John Green is gonna talk to the President -- also, I'm scared of meeting awesome people, too


John Green is gonna ask the President about pennies!

Also, in this video, John talks about anxiety about meeting people you admire.  He points out that it will never be normal, that you're always going to be hyper-conscious of everything that could go wrong.

Obviously meeting the President is a little bit bigger than meeting, for example, John Green.  But this discussion reminded me of the multiple layers on which I have this anxiety.

Layer 1:  I don't want to say anything embarrassing, because I don't want to make that moment, in that moment, awkward or uncomfortable.  I care about preserving the integrity of what will be the memory of that moment, and I also want to be able to enjoy it as far as is possible while it's happening.

Layer 2:  I don't want to stick out, because I don't want someone I admire to remember me for being in some way deeply and memorably creepy or unpleasant.  I know that's vanishingly unlikely, but still.

Layer 3:  I want to be a successful writer.  Relatedly, nearly all the people I really admire are successful writers.  I want to eventually be in a place professionally where the people who right now make me nervous -- so nervous  that at least one literally thought I might have been sixteen because I was trying so hard to shrink into the floor -- are my peer group.  So I'm not just afraid that they're going to think I'm weird and creepy and unpleasant, but I'm afraid that I'll never get to a place where I can deal with being around them and not being so giddy I can't talk.

I mean, it's not like I want to stop admiring them, or stop being a fan.  But one of my many weird fears about success is that becoming a successful writer will put me in an incredibly alienated position where I can't be around any of the other professionals in my trade, especially the ones I most want to.

Slate on the Fiscal Cliff

Honestly, I don't really know how to follow this whole fiscal cliff thing.  It's big and complicated and I can't get a straight answer from anywhere about whether it's really likely to happen or if this is just chest-thumping. But Slate's coverage, if it's accurate, cleared at least one thing up for me.

Our government is run by fracking children.

 [...I]f there is ever going to be a deal, it will only happen if Boehner looks like he has dragged the president somewhere President Obama doesn’t want to go. Each time the speaker makes a public display, as he did today, it shows that he is fighting the good fight and holding the president's feet to the fire. Now, if there is a deal, he can say, "I beat on the president about cutting spending, and he gave in." Members are going to look closely at the math above the theatrics, but if Boehner were unable to point to moments of peril and stalemate, his rank-and-file will just assume he got rolled. Therefore, this statement that seems to be about frustration—which would suggest we're farther than ever from a deal—can actually be seen as a necessary prerequisite for a deal.

The one trick for Boehner is that he can’t appear to be too effective. He doesn’t want to stir his members into such a fevered pitch that they don’t accept any deal. Perhaps that’s why Boehner described his meeting with the president this weekend as “nice” and “cordial.”

Emphasis mine.

What the hell?  Why is it okay for our government to balance our economic stability on the possibility of bruised egos? It's like we elected a bunch of eight year olds, and a few of them have started to notice that they can't keep throwing tantrums without blowing everything up -- but now the atmosphere of the political dialogue is "I want my toys and my candy and I want to get to stay up late and I don't want to clean my room."

Barack Obama's Tax Calculator

NOTE: There is an edit at the bottom of the article. I just watched Hank Green's video about the Obama campaign's tax policy, linked here, embedded below.

I don't want to just reiterate what Hank said, but it's deeply depressing to look at.  It's depressing because I know a lot of people who really need that money.  People older than me, with more financial responsibility, who struggle harder to make ends meet.  I know those people, and I know a lot of them plan to vote for Romney.

Some of it is racism.  I know at least two people who have told me, out loud, that they won't vote for Obama because he's black.  So, that's a thing that happens.  One of those people is a registered Democrat, too, so it's not like the Racist vote is irrelevant.

But there are other people who've just been convinced that being a good businessman and being a good president are somehow basically synonymous, where as far as I can tell they're pretty much entirely unrelated.  The responsibility of a successful businessman is to help a small group of wealthy investors profit off the back of a product.  The responsibility of a President is to maximize the wellbeing of a huge quantity of people while protecting their civil liberty and acting on their behalf to improve the world.

We can see the difference in those philosophies in the tax calculator, which, as Hank points out, demonstrates that Romney's plan doesn't help you out until about a quarter of a million.  If you're single and have no dependents, Romney's plan increases your taxes until you reach $197,500/year.  Even then, you're still saving more under Obama's plan.  Single people with no dependents don't start doing better under Romney until $497,500/year, at which point they jump from saving    to saving $36,319/year.  $1 less and they're only saving $4,016, at which point Obama's still offering more savings, at $5,353.

EDIT 8/8/2012 11:20am

It turns out this isn't based on Mitt Romney's declared tax plan, it's based on the results that would be necessary for him to keep his campaign promises both re: tax breaks and budget balancing.  Hank explains:

SourceFed on Quote Approval

Last week I covered the New York Times revealing that they, and essentially everyone else in the mainstream media, have been granting quote approval to politicians they want to interview.  That means the politicians get to alter or veto anything the journalists want to say they said, reducing the role of the media to a distribution system for press releases. SourceFed posted a video about it today, which I felt I should share because this is a huge deal that needs a lot of attention.  Like, it's really not okay.  The failure of journalists' integrity is a catastrophic loss for our democracy.