2012 - %3, June

Today's High School Grads Are Just as Good as Yesterday's

| Thu Jun. 21, 2012 9:59 AM EDT

Tyler Cowen recommends a post from Steve Postrel attempting to explain why students are willing to pay ever higher amounts for a college degree. Unfortunately, it starts like this:

Typical graduate business school education has indeed become less rigorous over time, as has typical college education. But typical high school education has declined in quality just as much. As a result, the human capital difference between a college and high-school graduate has increased.

If anyone wants to present some evidence that high school education has declined over the past 30 years, I'm all ears. But as far as I know, there isn't any such evidence because it isn't true. I'm willing to buy the idea that there are specific things that high schools don't do as well as they used to — though if you have examples please provide some real evidence that they're true! — but overall? Most of the data I've seen suggests that today's high school grads know at least as much, and occasionally even more, than high school grads of the past.

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 21, 2012

Thu Jun. 21, 2012 9:10 AM EDT

US Army paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team fortify a guard tower with sandbags at Joint Security Station Hasan in southern Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. The paratroopers are assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. US Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod, RC-East PAO.

Arizona Secretary of State Thinks Obama Told Colleges He Was Born in Kenya

| Thu Jun. 21, 2012 7:20 AM EDT
Ken Bennett (R)

Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett stepped in it back in May when he threatened to keep President Barack Obama off the November ballot unless the state of Hawaii produced a copy of his birth certificate. This was an odd demand, because Obama and the state of Hawaii have already produced two copies of Obama's birth certificate. Bennett eventually backed down and apologized to the citizens of Arizona (but not before Democrats demanded that he investigate rumors that Mitt Romney is secretly a unicorn).

Now, Bennett is at it again. Speaking to local Republicans last week, Bennett alleged that the president may have told college admissions officers that he had been born in Kenya in order to receive special perks. Per the Arizona Republic:

"Now, I know there are a lot of people who are very skeptical about whether the president was born in Hawaii," he said. "Personally, I believe he was.

"I actually think he was fibbing about being born in Kenya when he was trying to get into college and doing things like writing a book and on and on and on.

"So, if there was weird stuff going on, I actually think it was happening back in his college days because I think he has spent $1.5 (million) or $2 million through attorneys to have all the college records and all that stuff sealed.

"So, if you're spending money to seal something, that's probably where the hanky panky was going on."

Bennett on Wednesday said that his comments are being misconstrued and that he was hinging his statement on the word "if."

It just depends on what your definition of if is!

Should Not Disclosing Your HIV Status Be a Crime?

| Thu Jun. 21, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

In 2007, Donald Bogardus contracted HIV from his long-term partner. When he later had unprotected sex with a man who didn't know Bogardus was HIV positive, he was charged under an Iowa law that criminalizes the transmission of HIV.

"I wanted to tell him," Bogardus told the Daily Iowan, "but when I went to say it, I clammed up…I was afraid he was going to blab it out to everybody."

Now Bogardus—a church-going, nursing-home worker with cerebral palsy and a pet goldfish named Survivor—faces 25 years in prison and lifelong sex offender status. For many opponents of criminal HIV transmission statutes, who argue that they are ineffective at preventing transmission and stigmatize the HIV-positive, he's become the poster boy for the laws' severity.

WATCH: $1.2 Trillion in Budget Cuts as a Hollywood Disaster Movie [Brodner Cartoon]

| Thu Jun. 21, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

Grover Norquist beats Republicans in line with a club while Democrats look on as helpless sheep trying to stave off a $1.2 trillion budget cut. Just another day in Congress? At the Washington Spectator, animator Steve Brodner reimagines the upcoming budget cut as an asteroid and our congressmen as the hapless astronauts tasked with stopping it. Spoiler alert: This story has a happy ending. Will ours?

Film Review: The Invisible War

| Thu Jun. 21, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

The Invisible War

CHAIN CAMERA PICTURES

98 minutes

Near the end of this film, former Coast Guardswoman Kori Cioca stands at the women's war memorial in DC wondering why she and others who have been raped by their comrades in arms—half a million since the 1950s, estimates one expert—don't deserve a Purple Heart. By this time, Kirby Dick, the film's Oscar-nominated director, has already introduced us to the Kafkaesque system of military justice that's helped keep an epidemic of sexual assault under wraps. The Invisible War is riddled with jaw-dropping stats, humanized by haunting survivor stories. Dick does interview Pentagon officials, but the stark contrast between their spin and painful reality is impossible to miss.

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The One-Sided War Against Obamacare

| Wed Jun. 20, 2012 11:58 PM EDT

Abby Goodnough of the New York Times explains why misinformation and fear of Obamacare is increasingly widespread. It's the money, stupid:

In all, about $235 million has been spent on ads attacking the law since its passage in March 2010, according to a recent survey by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group....Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, which, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, is one of the top five media markets for ad spending against the health care law, it is apparent how such messaging is playing out. (The other top markets are Orlando, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Denver, all in swing states.) In interviews with about two dozen residents who were mostly opposed to the law, certain worries, resentments and dark predictions about it came up time and again.

By contrast, only $69 million has been spent on pro-Obamacare ads, most of it bland public-service spots from HHS. Add to that the fact that most Democrats seem petrified of actually defending the law, and it's no surprise that the Fox News portrayal of Obamacare has been steadily gaining ground. That's what happens when you slink into a corner when the other guys declare war.

Corn on MSNBC: Romney, Money, and His Business Cronies

Wed Jun. 20, 2012 7:20 PM EDT

David Corn joined Newsweek's Bob Shrum on Reverend Al Sharpton's "PoliticsNation" to discuss how Romney's old business cronies still exert a hefty influence on his economic policy—a policy that is undeniably in favor of those same richest Americans.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.

Rhode Island's Homeless Bill of Rights

| Wed Jun. 20, 2012 6:21 PM EDT

In recent months, several penny-pinched municipalities have taken a stab at eradicating homelessness by making indigence illegal. Cities from Berkeley to Philadelphia to St. Louis have moved to criminalize "acts of living" like sitting, lying down, or asking for change on the corner. In the face of this nationwide crackdown on transients, Rhode Island has decided to take the high road. Its Assembly just passed the country's first Homeless Bill of Rights, which Governor Lincoln Chafee is expected to sign into law early next week, declaring an equal right to jobs, housing, services, and public space for all inhabitants, whether they have a home or not.

A recent report by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness blasted the national wave of out-of-sight-out-of-mind laws affecting many of the country's roughly 643,000 street folk: "Criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties."

Quote of the Day: Government Cutbacks are Hurting the Recovery

| Wed Jun. 20, 2012 5:42 PM EDT

From Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, answering a question about the "choke points" holding back the economy:

In the last year or two and going forward, we have been seeing fiscal consolidation, particularly at the state and local level....I understand these are necessary steps from the perspective of individual states and localities; I'm not criticizing that. It's just a fact, though, that these contractions are affecting the pace of growth in the broader economy.

Bernanke said that other things affecting the pace of recovery included problems in Europe and a sluggish U.S. housing market.