it in the finale, where the power of selflessness allows Katniss and Peeta to break the rules and escape the games.

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