Sunday, December 27, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same

According to Snopes, Trump never said this. It's still true, but ol' Turnip Top never had the integrity to say it out loud.

But it is worth noting here, as a false left wing quote appearing on FB.  We lose substance and credibility when we do not make the effort to be factual and substantive.

It is, for example, worth noting that per Mediate, Trump has racked up more time appearing on Fox News than the other leading right wingnut candidates combined. 

So much for 'fair and balanced'.  As to the stupid voters, well, that's been pretty well documented as a majority of supporters of Trump reading and thinking at a low level -- around 3rd grade level of maturity and competence.
From May 1 to December 15, leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lapped the rest of the field in interview airtime on Fox News. Trump's 22 hours and 46 minutes of airtime was more than twice as much as any other candidate during the period studied. Trump racked up more airtime on the network than Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio combined.
Interviews with the Republican field have been a near-constant fixture of Fox News' programming during the second half of 2015, and The Fox Primary is showing no signs of slowing down as we approach 2016 and the first primaries.
So far this cycle, the network has already surpassed coverage of the 2012 campaign season: During the period studied, Fox News aired more than 117 hours worth of interviews with Republican candidates. Over a similar time frame (June 1 to January 22, 2012), Fox devoted 77 hours and 24 minutes to interviews of the then-candidates. (The disparity is even more striking considering the 2012 report included appearances on Fox News' sister network, Fox Business.)
Lagging well behind Trump were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor and former Fox News host Mike Huckabee, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who round out the top five. Each spent less than 10 hours on Fox over the same time period

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

T'is the Season to Abandon Reason - The Conservative Christmas War on Freedom and the Constitution

For those of you who missed me, I'm back after an approximately two months hiatus.

This will serve as my holidays post - covering Christmas and the Solstice.

I am heartily sick this December of two thing - the excessive Star Wars hype, and the false claims about a war on Christmas (or Christians). There is nothing I can do about either, other than vent my vexation here. Star Wars hype will eventually subside in satiation; the effort to continue the manipulation of conservatives and the false and faulty screeches of fake victims will continue. But for the interim, it very much feels as if Star Wars has substantially hijacked the holidays.

There is no war on Christmas or Christians in the United States, and precious little effective war on Christians anywhere else.

There IS, however, something I can do about the Conservative War on Freedom  and their attacks on intelligent, informed thinking. It seems particularly apt as my first returning topic, given a brief browse of faulty claims and sloppy propaganda made by local conservative bloggers as I sit down to my computer to write.

Specifically, I am joining here in the protest against -- where else? -- Texas conservatives and their hatred of our constitution, in spite of all the lip service they give that document. Part of my objection is a continuing pet peeve when it comes to fake sources and especially inaccurate attribution of quotes in support of propaganda.

When I saw the image below, the one that bigot governor Abbott saw fit to remove as offensive, what I was reminded of was the opening line to the Gettysburg address:
Apparently those who are elected by ignorant conservatives are not equally well educated in American history -- especially historically accurate quotations.

Hat tip to the Free Thinker for this one, and the Dallas Morning News:
Nativity display created by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which Gov. Greg Abbott demanded removed from the Capitol grounds.
Nativity display created by the
Freedom from Religion Foundation,
which Gov. Greg Abbott demanded
be removed from the Capitol grounds.

Staff at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday removed an exhibit that Gov. Greg Abbott said mocked religion without contacting the organization that sponsored the faux nativity display that replaced baby Jesus with a representation of the Bill of Rights.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization that promotes the separation of church and state, said it is reviewing its options to take further action against the state for the move.

“This sort of censorship is inappropriate and illegal,” said Sam Grover, the foundation’s staff attorney. Removal of the exhibit came after Abbott sent the State Preservation Board a letter saying that the display mocked religion and calling for its immediate elimination from the capitol grounds. 

The exhibit, called the “Bill of Rights Nativity and Winter Solstice Display,” was on the ground floor of the capitol building. In it, the bill of rights sat in the manger in place of baby Jesus, and it was surrounded by three founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty, which appeared to be worshiping the document.

...Abbott, in his letter, said the exhibit did not meet the requirements for display at the Capitol because it didn’t promote a “public purpose.”

And as observed by Patheos and subsequently the Freethinker, but sadly neglected by the Dallas Morning News, Texas Gov. Abbot did not merely remove a legitimate display supporting the separation of church and state -- which GENUINELY was a desideratum held by our founding fathers.  He went on to attempt to support his illegal act against freedom with a false attribution to George Washington.  I despise false attributions, particularly when a source is so well known to be false, and when it is so easily verified if they are correct.  When done by a governor, it is clear that the governor is either willfully too ignorant to fulfill the duties of his office, or he is a propagandizing dictator. 

It is entirely possible Abbot is both.

From the Freethinker:
Andrew L  Seidel, Staff Attorney for the FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation, said here that Abbott:
Quoted, at length, erroneous history to support his position. The quote comes from a fabricated prayer journal, misattributed to Washington.
In a letter explaining his decision to have the display removed, Abbott called the FFRF’s  Bill of Rights display “tasteless,” a “spiteful message … intentionally designed to belittle and offend” and charged that it is:
Far from promoting morals and the general welfare.
He even likened the Bill of Rights display to:
A photograph of a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine.
Frank Grizzard, an editor of the George Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, wrote of the book from which Abbott pulled the quote:
Tens of thousands of genuine Washington manuscripts have survived to the present, including many from the youthful Washington, and even a cursory comparison of the prayer book with a genuine Washington manuscript reveals that they are not the same handwriting.
Not only are the prayers not in Washington’s handwriting, they were not composed by Washington himself as Abbott claims.
To borrow from Gizzard, “Both claims are patently false”. That prayer book had been “rejected by the Smithsonian Institute as having no value” and even at the time it first surfaced, “others continued to challenge its authenticity.”
Other historians, such as John Fea, chair of the History Department at Messiah College and author of Was American Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction, agree that this prayer book is not Washington’s:
It is also far too pious for Washington. In fact … George Washington only referenced Jesus Christ twice in all his extant writings and neither of them were in a prayer …
Seidel said:
All that vitriol, from looking at three founding fathers, the Statue of Liberty, and the Bill of Rights. One wonders how such disrespect for the Bill of Rights comports with Abbott’s oaths of office to uphold that sacred document.
We are a secular nation, and we should be a thoughtful nation which embraces freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, and most of all we should, in order to remain free, push back at any attempts like this one of Texas governor Abbot to make encroachments that effectively create a state sponsored, endorsed and/or promoted religion.  Because when THAT happens, we ALL are less free than our founding fathers intended.

Oppose the tyranny, and the erosion of constitutionally guaranteed freedom promoted by the worst of conservative evangelicals attempting to impose a state sponsored religion.  Oppose ignorance peddled by conservatives in positions of power; the truth, and facts, are not on their side.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Terrorism, nothing else. When it's a duck, admit it's a duck

Over the weekend I saw a brief "interview" of a Democratic and Republican pundit on CNN.  They were talking about the shooting at Planned Parenthood.  The Democrat made his points and generally kept his voice at a normal level, the Republican, as I see so often, continually interrupted the Democrat and the "journalist", continually raised his voice and was quite frankly very successful at shouting down any objection from either the person from CNN or the Democrat.  His point was that the "Black Lives Matter" movement was just as much a terroristic threat as was/is any right-wing group.

The assertion, beyond absurd on it's face about the "Black Lives Matter" movement, is also absurd in that it sought to deflect any serious discussion about the growing trend of radical, violent action by right wingers to get their way through intimidation and violence.  That violence is committed against civilians with the goal to both cause fear and to shape political policy.  There is no better definition of terrorism than that.  Robert Lewis Dear shot up the place, killed two civilians and a police officer to "no more baby parts" (sold) by Planned Parenthood.  That Mr. Dear is following a widely debunked meme' of the far right makes no dent on him, nor on the far right.  His ideology is that of the far right as evidenced by his acquaintances and his commentary.  It is so obviously so that Ted Cruz sought to perpetrate the big lie by calling him a "transgendered leftist."  Now, of course Mr. Cruz needed to somehow wrap in some attack on the idea of sexual identity, as if it had anything at all to do with this attack, but there is no evidence whatsoever that this guy was gender-neutral, seeking a gender change, was a transvestite or in any other way was transgender.

Per the NY Times (via       
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the latest presidential candidate trying to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in motivating the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs Friday afternoon. When a reporter asked him at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz countered that he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”

Cruz explained, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.” This discrepancy on Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a self-described “right-of-center news website,” under the claim that he “identifies as [a] woman.” Conservatives have since run with the claim that Dear is transgender.

There is actually no evidence to suggest that he is transgender, nor a “leftist,” nor any kind of activist. In fact, all of the available information suggests he was none of those things.

As the New York Times explained, Dear was very much a recluse, the type “that preferred to be left alone,” living in various single-wide trailers and cabins since his divorce in 2000. Neighbors did not know him well, and if they did, it’s because he would lash out at them when they tried to interfere with his business, like reporting him for mistreating his dogs.

The Times’ profile also identifies him as “generally conservative,” having been raised as a Baptist, but as someone who did not discuss politics much. According to his ex-wife, “he believed wholeheartedly in the Bible” and believed that abortion was wrong. He also distributed pamphlets criticizing President Obama to his neighbors in Colorado. On the voter registration form with the gender discrepancy, his party is listed as “UAF,” meaning unaffliated.

None of the people interviewed about Dear had anything to say about his gender identity. Nothing about his appearance nor any past reports of his identity suggests that he identifies as a woman. The voter registration form identifying him as female is the only discrepancy, making it most likely a typo and nothing more."

So, based on a typographical error on his voting record, despite the fact that he was married, despite the fact that there was no other evidence and despite the fact that on a couple of key issues AND the fact that the man distributed anti-Obama pamphlets, somehow Cruz can try to say with a straight face that Dear was "trangered" and a "Leftist Activist."  It's appalling conduct by Cruz.  It points to a man willing to say ANYTHING, repeat ANY lie, show that he has precisely zero morality when it comes to getting his way, and in that, he is the perfect example of how far off the rails the far right in this country has gone.

Cruz is playing to a base that laps up this kind of fomented rhetoric.  The kind that believes BS videos clipped together over years of interviews, like the O'Keefe videos, paid for by unidentified and quite likely wealthy backers, intentionally edited to mislead.  They hear the evidence about these falsehoods, but they just don't care.  They BELIEVE them to be true.  Like Mr. Dear does. 

Yesterday a FOUR men in Minneapolis were charged with various crimes related to their alleged shooting and shooting at several people at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.  It wasn't the demonstrators who were violent (though a few have been elsewhere), it was angry white guys with guns (and apparently for at least one, a license to carry).  The contention of the Republican pundit on CNN was that the movement itself was terroristic, yet his justification was made based on the actions of a couple of people who were angry demonstrators who lashed out in apparently unplanned acts, lashing out against harsh police responses.  Hardly similar to planning and then shooting up a clinic, or blowing it up, or assassinating a doctor, all done to make the people who perform legal medical procedures afraid to do so OR showing up at a political rally and shooting at people to "show them who is boss" or otherwise intimidate.  By contrast, the justification others have used to claim the BLM movement is terroristic is a video of some members of the movement shouting "Pigs in a blanket, fry em' like bacon." Of course, they DIDN'T bother to report about that video that it was done in jest in a conversation with a police officer.  They didn't also bother to report that no one actually DID fry any police officers.  While there is a growing sense of frustration with the enormous inequality in treatment of blacks by our justice system, the rhetoric and actions of people in the BLM movement has been widely AGAINST violent response and as far as I can find, no one, not one person directly affiliated with the BLM movement has been charged with a terrorist act.  A handful have been charged with clashing with police, but that's hardly the same as killing people to intimidate.  Unless we are going to start claiming that protest is terrorism, the BLM movement is about as close to terrorism as is the NRA, or the Tea Party, or the Open-Carry movements.  There are members who've done bad things, but the movements don't own those acts.  And, at least in the case of the BLM movement, they denounce the actions of the far right.

Yet, there are people in the far right who are not only willing to engage in deceptive rhetoric, they saying "something must be done", and through that rhetoric, they provide motivation/justification to the 1% of that fringe that are willing to engage in violence.  Furthermore, by attempting to shift the debate to supposed bad acts by the likes of the BLM movement, they certainly appear to be saying, "well, YOU'RE doing it, so why it is bad if other do so as well?"  Or at least saying, the left is doing it, which gives justification to violence by the right (albeit false justification), to retaliate, after all, they can claim, "We didn't start it."  Yet, the similarities aren't there, and even if they were, violent reprisal is STILL terrorism. 

Regardless of the rhetoric, it is time for the right wing (meaning the Republicans who are now so far to the right that they are virtually all the far right), it is time for the Republican party to admit that the far right has a terrorism problem.  It is true that it is a tiny, tiny fraction, but it is also true that it is THAT fraction, just like the tiny fraction of Muslims in Europe, which is engaging in violence for the purpose of political intimidation and change.  It is further time for them to stop trying to label EVERYONE else as a terrorist, it is time for them to stop using terrorism as their boogey-man, especially when they have a problem with their own base.  They have a log in their eye but complain about splinters.

The right wing has a terrorism problem.  It has fueled action by nut-jobs, and it is time that movement start being truthful about the fact that the REST of the country are good people (by and large), that blacks are almost universally law abiding, that whites kill whites far more often than do blacks, just like blacks kill blacks, and that it REPUDIATE the terrorist actions of it's nut-job fringe.  Failing to do so is nothing less than abiding terrorism.  And let's be clear, that IS what these attacks are.  They are violence and threats of violence "2nd Amendment remedies" to change the political landscape.  When a white guy confronts blacks protesting on the street, argues with them, and then gets out a gun to shut them up and shut down their protest, it's terrorism.  It's not just walking like a duck, it's not just talking like a duck, it's a duck. 

Sorry for the absence

All, DG is dealing with personal stuff and so has been out-of-pocket, and my mother passed away and so I have too.  Sorry for the lack of content lately.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In Response

Today is not a day for partisan bickering, there comes a time when the childish games have to be put aside.  There comes a time to decide and to act, this is one of those times.

Yesterday, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (or Levant if you like, but since they like that name I won't use it again), killed more than 160 people in Paris.  It is their second attack in less than a year in that city.  The Parisians wonder why?  I must say I suspect why, but the larger question is what next?

The why I believe is this, the French have long embraced an openness, a liberty, which is at its core an anathema to the dictatorial ideals of any group seeking to re-establish a broad Islamic theocracy.  In the ISIS held areas of Iraq and Syria, there is no freedom of speech, of the press, of nearly anything and certainly no freedom of religion as exists here and in France.  Further, France is relatively open with it's borders and has allowed enormous immigration of refugees, from Algeria, from Syria (both former colonies) and from Iraq.  France has the largest Muslim population in Europe as a percentage of their total, and while I don't blame Muslims, it seems clear that with the larger population came along (or grew up) a small population of sympathizers with the "plight" of Arabs subjected to Israel or western imperialism, or any other of 100 excuses for murder such zealots make to justify their horrors.  Along with that population came as well, neighborhoods and families where such sympathizers can hide, protected by familial love, by neighborly concern for "the boy who has become a bit of a radical."  That ability to hide has been key, whether in Paris or in New York City.  It made travelling in Paris, living in Paris, hiding among those who dress similarly, like many of the same things, possible, and striking at the home of democracy, as the French feel they are, represented a great opportunity.  For those who demean the French, remember they were our first ally, they supported our democracy, certainly in part for their own interests, but also because they believed in our cause.  They have stood by our side in nearly every war in our history, and we by theirs.  Britain may now be our closest ally, but for a long time, it was France and not the least reason because they embraced protecting the liberties of the people.

So, what now? 

First, to the repulsive leadership of ISIS, you are fools.  While your awful, puny little state did little to antagonize the rest of the world, the rest of the world was ambivalent to your existence.  We understood you were the outgrowth of a power vacuum in Syria and Iraq and we expected that once that vacuum was gone, you would go with it because your brutish, anti-technology, anti-development ideals were nothing more than the criminal conduct of apostate young men seeking to rape, steal, and murder.  There might have once been some semblance of Islam's love in your cause, but that ended the first day you killed an innocent, the first night you raped a young girl.  You are damned, on Earth and in the afterlife.

For you see, second, the world is coming for you.  You missed your guess when you thought you could freely butcher the French like you butchered the U.S. populace on 9/11.  The French almost certainly will, and we should actively support, attack ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  They need no permission from Syria, it lacks a government to control it's populace.  Whatever permission it needs from Iraq should be easily offered.  The French are coming for you, and we must go along.   We must offer military and material support and we must keep at it until the Arab world is clear that the west does not consist of weak nations of fools, but of nations of laws who expect and demand lawful conduct by the citizens of ALL nations.  If the Arab world feels offended by the conduct of Israel or the support of it, there ARE in fact legal remedies, and even if those fail, ugliness on one side NEVER justifies killing innocents, not OUR innocents, nor theirs.  With that said, I am no supporter of building a nation in Syria or Iraq.  The Sunni radicals who established ISIS must be shown that no such nation will ever be allowed, not one which behaves in that manner.  They can chose their own government, they can have an internecine war with the Shia if they like, but they cannot try, by military force, to export their views or exact vengeance for perceived slights.  If that is their goal, it is time to meet force with force.  Beyond that, it's high time the leaders of Saudi Arabia were made to "toe the line" on ending support for ISIS.  That is the cost the US must impose. 

Inside France, and for that matter inside the US, it is time to start undermining the local sanctuaries which local neighborhoods may offer (unwittingly or god forbid wittingly).  I suggest the French offer $25,000 or even $50,000 per head for ISIS sympathizers who can be convicted of criminal activity related to terrorism.  I suggest we offer the same, though not obviously just for Islamic extremists, but all.   I do NOT suggest suspending the rule of law, or protection under the law, that would be repeating the mistakes of Afghanistan and make us no better than those we are fighting, but clearly most Muslims in France (or the US) have no love or patience for this conduct, clearly some people who might have been willing to "turn a blind eye" may be also willing to no longer do so if the right incentive is out there.  It's time to reduce their ability to hide for as David Patreaus noted, that is the key to ending any "insurgency." 

So, in short, it is time for war.

Paris Attacks

Yesterday... again....

brutal, disgusting pigs attacked and killed upwards of 160 people in Paris as undoubtedly you know.  No site dedicated to current events can be mute to such events.  It was nightmarish to watch unfold, it was a further reflection of the depravity of extremism, and of man when self-righteousness trumps decency and morality.  These men were not moral, they were the most base form of murderers.  They were not fighting "assymetrical warfare", they were killing children and other innocents in an attempt to intimidate the world, nothing more.

But this is not about them, it is written to mourn the dead and dying, to express kindness and solidarity with the French people and those who knew and loved the lost (and injured).

But what can be said?  What words can anyone utter which capture the scope of the horror, the disgust toward the attackers and their supporters?  What utterance properly conveys the anguish we feel, once again, for those attacked?  Will we become immune to the pain and shock?  Gosh, I hope not.  That's not a world I want to be a part of. 

To any of those affected by this attack who might read these words, cheap as they may be, please accept my most deeply felt condolences.  Your sudden loss, is I'm sure, heartbreaking.  Know that the world cries with you.  Know that justice will come to those who helped do this, to those who support this kind of vile brutality, but I am sure that is of little solace right now, and it may not be ever.  I have no more words, I am sorry for that which has been taken from you and your loved ones.

In deepest sorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oathkeeper? Guess again!

Their site says:
Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders,  who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial. See the Oath Keepers Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey for details
This refers to the statement that "shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution".

The problem is that this statement places them in violation of that oath since the basis of a Constitutional society is the rule of law, which is:
The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.
Just because you disagree with a law does not mean it is unconstitutional.  And, unless you are a constitutional scholar, you really have no right making a legal opinion about what is constitutional or not (yes, I am a constitutional scholar and a lawyer).

Article VI, Section 2 contradicts the above statement by the oathkeepers and makes it clear that it is the rule of law which applies:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
Additionally, other sections of the Constitution and US law go against the premise of their upholding their oath.

Article III, Section iii:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
14th Amendment, Section iii:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The laws on this conduct can be found at 18 USC Chapter 115 and 10 U.S.C. § 892

Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951) puts paid to the insurrectionist theory and the belief that one can disobey a lawful order (whether one agrees with it or not):
The obvious purpose of the statute is to protect existing Government, not from change by peaceable, lawful and constitutional means, but from change by violence, revolution and terrorism. That it is within the power of the Congress to protect the Government of the United States from armed rebellion is a proposition which requires little discussion. Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.

It is an absurdity that a document which was intended to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" would somehow allow for acts of rebellion, no matter how well intentioned. 

In other words, the Oathkeepers are the people they took an oath to protect us from if they are unwilling to live within the Constitution and the rule of law. They need to understand that should they fail to obey an order or enforce a constitutionally enacted law, that they are in violation of that oath.

Bottom line is that the reality is you are an oathbreaker than an oathkeeper if you fail to obey a lawful order you may not agree with.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What fools these gun nuts be...(or Totally Texas).

The Texas Legislature has decided one of the best ways to commemorate a mass shooting now that we know that we can only tell if someone is a mass shooter is when they actually open fire.

The Texas Legislature passed a Campus Carry law that will allow concealed handguns in classrooms, offices, and dormitories. This law will go into effect on 1 August 2016.

This date happens to be the Fiftieth anniversary of the University of Texas Mass Shooting where Charles Whitman killed 14 people and wounded 32 others in a mass shooting.

At first, I was willing to write this off to ignorance.  It seems this is more of a case of straight out stupidity.  The choice of date was no coincidence since the legislators who passed this law believe that if more people on campus had been armed, that tragedy could have been mitigated or averted all together.

The absurdity of such a position seems even more extreme when you consider that Whitman, a U.S. Marine trained sniper, was shooting from the bell tower. He chose this location because he knew that he'd have an excellent vantage point to shoot his victims, and he'd be able to defend his position. He was able to hold his position for 96 minutes despite counter snipers on the scene.

Police handguns and shotguns were utterly useless. What makes these legislators think that a civilian with a handgun would stop a similar situation, if not make the situation much worse.

There is at least one building on that Campus which bears the scars of Whitman's bullets, yet the memory of this event has been lost to the point that the Texas Legislature unwittingly stupidly allowed for guns to be allowed on Campus.

The gun free zone being a target is a myth.  The FBI tells us that active-shooter scenarios occur in all sorts of environments where guns are allowed—homes, businesses, outdoor spaces. 

Umpqua Community College (UCC) wasn’t a gun-free zone. Oregon is one of seven states that allow guns on college campuses—the consequence of a 2011 court decision that overturned a longstanding ban. In 2012, the state board of education introduced several limitations on campus carry, but those were not widely enforced.

School policy at UCC does ban students from carrying guns into buildings except as “authorized by law,” but at least one student interpreted his concealed handgun license as legal authorization.

John Parker Jr., an Umpqua student and Air Force veteran, told multiple media outlets that he was armed and on campus at the time of the attack last week. Parker and other student veterans (perhaps also armed) thought about intervening. “Luckily we made the choice not to get involved,” Parker told MSNBC. “We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which could have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves.”

It seems most of the "good guys with guns" have similar cases of cold feet, which is good since they will probably cause a total clutterfuck should they decide to get involved.

Politico has a good article on how the "good guys with guns" turns out to be a myth with seriously detrimental consequences.

The upshot of this is that the tide has to change or 1 August 2016 may be the date of more than one mass shooting.

And the Texas Legislature may truly regret this action.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Guns in Public

Reagan's Comments on signing the Mulford Act
I’ve been saying all along that the pro-gun side is based on science fiction (literally). “An armed society is a polite society” comes from Robert Heinlein’s “Beyond This Horizon”. If you are unaware, this is a novel where duels may easily occur when someone feels that they have been wronged or insulted that is attributed as a custom that keeps order and politeness.

We have seen where the other arguments are based on misquotations and fake history.  I’ve long wanted to rip apart the revisionist history of the Second Amendment, but I now know that someone else will do that for me using the material I have provided.

I won’t even bother with John Lott and the serious overestimate of DGUs.  Where  are the heroes with guns when the daily mass shootings happen?

People carrying weapons in public is not a right (Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886), Robertson v. Baldwin,165 U.S. 275 (1897) at 282 [1], and DC V Heller, 554 U.S. 570, (2008)[2]). Heller mentions Rawle, which says:
This right ought not, however, in any government, to be abused to the disturbance of the public peace.
An assemblage of persons with arms, for an unlawful purpose, is an indictable offence, and even the carrying of arms abroad by a single individual, attended with circumstances giving just reason to fear that he purposes to make an unlawful use of them, would be sufficient cause to require him to give surety of the peace. If he refused he would be liable to imprisonment.
The ultimate argument against open carry and guns everywhere are the Colorado Springs 911 calls relating to the mass shooting.Open carry comment at 2:49 of first call.

"Oh, it's OK if he isn't shooting....yet."

Do you know how bizarre your gun free zone arguments sound when a 911 operator gives a mass shooter a pass because he had a right to walk around with a gun?

 The funny thing is you people don’t realise how stupid you sound with your silly arguments that are so obviously false if someone takes the time to fact check them.
Anyway,  It’s time that the debate began to be based on facts, not rubbish.  Congress needs to repeal the research ban on gun violence (come on, people, can’t you admit that your nonsense doesn't survive scrutiny?). [3]

Additionally, it’s time the Supreme Court owned up that the Second Amendment has fallen victim to desuetude. It would be a truly conservative act to make that admission.  Here is Justice Robert Bork (The Tempting of America (1990)) on this issue:
“There is a problem with laws (which are not enforced). They are kept in the code books as precatory statements, affirmations of moral principle. It is quite arguable that this is an improper use of law, most particularly of criminal law, that statutes should not be on the books if no one intends to enforce them. It has been suggested that if anyone tried to enforce a law that had moldered in disuse for many years, the statute should be declared void by reason of desuetude or that the defendant should go free because the law had not provided fair warning.”
The Second Amendment was obsolete when it was written. Joseph Story pointed that out in 1833:
And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.[4]
The problem is that the protection intended is no longer needed.

And trying to somehow “modernise” it has met with resounding failure.

This is not something which is Liberal or Conservative.  After all, Jim Brady of the Brady Campaign was Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary.  I posted a meme of Reagan's comments from when he signed the Mulford Act, which banned carrying guns in public. 

This is a matter of public safety, not something that should be a subject for political machinations, which is the real perversion of the Second Amendment.

This is an obscure passage in the US Constitution that needs to be repealed since it is too prone to being misunderstood at the detriment of the principles the Constitution is supposed to promote.


[1]  “the right of the people to keep and bear arms (Art. II) is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons”–Robertson v. Baldwin,165 U.S. 275 (1897) at 282

[2] Heller:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott 333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Which has as a footnote (26):

We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.
[3]  yeah. yeah.  I know you want to barrage me with your silly comments, but that’s all asked and answered.  Besides, I’m not out to persuade you of anything–I already know you are someone who doesn’t think. If you really want to have a response from me, go read this.  It’s generic, but it makes the point.

[4] Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§1890 (1833). See also, Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I, Of the Expences of the Sovereign or Commonwealth, PART I Of the Expence of Defence particularly v.1.26-7.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lawful Orders and Unlawful Conduct

An incident at Spring Valley High School in Richland county in South Carolina has gone viral after cell phone video of the incident was posted on the web.  The incident shows the a police officer, identified by students as officer Ben Fields, approaching a 16 year-old female student and asking her to leave the classroom.  The student refused, as she had refused the teacher and refused (apparently) the school’s guidance counselor to do the same.  When she refused the officer appears to try to grab the girl’s arm/hand and the student pulls away from him.  He then grabs her around the neck, she looks to in part stand up and also to have been dragged upward by the officer.  She and the desk she is in then flipped over backward hitting the floor (the officer stepped back and out of the way).  He then grabbed her arm and dragged her out of view, apparently dragging her headfirst into a wall where he took her arms and handcuffed her.  She and another male student were arrested at the scene and were potentially to be charged with disturbing the peace.

Now, first things first.  This student behaved badly, and badly is an understatement.  She refused to stop being a distraction, she refused to comply with the policies of the school on conduct and use of electronic communication in the classroom.  She refused to stop when asked, and did so repeatedly.  She refused her teacher, a counselor and the officer.  She deserved punishment, even suspension for her conduct.  Furthermore, she refused the orders of a police officer.  Whether those orders can be considered lawful orders, given that she was seemingly not violating the law (unless the school had ordered her removed from the premises which they hadn’t), consequently the officer was attempting to get her to adhere to school policy, not the law (or so it seems) and so his orders would not, seemingly, carry the weight of the law and so entitle him to act as if she were breaking the law (when she seemingly was not).

Furthermore, I raised my kids to obey the orders of police officers “no matter what” unless the officer were telling them to do something harmful to themselves or to others and then only to decline to do so with a comment like, “Officer, I mean no disrespect, but I do not believe it is lawful for me to obey you, I would like you to call my parents and an attorney.”    This student had no such claims.  The officer was not asking her to do something physically or emotionally damaging (getting off your phone/not texting isn’t emotionally damaging) and she was bound by common sense if nothing else to obey.  She was also bound by reason and good judgment, pissing off a cop is a bad idea in nearly any circumstance.  So, I can agree she behaved stupidly, if not unlawfully. 

And that’s where it stops.  This officer didn’t have the right to react with force out of proportion to the offense.  Let’s assume she indeed broke the law by not obeying him, he has the right to arrest her, but he does not have the right to assault her.  He has the right to affect that arrest, but he does not have the right to assault her.  That’s in part where this controversy starts (but hardly where it ends).  Many cops, and many people who carte blanche support cops, believe that “anything goes” if a cop tries to arrest you and you put up any sort of resistance.   Should we then allow cops to beat someone into submission if they pull back there hand?  DO we allow it?  The answer is, no we do not.  The officer here had a responsibility if this were an adult, to act in proportion to the original offense.  There simply was no need to try to affect a physical arrest.  She was doing nothing more than sitting on someone’s doorstep longer than they wanted.  Turning that into a physical confrontation was HIS choice, and a choice cops all-to-often make, namely, to become aggressive and physical because the person they are talking to isn’t as respectful as the cop likes.   

But that’s not what was the case here, this wasn’t an adult.  It was a 16 year old.  Cops, as with ALL adults, have to temper, MUST BE TRAINED TO TEMPER, there reactions to the person they are dealing with.  16 year olds are kids, sure they could carry a gun, but there was no question this kid wasn’t presenting a physical threat to the officer.  They (16 year olds) make bad, even stupid, decisions.   They behave badly, just as this student did.  It is the job of the “adult in the room” to remember to be the “adult in the room.”  This police officer was fired because he didn’t follow protocol, he used excessive force for the given situation (the person wasn’t violent and wasn’t presenting a danger), but he also used excessive force given the “perpetrator” (if we want to call her that).  He needed to de-escalate, not escalate.  Would he have been “ok” if this had been a 12 year old?  I suppose some would say “depends on how big he/she were” but that’s not true, what if it were a 5 foot 2 inch , 160 pound 6 year old?  (they happen).  The judgment isn’t on his/her size, it’s on his her maturity, cognition, and decision-making skills.  I have a 16 year old, she’s great, but she’s not an adult.  She makes good choices, she also makes not-so-good choices.  His job, as a police officer, is to show extreme discernment, far beyond that of regular civilians, in when to use and when NOT to use force.   He erred massively here.  She was a child acting out, we don’t throw them to the ground, we don’t put them in head locks or arm bars, unless they present a danger to themselves or someone else, and we sure as hell don’t slam them headlong into a wall.

Last, and my daughter pointed this out when I said I thought this cop would have done this with anyone, it was his pre-disposition to using force, she said that maybe, but maybe not too.  It is possible, she said, that this cop would well have reacted differently had she been Caucasian rather than African-American.  I started to say “no” and then thought better of it because, you know, there’s just way too much evidence out there of differing reactions by police based on race.  So, while this cop behaved incorrectly with respect to the situation, it may ALSO be true that he behaved incorrectly, out of protocol and in a way he wouldn’t have had it been a pretty young 16 year old white girl.  In thinking about it, there may well have been three problems, one is a cop who took his authority FAR too far, two was a student who behaved like a “stupid kid”, and three, the one that gets people fired up ALONG with the first problem, it may well be we had a police officer who became physical when he would have otherwise not, in part because of the student’s race.  Before you dismiss her complaints, ask yourself, are you 100% sure (or even 90%) that this officer would have treated a white student identically?  If so, why? 

This officer could have sat down with the girl, found out what was going on (her mom had died a couple weeks before), he could have simply drug the desk out, with her in it, he could have asked the teacher and the rest of the students to leave for a moment (there already was a major disruption, so please don’t tell me that would have been a worse one that watching her get drug around the room), in short, he had options.  He failed to use them.  She behaved unacceptably, but unacceptably from a SCHOOL’s perspective, not the law’s.  The remedies here were those afforded the school (punishment, detention, suspension, expulsion).  We don’t kill people for jaywalking and we sure don’t kill kids for it, more important still, we don’t kill black kids and give white kids a stern talking to.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Two good guys with Guns (the laws of unintended consequence)

In Palm Beach, two men, both lawfully armed, come across one another.  Neither is obviously law enforcement, one draws his weapon in fear because the second man came out of the shadows and as a conditioned reaction to being confronted by a stranger on a dark night, the other reaches for his in reaction to the first man drawing his weapon.  The first shoots the second, the second man dies.  The first man's name was Nouman Raja, the second man, the man who died, was Corey Jones.  Mr. Jones' family is understandably upset, understandably outraged (even if it may be they ultimately shouldn't be, it's normal).  It happened to turn out Mr. Raja is a police officer.  The family claims Officer Raja never showed his badge, never identified himself as a police officer.

Look, it seems entirely possible neither man did anything wrong, and certainly not if we it were to have instead be the case that neither was a police officer.  In that case, neither man has to identify himself, he just has to be in fear for his life (under Florida law).

Now, it just so happens one was, and it seems may not have identified himself, thus averting a problem.  If so, that's horrible, and maybe even criminal (for a law enforcement officer), but it points out that police are trained, do behave differently, to try to avoid exactly this kind of event.  Civilians have no such requirements. You don't have to say, "Hands Up!, Police!"  You (he were Mr. Raja a civilian), simply had to be in fear, and once Mr. Jones started reaching for his gun, was entirely justified (under law) in shooting.  Mr. Jones, in fearing for his life with a stranger pointing a gun at him, was entirely within his right to reach for his own weapon and in fact according to the gun nuts, that's what he should do.  They claim they'd stop "robbers/bad guys" by being armed, being ready to "throw down" even though, just like in this case, trying to do so put their lives in great danger. So, under law, and in the eyes of the pro-gun crowd, this kind of confrontation turning deadly, was right, not just likely.

There may not have been time either for this officer to identify himself, this may all have transpired too quickly.  That's under investigation.  What isn't under investigation is that this is exactly the problem with people all over walking around armed.  What isn't under investigation is that having people who don't have to identify themselves, who are armed, confronting each other, whether in a movie theatre, on a bridge, in a classroom, wherever, draw a weapon, may elicit this exact kind of response by others who are also armed.  It may elicit needless shootings by people not trained (an more importantly not practiced) to clear their firing background, not trained/practiced (at) to establish the threat, not trained to seek to de-escalate and only use deadly force as the very last possible resort.  Under law, they merely have to feel in mortal peril, then they may draw a weapon, and even if the reason they feel in peril is because someone (in their classroom) has drawn a weapon in response to the real assailant, and they shoot that other person who was just trying to stop the real assailant, no matter, that's permitted under the law.  So, accidental killings are ok (apparently, at least under the law).  Apparently having accidental shootings is just the unfortunately collateral damage of making sure people walk around armed without any real constraints on the employment of those firearms other than feeling threatened.  Apparently the hundreds of accidental shootings each year in this country are better, are "ok" or at least, an acceptable cost, so that a handful of people a year (less than 200 non-law enforcement shootings by most reliable estimates) can be "saved" even though statistics say yelling at an armed assailant is more successful as a self-defense approach than being armed.

So, we are going to see, and have seen, needless deaths as untrained people draw and fire, fire in fear.  We are going to see unintentional killings, needless killings.  Fear is a strong motivator, it motivates people to carry guns, and it motivates those people, people who seem more susceptible to fear, to draw and use those weapons when they are afraid.  We are going to see it because they are relatively untrained, we are going to see it because too many walk around armed, because they are excessively afraid.  You can say "well they just need (better) training", but what we know from experience with police, is that training normally falls by the wayside in stress unless repeatedly drilled into the person, precisely because their fear overrules their reasoning.  Even with repeated training, the process still fails police.  And more, police must declare themselves, civilians don't have to do so, so no matter the level of training, two "ships in the night" may very well have a random, tragic encounter, where neither is held accountable, yet one (or both) dies.  That's what we've created, that's what the lobbying by the NRA has helped to create, a lawless, fearful vigilantism.

And so we get confrontations which turn into tragedy.  Rather than two people yelling at each other, one is dead, the other under a cloud and having to live with guilt the rest of his life for having needlessly shot "a good guy with a gun."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

All that GOP empty talk about being the party of "RESPONSIBILITY!

Rubbish! When the truth and facts are not on their side, they will try even the most blatantly bald-faced lie to deny that truth and fact.  But oh, the rush! to demand others be held accountable, no matter how sight the actual responsibility. Jeb is still unable to explain how Dubya has no responsibility for 9/11, but Hillary Clinton has total responsibility for Benghazi. GOP = Hypocrisy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Isreali Stabbings and Violence

I want to be clear.  I abhor and condemn the attacks by Palestinians on Israeli citizens.  Protesting what you see as oppression with violence and murder isn’t striking out with righteous anger, it’s murdering innocent people because you’re mad.  It’s unjust, it’s vigilantism, it’s abandoning law and worst for the Palestinians, it ultimately reinforces any stereo-type the more conservative Israelis and Israeli politicians may have about Palestinians.  It reinforces their own militantism, their own impatience, even their own brutality.

But that’s the rub, as the saying goes “An eye for an eye just leads to a world full of blind people.”  It’s rather easy to say, “When they stop rioting, I’ll stop punishing them”, just like it is easy to say, “When they stop punishing us unfairly (in our opinion), we’ll stop rioting.”  It’s also easy to say “Can’t we just get along?” and pretend that simply turning the other cheek solves the issue.  No one makes that choice after getting BOTH cheeks slapped, none of the parties in this dispute feel like “just getting along” and each feel they’ve been violated.  Each is right.  Whether you think the Israelis are “more” in the right or not, it is untrue to suggest the Israelis haven’t done wrong here.  Whether you hate the Israelis, it’s absurd to suggest the actions of the Palestinians were “in proportion” to the offense.  I personally feel the Palestinians have been “more” wrong, but that at $1 will get you $1 of coffee because that opinion solves nothing.  It may justify militarism, but it solves nothing.

What also solves nothing is continuing  the militancy (on either side).  The recent outbreak of violence shows with stark clarity that there is enormous antipathy sewn into the youth in the Palestinian territories.  We can say that it’s all brain-washing, but that’s whistling past the grave, some of it is sure, but some of it is also, just like in any dispute, as a result of what has been seen as needless crackdown, needless antagonism (like building additional Israeli settlements on the West Bank or on ground Muslims considered holy).  We can say with certainty that firing rockets aimlessly into areas where there are schools, where children play, is seen rightly as unprovoked attacks upon the utterly innocent.  All of us can understand the idea of “making war” on those who attack you, few (if any) of the rational among us can justify involving people who have had no choice and no voice, whether that’s an Israeli 3rd grader killed by a blindly fired rocket or a Palestinian toddler killed by an errant bomb, each “fired” with apparent ambivalence. 


The powerful actor here is Israel, right now.  The nation with the short term upper hand but long term problem, is Israel.  Their people fear attacks, rightly, but because of that fear they elect the strong-sounding, if not strong-thinking.  It takes courage to turn aside from retaliation.  It is the person who lashes out in anger when he is the powerful one with nearly all the might who is taking the easy road.  The truth is that Israel must start to consider, as a nation, and as a policy, what it feels the middle-east will look like in 20 years.  I fear that Israel will be in flames in 20 years.  Contrast that with the situation 20 years ago, and then 20 years before that.  20 years ago was 1995.  Things were probably better then than now, in part because Yitzhak Rabin had placed a moratorium on further settlements on the West Bank.  20 years before that was 1975.  Israel had just prevailed in a war with Egypt, Syria and, limitedly, Jordan (in 1973).  In 1977, Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat won the Nobel prize for peace for hammering out the first permanent peace treaty between an Arab state and Israel.


So, to say that these folks will always be at war with each other, are incapable of finding a peaceful solution is not only untrue and defeatist, it dooms Israel to perpetual war.  Furthermore, it ignores that things aren’t “the same” as they’ve always been, but in fact are getting worse. It ignores that the “meeting violence with violence” approach of conservatives not only has failed, it’s made things worse, worse that is unless you’re an Israeli defense contractor (or US defense contractor working with Israel).  The truth appears to be that Israel has to decide whether it is going to pull back it’s own knives, restrain it’s police in a manner similar to the calls for, and actions taken to, restrain US police forces as the public sees incontrovertible proof of excessive force and abuse of power.  In short, the Israeli people have to decide if they are going to afford the Palestinians the same respect under the law, the same rights as human beings, as they demand for themselves from their government.  The reason is not that the Palestinians have earned it, it’s not because they are citizens of Israel (which some would throw out as a reason to not afford them those protections), but rather because, just like we feel about people who aren’t US citizens, certain rights are inalienable, in short are to be afforded to ALL people if we had the power to do so, and among those are the, “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  If Israel is to have peace it must take the first step, and that first step must be providing those who feel oppressed a sense that the rule of law prevails, that when an Israeli soldier or police officer flouts the law, they will be held to account and that Palestinians can get a fair day in court to do so.  The rule of law is exactly what the Palestinians are violating with their vigilantism, it is EXACTLY what the Israeli government is complaining about, and if they are not to appear the ultimate hypocrites, they must provide the Palestinians that same protection and remedy.  Anything else is complaining about a twig in the eye of another, when you have a log in your own, not because the violence of the Israelis exceeds that of the Palestinians, it doesn’t, but because the POWER of the Israelis to fix things far exceeds that of the Palestinians, and with that power comes the responsibility as moral people, to do so.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sweet Tweet - and let's get rid of Citizen's United.

Corporations are not people. Zygotes are not people either. Women are people with autonomy over their own bodies.

This reflects the failed values of conservatism.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Trying to have it both ways.......immigration

This graphic is from the FB page, Boycott Koch Industries.

It reflects the contradictions that underpin what the right incorrectly believes about the issue of immigration.  It is part of the pattern of demonizing immigrants, both those who are legal and those who are undocumented. 

It is factually false in BOTH versions in the graphic. 

Immigrants are not stealing jobs from Americans, in fact they provide much labor that would go unperformed otherwise.  And immigrants are not lazy; they want to work, and indeed BOTH legal AND undocumented immigrants start up new businesses at twice the rate of American citizens, AND they pay a significant amount of taxes, including into social security (which they cannot collect from).

While coming to this country benefits those who do so, often those people are fleeing hellish conditions, it is still a less than desirable life to live in the shadows.  We NEED immigration reform.  We should be treating these people with compassion (except for those who are criminals like those who willingly - as distinct from unwillingly through coercion - work for drug cartels etc.).

As with the famous Bible quote (John 8:32) about the truth setting you free, the truth, the FACTS, about immigration and why it is GOOD for the United States could set a lot of people free - not only the immigrants themselves, but those who harbor ill will towards them without legitimate foundation to do so.

Because the issue of immigration is so central to the political right wing in 2015 and 2016 elections, it is imperative that we correct the misinformation and propaganda deception of the right wing voters with solid facts and effective persuasion.  Not doing so, successfully, will harm all of us, not just the right, not just immigrants, but ALL of us, as a nation.

It won't be easy to do, but it is important to do.  Please, start with sharing this.  Hopefully the Schrodinger reference will be understood and the humor will help be persuasive, when put so graphically.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fun Day - a sports related video: Who Pays and Who Plays?

Ok, so it is more serious and not pure entertainment.

But ask yourself the next logical question - who is benefiting from this arrangement? Follow the money.

It is not the players who benefit; they don't get paid, and are frequently injured, losing their scholarships after injury. It is clearly not the schools, students or ordinary tax payers who benefit; those are the people who pay the bill for this.

Sure a few superstars might go on to the major league sports teams, and make big bucks; but that is really the hook to attract athletes in the first place. It is not unfair to assert that college level sports operates as a farm team for the pros at the expense of most of the athletes - and students, and tax payers, and academic staff.

Watch the video below; and then remember what you saw the next time you see a Republican whingeing on and on about Democrats who want to give 'free stuff' like debt relief to students, or eliminate tuition. Aren't they REALLY just trying to keep rigging the playing field, keeping an unfair status quo in place?

Higher education is an investment in our future economy. Higher education is essential to avoid structural unemployment (job sectors collapsing, or people unqualified to fill open jobs), as distinct from frictional unemployment (normal economically healthy job changes as people advance leaving old jobs, retire, etc.). An educated labor force is essential to a competitive economy. Free higher education to those qualified to receive it is smart, it is an investment with a future payback, a future return. It is not a give-away, it is not a bribe, it is not a gift.

But if we DO enact free tuition, or at the very least less student debt, maybe it is time for either a drastic refinancing of college athletics, or their elimination entirely - let the pros run their own farm teams and pay for them. Ditto their stadiums. Get out of the public pocket benefiting the private sector wealthy.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

GOP/Conservatism of all stripes = Political Cancer

I was reading one of the blogs listed in our blog roll this morning, about an unlikely comparison  and contrast between marxism and cancer. This paragraph reminded me much more of the policies of Republicans than any other political, social or economic structuring:  

From Pharyngula:
In that sense, cancer is more of a reactionary counter-revolution, in which a few cells abandon the bonds of trust to selfishly exploit their neighbors and the resources of the whole. If they succeed, the whole system will crash, leading to the deaths of trillions of cells…including the greedy and short-sighted cancerous reactionaries.
The struggle for life is also a fight for the welfare of the masses. It is the restoration of harmony and cooperation to all of the cells of the body. I wish my comrade in the Leeds General Infirmary well, and if he should fall, let us all remember that he fell in glorious struggle, as a communal entity resisting an exploitive few.
How do I see this as a similarity to a Republican cancer on the body politic?
1. Voter suppression parallels attacks on the immune system, the body's way removing disease, and the body politic's way of removing corrupt or incompetent elected officials and voting down bad legislation.
2. Tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, sweetheart deals, subsidies, and lack of regulation where there is obvious corruption and profiteering that lead to exploitation of labor and resources to benefit a few, to the ultimate detriment of the whole.
3. Struggle for life and cooperation of the masses vs political cancer - attacks on the social safety net, social security, medicaid and medicare, even the opposition to disaster aid all represent a philosophy of every individual for themselves, too bad if you die or are hurt, you are on you own even if that is cumulatively detrimental to the whole.
4. Chaos and disruption in individual living bodies result from the uncontrolled cellular growth of cancer, such as tumors, or the loss of tissue, such as bone tissue in osteosarcomas, and similar destructive outcomes have resulted from the bad governance of the Republicans, such as their inability to pass necessary legislation (highway bill comes to mind), as well as their government shutdowns, and their obstructive gridlock of congress, and their current speaker dilemma dysfunction.  Shut downs, for example, cost many millions of wasted tax dollars, and was responsible as well for a loss to our economy in the billions from lost economic activity, etc.
5.Opposition to factual sex ed leads NOT to less sexual activity but to highest unplanned pregnancies  among those least able or likely to be desirable parents (the reason we try to decrease unplanned pregnancies, especially among the young and immature) at the highest costs to society as a whole resembles uncontrolled detrimental cell growth. Attacks on factually accurate education as a whole, weakens the nation as a whole, and in particular weakens our economy which is education driven.
6.  Attacks on organized labor by the GOP/Tea Party has resulted in the gradual weakening and destruction of the middle class, just like a cancer.
7. Science denial of crises like global warming clearly harm the whole globe, not just the United States in multiple ways. Science denial is like cancer in facilitating that harm, usually to the exploitive benefit of the few, like those who get rich off of fossil fuels, while the rest of us are left to pay for the damage it does, and economically are at the mercy of fluctuating commodity market manipulation.
8. Gun violence versus gun control -- I shouldn't need to spell out this one; it should be obvious.
9. Short term exploitive gains in all areas of public policy and in conservative business practices as well, benefitting from short term advantages that are at the expense of long term success. An example would be failing to regulate hedge funds, or to break up the big banks, both of which engage in short term exploitation that is detrimental to long term growth and stability.

Those are my cancer/GOP comparisons -- please feel free to add your own comparison and contrast in the comments section.

Go ahead - take a wack at it yourself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuesday Night's Debates -- and Jesse Ventura, as a footnote

First, I love the differences between the Democratic Debate, and what has passed as more circus than debates on the right.  Substance, Dignity, appeal to an adult audience with adult behavior.

But there seems no clear consensus on who won.  Many say Hillary lit up the night. (Get the word play with the lit up the night Hillary jack-o-lantern?)

Others point out Bernie Sanders, noting he is in a stronger position re small money donors, focus groups, gains in the polls and rally turnouts than Obama was in the same time frame of election campaigns. (See Bernie feeling the Bern in the graphic.)  And then there was O’Malley, who a few people thought did a big break-out turn, but more seem to feel he at best looked like a potential Veep candidate.  Time will tell, if he goes thumbs up or thumbs down.

Lincoln Chaffee is a sweet guy, but not presidential or vice presidential material.  Rather he seems to me what people who haven’t been actually watching Bernie Sanders were expecting lefty liberal Sanders to be, all too nicey-nicey-touchy-feely-fuzzy.

Same for Webb; he is not ready for prime time, and doesn’t have anything special to break out of the unknown column. Certainly not anything he has shown so far. Webb is also not looking Veep-worthy.

O’Malley might be a good fit for a Veep candidate, but this is only one debate.

Depending on who you believe, mostly reflecting so far as I can tell pre-debate preferences, either Sanders or Clinton won, and both appear to be credited with strong performances (especially Hillary).  Hillary leads the left as the single-name-recognition candidate, highly recognizable like Trump on the right.  The “Feel the Bern” message of Sanders campaign is gaining ground (on a par with Yeb!) on the right.  People can figure out who it is, but it is less meaningful or significant to those not heavily into candidates this early.

I think the two are each excellent candidates for different reasons. I would not be averse to a shared ticket, with Bernie in the Veep slot. That ticket NEEDS the additional swing left/progressive.

And I think they could get along, and be useful to each other, bringing things to the general election race that one or the other lack. It is way too early to speculate on that possibility.

Besides, my preference for the Veep slot would be Gov. Brown of California – he’s made some pretty remarkable turn-arounds in California, and has been successful in making bi-partisan solutions that work while not entirely alienating conservatives or losing his left-leaning wing base.

While it is typical that after a two term stint, the oval office changes hands, I would remind our readers that didn’t happen with the election of George H.W. Bush after Reagan, although he was only a one term president, losing to Bill Clinton. Some models, notably Reuters, posit that the approval ratings of the President have to be above 55% -60%. But in the case of either Hillary or Bernie, I think that model is wrong, for not adequately considering voter turn out patterns and how they differ from past election voting patterns and demographics; also for not taking into account the utter debacle that is the right wing of our political spectrum, I would argue unprecedented in dysfunction. And it does not consider the history-making potential of either the first woman president, or the first socialist president. Bernie has done a masterful job of taking his message to the right, including sometimes the far right, and succeeding in getting past the knee-jerk negative reaction to the boogey-man word for conservatives. I have seen nothing this election cycle that impresses me as much as Bernie Sanders going to Liberty University, and making a success out of his speech in the proverbial lions den of the opposition.

I had been highly skeptical of Bernie having a prayer in heck of winning a general election, even if I like his policy positions and his campaign style. But I’m beginning to be more positive about Bernie.

And in other news, no debates, but last night on the Nightly Show, our former governor Jesse Ventura announced that he is (sort of? maybe?) going to be the Libertarian candidate for 2016. But then he stressed he would NOT join the Libertarian party. Because………like George Washington, he sees a pro-voter advantage in emulating our first president, even if there were really no clear parties developed until a few years into the history of our new-minted nation.

There was nothing about Jesse that rang presidential. Loud and attention grabbing, yes. Presidential…….no. Jesse had some interesting ideas back in the day when he was governor, notably exploring the advantages of a unicameral legislature instead of a state House and a state Senate. But he just seemed fond of more quirky notions than the most solid policy positions, and he looked old and rather tatty, like he was ridden hard and put up wet, as they saying goes. I just do not see a conspiracy hawker playing well outside of the foaming at the mouth fringies. And there are already too many people hoping for that minority cray-cray support.

Monday, October 12, 2015

ten cents a day, for people not to go hungry, including children

Corporations: The REAL Welfare Queens!

Who are the REAL welfare queens in America?Video by Occupy Democrats, LIKE our page for more!

Posted by Occupy Democrats on Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!
Happy Columbus Day too!
We are all kin under the skin

'the blue marble'
aka planet earth
And for those of you who want to celebrate Europeans coming to the 'New World' (to them) happy Christopher Columbus Day, aka Christoforo Colombo, aka Cristobal Colon, aka Cristovao Colombo.  In his real life, born in Genoa in somewhere in October 1450, or maybe 1451, he answered to Christoforo Colombo. 

Saint brendan german manuscript.jpgAnd for those of you who who are Irish, we have St. Brendan the Navigator - because I love the Celts/  However to be honest that 6th century claim is a bit iffy.  The Scandinavians have Erik the Red and the rest of his Erikkson progeny, in the late 10th century going to North America.

Whatever floats your personal boat, an awful lot of boats traveled the world, in migration and exploration, as did a lot of people on foot.  I refer you to the entry on Early Human Migration in Wikipedia for a pleasant summary. 

It is evil, it is stupid and willfully ignorant to turn any part of the planet, including the USA, into some sort of territorial Musical Chairs of who got here first, who has the most right to be here, or who is going to hijack power over others.  PEOPLE MIGRATE.  Always have, always will.  Get over it! Don't fear it! Better, CELEBRATE IT!  Expect it, welcome it, and act to make it a positive rather than negative outcome for old AND new!

The three great Heyerdahl trans-oceanic rafts!

Whether we celebrate the Indigenous peoples, who came here first, or we celebrate early European immigrants to North, Central and South Americas, or if we celebrate the remarkable navigational accomplishments of other explorers, be they Scandinavian, Chinese - yes, they got here too!, or northern African.  The Chinese also went to Africa and to Australia, as early as 1402, and may very well have discovered the Americas nearly a quarter of a century earlier - well before Columbus sailed the Atlantic Ocean blue in 1492. Here is a short 4 minute link to an excellent video about the Chinese 15th century exploration.  (That amazing explorer, btw, was a Chinese Muslim eunuch, for those who have poorly informed ideas about the remarkable contributions of people who are not mainstream hetero-normative or western Christian.)  I wish the video would embed properly; please do follow the link, if you can make the time; it is worth it.

 The three great Heyerdahl trans-oceanic rafts!


We know, especially from the work of the modern adventurer, the late, great Norwegian scholar and adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl, that people have gone to many places from many places, and sometimes back again.  They have gone from Polynesia to South America -- and back; the Pacific Islanders have their explorers.  Our ancestors have gone from the eastern and southern Mediterranean to South America as well, and Heyerdahl duplicated those journeys too.  And we have Heyerdahl positing and providing supporting evidence that his Viking ancestors, way back when came to Norway.......from what is now Pakistan, based in part on the same kind of boat research he did for his voyages!

Earliest peoples have crossed land bridges from Africa to Asia and Europe, and from Asia into North America. We've been migrating all over the planet for at least 2 million years! 

WHO got here or there WHEN, or where they came from, should NOT MATTER. Race is a failed artificial construct; we are all kin under our skins.  We are not as different from each other as those who obsess about race or ethnicity would define us.  Some of us, including those who are primarily of European ancestry,  are not even pure homo sapiens, but contain traces of Neanderthal and Denisovan. When you consider how many of contain the genetic inheritance of more than one human species, caring who is bi- or multi-racial, that failed concept, is ludicrous, worse than a waste of time and effort, and a damaging and counterproductive belief.

Use this holiday to celebrate the adventurous human spirit that is a credit to humanity, and reject prejudices, that fail to recognize our common humanity and our individual capacity to excel, and to contribute to our shared heritage and mutual benefit.  We are the dominant species on our planet, although not always wisely so, because of when and where we cooperated.

If you have time to read anything today, read Jared Diamond's exceptional work, Guns Germs and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies;  National Geo and PBS have aired a documentary on Diamond's work, and it was the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner for general non-fiction.  It is not light reading, it is not a short, breezy or trashy beach paperback, but it IS good reading, engaging and enriching to human understanding about ourselves and each other.

And good on Minneapolis, and the other cities trending to follow their example and other examples of celebrating Indigenous People Day.  There is room for all celebration, not one group over another, but the one that looks back furthest and looks most comprehensively at the totality of who is here is the better option.  As a species, our common cradle was Africa; since leaving we have gone everywhere on the planet, throughout human history.