Friday, November 30, 2012

On socialism

I have maintained for some time that the right wing hysteria over the concept of socialism is ridiculous.  The reality is that neither pure capitalism or pure socialism work very well; however those countries which have pursued a combination of capitalism and socialism have done markedly better than we are doing as a nation, and as a society and culture.

There are more versions of socialism than the totalitarian one favored by the old Soviet Union in the bad old days of Stalin et al.  The reality is that our form of capitalism, which is hardly pure capitalism, but rather a version which promotes the worst aspects of it, is not working very well.  We have the choice of recognizing, bottom line, what does work and what does not, and adjusting our thinking to the reality of those facts, or we can play at stupid ideology, close our eyes tight, stick our thumbs in our ears, and yell 'la la la la la la' to try to block out that reality.

The evidence is below.

Better care, for more people, providing a healthier nation and healthier people to be active in our society and economy, all provided cheaper than the ridiculous costs we pay. These countries do not have citizens wreaking havoc on their own lives, on their communities and on their economies with bankruptcies resulting from people becoming ill. They do not have people becoming seriously ill who could avoid those more expensive medical costs by treating them cheaply earlier in the progress of their health problem.

Bottom line, we do NOT have the best health care system in the world, we have a failed health care system. Chanting 'we're number one' and patting ourselves on the back for our imaginary exceptional-ism does not alter that reality.

Why Are Cows Tails Dropping Off?

Why Are Cows Tails Dropping Off?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Makes better sense -- and better dollars, too.....

It is time to change the discussion

Now for something completely different

For all those of scandinavian descent or ethnicity.

The Arithmetic - Democrats V Republicans

I wish I'd written this; since I didn't, the next best thing I can do is to encourage you all to check it out.  Superb; deserves a standing ovation for clarity, and concise analysis in one place.  DO read this. EXCELLENT!

The Arithmetic - Democrats V Republicans

As we haggle over that grand bargain, let us sort out the truth from lies

Under the premise that a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm going to save my tender fingertips some typing here.
The reality is that under President Obama, we are reducing the deficit at a safe rate; reducing it too quickly can actually HURT our recovery. Unlike Republican administrations and Repulican dominated congresses, there has been a consistent pattern of explosive expansion of our debt and deficit, and a reduction in the growth of our economy.  Under Democrats, ooth in the executive and the legislative branches, we have had more taxation, and sometimes more spending, but that has been offset, consistently, by much stronger /bigger growth in the economy as measured by GDP, AND we have reduced deficits and had balanced budgets.
Most of all, when we have had, under Democrats, taxation of the uppermost levels of income and wealth - the rich - we have consistently had the most growth, and EVERYONE -- INCLUDING THE WEALTHY - have benefited from that economic good health. AND we have had the best track record under Democrats for balanced budgets and declining deficits.

Look at this graphic and hold it in your thoughts as you hear the right whine about cutting social security - which is in trouble because the right took the money out of it and spent it on otherwise unfunded wars, medicare and medicaid, and other social safety net programs, infrastructure, etc.  ALL of that can be addressed by better means that cutting benefits, raising qualifying ages, etc.

What we CAN and SHOULD cut is our military spending -- not on personnel, but on equipment that we don't need, that only gives pork barrel spending to the military industrial complex, who, coincidentally tend to fund more Republicans than Democrats to keep that spending in place.

Some but not all of the graphs below were assembled in one place with superb commentary at Pragmatic Pundit; I need to give at least secondary credit to that author for it, although most if not all of these visual images are ones that are not original to that author, and which I have seen in other places. However, some of the statistical data IS unique, at least in terms of accumulation analysis and verification to that site and author.  Where that is true I give primary credit to Pragmatic Pundit, along with a link to the specific location.

But look also at these other supporting graphs for the above:
Yes, even the wealthy do BETTER under Democrats, despite Boo hoo Blubber-boy Speaker John Boehner's claims about the economy.

And U.S. Budget Deficits went UP under Dubya, but have been going DOWN, NOT UP, under Obama --- for those who claim passionately to care about the debt burden on our children and grandchildren.

But just to clarify further the inaccuracy (to use a charitable term for it) of the right in criticizing the left:


and look at this:

AND, if you care about balanced budgets AND a healthy economy, the answer is NOT smaller government - which is conceptually badly flawed, but rather the Democratic model of a strong federal government.
Here is the best argument I've seen so far against Boehner's claims - from the Pragmatic Pundit:
Recessions and Depressions

Republicans held the presidency at the onset of the last NINE (9) economic downturns, including the two greatest economic collapses in our history.
1. The Great Depression: Herbert Hoover (Republican)
2. Recession of 1953: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican)
3. Recession of 1957: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican)
4. Recession of 1960: Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) *
5. The Oil Crisis: Richard Nixon (Republican)
6. 1980's Recession: Ronald Reagan (Republican)
7. 1990 Recession: George H.W. Bush (Republican)
8. 2002 Recession: George W. Bush (Republican)
9. The Second Great Depression: George W. Bush (Republican)  

and about the President and those false spending claims - again from a SUPERB piece at Pragmatic Pundit:


Barack Obama has lowest spending record of any recent president

You will often hear critics say that Bush left office with a $454 billion deficit. That was the deficit at the end of 2008 (12/31/2008). Then what accounts for the period from the end of December until the President is sworn into office in late January? Any calculation that begins when President Obama took office or at the end of 2009 (because the President had been in office for a year), is just flat-out wrong.

Here’s how it works...the fiscal year is from October 1 through September 30th. So a President governs for his first 9 months under the budget of the preceding administration.
At the end of the Bush fiscal year, September 30, 2009, the deficit was $1,417,121.
Obama’s first fiscal year, September 30, 2010, the deficit was $1,294,090. The deficit went down!
Obama’s second fiscal year September 30, 2011, the deficit was $1,298,614.
Obama’s third fiscal year August 31, 2012 (latest available), the deficit was $1,164,373.

and this from the Pragmatic Pundit on  job creation:
Job Creation
When it comes to job creation, the Democrats again do a better job than Republicans.
From the U.S. Department of Labor;  data is listed from the best to the worst:

Unemployment Rates
Clearly Democratic Presidents create more jobs per year than Republican presidents.  Unemployment rates are higher under’s just a fact.
Johnson 1966-1969  average unemployment rate of 3.7%.
Clinton 1994-2001 average unemployment rate of 4.9%.
Kennedy 1962-1965 average unemployment rate of 5.2%.
Nixon 1970-1977 average unemployment rate of 6.3%.
Bush 1990-1993 average unemployment rate of 6.7%.
Carter 1978-1981  average unemployment rate of 6.7%.
Reagan 1982-1989  average unemployment rate of  7.3%.
IF you genuinely care about this country - ignore the Republicans.  Do NOT follow or support their economic policies, because they do not work, they are not fiscally responsible, they are not economically sound, they will not accomplish the end goal you desire for yourself or for the country.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reposting an earlier piece, Conservative Perversion

Earlier this week I was intrigued by the coverage of older men having sex with underage girls in Minnesota, done by MPR, courtesy of Dan Kraker:
"A courthouse shooting in Grand Marais last December shocked the small North Shore town. But the consequences now resonate far beyond the violence. The gunman was in his 30s when he was found guilty of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, and the news shed light a pattern in the town of older men sexually pursuing underage girls. A young woman, who asked not to be identified (above), said she became involved with older men but found it hard to distinguish between "new and exciting, and, 'I'm scared; this isn't OK.' " (Derek Montgomery for MPR News)

A man convicted of sex with a 15 year old girl shot three people, because he didn't like being convicted.  He shot those people, partly because it seems he didn't see anything wrong with what he did, and partly because other people were not caught and convicted for the same thing.

He had a feeling, and he had a gun, and he felt entitled to use it, the same way far too many people wrongly feel entitled to use firearms against other people in this country when they feel aggrieved.  We have murders by stalkers, we have weekly murder suicides in this country.  Many of those acts of violence are committed with legally owned, legally purchased firearms.

This one event, and the excellent coverage given to it by MPR struck me for several reasons.  There is a pervasive attitude towards women and towards girls, and towards sex among a segment of people in this country that is fundamentally sick, twisted, perverted.  The majority of people comprising this segment are men.  It struck me that this same segment tends to be very big on having and using guns, and that their gun attitudes seem to be an extension of their debased attitudes towards women, the two topics are intertwined.

We have for example, Rush Limbaugh who believes that if a young woman wishes to use contraception, even if it is not for the purpose of having committed and responsible sex, including inside marriage, that she must be a slut, a prostitute.  No surprise, Rush is anti- women, at least as equal human beings, including sexually; and he is pro-gun.  That would be the same sex tourist to the notorious area catering to underage women supplied to men, the trip taken with huge quantities of Viagra by Rush, who demeans women routinely, who wants to keep women in their subordinate place, and who, judging by his multiple failed marriages, has problems with intimate relationships with women.

It's not a big reach to believe that the men in northern Minnesota who see nothing wrong with using behavior categorized as 'grooming' behavior to take advantage of women, women who are vulnerable and afraid when they enter these very unequal relationships.  Women who clearly, as evidenced by the shootings in the Cook County Courthouse have not only the social risks to fear, but guns and other violence to fear.

The Grand Marais story describes the sexual exploitation of women and girls.  The report quoted below is from the Virginia Department of Health, from the Coordinator of the Sexual Violence Prevention program; it describes how older men younger women exploitation works perfectly, who does it, and who is vulnerable to being victimized by it.  Look at the description below, and then look at the Grand Marais story details:
Recognizing sexual coercion and exploitation
Anytime an adult has a sexual relationship with someone who is underage, it is a form of exploitation, even if no overtly coercive behavior appears to be involved. The adult is using the sexual and emotional inexperience of the teen to get something from them.

􀂙 The teen herself may not (probably doesn’t) see the relationship as exploitive or coercive.
􀂙 Many feel flattered that they are getting this affirmation of their attractiveness and maturity.
􀂙 Even if the teen recognizes that the relationship is going too fast, or that it feels scary or uncomfortable, they will probably not express these feelings for fear of seeming “immature” or “unworthy” of the attention.
􀂙 The exploiter will probably use grooming techniques to override resistance or objections on part of the young teen.
Threats: “I’ll tell everyone that you’re a slut if you don’t do it.”
Bribes: “I’ll take you to the prom.”
Status: “Hey, the other girls would kill to go out with me.”
Flattery: “You’re so sexy, I thought you were at least 18”
Intimidation: “no one will be able to hear you…”
An expanded description of grooming behavior follows:
Stages of “grooming” behavior
(note: the language below refers to the victim as “she” and perpetrator as “he,” but both may be of either gender).

Stage One: Testing
This is the tactic a sexual predator uses to “test” someone, to see if she is vulnerable. During this stage, the perpetrator will try to cross the teen’s boundaries in various ways: making sexual statements or innuendoes; giving inappropriate gifts; flattery; offering help with schoolwork; seeming to be emotionally nurturing or understanding; touching in seemingly “friendly” ways.

Stage Two: Desensitization
Desensitization is the tactic used to get someone “accustomed” to sexually coercive behavior. During this stage the offender tries to make the teen feel less sensitive to intrusive acts by minimizing her reactions to the offensive behavior—“I’m just being friendly!” The teen may begin to question her feelings, or to feel that she may be overreacting. The perpetrator will probably belittle the teen if she expresses doubt about sexual behaviors to force her to “prove” that she’s “worthy” of the attention he’s bestowing on her. He may also pretend to feel hurt, in order to make the teen feel guilty.

Stage Three: Isolation
Isolation means removing someone from sources of safety and support. The perpetrator may attempt to convince the teen that her friends are “immature” and that someone as mature as she should hang out with older teens/adults. He may insist that he is the only one who really cares about or understands her. Any objections the teen may express on behalf of herself or her family (“my parents told me I couldn’t date anyone older than me”) will be put down. If her friends try to convince her that she’s being taken advantage of, he will try to alienate her from them.

Stage Four: Control
Once the perpetrator has been successful in attempts to coerce the teen into a sexual relationship, he will usually try to maintain control over her with additional manipulative techniques. These may include:

• possessiveness • jealousy • further isolation from friends • threats and intimidation • threats of self-harm • expressions of love • anger and violence • gifts and bribery • playing on teen’s insecurity • constant presence
Sexual coercion may or may not include the use of force, threat, or intimidation. It may or may not include the use of “date rape drugs” to facilitate sexual assault. Alcohol is the most widely used “date rape drug.”

Other forms of sexual coercion may take place in the context of an abusive relationship. These forms include expressing anger, manipulating by appealing to sympathy (“you don’t love me”), jealousy and possessiveness and other controlling behaviors, including physical violence.

When I read and hear the comments of Rush Limbaugh, and the comments in support of his statements by conservatives who are waging culture war on women, what I hear is demeaning, what I hear is the reactionary concepts of masculinity and femininity, and the notions of sexuality as something dirty. That definition that is personified by Rush Limbaugh is described in that Virginia Department of Health Report under who is an abuser:
Who is at risk for being an exploiter?
Some of the same risk factors for being exploited apply to exploiters as well.

􀂙 Older teens who may not feel confident of their ability to attract and maintain a relationship with an equal may turn to someone younger as a way to bolster self-esteem.
􀂙 Men/older boys who have rigid, stereotyped views of masculinity may see the “conquest” of a young girl as an affirmation of their masculinity.
􀂙 Older teens and adults who have control issues may find it easier to control someone who is younger.
􀂙 Adults who have not been successful in their relationships with other adults may turn to preying on young teens.
These pro-Rush conservatives see relationships between men and women as one of conquest, not a relationship of equals.  These conservatives waging culture war on women have no problem denying women easy access to contraception, which puts women under the control of men because of an inability to have control over their own bodies, their reproductive choices.  These conservatives waging culture war on women seek to humiliate and violate women through trans vaginal ultrasounds, through demeaning and insulting factually inaccurate government intrusion into their medical decisions relating to sex and reproduction.  These conservatives are the people who are trying to make it legal to commit certain kinds of rape, including statutory rape and date-drug rape where a woman is incapacitated. These are the conservatives who want to repeal equal pay for equal work laws, so that women can be financially controlled by men, and be financially less secure, and less independent by being unable to earn a fair wage for equal work.

So it should come as no surprise that where women are viewed as conquests, as conquered, as people to be controlled and exploited for male sexual gratification, as less then equals, that violence and intimidation are also present either overt threat, or by implication.  The numbers of women who are victims of intimate partner violence, of domestic abuse, of murders and  murder/suicides and stalking involving firearms is a matter of record.  It so very often involves men who possess firearms; that is not an accidental correlation.

According to the UNICEF Report on Women and Violence from June 2000:

“Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to  domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women...”

The United Nations Declaration on the EliminationGeneral Assembly Resolution, December 1993.
and in describing violence and gender based relationships
"violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men." It broadens the definition of violence by including both the physical and psychological harm done towards women, and it includes acts in both private and public life. The Declaration defines violence against women as encompassing, but not limited to, three areas:
violence occurring in the family,
within the general community, and
violence perpetrated or condoned by the State.
Whether it is the norm of sexuality espoused and demonstrated by Rush Limbaugh in his words past and present, and in his actions in the past, or the norms promoted by the older men exploiting younger and underaged female partners in Grand Marais, we have precisely the above-described attitudes of violence and exploitation of women.  In the legislative efforts of the so-called conservative and often religiously dominionist right wing extremists, also personified by Rush Limbaugh but also by many others, including those who have advanced subordinating legislation or efforts to repeal protective legislation for women, we have the State approved violence and subordination of women by conservatives.  It is no accident that their gun agenda supports that history of intimidation and violence, whether they express is specifically or not.   Whether it is Rush Limbaugh, or Rick Santorum, or Nut Gingrich, or Mitt's full of money Romney, or the conservatives trying to wage culture war on women at the local, state and federal level, we have men oppressing women in the most perverse possible way.

We have the choise, to return to the violent, exploitive, oprressive and unequal days of pre-feminism, of pre-equality where women are humiliated, exploited, demeaned and kept subordinate.  OR, we can recognize and oppose the conservative agenda for what it is, in the culture war on women, and in their ancillary pro-gun efforts for what they are.  The right abuses the word freedom, but they are trying to make us anything but free; they pervert the word, they pervert the concept, they pervert the most intimate relations between men and women, they pervert the value and dignity of human sexuality.

Don't let them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why don't Republicans understand this?

I'm in good company being critical of neo-con hawkishness

Ludwig von Mises is a hero for libertarians and Austrian school economists on the extreme right wing.  His work is built on the foundational belief of praxeology and the action axiom that relies on people making decisions logically and using reason.

We know this is not the case, we know that many decisions are made illogically, impulsively, emotionally, or simply wrongly based on false assumptions and inaccurate information.  In the case of supply side, trickle-down, horse and sparrow economics, no matter how many decades of utter, epic failure are the result, we still have Grover Norquist, and effectively the entire GOP and Tea Party advocating something unreasonable, illogical, and ignoring that it economies that redistribute wealth to a small percentage of rich people, and that create the kind of wealth and income gap that we have in this country - again - inevitably fail to grow their GDP, and are more prone to fraud, corruption, swindling, and catastrophic boom and bust cycles.  In short, right wing economics create economies with every possible flaw and blight, and little growth at best, and large contraction at worst.

Mises went running for the U.S. when he became afraid that the Nazis were going to invade Switzerland.  They didn't; but that was only because Swiss neutrality was useful for them, and they planned to get around to it further into the war. What I oppose is neo-con militarism, not the usual centrist moderate approach to appropriate military roles.

Mises was of course the mentor of von Hayek, and an extreme right wing nut in his own right, contributing to hate groups like the radical right wing John Birch society.  This is ironic, given that the Birchers are anti-Semitic, and Mises was an Austrian Jew, but Mises was anti-socialism (like Hayek, sort of, except when they wanted their own government 'hand outs').

The reality is that there ARE some things where war is requisite to economies and societies.  Had this nation not opposed the Nazis, we could not have simply defeated them through economic action.  Sadly, Mises, and his legacy, the Mises Institute, which has close ties to political figures like Rand Paul, promote ideology without requiring that it function successfully in the real world.

This is as true of Mises work as it is of the Libertarians who love him, or the idiot Tea Party who tend to be functionally illiterate on the subjects of history and economics.

For example, it is perfectly consistent with the positions of the Mises Institute, which are supposed to be true to the thinking of Ludwig von Mises, to be in many respects antagonistic towards democracy.  It is not hard to understand why the extreme right wing would be comfortable with voter suppression or election tampering, or even election rigging, if they distrust and oppose our democratic process.

from Wikipedia:
The Institute is generally critical of statism and democracy, with the latter being described in Institute publications as "coercive",[16] "incompatible with wealth creation"[17] "replete with inner contradictions"[18] and a system "of legalized graft."[16]
If you view the desirable goal to be accumulation or creation of wealth for a few, and any government regulation which resist the redistribution of wealth to only a few people, then everyone else becomes expendable, and it becomes reasonable to try to exclude them from participation.

Of course the reality is that those economies have been most effective that are combination economies - a mix of capitalism and socialism.  They have the strongest, most efficient and productive economies with solid growth and productivity; but they also tend to be somewhat socialist in providing good public education, social safety nets, free universal health care, and higher taxation rates than those favored by the extreme right.  They tend to fund their infrastructure sufficient to maintain and expand it, and they tend to have strong labor advocacy and participation in their economies.  Unions are included in government; government does not try to eradicate it.  The result is as much or more freedom, a healthier, more productive and better educated population, and healthier and more functional societies as measured by metrics like equality.

The Hell with YOU, Rand Paul, and the Tea Party you rode in on

Oh, those pesky internet rumors...

God Told me so......Maybe, Maybe not

Pat Robertson likes to talk to God, or thinks and believes he does so.

Pat Robertson also believes God talks to him....but the problem with that is that God doesn't, Pat only thinks he does. I wrote about the kind of insane thinking that makes sense to Pat Robertson here, back in October 2009.  The term for how Pat Robertson thinks is magical thinking.  In 2009, it was literally about a belief in magic, and witches cursing ALL Halloween candy, jacko'lanterns, etc.  In 2010, it was a belief that a voodoo magic ceremony caused the Haiti earthquake.  Pat doesn't only believe he knows what God says, he also believes he is privy to what the Devil says.

Pat is not the only person who engages in magical thinking.  Magical thinking directs the decisions of far too many of our anti-science right wing politicians and political groups, like the more fundamentalists among the right wing evangelicals.

This would include people like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, or the Nut Gingrich, and many of their state and local counterparts on the right. This is true in believing God directs them to run for office, or that earthquakes occur because of a black magic ritual, or the belief that God is punishing soldiers of a country because of homosexuality or abortion.  

It is magical thinking when state legislators believe that we have an unending supply of fossil fuels, or that God will fix global warming, and prevent human beings from destroying the earth as we know it. This represents a religious tradition, faith, or belief that opts out of human responsibility for the basic cause and effect relationship, that tries to ignore or deny responsibility for consequences by co-opting their faith as a crutch against thought or logic or mature adult behavior. Sadly this has been mainstreamed into one of our major political parties - with disastrous results.

They engage in magical thinking regarding their ideology ever bit as much as they do so with their religion.  No questioning of the ideology is allowed, no challenge is acknowledge, no reality check is permitted. Failure is simply denied or ignored, resulting not in an adaption or correction, but more often in a doubling down on the same mistakes.

People like this should not be allowed anywhere near the decision making processes of government; they are too badly flawed, the do not think, they behave emotionally and irrationally.  They do not acknowledge free will in the relationship with God, and they give a grossly disproportionate importance to all of the wrong criteria for government. This is only one of the many reasons we MUST require the separation of church and state, and that we must strictly limit the extent to which religious tax exempt institutions are allowed to preach politics with religion from the pulpit. They are disastrous at it. Wikipedia provides an excellent definition of this kind of thinking and where and how it is flawed:
Magical thinking is thinking that one's thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.[1] It is a type of causal reasoning or causal fallacy that looks for meaningful relationships of grouped phenomena between acts and events. In religion, folk religion, and superstition, the correlation posited is between religious ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or recompense. In clinical psychology, magical thinking is a condition that causes the patient to experience irrational fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because they assume a correlation with their acts and threatening calamities.
"Quasi-magical thinking" describes "cases in which people act as if they erroneously believe that their action influences the outcome, even though they do not really hold that belief".[2]
Bronisław Malinowski's Magic, Science and Religion (1954) discusses another type of magical thinking, in which words and sounds are thought to have the ability to directly affect the world.[11] This type of wish fulfillment thinking can result in the avoidance of talking about certain subjects ("speak of the devil and he'll appear"), the use of euphemisms instead of certain words, or the belief that to know the "true name" of something gives one power over it, or that certain chants, prayers, or mystical phrases will bring about physical changes in the world. More generally, it is magical thinking to take a symbol to be its referent or an analogy to represent an identity.
Sigmund Freud believed that magical thinking was produced by cognitive developmental factors. He described practitioners of magic as projecting their mental states onto the world around them, similar to a common phase in child development.[12] From toddlerhood to early school age, children will often link the outside world with their internal consciousness, e.g. "It is raining because I am sad."
Here is an example of Pat Robertson, for once, admitting he didn't get a message from God. That he still believes he will, however, or that his other flawed assertions were from God only underlines how unreliable and flawed his thinking and belief is. By way of Democratic Underground:

We have had the same problems with past right wing presidential candidates, and we have it with those promoted as future right wing presidential candidates.

Or this:

“I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for president.”
- George W. Bush, quoted in George Magazine, September, 2000

Bush was also a supporter of teaching Creationism/Intelligent design, thought it plausible the earth was only 6,000 or 7,000 years old, and routinely interfered with science during his administration.

for example, from the Boston Globe, back in 2005:

Scientists concede that evolution does not answer every question about the creation of life, but most consider intelligent design an attempt to inject religion into science courses.
Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over ''creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution.
''I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. ''You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."
The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have both concluded that there is no scientific basis for intelligent design and oppose its inclusion in school science classes.
''The claim that equity demands balanced treatment of evolutionary theory and special creation in science classrooms reflects a misunderstanding of what science is and how it is conducted," the academy said in a 1999 assessment. ''Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science."

And according to the New York Times:

George C. Deutsch, a 24-year old presidential appointee (by Bush) to NASA tried to force NASA scientists to call Global Warming and the Big Bang “just theories”. It turns out his qualifications for his job consisted of working for the elect Bush campaign. Deutsch had also claimed that he had a degree from Texas A&M University. Similar to other claims by the current administration, this educational claim was fraudulent.

And then there was former Speaker of the House, corrupt right wing politician Tom Delay, who espoused a position very similar to that of 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who tried to blame people failing to embrace his religion and life style choices for gun violence, rather than acknowledging the ease with which the mentally ill can acquire guns they then use in mass shootings:
…youth violence is caused by day care, the teaching of evolution, and working mothers taking birth-control pills. The horror of the shootings at Columbine are easily explained, he says, because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud.
We cannot address properly or effectively ANY of our existing or future problems with irrational, emotional, ill-informed, factually ignorant and reality disconnected political parties or candidates.  Sadly, that is what is shaping too much of our current problems.  It is an obstruction we must overcome or remove to succeed.  Magical thinking, right wing ideology, right wing economics, right wing pseudo-science which is all of a piece will destroy us, will cripple us, will kill us by inches steadily and inexorably.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I laughed out loud......

Fox News Op-Ed: Men Are Less Interested In Marriage Because ‘Women Aren’t Women Anymore’

Fox News Op-Ed: Men Are Less Interested In Marriage Because ‘Women Aren’t Women Anymore’: pIn an editorial posted to, self-described author and “social critic” Suzanne Venker makes some bold claims regarding the state of marriage in contemporary society. In a piece tiled “The war on men,” Venker argues that women’s emerging roles as breadwinners and their continuing strides towards gender equality have caused them to become irritable and [...]/p

End the unfair Bush tax breaks for the wealthy...

Another example of the high cost of low prices at WalMart

Those low prices at WalMart do not come as a result of happy elves in cozy Northpole workshops working amidst candy cane pillars and leisurely hot cocoa breaks with fresh baked cookies made by Mrs. Claus.

from CBS news and the AP:

Bangladesh fire kills 112 at Wal-Mart supplier

Garment factory had received 'medium risk' assessment in 2011

A fire engulfed a garment factory outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka, trapping many workers and killing at least 112 people in the building without emergency exits.
Authorities said the fire started on the ground floor late Saturday and spread upward, cutting off staircases and preventing workers' escape. Some survivors were rescued from the eight-storey building's roof.
The building was a factory operated by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tuba Group, which supplies Wal-Mart, Ikea and other major retailers in the U.S. and Europe.
An army employee inspects the burnt interior of the factory in Savar.An army employee inspects the burnt interior of the factory in Savar. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)By Sunday morning, firefighters had recovered 100 bodies, fire department Operations Director Maj. Mohammad Mahbub told The Associated Press. He said another 12 people who had suffered injuries after jumping from the building to escape the fire later died at hospitals. The death toll could rise as the search for victims was continuing, he said.
Local media reported that up to 124 people were killed in the fire. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, and authorities have ordered an investigation.
Army soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed to help police keep the situation under control as thousands of onlookers and anxious relatives of the factory workers gathered at the scene, Mahbub said. He would not say how many people were still missing.

Wal-Mart did safety audits

Tazreen was given a "high risk" safety rating after May 16, 2011, audit conducted by an ethical sourcing assessor for Wal-Mart, according to a document posted on the Tuba Group's website. It did not specify the conditions or violations that led to the rating.
A spokesman for Wal-Mart said online documents indicating that the factory received an orange or "high risk" assessment after the May 2011 inspection and a yellow or "medium risk" report after an inspection in August 2011 appeared to pertain to the factory where the fire occurred.
Bodies of dead garment workers are seen on the floor of a local school after the fire.Bodies of dead garment workers are seen on the floor of a local school after the fire. (Andrew Biraj/Reuters)The August 2011 letter said Wal-Mart would conduct another inspection within one year. Spokesman Kevin Gardner said it was not clear if that inspection had been conducted, or if the factory was still making products for Wal-Mart. (read more here)

Those low prices result from other people being exploited and even killed in other countries, keeping their wages at a poverty level, and artificially forcing down our compensation for hard work here too.

It is an illusion which is a kind of shell game, a trick, that puts money in the pockets of the rich, but ultimately takes that money out of our pockets too... and which kills people in foreign countries.  We used to have these kinds of tragedies in the United States, before we improved our own labor standards, like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire back in 1911.


A hundred and one years later......we haven't learned from those mistakes, or we have forgotten how bad it is when labor is paid to little, valued too little, exploited and treated as expendable, which is what this is.  The people who died in this fire are human beings, every bit as much as those American women who died in 1911.  We need to find the same outrage in our hearts for these people.  That outrage, to be sincere, means not participating in the exploitation of low prices that come at this cost in human life and suffering.  Don't trust the assurances that these factories are safe or humane; they are not.  They are not paid fairly, they work in horrible and unsafe conditions, men, women and children, but especially women.

Satirical but True

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Reality that Republican Ideology Cannot Recognize, But TRUE

Attention WalMart shoppers

On behalf of women everywhere,Thank you Dubliners, Thank you Irish Protesters


More GOP fiscal irresponsibility, but this time it's not Tony Sutton and the MN GOP for a change - or Romney stiffing staffers

Going Old School / Traditional / 'the good old days


This should inspire us all, to innovate, to rise to challenges, to incorporate play with serious endeavors to tap into our best creativity.

Why I Blog

Do I see a bluff being called - the 'fiscal bluff' / cliff?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's a Gift

Class and Wit

One of the best examples for our children ever, of what women can do to shape the world, to aspire to power for the best possible uses and reasons.  The absolute polar opposite of the women - and men - on Fox News.

Is it worth this?

Cause, Meet Effect

Insightful observation

in the larger context of Occupy Wall Street.  It says some interesting things about our values, in the context of Citizens United, that free speech in the form of big, corrupt money is acceptable and protected, but free assembly and in-person speech is less protected and less approved (at least by some sectors of our nation).  Camping to shop - check, ok.  Camping to buy tickets to a performance event - check, ok.  Camping and peaceful protest to express legitimate objection to corruption, greed and bad politics? Take them away!!!!!!!!!!  Pepper Spray them!!!  Beat them, arrest them, take their things away from them, deny them access!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would argue that the real campers for consumerism were the Occupy Wall Street campers, seeking to protect and defend consumers, the average, ordinary people.  Corporations are NOT people.

Vicious UnAmerican Hatred and Bigotry

One nation, indivisible? This is right wing insanity, this is ideology poisoning.

Frontline on WalMart

Walking it back?

Too little.
Too late.
To insincere a change in position to be believable.

Friday, November 23, 2012

WalMart: the Movie

Hayek, Friedman, And The Illusions Of Conservative Economics | The New Republic

Hayek, Friedman, And The Illusions Of Conservative Economics | The New Republic

Where I am NOT going today is shopping at WalMart

It appears Minnesota will be part of the larger national effort to gain social justice and a living wage from WalMart.  I'm not sure for whom I have the greater sympathy - those who spent long hours in single-digit wind chill weather for cheap stuff, crowding into stores with other combative shoppers, or the people who have to assist them in those stores, or who are standing outside to protest.

The most worthwhile effort seems to be those opposing greed, not acting on it.

For an estimated $0.15 per each shopping trip annually, it is estimated in a recent study by Demos that we could simultaneously improve the economy, pay retail workers a living wage so that the government would not need to subsidize the profits that go to the Walton family as just one more example of extracting wealth from the 99% for the 1%.  AND requiring a living wage, along with the provisions of the ACA / 'Obamacare' would also ultimately benefit business as well.

However because of the focus by business on short term maximum gain that extracts every possible profit, at the expense of long term benefit and sustainability, that is something that will have to be brought about by regulation, rather than voluntary participation.  I am not optimistic that protests alone, no matter how widely supported, will overcome that short term greed driven thinking.

Here is the link to the Demos report; I expect I will write more about it, but for now, I'm still intellectually digesting it all.  Here is the intro:

Retail's Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy

 November 19, 2012|
With more than 15 million workers in the sector, and leverage over workplace standards across the supply chain, retail wields enormous influence on Americans’ standard of living and the nation’s economic outlook. It connects producers and consumers, workers and jobs, and local social and economic development to the larger US economy. And over the next decade, retail will be the second largest source of new jobs in the United States.1
Given the vital role retail plays in our economy, the question of whether employees in the sector are compensated at a level that promotes American prosperity is of national importance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical retail sales person earns just $21,000 per year. Cashiers earn even less, bringing home an annual income of just $18,500.2
The continued dominance of low wages in this sector weakens our nation’s capacity to boost living standards and economic growth. Retail’s low-wage employment means that even Americans who work full-time fail to make ends meet, and growth slows because too few families have enough remaining in each paycheck to contribute to the broader economy.

And here is a report about the protest support in MN; it is nice to see 'fly-over land' so well represented:

From the St. Cloud Times:

Twin Cities work group backs Walmart protest

Cleaning workers are joining striking Walmart workers in the Twin Cities to protest the big-box giant on Black Friday, the year’s biggest retail shopping day.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, or CTUL, a group that works for improved conditions and better wages for retail cleaning workers, is spearheading the move. They’re joining Walmart workers this morning at a Walmart store in St. Paul, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Some Walmart workers nationally, including some in Minnesota, have said they plan to walk off the job today to protest wages and working conditions. Some workers also are upset about Walmart’s plans to begin Black Friday shopping on Thursday night while the Thanksgiving holiday is still under way.

News and Views and Credentials

The Fox News nuts and idiots who are grossly and consistently misinformed are notorious for making factually inaccurate appeals to the basest emotions of their viewers and listeners.

Thanks to the folks at for this image.


Love this! (J)

Friday fun, for those of you not out shopping yourself silly

Benghazi, John?

John McCain has backed away from his accusations about Benghazi.....sort of; that needs a much better clarification, followed by a genuine, unambiguous apology (not one of those non-apology apologies).

What seems more the case than John McCain having a legitimate beef with Ambassador Rice is that Rice is a surrogate for McCain to go after, when the reality is that Obama just won AGAIN, reminding McCain that he did not.  Rice does not deserve this, nor does Obama; it is one more example of factually unfounded and unjustified obstruction, and witch hunting to vent petty grievance rather than address legitimate wrongdoing.

I think Senator McCain should resign and retire; he is obviously exceeded his shelf life.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday - what will YOU do?

There are things I do not like about President Obama's administration, but his efforts in renewing manufacturing has my praise.

A little Thanksgiving Irony

As you tuck in with your family and friends today, don't forget the people who brought you the food on your table.

Thanks to @[186457858051439:274:Latino Rebels] for the image!

No Second Gilded Age for America!

A little economic and art history lesson combined, as an intellectual alternative to football, institutionalized gluttony, and glorified shopping greed promoted under the guise of Christian capitalism.

Mitt's on R-money represented the policies of those who would accelerate the redistribution aka class warfare that extracts money from the 99% and relocates it to the 1%.  This is evidenced by the grotesque excessive compensation without corresponding merit or accomplishment, that has been paid to the 'C-class' (CEOs CFOs COOs etc.) and other executives in contrast to increased labor productivity that has gone unrewarded, replaced with stagnating or declining compensation.  Add in taxation and other policies which create an unequal playing field, and billionaires who try to buy elections, effectively owning politicians at all levels of government.  Add in the vulture capitalism of political wannabes like Mitt Romney, and you have a recipe for a repetition of an era of our history that was exemplified by destructive and destabilizing boom and bust cycles, brutal attempts at union busting, and the conspicuous consumption of a few in contrast to the widespread and increasing impoverishment of the majority, in place of the American Dream and the possibility for upward mobility.

Also associated with the era were rampant swindles that eventually gave rise to the term we now know as a Ponzi scheme in the 1920s, named for Charles Ponzi, although similar scams and swindles using the same blueprint occurred in the era between the Civil War and WW II. American financial regulation arose to curb the excesses and outright swindles of the era that contributed tremendously to the financial collapse that resulted in the Great Depression.  Those who seek a new gilded age want to abolish such regulation in the name of being 'business friendly', a euphemism for unfettered class warfare.  Those who want to avert such disasters consistently seek regulation that keeps business honest, maintains a fair and equitable even playing field for competition, and tend to protect equally the consumer, the investor, and the small innovator from corporate greed, unfair practices and unfair competition.

In this Gilded Age as it was called, a term coined by Mark Twain to represent gaudy wealth as represented by gold leaf and gold plate, overlaying the social problems rotting underneath, an illustrator who worked mainly in pen and ink became internationally famous, Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl(s), a series of iconic illustrations over several decades of American women who were both beautiful and intelligent, idealized among other things, for marrying into European aristocracy.  Real life examples of these beautiful women of wealth include the mother of Sir Winston Churchill, Lady Randolph Churchill (nee Jeanette Jerome) and the model for my blogging icon, Virginie Gautreau (nee Avegno) who posed for famous artists, including the portrait of Madame X by expat American painter John Singer Sargent.

I recognized the illustration in the image below as a particularly well-known Gibson illustration, circa 1900. Now women have the right to vote, and while still paid less than men, we have more opportunity to aspire to success than we did in the Gibson Girl era -- although the right wing war on women would send us back to those bad old days where all women could aspire to was to be the arm candy / trophy wife of powerful and wealthy men, not powerful in their own right.  I am truly thankful as a woman that I will not ever have to say 'President Romney' OR Vice President Ryan.


A Promise Made for Thanksgiving

My co-blogger and friend Laci has donated a couple of times now to the Rolling Jubilee; I made a promise to him that I would write a post here today about it.  It is representative, in my humble opinion, of what is best about this nation, and about people in general.

On a day dedicated to thankfulness, giving and giving thanks, it is more worthy of attention than Black shopping greediness.  Appropriately, the dictionary word of the day is agape, unselfish love of one person for another without sexual implications.

This appeared a few hours ago, for a little bit of insight into the ongoing progress of a remarkable initiative from a remarkable group of people.  We are these people, these people represent the best of each of us.  Please join them in what they are doing, however much or little you might be able to contribute -- whatever that amount is, please support them. The video below refers to the launch of this effort roughly a week ago.

We are the 99%, not the 47%, not lone or isolated individuals indifferent to each other. 

If you are interested in learning more about the rolling jubilee, if you are at least considering makig a donation, here is the web site:

from their FAQ:
What is Strike Debt?
Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street. First started in New York City, but inspired by movements around the globe, Strike Debt now has affiliates across the country. We believe people should not go into debt for basic necessities like education, healthcare and housing. Strike Debt initiatives like the Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual offer advice to all kinds of debtors about how to escape debt and how to join a growing collective resistance to the debt system. Our network has the goal of building a broad movement, with more effective ways of resisting debt, and with the ultimate goal of creating an alternative economy that benefits us all and not just the 1%.
What is a jubilee?
Jubilee comes from many faith traditions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A jubilee is an event in which all debts are cancelled and all those in bondage are set free. It worked in Biblical times and it can still work today. For example, a kind of jubilee happened in Iceland after the 2008 economic crisis: instead of bailing out their banks, Iceland canceled a percentage of mortgage debt. What these examples show is that debts are just a promise which can - and should - be renegotiated or cancelled when the circumstances warrant. Strike Debt believes that now is the time for a jubilee for the 99%.
How Does Rolling Jubilee Work?
Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.
1099-C Cancellation of Debt form with the IRS?
No. The Rolling Jubilee will earn no income from the lending of money and is therefore exempt from filing a Form 1099-C under the Internal Revenue Code Section 6050P.

What is your mailing address?
The Rolling Jubilee Fund c/o Occupy Wall Street Radio WBAI, 10th floor 120 Wall St New York, NY 10005
Is this legal?
Yes! What should actually surprise everyone is the fact that it is legal to trade in people’s misfortune. As part of the deregulation of the finance industry, the government made it legal to buy and sell charged-off debt.

Join in the Jubilee

For every $1 donated, we are able to buy and abolish $20 worth of debt.

  • Got $10 to spare? We'll liberate someone from $200 of debt.
  • Throw us twenty bucks and we'll obliterate $400 of a struggling American's debt.
  • $100? We'll take the weight of *TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS* off someone's back.


All contributions go to The Rolling Jubilee Fund, a non-profit 501(c) (4) organization with the exclusive mission of buying and abolishing debt. 100% of the money raised will go to the process of buying and abolishing debt (a process that includes some associated costs such as paperwork, accounting, and legal fees). The volunteers managing the fund receive no compensation. In the interest of transparency, a full accounting of funds received and spent will be reported on our website. Unfortunately, your contribution is not deductible for federal income tax purposes as a charitable contribution.


Happy Thansgiving

My wish for you -- no one person gets left to do all the work - either prep, or actual cooking, or clean up.  If you're grateful this holiday -- HELP WITH THE WORK!

And because the day should also be fun:


And a last word of advice for our readers.  My mother always advised us, before attendig a social event, to prepare some fall-back conversational topics for those moments that can occur at any time with a group of people.  Either everyone runs out of good subjects for conversation, or the conversation becomes tense or begins to turn into a bit of you have a change of subject handy.  I've been recommending the Texas v White / Secession post from a few days ago as one of those, if you've left it too late before celebrating.

Enjoy! Be truly grateful! Be someone else's blessing, an recognize who is your own, who makes your life better or richer.


As you contemplate Black Friday...

I will not be engaging in retail insanity.  I hope you don't either.  I will however be supporting the shop small business initiative on Saturday.


www.thecustomeristhejobcreator. com

Fox NewsNuts

As you drive to wherever you are going to celebrate this week......think of these guys who will undoubtedly be in your way at some point. Most of them will be wearing a hat, but it won't help their driving no matter how much they feel better prepared to face the world. Fake Fox Fact-turds are the same way - they give their feeble consumers worthless propaganda that give them the illusion, or delusion, of being prepared to face the world.  They're not prepared, they're just confused.

And then they come to my shop and talk about politics...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What you think, and what you believe, and freedom to do so.


To Penigma Readers - Happy Thanksgiving

I count among my blessings the freedom and opportunity to write here, and the blessings of sharing that experience with readers and especially my co-bloggers.

In gratitude for what I have, it is appropriate on Thanksgiving to think about also giving back, of being the person other people are grateful to have in their lives too.

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank YOU.

What a great focus each day.  Set your intention to mindfully do this.