Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In the Land of Stop Lights and Strip Malls

I recently spent some time down in an "ex-urb" of New Orleans, visiting my parents.  The area in which they live is principally white, upper-middle class, and devoutly politically conservative.  The state of Louisiana, in the time my parents have lived there (they moved there in 1992), has gone from having a number of Democratic state-wide office holders (Governor, Senators, US Representatives - which yes aren't "state wide" but do represent a large segment of the state) to having zero Democrats in any state-wide office.  One wonders who they'll blame now, but that's not the point of this post.  The last Democrat, Mary Landrieu fell in December in a special election to a Tea Party Conservative.

During those twenty some-odd years my parents have lived in Louisiana, the state has gone through a bit of a transformation.  The social-welfare reforms of Huey Long have been undone, the tax rates on the upper class slashed to nearly nothing, the corporate tax rates slashed as well.  The current Governor, Bobby Jindal, despite being a Rhodes Scholar, doesn't seem able to articulate a good idea coherently.  To wit, his bomb as the Republican's "counter-point" to President Obama's State of the Union speech a few years ago - a counterpoint speech by Jindal which has destroyed his political "future" such as it was - a future which was never going to really materialize because Jindal is not "lily white", and despite the protestations of my conservative friends, I have simply seen and heard far too many conservatives use the word "nigger" as a racial epithet in my presence (behind closed doors of course) to believe any claims that they aren't manifestly bigoted.  In fact, of the HUNDREDS of conservatives to which I've spoken over the years, less than 10 did not call blacks niggers at one point in the conversation.  No kidding. All that aside, Jindal, like Scot Walker in Wisconsin (another man with no future who doesn't know it) has legal issues, and many of them.  Far more meaningful than any worry about skin-color should be a real worry that Jindal is not lily-white ethically.  He's traded the state's future away to large corporate interests, so much so that LSU had to cut $650 MILLION from it's budget because the state could no longer support the expenses needed to keep the school as a viable, competitive academically oriented university (which it WAS, but no longer will be).  Louisiana has never been high on the list of education metrics, but they've fallen to 47th out of 51 states (and DC), and have the 4th worst poverty rate to go with that wonderful educational performance,  Way to go JINDAL!

In addition, though, the state's infrastructure is falling apart.  The Mandeville to New Orleans causeway across Lake Pontchartrain needs work, the Huey Long Bridge needs work.  Repairs to the levee system after Katrina, while complete, STILL don't bring the system up to the level the original designs called for (to withstand a category 3-4 hurricane).  Baton Rouge, the state's largest city, is teaching kids in quanset huts, 9 years after Katrina.  And, as I experienced driving around in my parent's city, they (those ex-urbs of New Orleans) like SOOOOO many other ex-urbs where conservatives control planning, have become the land of strip malls, poor road planning, and over-controlled traffic systems which use a stop light every 200 yards or so (at every commercial strip mall drive-way) to "break up" traffic.  The area isn't densely populated, but it takes 15-20 minutes to go about a half a mile in the morning or the evening because the local community is beholden to business interests and agreed to put a stop light, including green, right of way arrow, left turn controls at every intersection.  Traffic is a mess.  They don't build new roads or add lanes, because they don't have the revenue to do so.  They don't have mass transit, because that's a "liberal idea" and, they don't have the money to do so.  But they DO implement far too many traffic control points, in the land of "small gov'mint", and so these folks waste dozens to HUNDREDS of hours of their lives each year, waiting to move from one stop light to the next to go to work, or worse, to go shop at any one of ten dozen strip malls, strip malls which look just like every other, which look like every other strip mall anywhere in the US, so much so that you could drop a US citizen into one of these "traffic/culture blights" nearly anywhere in the US, and if there weren't snow on the ground, I'd bet most wouldn't be able tell, at all, where they were.  It is homogeneous monotony of the worst and cheapest form, it's Big Brother culture, where Big Brother is the corporate stooge who maximizes profits by putting in a bland, personality-less box on a street with 100 other personality-less boxes, and then demands the local government put in a stop-light, or worse, the lemmings who live there demand a stop-light, so that they can go get their Chic-Fil-A sandwich while they rail against the destruction of American culture.

It may not mean much to most people or most cities, but you need to understand that New Orleans is different, it is special, it's a place with a unique vibe, a unique charm.  A little dingey to be sure, and unfortunately more than a little dangerous now with the advent of drugs and a loss of middle class jobs in the city, but still, there are few places in the USA where you can go to a restaurant, be assured of a good meal, go next door and hear GREAT music, and if you don't like that place, go to the next door or the next or the next, and do that for 100 nights and STILL not have seen everything.  It's a slow, lazy, comfortable town with unique architecture, a unique dialect and a unique style, or well, it was.  Thanks to the likes of Jindal and the all-to-compliant ex-urb white sychophants, it will soon no longer be such.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Bad Pennies award for Senatorial Hypocrisy goes to Tom Coburn


and then, this:

Another Bad Pennies Award for 2014: Andrew Tahmooressi, Montel Williams, and the NRA

I'm glad Andrew Tahmooressi is home, but he should never have been permitted to have those guns in the first place that got him arrested in Mexico.

Tahmooressi was never some heroic veteran victim, he was always an actual danger like a grenade about to go off without warning.

Conservatives called him a hero, and railed against Obama for not having him instantly release -- and unrealistic expectation.  NO president has ever accomplished such a release any more rapidly than the Obama administration did.

Montel Williams did a lot of grandstanding and crying.........ignoring that in fact the President WAS actively in contact with the Mexican government, in addition to those he appointed and directed to do so.  Of course, the president is under no obligation to inform talk show hosts of his activities, especially when those are more effective behind the scenes than in front of cameras.

In point of fact, contrary to Williams' and Andrew Tahmooressi's mother Jill's testimony, there is NO evidence that Andrew Tahmooressi was EVER mistreated in ANY way, as verified by those who visited him periodically on behalf of the U.S. government, and per Tahmooressi's own attorneys.

Bit we routinely see conservatives play fast and loose with the facts of events like this one.

What Williams did NOT explain were the reasons why Tahmooressi got in trouble -- and it was NOT due to any 'accidental crossings into Mexico'.  Nor has Williams ever addressed the dangers Andrew Tahmooressi posed to himself and others with his collection of firearms and large quantities of ammunition.

From Understanding Combat PTSD:

"On a wider scale, it is very common for individuals with PTSD to get
into fights, drive aggressively, become angry at insignificant things, and drastically
overreact to any sort of challenge.

PARANOIA – In Iraq, a paranoid soldier is a soldier who stays alive. Every item in his environment, from a pothole to a child carrying a backpack, must be regarded as a potential threat. When that same soldier, whose mind has been changed by PTSD, returns home, he is often unable to shut off his vigilant behavior. Veterans will often almost constantly “patrol” their homes to check for intruders, insist that they sit with their backs to a wall and facing the door so that they can analyze every person who enters a room, or even drive off the road in order to avoid discarded trash (because this often indicated an Improvised Explosive Device or IED in combat).

POOR COPING SKILLS - Due to the physical and mental changes Veteran with PTSD has, they are often unable to cope in what most people would consider “normal” circumstances. They are easily overwhelmed by too much noise, too many people, too many changes, or too much stimuli of any sort. Dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and all of its symptoms takes most of their energy and concentration. Anything else, especially something that is unexpected, can cause a violent reaction or simply cause the Veteran to shut down. "

PTSD causes physical changes to the brain; it is not purely emotional or psychological.

"Physical Changes

HIPPOCAMPUS - The hippocampus is a section of our brain that plays an important part in short-term memory and the regulation of our emotions. Researchers, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s), have been able to determine that the hippocampus of veterans with PTSD has actually suffered damage. They believe this damage may be under stress.

PREFRONTAL CORTEX – Our Prefrontal Cortex helps us decide how we experience and react to an emotion and resolve conflicts. It also tells our brain when a threat has passed.
People with PTSD have altered blood flow to this area of their brain (the more change in flow, the more severe the symptoms of PTSD). This decrease in function causes their brain to sort of be stuck in a permanent fear mode, because it doesn’t relay the “all clear” message."

That's general information; here is information specific to Tahmooressi, from the LA Times:
"Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, has been campaigning in the media for American officials to secure her son’s release. A nurse, she told Vice News that her son needs specialized treatment. She said she had observed signs of paranoia in him, and that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veterans Affairs facility in La Jolla on March 12. She said he is “hypervigilant” and in 2013, suffered from “hunter-prey syndrome; he was the prey.”

Yeah -- THAT's NOT the kind of person you want driving around with multiple firearms and a lot of ammunition, ready to go off on some minor random provocation. It also appears that on the multiple OTHER occasions that Tahmooressi went across the border into Mexico he ALSO had those weapons with him; it was not a one-time accidental error.

And yet we have the NRA fighting AGAINST efforts to save the lives of veterans with PTSD who pose a danger to themselves and others, because to the NRA there is no one who should not be armed to the teeth at all times.

"According to Vice News, Tahmooressi entered Mexico with a 5.56mm rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol, as well as more than 400 rounds of ammunition. The chief Mexican customs officer at the San Ysidro crossing told Vice that the guns, all loaded, were "just wrapped up in his belongings" rather than locked away and unloaded as required by California law. Vice also reported that "the rifle was found behind the driver’s seat, the shotgun on the passenger seat, and the pistol was in the driver-side door pocket, along with several cartridges.

It's pretty hard to accidentally end up in Mexico. Especially with guns. There are big signs on the U.S. side telling travelers that guns are illegal in Mexico. There’s plenty of warning that the border is approaching. ...he [Tahmooressi] admitted that he lied to Mexican officials about how many times he'd crossed the border.

And Tahmooressi apparently, knowing that it was illegal to do so, took those same guns into Mexico on those previous occasions.

There is also a question about Tahmooressi having a problem with illegal drug use, and possibly selling and distributing illegal drugs through his connections in Mexico.

If this guy is getting effective treatment for his problems, GOOD.

But he should forfeit his right to own guns in the present and future, and not only because of his PTSD, from which he may very well recover. People who suffer from PTSD should not be armed, but they should get their firearms rights returned to them when diagnosed as cured/recovered.

People who knowingly take firearms into other countries -- and from Mexico where the actual legality of his possession of those weapons is not clear -- they should not have firearms. They have demonstrated they are neither responsible, nor law abiding.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Festivus

A belated happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanza to all of our readers.

For a smile as the pressure of last minute preparation for various celebrations bears down on us:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Massacre of the Innocents.

Today's lesson comes from Matthew 2:16–18: The Massacre of the Innocents.
When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old or under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
It is part of the Narrative of the Birth of Christ, yet this incident is only mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and later Christian authorities who use this gospel as a source.  It is repeated each year with the singing of the Coventry Carol, which came from that City's Mystery Play:
Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his owne sight,
All young children to slay.
That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Some people have doubted this was an actual historical event since it is only mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew.  Some people see this as being a contrived feature of the Gospels to show that Jesus was the Messiah by fulfilling the prophecy of being called out of Egypt.

Today is the anniversary of a mass shooting where 20 small children were shot.  This incident was well reported and documented, yet there are some who would deny that it happened.

Unfortunately, this is only one incident where children fall victim to firearms violence.  It seems that children are shot both intentionally and accidentally on a daily basis in the States.

There are those who would twist an archaic passage in the US Constitution which deals with an obscure institution, the Militia, which some would like to say would cause this to be an unintentional consequence of a "right" to own weapons outside the context of that institution.  This is despite the Constitution's purposes of  "insuring domestic tranquility" and "promoting the general welfare" as well as saying that people should not "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law".

Instead, we see people acting like Herod and countenancing a new slaughter of the innocents.  For what purpose?

Unlike the unborn, these are not speculative lives: they are persons who were living, breathing, and playing.  They had parents who wanted to bring them into this world. They would have had futures had there not been the easy access to firearms which leads to these new massacres of the innocents on a daily basis. 

For those who would say they want to protect the unborn: why do they not wish to also protect the born?   As Sister Joan Chittister pointed out:
I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
I will add that you cannot call yourself pro-life if you tolerate the daily massacres of the living innocents on top of the"pro-birth" attitude mentioned by Sister Joan Chittister.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Next 2014 Bad Penny Award Goes to the NRA

WW I pennies with bullet holes in them
considered 'trench art'

The NRA consistently demonstrates their failed level of limited thinking and lack of moral values in their political and policy positions. They ONLY value guns, to the exclusion of all else, including people, and actual safety - in this case, global safety. They have taken a pro-terrorist position.

In the video from the Daily Show, this is evident in the pro-ivory importation/ pro-terrorist position.

Where is the connection?

Elephant ivory taken by terrorist poachers is funding anti-American and other terrorist acts, including attacks like the one on the shopping mall in Kenya.

As noted by Think Progress:

NRA Campaigns Against The Plan To Save The World’s Elephants

...While many people would make the mistake of assuming that this was about helping save endangered elephants, the NRA understands what the real motivation is. “This is another attempt by this anti-gun Administration to ban firearms based on cosmetics and would render many collections/firearms valueless,” the NRA said in its call to arms. “Any firearm, firearm accessory, or knife that contains ivory, no matter how big or small, would not be able to be sold in the United States, unless it is more than 100 years old. This means if your shotgun has an ivory bead or inlay, your revolver or pistol has ivory grips, your knife has an ivory handle, or if your firearm accessories, such as cleaning tools that contain any ivory, the item would be illegal to sell.”

For that reason, the NRA implores its members to flood the White House and Congress with phone calls and emails to “let them know you oppose the ban on commercial sale and trade of legally owned firearms with ivory components.” That desire to resell old — but not antique — weaponry clearly is more important to the NRA than preventing the looming extinction of the species — which is linked closely to the skyrocketing demand for ivory. “In 2013 alone an estimated 30,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory, more than 80 animals per day,” Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

The commercial ivory ban is only part of a new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking announced at the same time as the embargo, which prioritizes “strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat illegal wildlife poaching and trade.” In that vein, the United States has been leading the charge in persuading countries around the world to destroy their stockpiles of intercepted ivory, annihilating six tons of it last November. Since then, Togo, China, and France have also followed suit and destroyed seized contraband of their own.

Aside from the conservation concerns, which the NRA doesn’t seem moved by, poaching is increasingly being viewed as a national security issue for the United States. In an interview last year, Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, said ivory had become a “conflict resource.” An Enough Project report from last year also found that Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has begun poaching ivory from elephant tusks to fund the group’s activities, which include abducting children and forcing them into sex slavery.

Conservative values, pro-gun values, are failed values; conservative and pro-gun thinking is failed thinking.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tis the season ------for the 2014 PENNIES!

For those of our readers who have forgotten (or never knew), the pennies are our two cents worth, good penny or bad penny, for the preceding year in news.

First penny of the year -- A hooray for President Obama, for finally being the president post-mid year second term elections that we had hoped he would be post 2012.

Hooray for the executive orders, hooray for the status of the economy, hooray for him standing up to and challenging more aggressively the right wing thugs in Congress, and for his handling of racial conflicts, especially police violence related incidents.

And a second good penny to Stephen Colbert, for his ending of the Colbert Report in fabulous style.  To borrow a few lyrics from an old James Bond 007 movie theme:
"Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best

And nobody does it better
Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why'd you have to be so good?"

(although if anyone can follow Colbert's act, it's Larry Wilmore)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The REAL reason for the season

As we get close upon "Christmas", we will get people whining about the "reason for the season".

Got news for you--it ain't got nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity.

And the holiday doesn't make as much sense in the Southern Hemisphere as it does in the Northern.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What bugs me about the Ferguson thing...

It's the ignorance surrounding what a Grand Jury does and how it is supposed to work.  And it doesn't come from just the general public since I saw one "legal scholar" make a comment that there should have been rigourous cross examination.

There are two different parts of the criminal process for determining whether a case should go to trial: the preliminary hearing and a grand jury.  Neither of these two proceedings involves a finding of guilt or punishment of a party.  In fact, no "jeopardy" attaches and one can be retried if found "innocent" in one of these proceedings.  The difference between the two is that a preliminary hearing looks like a trial it is open to the public with a prosecution, defence, and judge addressing the matter: None of those are present in a grand jury.

Grand jury proceedings are much more relaxed than normal court room proceedings. There is no judge present and frequently there are no lawyers except for the prosecutor. The prosecutor will explain the law to the jury and work with them to gather evidence and hear testimony. Under normal courtroom rules of evidence, exhibits and other testimony must adhere to strict rules before admission. In fact, a grand jury has broad power to see and hear almost anything they would like.

Well, almost everything.  United States v. Williams, 504 U.S. 36 (1992) points out that there is no right to testify or produce exculpatory evidence:
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.
The difference in procedures and rules lead to a situation that a former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler would comment that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”  Of course, that is also due to the fact that the burden of proof in these proceedings is less than a regular criminal trial: preponderance of the evidence v. beyond a reasonable doubt.  In other words, is it more likely than not that a crime occurred.

Federal law required a grand jury indictment before beginning a criminal proceeding.  There were 162,000 federal cases filed in 2010:  Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. Of course, this was a state proceeding rather than a federal one (and the feds love cases they can't lose). On the other hand, “If the prosecutor wants an indictment (in a non-federal case) and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong,” said Andrew D. Leipold, a University of Illinois law professor who has written critically about grand juries. “It just doesn’t happen.”

 Of course, a lot of commenters are thinking that the prosecution didn't want to bring charges, but this is a high profile case with a lot at stake.  What better than to pick a procedure where these is no real scrutiny.  In fact, ordinarily the proceedings in a grand jury case should be sealed, but they have been released in this case to try and give some form of legitimacy that this was some form of adversarial proceeding, which gets to the comment about cross examination.

That didn't happen here.  In fact, from what I heard the prosecution basically discounted anyone who contradicted Officer Wilson's defence.  Additionally, this was done without any real cross examination, yet there is this mysterious "grand jury proceeding" to lend an air that "justice has been done" when that was hardly the case.

Of course, I can guess that people who believe that a white person can carry a gun late at night in a known drug and prostitution area will find that the police acted with justification in shooting an unarmed black youth who may have been surrendering.  If the police officer in the first instance faces reprimand--shouldn't he also in the second one?  In fact, it would seem more important that justice is done in the second situation since deadly force was actually used.

The real issue is not so much whether Michael Brown was an innocent young man as much as whether justice has truly been done.

Of course, that is something that far too many people have missed in this situation.

See also:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday again -- Fun Day, again!

And what could be more fun than a little Fiore video?

and now coming up on two-weeks post-election (or is that too weak?) a little home truth about that dark money from special interests:

and 'bomb it'.......rhymes with vomit!

and to round out the political commentary -- true of Congress while on recess, true of them now that they're back, except for some loud and nasty empty posturing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Because ONLY Conservatives could be this kind of ugly-crazy

You couldn't make this up if you tried.

Conservatives on the religious right give God and religion a bad name.

Just a little perspective - the guy was court martialed while in the military, and likes the moniker "Dr. Chaps". He's got a very large file over at Right Wing Watch - and deservedly so.

Shame on Coloradoans who elected this jerk. They'd be better off electing a monkey, or maybe a dead guy, or an actual horse's rear end.

Smoke and Mirrors, and Gum - because you can't make up stuff this stupid from the right

Numb-nuts Bo Dietle, some 4 minutes in, personifies the idiocy of the radical right and their appalling lack of knowledge of other countries, customs or cuisine. You'd expect better from a former New York City cop, given the cultural diversity of that city, but it's best to expect dumbed down from a right wing nut who mostly appears on Imus in the Morning on Fox Business rather than Fox not-news, although in this case apparently the sole perpetual topic is offensively (Not) funny-business.

Then again, the Rush Limbo variety of conservative has to be talked down to, somewhere around an elementary school level.

Then there was this clear example of unprofessional standards of correction, of the kind of mistake one would expect from a child not an adult -- however this is typical of conservative propaganda, which follows the coverage of the Obama trip to China.

Conservatives believe things which are factually false on a daily basis -- and it diminishes us all, damages us all, dumbs down all of us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanks, properly expressed

I've made no secret that I spent 12 years in the US Army and Reserve, with the vast majority of that time in the Reserve (in fact I was active duty only for my training time and a couple of extra activations).

Every time (lately) someone hears that I served, they "thank me for my service."  I appreciate the sentiment, it's both good and nice that people now recognize it's not easy, and far more so than for me, it's extremely stressful for those who were deployed overseas to a combat area, and even more than just stressful, dangerous/scarring for those who served in combat directly.

To THOSE folks (who served overseas and in even more in combat), I express my deep and profound thanks and gratitude.  The bottom line is, as soldiers, we go where we're sent, no matter the political leader or reason for the warfare.  We (they) served, and that service is beyond honorable, it's self-sacrificial with the laudable and idealistic goal of protecting US citizens AND the citizens of the country in which they served.  A simple thank-you is hardly sufficient, but at least on this webpage, and in person at that exact moment, it's all I have and all I can do.

But it's not all I can do in general nor is it close enough to "enough."  If you TRULY are grateful, VOTE, exercise your civic responsibility, show honor to their sacrifice to give you that right by using it.  If you are TRULY grateful, speak up, get educated, get involved, learn why our system of government works so well (mostly), and what you OUGHT to care about.  But more than anything else, if you are TRULY grateful, vote for those people who will fund the Veterans Administration and PAY for the care those veterans. who were injured in service, deserve to receive.  In short, put your money where your mouth is.  Pay out of your pocket for their care, for the care of their surviving family members (for those who've died), for the care for the roughly 2 MILLION homeless vets who need mental health care and a warm meal.  Saying "thanks" is nothing more than conscience salving lip-service letting you get away with doing nothing REAL if you don't back it up with action.  So, put up or shut-up, I appreciate your thanks, but if you really mean your thanks, act, don't talk.  Often times, when I hear "thank you", I want to laugh at it because it's such pablum, so hollow, without the actions to back it up.  If you are acting to help vets, then that's FAR FAR more meaningful to me than any words, and I'm very grateful that you did/do.  The point being, we've all been thanked 10,000 times, and if you aren't doing something (like pressing your Congressman to support veteran's benefits) then you're talking out both sides of your face and your thanks appear to be nothing other than hypocrisy. So ACT.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honor Our Veterans

Thank you to all those who served, and to those who served in the armed forces of our allies. Just as no one builds a business entirely on their own, no war has been won without both our own brave efforts and sacrifice, but also the brave sacrifice and efforts of our allies.

We can reflect on that all the way back to our origins with the American Revolution, through the two World Wars, and into our modern conflicts to protect this nation and keep it safe.

A little history of the day, on the day :

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which stated that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards. Veterans Day is still observed on November 11.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

And the Wall Came Tumbling DOOOOWWWWWWNNNNNNN!!!!!

This seemed a worthwhile lead in to a piece on the Berlin wall, since the Biblical account of the fall of Jericho and the archeological version of events seem to have some significant points of difference -- including the archeological evidence that the events of the Jewish captivity and subsequent Exodus from Egypt never took place. Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, November 9th, the Berlin wall came tumbling down.  That is, more or less -- mostly less. Badly educated Americans, at least some of them, have bought into the revisionist history/propaganda and mistakenly give credit for this event to Ronnie Ray-gun. They might as well give the credit to Ronald McDonald. The reality of the Reagan speech is very different than the myth. The Guardian newspaper in the UK does an excellent job of urban myth-busting:
From Reagan to Hasselhoff: 5 people who didn’t bring down the Berlin Wall From Ronald Reagan’s ‘tear down this wall’ speech to David Hasselhoff’s bizarre ‘looking for freedom’ serenade, countless urban myths have sprung up about who was really responsible for the fall of the wall. Do any have any merit? "...One popular theory says that while the collapse of the iron curtain may have looked inevitable, it took the intervention of some great minds to provide the crucial nudge. Never mind Polish trade unionists, Soviet politicians or East German dissidents, it was British and American politicians and popstars who made all the crucial interventions, right? 1) Ronald Reagan The words went down in history: “Mr Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” And lo and behold: soon after the US president Ronald Reagan had voiced his bold demand to the Soviet president in front of the Berlin wall, the borders opened. As John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, has put it: “One cannot ignore how [Reagan’s] powerful conviction ended the cold war by firing a verbal salvo, an oratorical demand to let freedom prevail.” But one also shouldn’t ignore that Reagan gave his speech on 12 June 1987, a good 29 months before the actual fall of the wall. And there is little evidence that it had much impact on the dynamics of the dissident movement in East Germany, or on Soviet politics at the time. Some 45,000 Berliners witnessed Reagan’s wall speech, compared to the 450,000 people who attended John F Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963 – in other western parts of the city, there were demonstrations against the US president’s visit. Coverage of the event was only published in the back pages of the major international papers. German weekly Die Zeit did not even quote his request to Gorbachev.
Reagan had made similar speeches before, in 1982 and 1986. The only new element was him addressing Gorbachev directly. Reagan had been losing support domestically, so this show of strength may above all have been directed at an American audience. In that respect, it undoubtedly did the job.
------------- It is unlikely that Gorbachev ever knew of the challenge Reagan nominally directed at him, in a blatant display of American-oriented political theater. Also, NO, the wall really didn't come down on November 9 1989; more on that in the Chicago Tribune piece. Gorbachev, NOT Reagan, was quite properly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, for his courageous actions in the USSR/Russia and Europe. Kudos to the Chicago Tribune for consolidating some of the myths about the Berlin Wall, and then busting them. The entire piece deserves a widespread read. But to specifically address the part about Reagan :
Many Americans believe that Ronald Reagan's June 1987 speech in Berlin ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!") led to the wall's fall in 1989. However, Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet bloc were far more important than Reagan's speech, as were the actions of the East Germans themselves. When the wall started to fall on Nov. 9, it was a mistake. In the face of mass protests against the regime in 1989 and thousands of East Germans seeking refuge at West German embassies in Eastern Europe, East German leaders waived the old visa rules stating that citizens needed a pressing reason for travel, such as a funeral or wedding of a family member. East Germans would still have to apply for visas to leave the country, but they would supposedly be granted quickly and without any requirements. Yet the Communist Party official who announced these changes, Guenter missed most of the key meeting about the travel procedures and went unprepared to a news conference on Nov. 9. In response to reporters' questions about when the new law would take effect, he said, "Immediately, without delay." Schabowski left the impression that people could immediately cross the border, though he meant to say they could apply for visas in an orderly manner. Over the next several hours, thousands of East Berliners gathered at checkpoints along the wall. Since the country's leaders hadn't intended to completely open the border, the supervisors at the crossing points had received no new orders. The chief officer on duty at the Bornholmer Street checkpoint, Harald Jaeger, kept calling his superiors for guidance on how to handle the growing mass of increasingly angry East Berliners expecting to be let through. Jaeger finally gave up around 11:30 p.m. and allowed people to pass through en masse. Guards at other crossing points soon followed suit. The East German regime never fully regained control.
Don't expect the correct version of events to appear in any Tea Party school board dominated history books; they call it being un-American if you tell the truth.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

It's time to put up or shut up

The Republicans won a significant election on Tuesday.  I feel they did so by creating hysteria about things like Ebola, the Affordable Care Act, fracking, the IRS, and on and on, but look, they won.

So, now is the time.  You won, you get to do things your way.  Just like you got to do them your way between 2001 and 2007 in Washington, just like you got to do them under Pawlenty (mostly) here.

My suspicion is that the country took their frustration with the overreach that Obama committed in promising the world, out on Obama.  They forgot the failures of the Republicans, the needless wars, the economic calamities brought about in part by under-regulation and an equal part of a lack of other good investments outside real estate here in the US quite simply because our "new ideas" didn't exist in reality, we moved manufacturing away and didn't replace it.  So we built a "market economy" on middle-class home equity loans, and very little else.  In 2007, 40% of all profit in the US was from the financial services industry as it managed the wealth of the ultra-wealthy and the equity transition to that wealthy of the middle-class as they took out home equity loan after home equity loan.  Sure, they talked in 2008 about "drill baby drill" but they didn't mean the shale oil in North Dakota, that was just a happy surprise.  There ARE jobs there (in shale oil), but at what cost?  Do we even care any more as a nation?  Are we so desperate for good paying jobs that we're going to trade our future?  Apparently so, apparently the 31 permanent jobs the Keystone Pipeline will create, to allow oil companies to avoid US taxes worth BILLIONS, are more important than the billions.

So, let's see it.  It's time to put up or shut up.  Let's see how your policies create GOOD PAYING jobs, not just jobs.  Let's see you balance the budget (federally), let's see you improve/re-define the health care system.  Let's see you do all this while cutting taxes on the highest earners, just like you said would work between 2001 and 2007, but didn't.  Your ideas were failures then, I think they'll fail now, but you get a do-over, you get to show that they can work - even though basic economics say they cannot, vast empirical evidence showed they don't and didn't, but perhaps you can come up with something which will.  I hope you can, I mean it, our country needs it, badly.  I don't think the vote on Tuesday was a repudiation of Obama as much as it was a repudiation of the government generally for failing to deliver those good paying jobs, the ones lost to your economic calamity in 2009 and into 2009, and Obama was the face, the face YOU made it become.  Congratulations, but now YOU get to deal with a public that doesn't trust you due to the trust you destroyed, and a minority party (the Democrats) who get to blame YOU just like YOU blamed them.  The difference being the Dems are generally wimpy about calling you devils - well anyway, I hope you can - we need it as I said, badly.  I hope you succeed, nothing about your policies suggest in the slightest way you CAN succeed, but still, I hope and pray you can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mine were here to greet them...

I'll be the first to admit that I am not PC, and, while this does portray a stereotypical Native American, this clip from "Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm" (1951) makes a very good point:

Fear of Facts, Fear of Ebola, Fear of ISIS, FEAR OF FAILURE

The Hagedorn campaign for CD-1 against Tim Walz has taken a hard right turn for the nastier foolish propaganda as the date for the election nears.  This is intended to appeal to the right wing neo-con hatriots, the ones who are the most science illiterate on the right, and who never met a war they didn’t like (so long as someone else fought it, and paid for it).

Ebola Political Ad  Large 1
Not only does it fear monger to the anti-immigrant bigots, reaching for the broadest possible appeal among that ugly, wilfully ignorant demographic, but it reflects the attempt by the right to turn Ebola into a big dumb stick with which to try to beat Obama, in the hopes that it might at least indirectly damage any and every Democrat in the country running for office through guilt by association.

I’ve been watching this trend of right wing propaganda for a few weeks now.  It includes the usual suspects in the right wing propaganda machine, beginning with Alex Jones and his silly info-wars, claiming that the President and the CDC are LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT EBOLA!

In support of that red meat for the conspiracy theory crowd, they offer a publication in the Lancet, cited in the New York Times back in 2000 to argue that people riding the bus with you could appear perfectly healthy, not having any Ebola symptoms (you know, like bleeding from every orifice, looking like a Zombie), not even feeling ill, AND STILL SPREAD THE DISEASE TO EVERY AMERICAN (especially the right-wing red-blooded ones).  They don’t even have to eat your brain, or bite you (wait…that’s vampires, not zombies), all they have to do is breathe or sneeze on you!  You can get it like flu, from doorknobs, even if they don’t bite you or eat your brain!

Of course, the righties don’t actually READ these studies that gin them up and send them to the polls, but I do.  That 14 year old study appears to be an outlier, doesn’t appear to have been replicated anywhere; while another  referring to a few pig farmers in the Philippines who never showed any symptoms of having ‘the Ebola’, but who did register a weak immune response to it, suggesting they had been infected by it at some point in time.  Apart from the fact that it appears you can be infected and not be symptomatic, from the two different reports, it does NOT appear you can actually infect someone while asymptomatic, as no documented case of doing so appears anywhere.
from the original 2000 Lancet article:
The Lancet study does not warn of an apocalyptic scenario where any casual contact could cause infection. It is more focused on contagion through sex or blood transfusions.

It should be noted that NEITHER study claims that Ebola can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals, or that anyone, anywhere, EVER, caught ‘the Ebola’ from asymptomatic individuals.  But part of the fear being generated by fliers like the one above, of ISIS suicide terrorists infected with Ebola is that they might not LOOK or FEEL sick enough to be identifiable, and if they lose their obvious terrorist outfits, they could walk among us — like ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES!– infecting us all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bloomberg Politics did a great summary of 8 GOP leaders, linking closing the border, ISIS and Ebola, ranging from the claims of Congressman Duncan, to Senate candidates like Scott Brown in New Hampshire (he should be sure to say Hi to Chip Cravaack); here are just a few of the highlights:
“She’s [Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen] voted not to secure the border and I have and it’s so critically important that we really use every tool, shut out every mechanism for them and that disease and other potential diseases to come into our country.”
Distance from the Mexican border: 1,800 miles

North Carolina Congressional candidate Mark Walker:
“If you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels, to me that is a national threat. And if we’ve got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that, either.”
Distance to Mexican border: 1,340 miles

New York Representative Peter King:
“We definitely have to be on our guard. That’s the type of thing that ISIS has to be considering. Obviously, the southern border is more porous and vulnerable. We have to absolutely be on our guard on the southern border.”
Distance to Mexican Border: 1,700 miles

Arkansas Senate candidate Tom Cotton
“We’ve got an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors that can come across the border; we need to seal the border and secure it.”
“Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.”
Distance to Mexican border: 600 miles

It’s not like this is unique to Hagedorn, he’s just in GOP-stupid lock-step with the rest of the right wing candidates trolling for the radical tea party vote.   Hagedorn appears to be hoping that a mix of ignorance and hysteria might help him against Walz.

Politico suggests it is not working – at least, not against Rick Nolan in CD-8.  Perhaps with that congressional district snug up against our common border with Canada, those Minnesotans are just too far from the threat for that to work.  Distance from Mexico to Minnesota : 1,656 miles.  I doubt the difference between, say, Bemidji and Mankato, 233 miles,  will change that.
In Minnesota, the National Republican Congressional Committee has released two ads targeting Nolan for being soft on terrorism as part of a nationwide campaign attacking vulnerable Democrats.

But in Nolan’s 8th Congressional District, ISIL discussion has been surprisingly rare, even though the two candidates disagree.

“Launching airstrikes on another country, by any standard, by any definition, is an act of war,” Nolan said in a House floor speech the week of the vote on Syria military aid. “Have we not had enough of imperial presidencies doing what they want in the world?”

During a recent debate, Mills said he supports U.S. airstrikes and working with regional allies to “crush the threat.” But it was the one issue in the debate in which the candidates did not attack each other over their differences. Mills has spent more time on the campaign trail talking about guns and mining than ISIL.

“This is just not an area where either side sees the best punch,” said Larry Jacobs, an expert in state politics at the University of Minnesota. “It’s not that they don’t have differences — and they do … [but] it’s not kind of a hot issue that’s breaking decisively for one side.”

Nonetheless, ISIL is a significant issue in many midterm races.

Republicans are using the militant group’s rapid rise and the new U.S.-led military campaign to put Democrats on the defensive. Already, the fight has gained significant public traction: A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found it was the No. 1 issue for Republicans, with 41 percent calling it the most important factor for their vote.

Polling has been showing Walz with at least a 6% lead over Hagedorn.  I can only hope that even our right wingnut Minnesotans will have better judgement than to fall for this kind of lowest possible denominator appeal.

A vote AGAINST Hagedorn and the MN GOP, and the national GOP is a vote AGAINST sleazy, tasteless ignorance like this.  We’re finally shut of Michele Bachmann; we don’t need another tacky teabagger in Congress from Minneosta to embarrass us.

Don’t stay home — VOTE!

Throw fliers like this, and candidates like this, out with the trash.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm realising I've spent way too much time in Pays Francophone

Since I can catch that this is (a very good) parody of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin (amongst other French cultural references lately). And, this seems appropriate given that 'Allo 'Allo was a soft porn parody of Secret Army (I'll confess that I watched episodes of 'Allo Allo after watching Secret Army since SA is pretty heavy stuff).

Anyway, here is the original, which sounds like the soundtrack to a porn film (and if you are at all familiar with Serge Gainsbourg, you know he did some seriously weird shit).

With that, I'll leave you to enjoy steak frites and a glass of vin rouge.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

We're spinning in our graves at the Mikveh Israel Cemetery
Ever notice how the people who try to persuade us that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with a well-regulated militia are usually the same people who want to persuade us that the US is a Christian Nation?

The difference between US vs UK Ebola news coverage

From the show Russell Howard's Good News

BTW, that's Dele Adebola

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We do well in the comparison --- thanks to democrats!

Houston, We have PANDEMIC!!!!

Hey all you poo-flingers, you got your wish!!!!  WE HAVE PANDEMIC!!!

Blame Houssien Obama, he did a bad job of preventing it, it's his fault and his alone.  No, it's not Ebola (Dammit!!), but not to worry, it's WORSE than Ebola, so YAY!, you get to fling poo to your heart's content.  It's a pandemic of domestic violence. 

...how's that again?

It's a pandemic of domestic violence.

..well, that's not sexy

No, but it's far more serious, far more real, and something for which we have far more effective treatments than forced quarantines, so, why hasn't the President stopped all outbreaks of domestic violence?  He's feckless.

Yep.. that he is, I mean.. wait, I don't care about domestic violence.

Yeah, I know.

Each year 11% of all murders are due to domestic violence, more than all gang related murders.  Each day 4 women and 3 children DIE to domestic violence.  35% of all emergency room visits are due to domestic violence.   Yet, this "shining city on the hill" does little and less to stop it.  State policing agencies like to pretend it doesn't matter (in many states, many southern states.. go figure).  The "good ole' boy" mentality still is all too pervasive "If you don't want him to hit ya', stop makin' him mad."  Many times I think it's simply that those prosecutors/cops/whomever don't think it's wrong.

So, fling poo, you have your epidemic and you can blame the President - of course you might want to ask yourself what YOU'VE done to stop it - kinda like you might want to ask yourself the same question about Ebola (Gov. Christie), because this pandemic pre-dates Obama, and it's self-inflicted.  We turn a blind-eye, we blame the victim, we fail to prosecute.  It's our fault, but that's no fun, it's more fun to fling poo and not take responsibility.


We could learn from this; we COULD do better

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fear Strikes Out

I grew up (and remain) a Chicago White Sox fan.  Back in the day (early 80's), the White Sox had a radio/TV tandem of (believe it or not) Harry Carey and a lesser known, flamboyant, bombastic color-man named Jimmy Piersall.

Piersall was a brilliant young player in the late 50's who had suffered from manic depression.  His mother was routinely hospitalized as he was growing up.  His troubled family life eventually manifested in Piersall, leading to his falling out and then coming back to baseball which he chronicled in a book called "Fear Strikes Out."  Piersall described his stuggles, his challenges controlling his own fears, fears of failure, of inadequacy, and the intense reactions he experienced to those fears.  The silver linings were, if there can be such linings, that Piersall found himself.  He had a 14 year career in which he was a solid player, and one of (if not the finest) defensive outfielders the game has ever seen.  But even more, by facing those fears head one, Peirsal was truly liberated, he could be who he wanted to be, he could say what he wanted to say (and did).  He frequently said things critical of White Sox players if they failed to hustle, which really irked the players and management staff of the White Sox, but provided truly entertaining and truly insightful, thought provoking commentary for their fans.  Piersal was comfortable in his own skin and never really looked back or was afraid of the larger world because he'd already slain his "demon."  That was the essence of Piersal and the meaning of the title of his book.

Scroll forward 30 years and I am amazed and struck dumb by how fearful we have become.  As a nation we sit perplexed/paralyzed with fear, fear of Ebola, of Isis, of rogue terrorists.  I sit bewildered (not) at how the party of common sense and small government advocates for forced quarantine (needlessly) - a big government solution to a nearly non-existent problem (Ebola pandemic risk), but chooses to do nothing to handle mental illness (a far more pervasive problem which kills tens of thousands per year).  I sit baffled by the fear we seem to have of ISIS, a movement which is in fact looking to establish a country, rule an area of (mostly) desert in western Iraq and eastern Syria.  We are ready to use our one and only tool (killing people with military firepower) to try to scare the rest of the people in the area (the Middle-East) into "not getting in our way."  We seem to think that fear will cause them to cease seeking their own goals/determination.  Would it stop us?  Did it? 

I sit perplexed by how MSNBC spends 6 hours covering a shooting at the Canadian War Memorial, when the same organization spent 15 minutes covering a similar shooting 16 years ago at our OWN capital.  We had the sense to keep things in perspective then, but have lost that perspective now, and not just fear mongering conservatives have lost it, liberals have too.  I sit baffled by Darrel Issa, how he can, with a straight face condemn the CDC for not having fully complete guidelines on Ebola, whe he consistently has cut the CDC's budget to the bone.  He wants perfection but doesn't want to pay for it.  He (and those like him) are utterly unable (or more correctly unwilling) to apply a modicum of common sense to the situation and grasp that the CDC doubtless provided general guidelines which, in the face of application, needed refinement, just like EVERY policy needs, every plan needs, once put into action.  Companies develop Disaster Recovery plans, then they test them, then they refine them.  A failure in one part of the plan doesn't mean the people (or the company) are incompetent, it means they aren't capable of predicting the future or of dealing with every possible variable until they get a feel for what those variables turn out to truly be.  The better question is, why would Issa choose, at this time, to desire to instill a lack of confidence in the ability of the government to handle something which he purports to feel is a serious issue?  Is he looking to cause a panic? 

The answer to all these conundrums is that they aren't really conundrums.  We're afraid because we don't chose to apply common sense, it's easier to blame to be fearful, to DEMAND action, than to accept that in a world of unpredictable things, of lone rogue, crazy gunman, some things cannot be controlled.  It's also easy to see that stoking fears of the ineptitude of government is easily done IF you know there really isn't anything you need to truly fear (as I'm sure Issa understood and understands), that you understand that so far, we've have 6 cases of Ebola treated in the US, four of whom were people who arrived/returned from Africa (one of whom died), the other 5 cases were treated successfully.  We have 100 people die EVERY DAY to suicide.  We have 30 people die EVERY DAY who are murdered.  We don't fling poo in the air (at all) about any of that. 

What's going on is nothing more than a campaign based on fear.  We saw something similar in 2004 which kept an inept George W. Bush in office for four more grueling, painful years.  Be afraid of Isis (terrorists), be afraid John Kerry can't handle terrorists (Obama can't handle Ebola), be afraid, afraid, afraid.  Don't worry that you're being cheated by banks, don't pay any attention to the vast overspend on defense toys, don't worry about our bloated Homeland Security budget going to private companies, be afraid of a single gunman - so that you don't question that budget.  Be a pawn, let the campaign of fear upon which we've struck win, or... be Jimmy Piersal, and speak your mind, question the idiocy, keep Ebola in the perspective it should be kept, which is someplace behind the local mill's economic trouble, or the local school closing - because while Ebola is scary, and has the POTENTIAL to be bad, that potential is a remote risk - I'm not saying it doesn't exist and shouldn't be dealt with seriously, in fact I'm saying exactly that, deal with it seriously - don't prevent people from fighting it in Africa or you WILL fight it here - unlike ISIS, don't lock people up needlessly, don't invite or incite panic - speak coherently, factually, practically. 

We do ourselves a great disservice (as well as doing those who actually SERVE a disservice) when we imply they are incompetent, and say it from a position of profound ignorance and fear.  We put ourselves in a position to be manipulated and to make very bad decisions.  The trouble I have with Republican attitudes about wanting less government is that they only want it until there's a calamity, then they want FAR MORE than liberals ever want or wanted, then they (the Repubs) want and enact badly thought out laws, they enact stupid quarantines, they create dumb laws like Sarbannes-Oxley (a law intended to punish the leaders of companies like Enron, but which instead created a needless beurocracy inside large companies and which really holds low level staff accountable, not high level officers).  They want voter ID laws to stop 15 people from voting fraudulently but which keep 100,000 people who are legal voters from voting at all. 

Jimmy, where are you bud (I say that metaphorically, he's 84, living in Chicago, btw)?  Where is his spirit, the American spirit of facing challenges head on, not with fear, but with resolve to do what's right?  Where is the spirit and common sense of Will Rogers?  We need someone like Piersall to tell Chris Christie he's a bloviating, headline seeking blowhard and to tell the rest of us to stop fearing our own shadow or it will consume us.  Seriously.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A tale of two quotations

Two "quotations" from Thomas Jefferson from both sides of the political spectrum.

Left side
"The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations."
Right Side 
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Both are not really quotations from Jefferson, while the right's version is obviously false.  Let's face it, Jefferson was a slave owner: talk about taking from people who work for a living without proper compensation!

The exact quotation used by the Left also has not been found in the writings of Thomas Jefferson. It may be a mistaken amalgamation of the author's comments in the above 1994 reference with a real Jefferson quotation. Jefferson wrote in 1825 to William Branch Giles of "vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76 now look to a single and splendid government of an Aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and monied in corporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry."

This gets to what exactly were the real reasons for the American War for Independence?  If it was based upon free trade and an end to monopolies (i.e. The British East India Company), then the legacy would be one which is more left leaning than the current right wing appropriation of the "Tea Party" title would have us believe.

The problem with the period of the War of Independence is that it has become part of the US National myth.  It is romanticised and not seen in its proper historical context.  Instead of creating a utopia, it created anarchy and economic ruin which was only fixed by the adoption of the Constitution.

People need to reassess that period of Early American history in a new light.  I would hope that it would help extinguish the insurrectionist nonsense that has become common which none of the founders would tolerate.

Hooray for Mark Dayton's Ebola Quarantine plan

Conservatives are running around with their hair on fire, displaying what one of our blog friends, Democommie, commonly refers to as the flaming stupid, as part of their core ideology.

In stark contrast, our good Governor Mark Dayton announced the Minnesota policy towards Ebola, one that takes into consideration our Liberian citizen population, would be 'based on science'.  From the STrib:

Restrictions would vary for other travelers returning from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — the three nations at the center of the Ebola outbreak — depending on their perceived risk levels, state officials explained. Those who simply traveled to those countries to visit relatives would be asked to submit to daily health monitoring when they return to the state. Health care providers who cared for Ebola patients but had no known exposure to the virus would not need home confinement. Health care providers with potential exposures, such as being stuck with a needle while caring for an Ebola patient, would be confined at home.
All travelers returning from the west African nations would be subject to travel restrictions. Those potentially exposed to Ebola during their travels would be banned from public transportation, while all travelers under monitoring would be asked to refrain from trips using public transportation lasting longer than three hours.
All returnees would need to be isolated in hospital care if they showed Ebola symptoms. The monitoring and restrictions generally would last 21 days, the maximum period required for an Ebola infection to produce symptoms.
While Ebola has proved a lethal virus, killing half of the people in Africa it has infected, it only spreads through contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood or saliva — and people carrying the virus aren’t contagious until they suffer fevers or symptoms. That gives health officials an early warning to remove infected patients from contact with others before the virus has a chance to spread.

But what to do while waiting for symptoms to emerge, or not, has been a topic of intense debate. Minnesota for the past week has been following federal guidelines to monitor travelers from west Africa by calling them daily to report on their physical health and body temperature.
Dayton gathered a variety of legal, medical and ethics experts over the weekend to develop a policy for Minnesota that was protective but appropriate.
“The resulting policy protects Minnesotans by ensuring that anyone coming from Ebola-affected areas is monitored according to their risk and treated according to their need,” said Dr. Steven Miles, a U bioethics expert.
Returnees in recent weeks have mostly been doctors such as Spencer and other aide workers seeking to stop the spread of Ebola in west Africa, where so far the virus has infected at least 10,000 people and caused 4,900 deaths. But Minnesota has the added concern of a robust population of 30,000 residents from Liberia who might travel back to the country or host relatives from there.
Since daily monitoring began last week, state officials said there have been 26 travelers to Minnesota from the three west African nations.
The home-confinement policy for health care providers exposed to Ebola patients is the latest in a series of changes in Minnesota’s Ebola preparedness strategy — changes influenced by the first U.S.-diagnosed case in Texas earlier this month and the infection of two nurses who cared for the man. Hospital officials in Minnesota have now designated four hospitals that will provide long-term care of Ebola patients once they are diagnosed.

Conservatives hate science, reject science, deny science, and then usually pat themselves on the back in congratulation of how smart they are to have out-thought those who have studied the science and know more than they do.

It is a combination on the part of conservatives of some of the worst of the conspiracy theory nutjobbery, and their politics of the worst of simplistic thinking and wilful ignorance.

The insanity ranges from conservative fool, ag professor Cyril Broderick, who frequents the worst of the right wing fringe propaganda sources, claiming that Ebola was created by the U.S. Defense Department as some sort of demented anti-African plot, to the Idiot Issa in Congress who can't pronounce the disease and who doesn't know the difference between Guinea in Africa and Guiana.  Issa is not an honest man - in fact he is a criminal, and he is not an honest critic of the President's administration, but rather a dishonest hack pushing manipulative and exploitive tea party propaganda on the pathetically stupid.

The contrast between good government from Democrats and bad government from Republicans, and how each plays to their respective base, couldn't be more stark.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pew Study on Political Polarisation of the American Public

APU, I haven't read the comments on the Wow, how ignorant do they think you are??? Post, but I have this feeling that they run along the lines that the Koch Brothers care more about you than Bloomberg does.  After all, the Kochs do all sorts of wonderful things that are harmful to you: they must care!

Anyway, The Pew Charitable Trust (more billionaires) came up with a study on political polarisation in the US. It's a very involved study on the topic as the video below points out, getting into many different aspects of polarisation.

The part which interests me the most is the media, even that is rather involved.  The most consistent Media source for the right is Fox News, with about 47% of those identified as conservative listing that as their trusted source of their news.  Liberals, tend to have many different news sources with CNN (15%), NPR (13%), MSNBC (12%) and the New York Times (10%) all ranking near the top of the list.

The important part of all this:
The public’s understanding of government and politics is also influenced by the extent to which they trust – or distrust – the information they hear from various news sources. In other words – how open people are to the political news and information put forth by various outlets, including those they do not actively consume.
In general, the survey finds that there is more trust than distrust of news sources. But there are substantial differences in trust and distrust across the ideological spectrum.
People who took this poll were asked if they had heard of 36 different news sources.  If they had heard of the source, they were then asked to what level they trusted the accuracy of that source. Those with consistently liberal political values had heard of more sources than any other ideological group – on average, about 26 out of the 36 – and trust about twice as many as they distrust (10.5 vs. 4.8). Respondents with mostly liberal views or with about an equal mix of conservative and liberal views have heard of fewer sources, on average, but still trust more sources than they distrust.

Interactive: Audience Profiles & Media Habits

Where I fit in here:
One example is the Economist. Only 34% of panelists have heard of the outlet, but within that group there is far more trust (12%) than distrust (2%), when it comes to news about government and politics. The BBC is recognized by a greater portion of respondents (76%), but is similarly more trusted (36%) than distrusted (7%).

Oddly, they left out the Guardian (even though it was one of the choices in the poll).  Anyway.

What really came out here was that those with consistently liberal views had more sources for information than those on the right.

See Also:

RIP Jack Bruce

Saturday, October 25, 2014