Daily Archive: October 14, 2013

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On This Day In History October 14

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 14 is the 287th day of the year (288th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 78 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager (born February 13, 1923) is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound (1947). Originally retiring as a brigadier general, Yeager was promoted to major general on the Air Force’s retired list 20 years later for his military achievements.

His career began in World War II as a private in the United States Army Air Forces. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer (the World War II USAAF equivalent to warrant officer) and became a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot. After the war he became a test pilot of many kinds of aircraft and rocket planes. Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1 at an altitude of 13,700 m (45,000 ft). . . .

Yeager remained in the Air Force after the war, becoming a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) and eventually being selected to fly the rocket-powered Bell X-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight, after Bell Aircraft test pilot “Slick” Goodlin demanded $150,000 to break the sound “barrier.”  Such was the difficulty in this task that the answer to many of the inherent challenges were along the lines of “Yeager better have paid-up insurance.” Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the experimental X-1 at Mach  1 at an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,700 m). Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, he broke two ribs while riding a horse. He was so afraid of being removed from the mission that he went to a veterinarian in a nearby town for treatment and told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley about it.

On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the airplane’s hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch of the airplane. Yeager’s flight recorded Mach 1.07, however, he was quick to point out that the public paid attention to whole numbers and that the next milestone would be exceeding Mach 2. Yeager’s X-1 is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

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Citizens United: Part Deux

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This week the Supreme Court heard arguments for the ending of limits on campaign contributions for individuals, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The argument for lifting the limits is the same that were used to argue Citizens United that opened the flood gates of money from corporations, money is free speech.

Next Citizens United? McCutcheon Supreme Court Case Targets Campaign Contribution Limits

by Paul Blumenthal, Huffington Post

Alabama electrical engineer and budding political donor Shaun McCutcheon broached a problem in conversation with conservative election lawyer Dan Backer, who one day earlier had led a CPAC panel on rolling back campaign finance laws in which he predicted that campaign contribution limits would soon rise.

McCutcheon had recently learned there were overall federal campaign contribution limits on what a single donor could give during a two-year election cycle. He voiced his annoyance to Backer and wondered if he could just ignore the aggregate limits — something that a few dozen donors wound up doing], whether deliberately or inadvertently, in the 2012 election. [..]

A little more than a year later, McCutcheon, now joined by the Republican National Committee, is bringing the biggest campaign finance case before the Supreme Court since the controversial 2010 Citizens United decision. If the justices rule in their next term to toss the overall limits, it would mark the first time the Supreme Court had found a federal contribution limit unconstitutional and would open the door for even more money to flood the political system.

It would also be a major victory for counter-reformers, who have racked up a string of wins rolling back campaign finance regulation ever since Justice Samuel Alito replaced the more campaign regs-friendly Sandra Day O’Connor. And it would be a major blow to the campaign finance regime crafted in the 1970s following a string of corruption scandals culminating in the abuses revealed in the Watergate investigation.

One other small point, McCutcheon is a climate denier.

This week’s guest on Moyers & Company, Yale Law School election and constitutional law professor Heather Gerken discussed the how a ruling in favor of McCutcheon will further erode campaign finance regulations and allow more cash and influence to slosh around in the system.

McCutcheon challenges aggregate caps on how much individual donors can give to candidates and political parties. The current overall cap stands at $123,200 per donor for a two-year election cycle, but McCutcheon could raise that amount to more than $3.5 million.

Gerken says if the court rules in favor of McCutcheon, one donor could write a check that might cover a politician’s entire election campaign. “We’re going to start to worry about the bad old days when politicians were beholden to an incredibly small group of wealthy donors … Right now when politicians want to raise money they have to talk to at least middle class voters. They have to talk to a pretty big number of voters to raise money for their campaigns.”

Gerken fears that a small, rich group would not only influence the outcome of elections, but policy decisions as well. “It’s not just a seat at the table on election day, it’s a seat at the table for the next four-to-six years when they’re governing,” Gerken says. “Wall Street is going to be controlling the congressional agenda, Main Street is not.”



Transcript can be read here

As suggested by Karin Kamp, at Moyers’ & Company web site, here is a list of recommended articles that explain the case.

Chief Justice Roberts: A Campaign Finance Moderate Who Gets It?

by Rick Hasen, Election Law Blog

Poor Little Rich Guys

by Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

Conservative Justices Signal Dismantling Of Campaign Donation Limits

by Sahil Kapur, TPM

Mitch McConnell’s Moneyocracy

by Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post

Meet Shaun McCutcheon

by Ben Jacobs, The Daily Beast

There is also a very informative video from the Washington Post that is worth watching.

Sam Adams Award

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In Russia, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden appeared in public for the first time since he was grated asylum by the Russian government. He met with other whistleblowers and activists to receive the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence.

RT News interviewed whistleblowers and activists Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Andrews Drake, Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley in their studio after the award was presented.