Friday, December 28, 2012

Where'd I put that parachute?

It is the evening of December 28th and still there is no agreement on averting the fiscal cliff. Obama is asking for a temporary fix.

In other words delay things and kick the can down the road.

The problem is wht's to prevent that from being the solution the next time as well?

Looks like we're going over the cliff and I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown Connecticut

I waited a couple of days to let my anger subside. It didn't work.

When I woke up Friday morning it was a much better world than it is now. It was a much better world before a mentally ill 20 year old killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook elementary.

He also killed his mother, before going to the school, and himself as first responders arrived. He used the guns owned by his mother a so-called gun enthusisast.

The principal, running to the sound of the guns, died attempting to restrain the gunman. The school nurse and four teachers, trying to protect 6 and 7 year old children, died as well. Tell me again how teachers are overpaid and I'll kick in your teeth.

All I could think of Friday were the unwrapped Christmas gifts hidden and waiting in the houses of the 20 dead children.

Mike Huckabee says these things happen because "we've systematically removed God from our schools."

Mike Huckabee is an asshole. What god would you have us install Mike? Zeus? Thor? Vishnu? Marduk? The Lord? The Lady? Mithras? How about her ladyship the Invisible Pink Unicorn? At least then we can all agree that she doesn't exist.

Bryan Fischer says "god" didn't prevent Sandy Hook because he's a gentleman and doesn't go where he's not wanted. Fischer is a bigger asshole than Huckabee.

Being told I wasn't wanted wouldn't stop me from protecting children if it was in my power to do so. But then again, I'm far more honorable than Fischer's notion of god.

Enough is enough. The time has come for us to pretend that the 2nd Amendment applies to state militias and clamp down on gun ownership.

Enough is enough. This isn't the 18th Century. We don't need guns to supplement the family food supply and the idea that they protect us against tyranny is a total bullshit right wing fantasy.

Enough is enough. Time for the gun nuts to find another way to compensate for having small dicks (or for their husbands having small dicks as the case may be).

Enough is enough. Your so-called rights end where the safety of my family, and everyone else's family, begins.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Climate Change Survey

Apparently there is an organization called the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). They claim to be a “nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization dedicated to work at the intersection of religion, values, and public life” who’s ”mission is to help journalists, opinion leaders, scholars, clergy, and the general public better understand debates on public policy issues and the role of religion in American public life by conducting high quality public opinion surveys and qualitative research.”

Ok, they seem to have some interesting stuff on their web site. The thing that sent me there in the first place was a story about a climate change survey.

Based upon the PRRI survey 63% of Americans agree that the weather has gotten more extreme. A minority, 29%, say it hasn’t and 6% say it’s gotten less extreme. This distribution reminds me of the old joke about being in the loop, being out of the loop and not even knowing there is a loop.

Most objective evidence implies the weather has gotten more extreme or at least has been more extreme over the past few years.

Democrats (76%) and Independents (59%) agree that the weather is getting more extreme. Republicans are, as usual, having some difficulty recognizing reality; only 46% say the weather is getting more extreme compared to 45% that say it isn’t.

A healthy majority of 63% say that the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence of climate change. About a third, 36%, say it’s evidence of biblical end times. Democrats (70%) and Independents (65%) agree that climate change is to blame but only 43% of Republicans agree.

Among Evangelical Christians, also sometimes known as the society of village idiots, 65% say recent severe weather is a sign of biblical end times.

More than 8 in 10 Democrats (86%) and three-quarters of Independents (75%) accept that temperatures have risen over the past few years. Only 54% of Republicans seem to have figured that out.

Here’s a scary one. Nearly 6-in-10 Americans (58%) say that God is in control of everything that happens in the world, while 38% disagree. Here’s an even scarier one, 57% of Americans, including 89% of Evangelical Christians, say that recent political choices made by Americans are moving the country away from God.

Now let’s talk about the end of the world. Among Evangelical Christians, 29% say the world will end in their lifetime. Among those with only a High School diploma 22% agree. Among those with a College degree only 5% agree.

So again we have evidence that education is the cure for Evangelical Christianity.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8.

Any time this court takes up any question I get nervous and this is no exception.

I’m especially nervous over the Proposition 8 case because I find it hard to believe that the SCOTUS will overturn the California Supreme Court decision.

Any speculation is probably a waste of time but I can’t resist making a fool of myself.

I suspect that the court will lean toward making Gay Marriage a state by state issue based upon the 10th Amendment. That would mean striking down DOMA but leaving the individual state laws and prohibitions in place.

The SCOTUS is not anywhere near ready to declare bans on Gay Marriage unconstitutional and, like I said, I don’t think it’s going to dictate to the Supreme Court of California how to interpret the Constitution of the State of California.

That means DOMA goes away but Proposition 8 stands and Gay Marriage again becomes illegal in California. But that would only be temporary. California could pull a Maine, put it back on the ballot, and get Gay Marriage approved.

Why you ask? Because it’s four years later and the Zeitgeist has moved. Black and Latino voters are more open to Gay Marriage. Put it on the ballot at the right time and it will pass.

I might point out that such a decision in the Proposition 8 case would be wrong. The court would be abdicating its obligation to protect the minority from the “tyranny of the majority.” James Madison would be terribly disappointed but, unfortunately, even the best political solutions don’t work in all cases.

The Fiscal Cliff Edges Closer

Well, we’re sort of getting down to the wire here. The Republicans seem to be signaling that they’re ready to accept some tax increases if they can get some entitlement cuts as well.

The question is, what would those cuts be?

What Republicans want is a raise in the age of eligibility for Medicare and a change to the way the cost of living adjustment (COLA) is calculated for Social Security.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with raising the age for Medicare and I suspect that will be a part of the final agreement. There has to be some sort of grandfathering clause though that keeps it at 65 for people close to that age (say 55 and older) in order to provide enough planning time.

It would be a little tough to tell someone very close to Medicare age that he’s out of luck.

I am opposed to the change in the COLA calculations.

There are a lot of senior citizens for whom Social Security is the primary source of income. These people worked their entire lives and EARNED that pension. I really dislike the term “entitlement.” Inflation can eat away at that pension and that’s simply not right.

Find another way to save the money. I know, stop giving Boeing, which hasn’t stayed within budget on a DOD contract in forever, less contracts! Less them build airplanes. THAT they know how to do. For everything else, forget it.

Why do the Republicans always want to take from the most vulnerable segments of the population while protecting people who really don’t need any protection?

Are we going to go over the cliff? It seems more likely now than it did a while back but I still doubt it.

My concern is there isn’t time left to iron out a comprehensive agreement and what we’re going to get is a band aid which kicks most of the can down the road. That means another six months or a year of uncertainty that will keep the economic recovery sluggish.

As for the industry I work in it means stagnation. That’s why I’m getting out. It’s time to hang up my guns and find a more reputable way to spend my time.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Nurses Top Most Trusted List

Gallup just published its list of honesty ratings by profession.

The list includes 22 groups ranging from Senators to Car Salesman. Nurses topped the list with 85% saying they had Very High/High honesty or ethical standards, 12% saying they had average standards and only 3% saying they had Very Low/Low standards.

Next were Pharmacists at 75%/21%/3%, then Medical Doctors at 70%/26%/4%, then Engineers (WHAHOO!) at 70%/25%/3% and Dentists rounding out the top five at 62%/33%/4%.

At the bottom of the list were Car Salespeople (are you really surprised?) at 8%/43%/49%, followed by Members of Congress (again, are you really surprised?) at 10%/34%/54%, then Advertising Practitioners at 11%/56%/36%, then Stockbrokers at 11%/48%/39% and HMO Managers finishing off the bottom five at 12%/52%/27%.

Senators came in just above HMO Managers at 14%/39%/45%. College Teachers (they don’t include other teachers) were 7th at 53%/34%/10% just above Clergy at 52%/33%/9%.

I find it interesting that my profession is considered more ethical than Clergy, not surprising, but interesting.

William and Kate Expecting?

Well, we now know what they've been doing don't we (*wink, wink*)? My wife's reaction was "they're entitled."

The word from across the pond is that Duchess Kate is pregnant and experiencing a severe and dangerous form of morning sickness. So severe that she had to be hospitalized. I read somewhere that this may indicate twins. Wouldn't that be wild.

Hopefully the morning sickness ends soon and we can start the baby pool. Surprisingly I find myself interested in the prospect of a royal birth. In this day and age it's a purely benign thing that it's best to simply sit back and enjoy.

I hope it's a boy or even two. I think twins would be really fun. Edward and Edmund anyone?

Well It’s Christmas Time Again

It seems to start earlier and earlier doesn’t it?

I’m trying desperately to cut down on the shopping this year. I don’t mind spending the money, I just don’t like the shopping. I expect to be marginally successful.

The decorations are up around town. To be honest Westwood looks nice and River Vale looks a tad seedy. I think it might be time for a little upgrade or at least an attempt at making things a little more consistent.

I see the Religious Right is again jumping up and down about their imaginary War on Christmas. The fact is nobody really cares except those idiots. Even Chick-Fil-A says Happy Holidays.

They offered a “voluntary separation package” where I work and I think I’m going to take it. Feel free to warn the world that I’m about to have a lot more time on my hands.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Death Penalty Update

Maryland and New Hampshire both seem poised to repeal the Death Penalty.

New Hampshire has never executed anyone under its current Death Penalty statute and Maryland hasn’t had an execution or death sentence since 2005. If both states repeal the Death Penalty it will bring the number of states without a Death Penalty up to 19. In the Northeast 7 out of 8 states would be without a Death Penalty leaving only Pennsylvania blocking the Northeast Region from becoming Death Penalty free.

In the United Nations 110 countries voted in favor of a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions as a step toward the abolition of the Death Penalty. Supporting nations included all of the European Union nations, Australia, Brazil and South Africa. There were 39 countries opposed to the resolution including the United States, Japan, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe. Thirty-six countries abstained.

Allow me to suggest that the US and Japan might want to look around at the company they’re keeping on this issue.

There have been 40 executions to date compared to 43 in 2011 and 46 in 2012. Fifteen of those executions have been in Texas, six were in Mississippi and Oklahoma and Arizona had five each.

There have been 1,317 executions in the US since executions resumed in 1976. 1,077 of those executions have been in the South, 155 have been in the Midwest, 81 have been in the West and 4, all so-called volunteers, have been in the Northeast. Texas alone has had 491 executions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cory Booker and Food Stamps

Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark and has challenged one of those right wing types that think people on public assistance are living a life of luxury to exist for one week on food stamps and he’ll do the same.

I suspect the challenged will disappear into the ether but Cory will have made his point.

Booker may well be the reason why Chris Christie will forgo running for re-election as governor of New Jersey to focus on the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Why you ask? Because Christie may have a better chance of getting the Republican nomination than he has of beating Booker.

Unless there are some really nasty skeletons in Booker’s closet that we don’t know about, the 43 year-old will be governor in 2013 or 2017 and a major player in the Democratic Party for president probably in 2024. He might make an interesting vice presidential candidate in 2016.

Of course I’m assuming Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2016. I have no idea what the Republicans are going to do in 2016.

I figure the short list at the moment consists of Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindel, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

Rubio would be attractive because of his Hispanic background and because he’s from Florida. The problem is his experience is questionable. Then again, so was Barack Obama’s. If Rubio was smart he’d consider bolting the Republican Party and become a Democrat.

Perry is governor of a large safely Red state and has solid conservative credentials. He just can’t seem to avoid sticking both feet in his mouth at every opportunity.

Christie is Christie and can appeal to a broad base. I’d never count him out but he can be abrasive and that could grow old in a long campaign.

I think Jindel runs into trouble fast because (1) the economy in Louisiana sucks and (2) his school voucher program is going to come under all sorts of fire that will turn off independents.

As for Santorum, the Republican elite is simply not that stupid.

Of course four years is a long time so who knows what may happen on both sides of the aisle.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Israel and Hamas

Things seem to be falling apart in the Gaza strip with Hamas firing rockets and Israel countering with air and naval strikes. The Israeli’s are calling up reserves in case a ground assault becomes necessary.

In the meantime the Egyptian Prime Minister has visited Gaza and is making noises supporting Hamas. He really has no other choice so it’s hard to gauge how far Egypt is willing to go.

This is the sort of situation that can easily spin out of control into all out war.

I hate to be selfish, but we really didn’t need this distraction with the Fiscal Cliff looming dead ahead.

As I’ve said in the past I really don’t have a horse in this race. Israel’s cozying up to the lunatic fringe in the US leaves me cold. The friend of my enemy is in a precarious position as far as my affections are concerned.

On the other hand I have no particular reason to admire Hamas; a group that straps bombs on teenagers and sends them on suicide missions with false promises of paradise.

It would be nice if the UN could figure out a way to calm things down. I would prefer Obama focus on fiscal issues at the moment.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

$1.6 Trillion in New Taxes?

The games have begun. Countering the Republican’s ridiculous opening position that any solution to the Fiscal Cliff must include a tax rate reduction, the President has taken an equally ridiculous opening position that proposes $1.6 trillion in new corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy over the next decade.

That’s simply not going to happen and he knows it. Or, at least, I hope he knows it.

This is an opening gambit. Boehner and the Republicans have previously offered about $800 billion in new taxes and a restructuring of the tax code. Obama clearly wants more but then he’s going to have to pony up some additional cuts.

Hopefully he already has those in his back pocket.

This is going to be a game of chicken. Two machos staring at each other about two inches apart each waiting for the other to blink.

Obama is in the stronger position but Democrats are traditionally wimps in fiscal confrontations so I’m betting the Republicans will do a lot better than then they should.

Keep the numbers $1 trillion in tax restructuring and $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade in the back of your head. That’s where I’m betting we end up.

Either that or we’re going right over the cliff. I can make you a good deal on a parachute? Especially designed for the Fiscal Cliff. Personally packed by Ross Perot. No ripcord.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We is gonna secede!

Good, cool, no problem. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Don’t bother to write because we just don’t care about you.

And they call themselves Patriots.

You could try and hold your breath until you turn blue that might help.

The maturity of the Republican Party base is breathtaking isn’t it?

The Fiscal Cliff

Ok, the election is over and now we can focus on the so-called Fiscal Cliff.

The cliff is a series of things that are scheduled to happen on January 1, 2013 including expiration of tax cuts and automatic spending reductions. Tax cuts that will expire include all of the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax deductions and the tax cuts made as part of the stimulus package in 2009.

The CBO estimates the total impact at about $670 billion dollars. Most financial analysts do not believe that the still fragile economy could absorb that sort of shock. They expect stock prices to plummet, unemployment to jump back up to near 10% and the economy to nose dive into a recession, or worse, in the first half of 2013.

The Republicans have already taken the position that any agreement to head off the Fiscal Cliff must include a reduction in tax rates especially for the wealthiest citizens.

Now, I’m not sure going off the cliff is a real good idea, but I know when someone wants to play chicken. If I were Obama I’d look Boehner right in the eye and say “if that’s your position, I’ll see you at the bottom of the cliff.”

I’d also make it crystal clear to the American public that it’s the Republican intransience that's sending us off that cliff even if the message doesn’t stick and it probably won’t. I’d then sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s going to be a wild one.

At least when all is said and done we’ll know where we are and can start putting things back together. Or, maybe not. Perhaps this is the event that leads to the apocalypse and the end of civilization as we know it. A downward economic death spiral from which there is no recovery until billions have perished and we’re reduced to an agrarian society.

If that’s what the Republicans want to risk, so be it. I’m just so tired of their bullshit.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

They Really Expected to Win

McCain knew he was going to lose. In the final days of his campaign he spent more time trying to undo the damage his choice of Sarah Palin and allowing the rhetoric to skew sharply to the right had done to American unity. He did this because John McCain is a man of integrity.

But, apparently from what I’m reading, Romney and his folks really thought they were going to win and win big. This wasn’t just a “keep a happy face on” sort of strategy they really thought they were going to have a big night.

Some of the Right Wing wackos, including Glenn Beck and Tony Perkins, were apparently expecting a big night as well and organized specials to commemorate the victory.

How could this happen when every objective analysis indicated a close race but an Obama edge. The final Intrade odds were 70-30 and the European market had it like 90-10. Nate Silver also ended up with a final 90% probability that Obama would win.

Bad information? Bad analysis of the available information?

I suspect it’s not that easy.

Psychological study after psychological study indicates that Conservatives, and especially Authoritarian Followers, cannot differentiate between belief versus knowledge and opinion versus fact.

That being the case I can understand the confusion of the faithful. But I had always pegged Romney as a Social Dominator who didn’t give a crap about the cause. He was just willing to do whatever it took to access the power of the presidency. Since Authoritarian Followers are relatively easy to control, Social Dominators tend to gravitate to that group and in this country the vast majority of Authoritarian Followers are Right Wing Conservatives.

I’d like to gloat about all of this, and I will be enjoying the gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness over the next couple of months, but I know politics is a fickle mistress and sometime in the not too distant future the Left might be the ones asking “how did this happen?”

In the long run Liberalism always wins. There may be setbacks from time to time but ultimately people realize that if you restrict the rights of someone else your own rights are in jeopardy. The argument comes in figuring out what those “rights” are. If you think about it, that’s what we’re fighting about.

The “rights” currently being fought over include gay marriage, abortion access, gun ownership, religious expression, including prayer in the schools, teaching Creationism, crosses on public land and God in the motto and pledge, and the right not to be forced to do something such as buy health insurance.

I find it interesting that sometimes the Left is trying to broaden rights and sometimes it’s trying to restrict them and the Right is doing the exact same thing. It all depends on the “right” being fought over.

There are subtleties in all these battles and skirmishes can occur in the strangest places as I’m sure Chick-Fil-A and Home Depot can tell you.

We can’t even “agree to disagree.” We have to come to some sort of compromise. You know, come up with a solution that pisses everyone off and sets the stage for the next round of fighting.

In the meantime Florida is still up for grabs but Obama is still leading by about 47,000 votes and Washington appears poised to approve gay marriage which would make it a 4-0 sweep. The Democrats have also picked up two more Senate seats giving them 53 plus the two Independents that caucus with the Democrats for a total of 55 seats. Not a filibuster proof majority but a solid majority. The House is still the problem but Boehner is making all the right noises. Maybe he’s thinking about making a 2016 run?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election 2012

Overall it was a bad day for the forces of darkness.

I’m happy that my pessimism about the presidential election was unfounded and it took Obama only an extra 45 minutes to clinch 2012 over 2008. Ohio provided the votes that put him over the top.

At last count the Electoral College total was Obama 303 and Romney 206 with Florida’s 29 votes still up in the air. The popular vote stood at Obama 59.6 million and Romney 57 million so the Right Wing numb nuts can’t claim minority president status. It’s not exactly an overwhelming mandate but it will have to do for now.

The House stays with the Republicans 231-191 with 3 seats still undecided. Unfortunately Michelle Bachmann managed to win a close race. Oh well, you can’t have everything. I’m also stuck with Scott Garrett for another two years but I can live with that.

The Senate will stay with the Democrats 51-45 with two independents and two seats still undecided. Democrats Menendez won in New Jersey 58-40 over Kyrillos, Murphy easily beat McMahon in Connecticut 55-43, Warren beat Brown in Massachusetts 54-46 and Gillibrand utterly destroyed Long in New York 72-27.

No longer can gay marriage opponents say gay marriage has never won a popular vote. It won in Maine 53-47 and in Maryland 52-48. In Minnesota they rejected an amendment to ban same sex marriage 51-48. In Washington the votes are still being tallied but approval of gay marriage leads 52-48 with 51% of the votes counted.

That’s at least 3 out of 4 and a very possible clear 4-0 sweep. The gay marriage dialogue now changes forever. Hopefully this will open the flood gates.

There were other disappointments though. California defeated a proposal to ban the death penalty by a vote of 53-47. Three states, Alabama, Montana and Wyoming, voted to limit the Health Care Law either by making it illegal to force people to buy insurance or preventing the setting up of insurance exchanges. Florida rejected a similar amendment. It should be interesting to see how this plays out as the Health Care Law rolls out.

Speaking of Florida rejecting amendments, the legislature in Florida loaded up the ballot with 11 lengthy and confusing amendments some of which were near and dear to a conservative’s heart including one which would eliminate the Blaine Amendment which makes it illegal to fund religious schools.

The voters in Florida rejected all but three and I agree with those three which provided property tax relief to veterans, poor senior citizens and the spouses of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

Amendments rejected included the previously mentioned attempt to allow funding of religious schools, an amendment which would have given the legislature more power over state courts, a ban on abortion funding and a state revenue cap.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Where's the Gas?

I couldn't find any gas station open yesterday evening and I blew some looking for an open station. That leaves me facing Wednesday morning to get gas or I can't go to work.

I checked eight stations last night and every one of them was closed with "No Gas" signs. I would have been happy to wait in line. I couldn't find a line to wait in.

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Gas Crunch

Getting gasoline is still a bit of a problem.

Two many stations simply have no gas. Until stations get supplied things are going to be a bit iffy.

It's unclear whether the odd and even rationing is actually helping. It may simply just have shifted who is in line when.

I'm odd so my days are today, Wednesday and Friday this week. I can't wait until Friday and Wednesday might be cutting it close so, even though I really don't need gas, I'll have to see if I can rustle some up today after the gym.

There's the problem. The time between refills is compressing. Normally I would wait until at least Thursday and possibly even Friday morning before stopping for gas. Instead I'm looking on Monday.

Thoughts on the Eve of Election 2012

I had some optimism four years ago. I don’t have any of that today.

From what I can see the Republicans will hold the House, the Democrats should hold the Senate and, even if they don’t, neither party can achieve a filibuster proof majority.

As for the presidential race, Obama appears to have come back a bit and should be considered the favorite but a Romney victory wouldn’t shock me. It’s going to be close. It’s not even clear it will be resolved Tuesday. It may well extend into Wednesday and perhaps beyond.

The problem is no matter who wins, I don’t see any resolution to the current gridlock in Washington. Perhaps Obama being in his last term might loosen things up and, then again, it may not.

The country is polarized and in many cases for the wrong reasons and often based upon inaccurate information. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

On the gay marriage front there are four major contests. In Maine they’re trying to restore gay marriage and in Maryland and Washington they’re trying to defend it. It Minnesota they’re trying to get an amendment to the state constitution declaring marriage as between one man and one woman approved.

The polls on all of these questions are all over the map possibly because different pollsters ask the question different ways. I am cautiously optimistic that gay marriage will win in two of Maine, Maryland and Washington. It doesn’t look good in Minnesota so a 2-2 split could be the result.

Losses in all four places would be an unmitigated disaster. Victory in all four places would change the conversation permanently. Four wins is highly unlikely but I can dream.

In New Jersey Bob Menendez, a Democrat, should win re-election to the senate. In my home district Scott Garrett, a Republican, should win re-election easily.

Of course none of this helps me find any gasoline.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Holy crap did we get clobbered!

This is an absolute mess. I went to work Monday figuring I'd have to take Tuesday off. Well, I got that right. What I hadn't figured on is no power at the labs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as well. We're still awaiting word about Monday.

I've home from work for four and a half days since they closed the place down Monday afternoon.

Power was out for three days by me. My daughter still has it out by her and a tree fell on her house. Let's not even talk about the gasoline fiasco.

Still, these are relatively minor annoyances, expensive, but still minor. There are over a hundred people dead and not that far from me the Hackensack River ended up in people's living rooms, boats crashed onto porches and at least two houses ended up in the middle of route 35.

Ever see a roller coaster in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? That's where the one in Seaside Heights ended up.

I will give Christie credit. He did seem on top of the situation but it took Cuomo in New York to start leaning on the power companies and taking measures in the gas nonsense. Christie at least had the good sense to follow suit.

The election is Tuesday and if the storm damage keeps anyone from the polls, you can be sure it won't be Republicans.

Obama appears to have gained some ground back so I'm not as pessimistic as I was a while back. I think it's going to be a cat fight. I'll be surprised if the thing is resolved Tuesday night. I'm thinking easily into Wednesday and maybe beyond.

Monday, October 22, 2012


I got to see Robert Griffin III live, for the first time yesterday, at MetLife staduim. All I can say is this guy is going to cause everyone in the NFC East a lot of misery over the coming years.

They chased him left, They chased him right. They chased him in the middle, up, over, down and sideways and the guy still made plays. Fourth and ten, late in the game where he should have been nail by Jason Pierre-Paul and he manages a 19 yard completion.

The guy is unbelievable and Mike Shanahan's decision to mold the offense to match what RGIII is used to rather than try and fit him into a pro offense is sheer genius. So far at least the NFL hasn't been able to solve this puzzle.

Of course, it's early yet.

Next week the Skins go to Pittsburgh and then get Carolina before heading into a bye week. But the big games are right after that. They'll play the Eagles at home and then head to Dallas for Thanksgiving. A short digression here. What a rotten thing to do to a rookie quarterback! Sending him to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day!

RGIII makes the Redskins relevent again in the NFC East hunt. Now it's a four team scramble and any one of them could end up on top. The Redskins actually have a bit of an edge because they're playing a last place schedule.

The question is how long can he avoid getting hurt?

His brand of free, unrestrained football is exciting and can drive defenses crazy, but it's only a matter of time before the hits he's taking begin to take a toll. He slows down an step or two and everything changes.

Still, that could be years away or it could happen next week. Or, it may never happen. We shall see what we shall see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bible Banners Ok at Football Games

A Texas judge (where else?) has temporarily approved cheerleaders at an East Texas high school displaying bible themed banners at school football games.

Now I’m going to make a very simple statement. I think Christianity is silly and I would prefer not to be subject to its doctrines or its trappings. However, others have the right of free speech and, as private individuals, have the right to express their beliefs.

If they want to put bible banners or quotations on their cars or front lawns, that’s their right and I have to respect that right.

If the cheerleaders were students in the stands, I would agree with the judge’s ruling. But, as students engaging in a school sponsored function (cheerleading) at a school sponsored event (a football game) they are violating the 1st Amendment prohibition against the establishment of religion and violating the rights of any non-Christians, and perhaps even some Christians, also attending the event.

A non-Christian attending the high should not have to choose between going to the game and having his rights trampled.

When are Christians going to understand this simple fact?

My Healthcare Plan

They’re changing my healthcare plan at work. Like all changes there are some plusses and some minuses but overall I don’t have a problem with the new options.

That’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about are how the premiums are allocated.

There are three basic options in ascending order of cost, employee only, employee plus spouse (or domestic partner) and employee plus family.

There are no variations based upon age or number of children and the coverage is exactly the same for everyone. Therefore the young are most likely subsidizing the costs of the old and smaller families are subsidizing the cost for larger families. Yet, I don’t hear anyone complaining.

There’s another premium wrinkle. The coverage is precisely the same for everyone but the premiums you pay are dependent upon your salary. There are six salary brackets. For an employee plus spouse, the lowest bracket premium is $156 a month. The premium for the highest bracket is $428 a month.

This means that the higher paid individuals are subsidizing the health care insurance for the lower paid individuals. Yet, again, I don’t hear anyone complaining.

Friday, October 12, 2012

99 Years!?

Elizabeth Escalona, a 23 year old mother of five (five at 23!?), who pleaded guilty to felony injury of a child for savagely beating her 2 year old daughter and gluing her hands to the wall, was sentenced to 99 years by Texas judge Larry Mitchell.

Mitchell said that Escalona deserved to be punished.

Yes, she deserves to be punished. This lady has serious issues, needs to be tossed in jail, receive therapy and be kept far away from her kids for the immediate future. But 99 years!? I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous.

So now she’ll appeal and we’ll waste more time and money.

I get a kick out of these right wings types that are willing to pay thousands to satisfy their sense of indignation but won’t spend a few cents to alleviate the poverty that often leads to this sort of thing.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, this lady needs to take responsibility for what she did and be punished severely but, in the meantime, I’d get her some psychiatric help too. It’ll be cheaper in the long run.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Birthday Slipped By

I didn't even acknowledge my birthday this year. Probably because I'm too depressed. I hit 64 on October 5, 2012.

To be honest with you I'm amazed I made it this far. I figured I'd get killed on Route 3 by now.

I'm in pretty good shape. At 6'1" and hovering between 188 and 192 pounds my weight is ok. My blood pressure is in the 120/70 range and my cholesterol is minimal with the HDL having a favorable ratio over the LDL. Even my PSA looks good at 0.9.

That's the problem with people in their 60s. They give you their medical numbers. Before 60 they ignore them and after 70 the numbers are usually so lousy they want to forget them.

Work sucks more than usual as we're in the middle of a drastic slow down and going through "reductions in force" about every three months. I'm hanging around sort of hoping my number will come up so I can retire.

Assuming a don't get a pink slip sooner, I'm thinking of hanging up my guns on May 1, 2013. If, for some bizarre reason I decide not to, I'm definitely calling it quits on November 1, 2013.

So look out world, me having all that free time on my hands might get interesting.

Maybe I'll run for King. I wouldn't want to be president, too many limitations, but King, that might work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There’s a Heaven says Doctor

Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon that was in a coma for seven days, claims to have had a glimpse of the afterlife.

According to Alexander,“While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity … my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe.”

Alexander further claims “There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well.”

Well doc, just because there is no “scientific explanation” doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. There used to be no “scientific explanation” for lightening either so everyone figured Zeus was angry.

Here’s the logical problem. If “God” was willing to allow Dr. Alexander a glimpse of heaven, why not allow everyone a glimpse?

Hell, I’m sure all of the networks would gladly broadcast a “Short Tour of Heaven” provided by the divine. Why is Dr. Alexander so special?

The traditional argument for why “God” doesn’t simply put a big billboard up is that it would interfere with free will. Because you aren’t given definitive proof you must have faith and you have free will to accept or reject that faith.

This is of course a theist rationalization. Was Dr. Alexander’s free will no longer important?

Either the good doctor, an admitted Christian, is lying through his teeth or there is a way he could dream while in the coma or during the process of awakening.

I’m sorry doc, but I’m not buying it.

I am now convinced that Obama will lose the election

The lousy debate performance; the continuous stream of lies and nonsense being thrown about and the still stumbling economy I believe spell doom for the president.

I can only hope that it his failure doesn’t drag down the senate Democrats and the Gay Marriage referendums with him.

The debate should have been where Obama put Romney out of the race. Instead it was the greatest disaster since Nixon basically gave the election to Kennedy in 1960.

So now what?

I honestly don’t know. Based upon his retreat to the center after his debate victory, maybe Romney won’t be too bad of a Chief Executive. I guess time will tell.

This conclusion is a big deal because it means I will cease contributing to the Obama campaign. I'll still vote, but it will be half-heartedly.

David Siegel says I’ll fire you if Obama wins

Well, he didn’t quite say that. What the CEO of Westgate Resorts did say was if Obama wins and raises taxes he may have to lay off workers or even shut down the company.

In his e-mail Siegel made the case of how he’s devoted his whole life to the business and now people who didn’t work nearly as hard think they’re entitled to the same things he has.

No David, that is complete nonsense.

How many summer homes and yachts do you need? You’ve had that stinking 3% now for twelve years. You didn’t have it before and giving it to you sent the government budget into debt so the time has come to take it back.

Oh yeah, and the unbridled greed of you and others has skewed the percentage of income subject to Social Security taxes downward from 91% to 87% and is threatening the solvency of Social Security. You have two choices. Redistribute the income back to the working and middle classes to restore the 91% or accept a raise in the Social Security cap to get it back up to 91%.

Your choice you greedy arrogant pig.

In the meantime I won’t be staying at any Westgate Resort until you sell your interest in it which you would do long before you shut the business down.

Welch and the Unemployment Numbers

Jack Welch finds the September Unemployment Rate of 7.8% “implausible.”

I happen to agree with him.

All statistics, and the Unemployment Rate is a statistic, have a margin of error. Usually they’re pretty close but sometimes they can be off by quite a bit and I suspect that this is one of those times.

If Welch had simply said that, no big deal. The problem is he went further and implied that the numbers had been manipulated for political purposes.

Unless he has some evidence other than “funny it should happen just before the election” then that’s just irresponsible nonsense.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Presidential Debate

So much for my hope that Obama would run rings around Romney.

If Barack doesn't want to win the election, which is how he acted last night, he can just drop out now and save us all a lot of time and energy.

The president was right about just about everything and Romney was wrong about just about everything but debates are not about WHAT is said, they're about HOW it's said.

Romney won this one hands down.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Presidential Election

I've been fairly quiet because, like just about everyone else, I'm getting punch drunk from the enormous amounts of over analysis.

Here's the bottom line to my mind.

Obama hasn't done a very good job. He should have focused on unemployment and the economy before attacking Health Care and his foreign policy at times has me scratching my head.

But, that being said, his resume is not all that bad.

1. We're essentially out of Iraq
2. Afghanistan is winding down
3. The stimulus stopped the economic free fall and has at least stabilized things
4. We have a Health Care law that will extend medical care while lowering the deficit
5. Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone
6. The Defense of Marriage Act is on the way out

On the down side the economic stimulus has deepened the debt hole we're in. It's time to seriously do something about that but not at the expense of sending the economy back into recession.

From the Republican side, I've heard little but that we're going to cut taxes on the rich and increase defense spending. Why and why?

The top 5% don't need a tax cut and increasing investment dollars is not going to spur the economy without first shoring up demand.

We already spend six times on defense over what the next highest defense spender, China, spends. It's unclear to me that we need to even maintain the current level of defense spending never mind increase it.

Beyond that, I've heard little but often unjustified criticisms. If you want someone to change horses, explain how you're going to make things better. To my mind Romney has failed miserably at doing that.

If you consider Real Clear Politics and Intrade, Obama has a small but reasonable lead. The race is far from over but Romney may be running out of time. I certainly hope he lays a big egg at the upcoming debate so we can begin to lay this dog to rest and get on with solving the country's problems.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Replacement NFL Refs II


That's the sound of that ticking time bomb I talked about going off.

The final play in the Packers-Seahawks game set it off. I haven't seen the play yet, I'll watch it tonight a dozen or so times since I have NFL Replay, but from what I'm reading, and the one photo I see, the Packers have several reasons to be upset.

First, Golden Tate, who "caught" the touchdown pass, reportedly shoved Green Bay defender Sam Shields out of the way, which would be offensive pass interference. Granted, this is a judgement call. I'll see what the replay shows tonight.

Second there is the question of who actually caught the ball. In the photo I've seen M.D. Jennings of Green Bay appears to clearly have possesion while Tate's arms are wrapped around Jennings and, I assume, also holding onto the ball. The play was ruled "simultaneous possession," another judgement call, which by rule goes to the receiver.

From what I see in the photo, that's what we used to say was a "tough call" because we weren't allowed to use profanity.

This situation couldn't be much worse for the NFL. The final and deciding play of a Monday Night Football game that goes against the 2nd most popular team in the country (the Cowboys are still #1 based upon the most recent poll).

The fact of the matter is there would probably be bitching and moaning regardless of who was officiating the game but clearly the coaches, players and fans have no confidence at all in these replacement referees and that just cranks up the volume. Enough is enough already.

Should be interesting to see what Senior Goodell does about this. If the regular referees aren't back on the field next Sunday the owners should give Goodell his walking papers. This is ridiculous.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Iran and Israel

This is a powder keg that needs to be defused.

The Iranians are probably more rational than the Israelis if for no other reason that they don’t have to worry about fair elections. The Israelis clearly are not going to allow the Iranians to develop an atomic bomb.

As long as special forces operations continue to prevent that from happening, I don’t think we’ll see more than talk. Then again, all governments have hawks and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed.

Netanyahu has managed to strain US-Israeli relations by calling for the international community to set “a clear red line” for the Iranians on their nuclear program. A call that the US and everyone else pretty much ignored.

That ticked off Netanyahu who said that the US has no “moral right” to prevent Israel from launching a military strike against Iran.

Perhaps not, but we do have a damned big stick.

The opposition party in Israel is making political points over all this. The opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, chided Netanyahu from the floor of the Israeli parliament by asking “Please explain to us: who is Israel’s greatest enemy — the US or Iran? Who do you fear more — Ahmadinejad or Obama?”

Mofaz also accused Netanyahu of using scare tactics and frightening the Israeli people for no good reason over the Iran issue while saying that “Wars should only be waged when there is no choice.”

Netanyahu certainly has the Republican, Right Wing strategy of keep ‘em scared down pat. Sounds like Mofaz isn’t buying it though.

So what do I think you ask? I think the US should sit on Israel and let them know in no uncertain terms that if they take military action against Iran, they’re on their own.

The Iranians are years away from creating an atomic bomb and the current regime isn’t crazy enough to use it even if they did have one. If that changes, I reserve the right to reevaluate but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

Iran is Making Threats Again

I see the Iranians have again warned that an attack by Israel would result in an attack on US facilities in the region. The message probably isn’t aimed at Washington as much as it’s aimed at US allies in the Gulf. About the last thing they want is economic upheaval because of Israel.

Iran says it would attack US bases because it can’t imagine Israel going to war without US support.

What I’d like to ask the Iranians is does the phrase smoking pile of rubble conjure up a picture? Why not simply paint a huge target on your chest?

The damage that the Israelis can do to Iran and the damage that Iran can do to US bases in the region pales when compared to the damage US forces could do to Iran. Saber rattling isn’t going to impress the US even if it does frighten some of the Arab states in the gulf and the Iranians play a dangerous game when they talk about attacking western interests.

Iran survives only as long as the west doesn’t consider them a viable threat to the flow of oil coming out of the region. As soon as that changes, they’re toast, and they need to understand that.

The Replacement NFL Refs

This is a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up in the NFL’s face.

The replacements are trying the best they can but it is only a matter of time before they make a major blunder and, as the season progresses, that blunder is going to take on greater and greater perceived significance. Please, don’t let this continue into the play-offs.

Already the games have this feel of not being totally under control. Players are either getting away with everything short of robbing Fort Knox or there’s enough yellow linen on the field to make it look like daffodils have sprung.

Every play is a potential adventure. And the delays for no apparent reason. Yesterday’s Jets-Dolphins game took over four hours to play.

I find it hard to believe that a multi-billion dollar industry like the NFL can’t get things worked out with the referees. It seems strange that they are risking the integrity of the game over so little.

Chick-fil-A is not Changing Their Policy

According to Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy, nothing has changed about the company's anti-gay stance.

Why doesn't this surprise me?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chick-fil-A in Trouble Again

Our favorite bigoted fast food chain appears to be getting itself into more hot water.

In July, it’s COO Dan Cathy, started a ruckus by making a speech supporting “traditional marriage” and opposing same sex marriage. It was also revealed that Chick-fil-A regularly donated to anti-gay groups including some identified by the SPLC as hate groups. This led to a boycott call by pro-gay activists which led to a Chick-fil-A appreciation day instigated by Mike Huckabee.

The appreciation day was a whopping success, especially in the south where Chick-fil-A has most of its stores, and garnered the firm an estimated 50% increase in revenue for that day. There were pictures of long lines of people waiting to buy a chicken sandwich in support of God, the Bible, Traditional Marriage and who knows what else.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Gay supporters followed up with a “kiss-in” at Chick-fil-A restaurants. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Now, two months later, we hear from a Chicago Alderman and a pro-gay group the Civil Rights Agenda, that Chick-fil-A has turned over a new leaf, will no longer donate money to anti-gay groups and, in fact, hasn’t donated any all year.

To say the announcement was met with skepticism was to put it mildly.

Chick-fil-A didn’t help any by refusing to confirm or deny the claim and simply re-issued the same “we respect everyone regardless of…” press release.

No sooner was the ink on the announcement dry than Dan Cathy tweeted a photo of a WinShape, Chick-fil-A’s charity wing, event “Ride for the Family” supporting the Marriage and Family Foundation Inc.

It appears that Chick-fil-A either speaketh with forked tongue or have left hand not knowing what right hand doing problem. If the company was trying to have its cake and eat it too, they may have accomplished just the opposite and got everyone pissed off at them.

I started making it a point not to eat in Chick-fil-A long before the current boycott because I didn’t like Cathy’s politics. I’ve never eaten there actually so I wasn’t giving much up. This latest mess they appear to have gotten themselves into is sort of funny if you think about it.

My advice to Chick-fil-A is either (a) stick to your guns or (b) make a clean break and admit you were wrong. If you’re wishy-washy and trying to have it both ways you’re going to get clobbered from both sides and rightfully so.

The I Side With Quiz has a quiz you can take to see which presidential candidate you line up with. The site includes all candidates, including those from rather obscure parties.

It turns out I am in 93% agreement with Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee. Key areas where we disagree are on increasing offshore drilling (I say yes, she says no), whether illegal immigrants should have access to government sponsored health care (I say no, she says yes) and affirmative action (I say no, she says yes).

I got an 86% agreement mark with Barack Obama. Key areas where we disagree are on are whether foreign terrorism suspects should be given constitutional rights (I say yes, he says no), affirmative action (I say no, he says yes), more gun control (I say yes, he says no) and the death penalty (I say no, he says yes).

After that it was 70% agreement with Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party (which surprised me slightly), 68% agreement with Rocky Anderson (who I never heard of) of the Justice Party, 41% agreement with Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party.

I got a paltry 18% agreement with Mitt Romney. That’s pretty pathetic considering Goode rejects the Theory of Evolution and thinks it shouldn’t be taught in public schools and I got 41% with him!

It also did a “by party” comparison. I got 96% agreement with the Democrats, 89% with the Green Party, 46% with the Libertarian Party and 8% with the Republicans.

Think about those numbers. It means the two major parties agree on almost nothing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jesus and his Wife?

A tiny, fourth century business card size piece of papyrus, written in Coptic, and unveiled by Harvard Divinity School historian Karen L. King contains the phrase “Jesus said to them, my wife…”

This raises two questions. First, is it genuine and second, if it is genuine, what does it mean?

Several experts in papyri and the Coptic language appear to believe the fragment is genuine. The probability that it is genuine is at least high enough to convince the Harvard Theological Review to publish King’s paper about the papyrus.

On the down side is the fact that the owner wants to remain anonymous and is apparently trying to sell a large segment of his collection to Harvard University. The anonymous owner has offered to donate the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, as King calls it, to Harvard if they make the purchase.

The fragment also hasn’t be dated yet so the jury on whether it’s genuine or not is still sort of out. But, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is genuine. What does it mean?

Well, not a whole lot actually. There is already a known tradition among Gnostic Christians that women in general, and Mary Magdalene in particular, played a more prominent role in Jesus’ ministry than the misogynistic Paulist variety of Christianity will admit to. The idea that Jesus and Mary were husband and wife isn’t new either.

The most you can say about this fragment is it demonstrates that at least some Christians in the fourth century accepted the idea that Jesus was married. That doesn’t make it true. Imagine how misled about reality someone discovering a video 2,000 years from now containing the speeches from the recent Values Voter Summit or Republican convention would be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney's 47%

According to a video tape smuggled out of a fund raiser, Mitt Romney claims that 47% of Americans pay no income tax and consider themselves “victims.” He went on to say that's he's not worried about them.

Here's reality. Let's focus purely on income taxes because that is the largest share of federal revenue, it's what most people view as taking the biggest bite out of their paycheck and it's what Romney was talking about.

Typically income and tax information is provided in quintiles each of which represents 20% of the population. According to the CBO, the bottom two quintiles, that's 40% of the households in the US, have negative income tax. In other words they actually get money rather than pay. If your gross family income is less than $38,000, you are most likely in one of these two quintiles.

The next quintile, income up to $62,000, pays 2.7% of the income taxes. The fourth quintile, up to about $102,000, pays 13.4%. The top 20% pays 94.1% of the income tax. The top 5%, income greater than $186,000, pays 63.9% of all income taxes.

So now you know where you are and how much tax burden your group shoulders. The issue is not with the tax laws. It's with the ungodly unfair distribution of income that has occurred since 1980. In 1981, with very similar tax tables, no quintile had a negative tax burden and the top quintile paid 64% of all income taxes compared with 94% today.

Romney is basically calling 47% of the population freeloaders based purely on income tax. Of course he ignores the Social Security payroll tax and the Medicare payments and the various sales taxes which everyone pays. If you work, then you're paying for Social Security and Medicare. They're not freebies.

Now for all you people whining about how you're supporting all those freeloaders. I'm in the top 5%, which pays 63.9% of all income taxes, so it's most likely, according to Romney's way of thinking, that I'm supporting YOU so welcome to the freeloaders club.

The Right Wing myth that has been sold to working class white Americans is they’re working to support a bunch of shiftless lazy bums at the bottom of the economic ladder. The reality is that everyone pitches in what he can. If it’s not through income tax it’s through the payroll tax and sales taxes.

It is a form of “from each according to their ability and to each according to their need.” The irony is that the folks that complain the loudest about supporting welfare cheats are actually themselves being supported by those making more money and those folks generally aren’t complaining about taxes. They’re too comfortable to complain.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hey, I finally agree with Rick Santorum about Something

Santorum, speaking at the Values Voter Summit (also known as the Wide, Wide, World of Crazies), told the audience that the "elite, smart people" will never be on their side.

Goddamn he's right about that. No one with at least half a brain and capable of differentiating fact from fantasy would ever side with those lunatics.

Paul Ryan also spoke at the Values Voter Summit but both Ann Romney and Cardinal Timothy Dolan had the good taste to decline invitations. Exactly what Ryan thinks he's doing speaking to the nut jobs in that place baffles me.

Some other gems from the summit as reported by Right Wing Watch, with commentary.

Liberty Counsil's Matt Staver declared that any effort to "redesign the definition of marriage is, ultimately, unpatriotic."

I guess pissing on the 14th Amendment is the patriotic thing to do? It never ceases to amaze me that those who would discard cherished American principles such as equal protection under the law and the Seperation of Church and state have the unmitigated gall to call those who disagree with them "unpatriotic."

Kamal Saleem claims to be an ex-terrorist and said he came to the U.S. to wage a "cultural jihad." He said he and his fellow terrorists "met the professors" at American universities and colleges, which "were our playgrounds," in order to help "the professors to establish new curriculum purposefully" to brainwash students to change "your children to hit your nation with everything they've got."

Saleem went on to say that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is working with Islamic countries to eviscerate the Constitution and "subjugate American people to be arrested and put to jail and their churches and synagogues shut down." Supposedly this will happen early next year!

This putz is clearly delusion. I won't accuse him of being a liar because clearly he's incapable of telling reality from fantasy. These are the kind of people that the Republican Party has gotten into bed with. How the f--k can anyone vote Republican as long as they hob nob with wackos like this guy?

Representative Steven King said President Obama and "his leftist minions" are working every day "undermining the pillar of American exceptionalism, attempting to bring down the shining city on the hill [and] turn it into rubble."   But not to worry because King says "we're going to serve God and country, in that order, and defeat Obama in November, which will be a victory for God."  

Another one clearly struggling with delusions. Do you suppose there's any way of telling this fool that about the last thing God, if he existed, would want is his having a putz like King serve him? God needs Representative King to help him because he can't handle things himself? What a yutz. He's not rational enough to be a putz. Calling him a putz would be an insult to putzs around the world.  

This would be funny if these people and the sponsers of the summit didn't have political influence. They do.

The Vice-presidential candidate of the Republican party spoke to them. Mitt Romney, the Presidntial candidate, sent a video greeting.  

The fact that Romney and Ryan didn't just ignore these ass wipes reinforces why it makes no sense to vote Republican until the party cleans house and eliminates the influence of nut jobs like this.  

Why I'm not a Republican

This graph illustrating a poll taken by YouGov pretty much explains it all.

I would be curious to see a breakdown by education.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Muslims Denounce Film

Some people “get it” but apparently others don’t.

Here, with commentary, are some of the reactions from the religious to that low budget film insulting the prophet Muhammad which touched off the violence in Libya.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai:

"Desecration is not part of the freedom of expression, but a criminal act that has now badly affected the righteous sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the globe."

I suppose that depends upon the form the desecration takes. Physically damaging a religious icon owned by someone else, a house of worship or a religious cemetery is certainly a property crime. You know, like what the Taliban did when they blew up the statue of Buddha. Making fun of a religious icon in a low budget film isn’t. It’s rude but it’s not criminal.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil:

"We ask the American government to take a firm position toward this film's producers within the framework of international charters that criminalize acts that stir strife on the basis of race, color or religion."

Nope, sorry, can’t do that. A little thing called the 1st Amendment gets in the way. Allow me to suggest that Muslims grow a bit thicker skin. Why do you care what some fourth rate film says?

Pakistan issued a statement condemning "a defamatory video clip in the U.S., maligning the revered and pious personality of the Prophet Muhammad.”

This is perfectly OK. While the film maker was within his rights to make the film, the Pakistanis are within their rights to express their displeasure with the film. Perhaps they’d like to refuse all future U.S. aid in protest?

Iran's Mehr news agency quoted Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying the United States has a "direct moral responsibility" to stop insults against holy Muslim figures.

Nope, that doesn’t work either. Freedom of Speech trumps your silly religious rules. To be quite honest with you insulting Islam may be rude and boorish but there’s no “moral responsibility” to keep people from being rude and boorish.

The Vatican in Rome got into the act as well. The Vatican’s chief spokesman Federico Lombardi said the violence showed the need to respect religions and avoid insulting believers and continued "The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days."

I agree that “unjustified” attacks or any gratuitous insults should be frowned upon and I think it's safe to put this film in that category. However, the response was all out of proportion to the offense and that's the problem. Until Muslims learn that they're not entitled to blow stuff up and kill people because their feelings are hurt, they'll be barbarians unworthy of respect.

However I disagree with the idea that religions need to be respected. Religions are silly things that do nothing to deserve respect. I put them on the same level as fairy tales. They're just not nearly as entertaining as most fairy tales so why the hell should I respect them or anyone who believes in them? Of course, simply because I don't respect something or someone doesn't give me the right to insult them without justification. No, I'm not being hypocritical. I know perfectly well I insulted religions just now but, to my mind, Freddy was asking for it and the insult was justified. Trust me, I will attack whenever some religious yahoo tries to tell me what to do.

Here’s the bottom line, Freedom of Speech is non-negotiable. You’re free not to like what someone says and exercise your Freedom of Speech in response but you are not allowed to use violence in an attempt to stifle the exercise of Free Speech. The Muslim world needs to understand and accept this simple fact.

Attack on Embassy in Libya

The Muslim world demonstrates once again that it’s uncivilized and on the edge of barbarism. Insulted by a film made by an Israeli film maker living in California called “The Innocence of Muslims” which, apparently, is less than complimentary to the prophet Muhammad, these pissants decided to attacked an American consulate killing the ambassador to Libya and three others. There were also protests reported in Egypt.

In the chaos the American Embassy in Egypt issued what sounded very much like a condemnation of the film while ignoring the acts of the Muslim protestors. This gave the Republicans, including Romney and over the hill moron Sarah Palin, an opportunity to act like complete assholes. Palin is still too stupid to see the benefits of democratic Arab governments while Romney is blaming Obama for the embassy announcement which was made without administration knowledge or approval.

So it seems Romney jumps to conclusions before learning all the facts? I doubt it. More likely he assumes the American public is too stupid to collect the facts. Personally I’m insulted and you should be too.

I do agree that the idiot in the embassy that issued the statement should be canned. If there is any principle that must be non-negotiable it is Freedom of Speech. Religion has no right to expect to be immune from criticism, satire or ridicule in a free society. The sooner the oft fleeced flock gets used to that idea, the easier things are going to be.

On the positive side, the President of Libya has condemned the attacks and is promising that the guilty will be brought to justice. Palin, on her Facebook page asks “how’s that Arab Spring working out for us now?”

Given the reaction of the Libyan and Egyptian governments in condemning the attacks, I’d say it’s working out pretty darn well. No one can control an entire populace. If we could, we wouldn’t have things like Columbine. If the guilty are actually caught and punished, I might even up that assessment.

Monday, September 10, 2012

So the Conventions are Over

Given that’s it’s a presidential election year, I haven’t had a whole lot to say. This reflects my general disgust with politics in general. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still funneling dollars to the Obama campaign and I’m supporting Bob Menendez for senator in New Jersey. I’ve also been supporting Equality Maine although not recently.

Menendez is up by about 10 points. Strangely enough a campaign worker for his opponent Joseph Kyrillos called my house looking for my daughter and, since she wasn’t there, made the mistake of talking to me. I told him I wouldn’t vote for a Republican if you held a gun to my head and neither would my daughter.

The latest polls in Maine show the proposal to approve Gay Marriage leading by anywhere from 9 to 15 points as of June 2012. But if the past is any indication, I wouldn’t get too excited yet.

There are also votes to repeal the same sex marriage laws passed in Washington and Maryland. In both states polls indicate that voters are in favor of Gay Marriage but, again, I wouldn’t get too excited since Gay Marriage has never been approved at the polls. One ray of hope is that black voters, at least in Maryland, appear to be more receptive to Gay Marriage since Obama’s change of heart.

In the biggie Barack Obama came out of the conventions with about the same lead that he went in with. For all intents and purposes the race is neck and neck but, at least for the moment, Obama appears to have the inside track. Real Clear Politics (RCP) has Obama with a 2 point popular vote lead, which is well within the margin of error, and a 221-191 vote lead in the electoral college with 126 votes in 10 swing states too close to call. Romney’s problem is that Obama has slight leads in 9 of those 10 states.

Intrade has Obama 59-41.

The next big event is the presidential debate on October 3, 2012.

Obama’s problem is the Republicans will still control congress and I don’t see why they won’t continue their campaign of allowing the country to burn in order to insure Obama doesn’t succeed. Romney’s big problem is the Democrats will have at least a non-closure proof number in the senate and I suspect they’ll be just as stubborn as the Republicans.

I’ve decided that the country is pretty much toast in any event therefore I’ve decided to volunteer my services as King. I mean, what the hell, could I do any worse?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Football and the Conventions

The biggest impact the party conventions are having on me is the NFL moved the opening game from Thursday to Wednesday.

I didn’t watch any of the Republican Convention and won’t watch any of the Democratic Convention. I’m going to go and watch the Cowboys and Giants slug it out instead.

My mind is made up. Despite my disappointment in his performance as president, I’m going to vote for Barack Obama once again. Perhaps I’m not so much voting FOR Obama as AGAINST the Republican Party.

The Republican Party has lost its rudder. It is drifting in a dangerous direction and doesn’t deserve the support of rational Americans until it manages to straighten some things out.

The “economic plan” of the Republicans would be an utter catastrophe. The so-called plan, which is really a few sound bites and slogans, is such nonsense that Romney would never in a million years ever attempt to implement it. The sound bites and slogans are purely intended to placate the under 80 IQ idiots known as the Republican base.

The nomination of Romney indicates that the business wing of the party is still in control. But it’s not firmly in control. There are far too many nuts in positions of influence and the party stands for too many things that I reject.

Republicans reject the Theory of Evolution. This isn’t an official plank (yet) but consider how many Republican law makers take this position. In the South they argue with each other about who rejects it more.

Republicans reject the science of Global Warming. This position is rapidly becoming as irrational as the rejection of evolution and it has far greater potential for harm in the short term. I’m finally convinced that the evidence is so strong that we need to consider actions that need to be taken.

Republicans reject access to abortion. Look, I’m the last guy in the word that would condone an abortion except under extreme circumstances but IT IS NOT MY DECISION. I’m never going to get pregnant and I think it’s safe to say I’m never again going to make anyone pregnant. No one can decide such matters for anyone else and the Republicans think they can. I firmly reject that idea.

Republicans reject the right of Gays to marry. I have to admit that this one baffles me. The state has chosen to confer certain rights upon married couples. The best science available indicates that sexual orientation is not a choice. Therefore not allowing Gay Marriage clearly violates the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law. Republicans are allowing their religious views to infect their political views.

Republicans reject the Separation of Church and State. I base this upon the plank of the Republican Party of Texas and the prominence of people such as David Barton in the Republican Party. Let’s remember that George H.W. Bush said that atheists shouldn’t be considered citizens.

Republicans believe the economic solution is to tax the working and middle classes while cutting taxes to the wealthy. While this might work in an inflationary environment, it makes absolutely no sense when companies can’t sell what they can produce due to a soft buying market. The path to economic recovery is to put more money in the hands of people that will spend it locally and that’s the working and middle classes. The only thing that makes less sense than the Republican economic solution is why any working or middle class voter would ever vote for a Republican.

Republicans believe the way to balance the budget is through cutting social programs while increasing defense spending. This is just another way to funnel money to the already wealthy. The U.S. already spends six times what the next highest defense spender (China) spends on defense. To continue the current level of defense spending in the face of current budget deficits is little more than insanity. To take money away from social programs is to penalize the most vulnerable segment of the population. Since when did it become ok to take from seniors and the poor and give to the wealthy?

The Republicans nominated Judge Roy Moore for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. This alone, all by itself, would prevent me from voting for any Republican.

If you’re a Republican, or thinking of voting Republican, feel free to observe that not all Republicans agree with all of the above. That’s obviously a true statement, but the problem is that these represent mainstream positions of the majority of Republicans.

There were always nuts in both parties. The problem is in the Republican Party, the nuts appear to be running the show.

So, anyway, I’m going to the football game tonight. I don’t have to hear what the Democrats have to say because I already know they’re the only rational choice.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let’s Talk Evolution

What? Again?

Yes, again. The trigger this time was a Yahoo article about the “Science Guy” knocking those that reject the Theory of Evolution. Actually, it wasn’t the article as much as the comments.

Every time I read comments or posts related to the Theory of Evolution, there are three things that I can invariably count upon finding. The first is the incredible level of ignorance about science in general and the Theory of Evolution in particular. Second, is at least one statement to the effect that evolution has been disproven or is not science and third, absolute certainty that their misinformed ideas are in fact correct.

Let’s start with ignorance about science and the Theory of Evolution.

The first thing to address is the word “Theory.” In general usage a “Theory” is a hunch or a guess but the word has a completely different meaning in science. The National Academy of Science (NAS) defines a theory as “a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.” The National Center for Science Education (NCES) defines it as “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.”

I just like to say it’s the study of some broad area of the natural world. Think of it as a big filing cabinet containing observations, facts, ideas, hypotheses, laws and experimental results. Yes Virginia, laws are a part of theories.

The Theory of Evolution is the study of the observed fact of evolution. Evolution simply means “descent with modification.” Evolution occurs with every instance of biological reproduction. No offspring is the exact copy of its parents and no two siblings, except for identical twins, are exactly the same. This has been observed so many times, while the reverse has never been observed, that it is literally irrational not to accept it as true. To reject that evolution occurs would be on a par with rejecting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.

Why does it occur? It occurs because biological reproduction is not an exact process. Like most things in biology it’s complicated, messy and prone to error. Evolution is the result of errors creeping into the biological process of reproduction. These errors result in the mutation of DNA.

Most of these “errors” have absolutely no affect because DNA has enormous amounts of redundancy built into it. Other errors are catastrophic in nature and usually result in a spontaneous abortion, also known as a miscarriage. Errors that aren’t rendered moot by redundancy nor catastrophic can be either harmful or beneficial for the organism in its environment. The idea that no mutation can be beneficial is just flat out wrong. Note that mutations that are beneficial in one environment may be harmful in a different environment.

If the mutation is harmful, then the probability is that it will not be passed on to future generations simply because a harmful mutation tends to limit the ability of the affected individual to reproduce. A beneficial mutation tends to increase the probability that an individual will reproduce. From then on the mathematics of probability take over. Darwin called this process “Natural Selection.”

Multiply this by billions upon billions upon billions of reproductions and you get, in a word, evolution. It’s really not a very difficult concept.

Now let’s talk about the idea that evolution has been disproven or is not science.

If nonsense was a play, this would be one of the longest running plays in history. Ever since Darwin’s ideas began to be accepted by the scientific community the claim that evolution has been demonstrated as false began to appear. If evolution has been “disproven” or is not science, no one has mentioned that to any of the national scientific academies, any of the reputable universities or any of the professional engineering organizations in the world all of which support the Theory of Evolution.

What’s really weird is the people that claim evolution has been disproven are often the same people that argue it’s not science because it’s not falsifiable. This is a case of understanding neither the scientific method nor what falsifiable means.

That leaves us with the interesting fact that these folks are so certain that their mistaken ideas are correct. It is one thing to say you’re not convinced that the Theory of Evolution is correct” and a totally different thing to claim, with absolute certainty, that it is wrong or that it’s not valid science. This is another example of the conservative mind’s apparent inability to differentiate fact from fantasy.

In Kentucky (where else?) recently some Republican law makers realized that when they turned over state testing standards to ACT that meant that students would be expected to be able to answer questions about biological evolution. I found the quote from Kentucky State Senator Ben Waide to be a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Here’s the quote.

"The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science -- Darwin made it up. My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny."

This inane Republican babble (is there any other kind?) is a trifecta. Waide doesn’t understand what a scientific theory is; he doesn’t understand the scientific method and has probably never considered why the most intelligent and most highly educated community in the world, the scientific community, pretty much accepts the Theory of Evolution to a man. Even Michael Behe, darling of the Intelligent Design crowd, accepts evolution. He simply believes that at certain key points an intelligent agent was required to help things along.

Vincent Cassone, the chairman of the University of Kentucky biology department, said that the Republican’s issues with the Theory of Evolution were incomprehensible. "The theory of evolution is the fundamental backbone of all biological research," he said. "There is more evidence for evolution than there is for the theory of gravity, than the idea that things are made up of atoms, or Einstein's theory of relativity. It is the finest scientific theory ever devised."

I am absolutely certain that Conservatives, Christians and Republicans are wrong about science and the Theory of Evolution. They’re also wrong about Global Warming, abortion access and homosexuality. Their ideas about economic theory are, at best, doubtful.

So, given this abysmal track record, why would anyone with at least half a brain and in their right mind trust them to try and fix unemployment, the economy and the federal budget deficit?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loch Ness Monster?

I don't know what the hell that thing is.

Not that long ago I made the following statement "Actually, Nessie appears to be a figment of the imagination. There is no viable evidence that Nessie even exists."
Could this be that evidence?

George Edwards, professional Scottish "Nessie Hunter" thinks it is. George spends almost every day on Loch Ness and believes that Nessie, or perhaps more correctly, Nessies, exist in the Loch. George believes they're Manatee like creatures and not the Plesiosaur like creature that popular imagination have turned them into. George believes that the "three hump" sightings are really several Nessies.

The problem here is similar to the problem with Big Foot and the Yeti. If these creature exist, then why hasn't someone at some time found any physical remains of a dead creature?

That's an interesting picture though, I'll give George that, but you'll excuse me if I remain skeptical until someone comes up with some physical evidence.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney picks Paul Ryan

Ok, so I was wrong again.

I have to admit that I'm surprised. I don't understand the rationale behind this pick. Then again, I'm not a political expert.

I hope the Democrats are sharpening their knives for this guy and are going to pound away at the Medicare and Social Security issues. These things are not handouts. People have been paying into them their entire working lives but Ryan doesn't see why those people should now get what they've been paying for.

If people are dumb enough to elect Paul Ryan vice-president and the man that would choose him president, then there is no hope for this country.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Romney’s VP Choice

This is an interesting question that could well determine the election.

Does Gentleman Mitt go safe or reckless with his choice? The rumor mill has it that the choice is down to three, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, Rob Portman, the Senator from Ohio and Paul Ryan the congressman from Wisconsin.

I’m betting it will be Rob Portman.

Tim Pawlenty would be a safe choice and would allow Romney to play the “former successful governors vs. Washington” tune but Pawlenty generated no enthusiasm for his own run and the chances of Romney converting Minnesota to Red are pretty slim.

Converting Wisconsin is perhaps a bit more possible but Ryan carries with him all sorts of negative budget baggage. Even the dumb Democrats would crucify him for his past positions on Social Security and Medicare. Besides, he strikes me as a bit of a cold fish that I don’t think voters would take to if you put him on the tube.

Portman has all sorts of pluses. He’s got more personality than Pawlenty and Ryan put together and tends to exude confidence. Ohio is also a much better bet for Romney and Republicans never win without Ohio. Granted, being a Washington insider could be a disadvantage but I think it’s outweighed by the advantages.

Personally I was hoping Romney would do something stupid like pick Newt Gingrich but he’s not that dumb.

Intrade has Portman at 32% followed by Pawlenty at 21%. Ryan is at 14%. The only other person with any significant Intrade support is Marco Rubio at 12%.

Like I said, I’m betting on Portman. If there is any doubt remaining that the Republicans think gays should be ostracized and that women should be second class citizens whose uterus’ should be controlled by male politicians, the selection of Portman should end it pretty darn quick.

So is this a good choice or a bad choice? I thinks it's a very good choice that will immediately close the gap in Ohio, make the Republican base happy and not alienate Independents. Portman will probably make mincemeat of Joe Biden in the Vice Presidential debate but that didn't help the Republicans last time around.

Would Pawlenty be a disaster? No, but I don't think he's as good a choice as Portman and Ryan is just too much of an unknown in terms of how the country would react to him. I could be wrong but I think the selection of Ryan would be a high risk, high reward choice and the election is too close for Romney to look for a "game changer" like McCain was forced to do.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Olympics

All too often the disgraceful moments mar the glorious ones.

I was in London in 1972 during the Munich Olympics which had the dual disgraces of the attack on Israeli athletics and the travesty of the basketball final. The current games added to the first disgrace by ignoring the 40th anniversary rather than memorializing it. Then there’s the absurd home town decision that stole a gold medal from Roy Jones and the idiocy that baseball and softball have been excluded while synchronized swimming and rhythm gymnastics are Olympic “sports.”

Do you think any of this could be politically motivated?

In the London Olympics we’ve had charges of a “fix” in boxing; a totally disgraceful performance by a referee, that I saw personally on TV, where a Japanese fighter lost despite knocking his opponent down SIX TIMES in the final round because the referee never credited a knockdown (at least this travesty was later rectified and the decision reversed), bad mitten teams trying to lose on purpose, the idiotic malfunction in fencing that cost a competitor a medal and the U.S. Men’s and Women’s basketball teams running up ridiculous scores against overmatched opponents. WTF ever happened to sportsmanship?

Every four years the real competition seems to be how to get the doping and performance enhancing drugs being taken past the so-called “testing.” Do you REALLY think that a 16 year-old Chinese woman can swim the final 50 meters of the individual medley faster than the MAN that won the men’s IM without a little help? She passed the “test” my ass.

If you train for years in order to compete in the Olympics, then the people supposedly managing and judging the competitions should at least be freaking competent, catching cheaters should be more effective and the coaches, as supposedly mature individuals, should help the players keep things in perspective.

Then of course there is the International Olympic Committee which every four years displays a bad case of misplaced arrogance and authoritarianism.

I’m even going to talk about the idiots on NBC “hosting” the events. At least there I can turn off the sound.

I wish there was some way we could reduce the spectacle down to what’s important, the athletes going head to head with each other for the pure love of the sport. Sometimes I watch the Olympics and pretend that’s the way it is.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Is it Hopeless?

I need to stop reading comments posted on the Internet. Whenever I read them I get depressed because a number of problems become immediately obvious.

The biggest issue is either people just flat out don’t understand what they read or they’re not bothering to read before they post their comment. I am utterly amazed by the number of people that just totally misinterpret what is actually written.

The second issue is the number of people that think they know what they’re talking about but don’t. The number of misinformed people is scary.

The third issue is the certainty of so many of the statements. There is never any hint of any doubt or any openness to consider an alternative view. I never knew there were so many experts out there on so many issues. Experts that have neither training nor experience in the subject. They know better than the climatologists on the climate, better than the scientists on science and better than the economists on the economy.

Look, everyone is entitled to their opinion and they are free to find what anyone says unconvincing for any number of reasons. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking people who state, with absolute confidence, “facts” that are just flat out wrong.

Phrases like “I think,” “I believe,” and “I’m pretty sure” appear to be going the way of the Dodo bird. Everything today appears to be stated with absolute certainty. The funny thing is the more wrong they are, the more certain they are.

Now you know it’s coming, so let me state it right know. This is far more a problem with Conservatives than Liberals. Liberals have strong opinions, but they’re usually using accurate facts to arrive at those opinions. It’s been my experience that Conservatives often can’t tell the difference between fact and fantasy and now appear to have even stopped caring that there is a difference.

You go back 20 years and I can remember debating Christian Apologists. They looked at things differently that was for sure. While you were focusing on “probability,” they were happy with “possibility.” A biblical contradiction was “resolved” if they had a possible explanation. It didn’t matter how improbable it was as long as accepting it wasn’t irrational. As delusional as they may have been in their beliefs, they were invariable on solid ground when it came to facts.

Creationists were a little different. They had a habit of accepting as true anything that attacked evolution without ever bothering to check its validity. This is what led to PRATTs, Points Refuted a Thousand Times. Once a misconception got into the Creationist community it was almost impossible to eliminate it. Some Creationist proponents used this dishonestly by pitching to people things they knew were wrong, but suspected their audience didn’t know were wrong, and would be naively accepted at face value. But, the dishonest types aside, even Creationists would accept facts as facts if you presented enough evidence.

This new breed of political conservative, the Tea Party types, just don’t seem to care about what’s true and what isn’t. They’re going to believe what they want to believe regardless of whether it’s true or not. Providing them with evidence is a waste of time. They are capable of deluding themselves into thinking what they want to be true is in fact true. Reality is irrelevant if it contradicts what they want to be the case.

Homosexuality is a choice, Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, Obama raised their taxes, there is no scientific consensus on global warming, scientists are abandoning the Theory of Evolution, the Affordable Health Care Law institutes Death Panels and Fox News doesn’t lie are examples of what conservatives KNOW to be true that are just flat out not true. Not only do they “know” these things are true, no matter how much evidence you present to the contrary, they’re apparently always going to “know” they’re true.

This is more than delusional, this is irrational. How do you come to a compromise with someone who is irrational?

It may very well be hopeless.

You’re looking for more examples? Let’s try Bryan Fischer’s pronouncement that it was Conservatives that led the march to black civil rights and Liberals that stood in the way and just about ANYTHING that David Barton says.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vietnam Considers Gay Marriage

The Republic of Vietnam is considering the legalization of Gay Marriage. If it is legalized, Vietnam would become the first country in Asia to recognize same sex unions.

The name Vietnam conjures up, to someone of my generation, scenes of destruction, of pouring rain and mud, of dead and dying young Americans, of napalm and of battles in the streets of New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

It brings to mind the scenes of a country tearing itself apart because its people couldn't agree upon how best to remain true to its principles.

Is was Vietnam where it first became apparent that we weren't the "good guys" by default but that we had to earn that label every day, with every action and with every decision.

In our arrogance we imagined we would bring democracy, freedom and equality to the rest of the world whether they wanted it or not. Vietnam is hardly a bastion of liberty, but, should it grant gays equal rights in terms of marriage, our old enemy will move to the hilltop while we remain mired in the muck of bigotry and intolerance.

That would be an absolutely humiliating situation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gun Control

Mitt Romney says that new gun laws won’t stop law breakers.

That’s the standard argument isn’t it? The idea that if you control guns only criminals will have guns and life will be more dangerous.

I debate that conclusion based upon two points. The first is simply that controlling guns makes it harder for anyone to get a gun including would be criminals. The big problem with criminals getting guns is they get them through the so-called secondary market from unlicensed sellers. Even simple regulations that limit handgun sales to one gun per month have been shown to dramatically reduce illegal gun trafficking by reducing the supply of guns for the secondary market.

Can we guarantee that no criminal has a gun? Of course not; just like we can’t guarantee that no one has drugs. But you can at least make it a hell of a lot harder to obtain one and you eliminate the ease of stealing a gun if there aren’t many around and they’re securely protected.

Securely protected, that’s another point of contention. The counter argument is a gun that’s locked up, unloaded or secured with a trigger lock isn’t of any use. This is really just a variation on the “only criminals will have guns argument” because a secured weapon is almost like having no weapon.

So let’s address the main point. That having guns acts as protection or as a deterrent against criminals. This is the cowboy fantasy. The hero in the white hat is going to whip out his shootin’ iron and run off the desperados with heroic deeds.

This is a fantasy that has almost no chance of actually occurring. You have a better chance of accidentally injuring yourself or a family member than fighting off a bad guy. Does an occasional store owner pull out a pistol and scare off a would be hold-up man? Sure, but most likely because the hold-up man was scared already. This is also an action that law enforcement recommends against. You’re more likely to get yourself killed than accomplish anything positive. Are the few dollars in the cash register really worth it?

As for the Right Wing morons that think their weapons are somehow preventing a dictatorship arising in this country, they seriously need to get their brains checked. Dictatorships occur only with support of the Army so two points. First, do you seriously think the U.S. Army would EVER support the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution? Second, should that ever happen, do you have any idea how much chance a motley crew of weekend gun enthusiasts would have against a modern military unit?