Saturday, October 07, 2017

Fat Acceptance

There is apparently this thing going around called "Fat Acceptance" or "Body Positivity" which takes the position that you can be beautiful and healthy at ANY weight.

I first tripped over it indirectly when I encountered a video on YouTube of women breaking their scales with hammers. I say women because the movement appears to be overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, composed of females.

I have to admit that I'm baffled by the very idea.

No, if you're morbidly obese you're not beautiful especially if I have to sit next to you on a plane or at the theater,

But we need to be careful quoting "overweight" statistics based upon the BMI. The BMI has all sorts of issues. For instance how can men and women use the same formula? Men have a larger percentage of muscle and muscle weighs more. I'm 6'1" and 192 pounds. That's a BMI of 25.3 so I'm "overweight, something that no one has ever accused me of.

Some folks argue that this is really a discussion about health rather than appearance.

If you really want to turn the discussion toward health then you have to consider that women, because of how they put on fat, can actually handle being more overweight than men. Similarly as one ages one tends to gain weight as their BMR goes down but it doesn't mean they're unhealthy. These are two more issues with the one size fits all BMI.

The bottom line is that weight and it's correlation with health can be complicated. Obesity on the other hand, a BMI over 30, is bad even with as doubtful a scale as the BMI. Morbid obesity, a BMI over 40, is death walking. There's the real danger in this fat acceptance idea. The absurdity that you can be even morbidly obese without detrimental affects to your health.

I do notice that most of the fat women championing this cause are still pretty young and youth can compensate for a multiplicity of ills.

Life is a lottery. It's like a game of Russian Roulette where it all depends upon the luck of the spin. But if you're morbidly obese, it's like playing with five chambers loaded rather than only one.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Las Vegas

A man decides to take a dozen or so of his 42 guns to a room at the Mandalay Bay and then opens fire at a crowded country music concert.

This is nuts.

The big question is why?

'He didn't appear to be a religious whack job or have strong political associations. There was no outward sign of mental illness although some statements by his girlfriend that he would lie in bed screaming and moaning could have pointed in that direction.

He lived in Mesquite which about an hour and a half from Vegas and reportedly engaged in high stakes poker. But I haven't seen anything saying he ran up big debts.

His father was apparently a nut, a psychopath that spent time on the FBI's most wanted list who was captured not far from where the shooting took place after a gun battle with police.

Stephen Paddock's attack on the concert crowd left 58 people dead and 500 injured. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

This has re-opened the issue of gun control and even the NRA has indicated they might be willing to accept some additional restrictions on firearm accessories including items which allow semi-automatic weapons to be converted into fully automatic weapons.

I'm a radical on gun control. This formula is 100% accurate. NO_GUNS = NO_GUN_DEATHS. If you ever figure out why it's wrong, give me a call,

Sunday, August 20, 2017

So what about those Confederate statues?

Well, it depends.

People don't fight other people. Political entities fight other political entities for political or economic reasons.

Soldiers simply fight to defend their homes and families. With some exceptions, soldiers are the greatest victims of war.

I'm opposed to monuments that celebrate the Confederacy itself. The Confederacy existed and went to war for the simple economic reason of defending slavery. This historical revisionism about state's rights is bunk. The only state's right they cared about was the right to keep slavery legal.

As for monuments memorializing the soldiers that fought for their homes and families, such as those at Gettysburg, those I'm inclined to accept.

Does this includes statues of Confederate Generals such as Robert E. Lee? Yes it does. Does it include the carvings at Stone Mountain Georgia? No it doesn't. Because in addition to Lee and Stonewall Jackson the carving includes Jefferson Davis. Davis wasn't a soldier but the top of the political structure of the Confederacy.

What do I base this on?

First, because on Christmas Day 1868 President Johnson extended full amnesty to Confederate soldiers and restored to them full citizenship rights. He didn't make an exception for officers.

Second, in 1958 Congress passed Public Law 85-425 related to the pension rate for the widows of veterans. This law defined "veteran" for the purposes of the law to include "a person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War…”

Also in 1958, Congress passed Public Law 85-811 dealing with the procurement of headstones for veterans. This law stated “That the Secretary of the Army is authorized and directed to furnish, when requested, appropriate Government headstones or markers at the expense of the United States for the unmarked graves of the following…” The first category listed is “Soldiers of the Union and Confederate Armies of the Civil War.”

In neither of these two laws does Congress make an exception for officers, high ranking or otherwise.

So while Congress never specifically declared that soldiers of the Confederacy are US veterans, the implication of these two laws is that they should be considered as such.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Extra Biblical Evidence for Jesus

I've done this before but I'm going to do it again in order to provide a safe place to stick my most recent thoughts on the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.

The argument is not that there is no evidence, the argument is that the evidence is weak and better explanations exist for the emergence of Christianity than it originated with a historical figure. I keep running into Youtube videos repeating the same old supposed evidence. Tacitus - There is a major flaw with the Tacitus passage. Pontius Pilate wasn't a procurator, he was a prefect. This makes it almost certain that Tacitus did not get his information from official Roman records. Tacitus was writing in the early 2nd century about the Emperor Nero who had been dead for over 40 years. Tacitus is listing all of the attempts by Nero to dispel the rumors that he was responsible for the great fire of Rome in 64 C.E. He lists these items and ultimately gets to Nero supposedly trying to pin the blame on the Christians. "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace." "Called Christians by the populace" implies he is in fact working from hearsay or common knowledge. Accuracy in describing the Christians or their beliefs is not one of Tacitus' priorities here as it's just one more example of Nero trying to shed blame. Lucien - He is describing Christians and their beliefs. He never mentions Jesus by name. The beliefs of Christians are not in doubt. Suetonius - The position that "Chrestus" is the misspelled title "Christus" of someone not in Rome at the time is no more likely than it is the proper name of someone that was in Rome. Thallus - This is simply Julius Africanus arguing that Thallus is wrong about a solar eclipse he records. Why should anyone believe Africanus over Thallus?  Pliny the Younger - Like Lucien, Pliny is talking about Christians and their beliefs. Again, Christian beliefs are not in doubt. As for their willingness to die, people are dying today in the Middle East for Allah and the promise of 72 virgins. Mara Bar-Sepion - The letter mentions the men of Samos burning Pythagoras but there is no record of this happening. How Pythagoras dies is unknown so how reliable should one consider the rest of the letter? Josephus - Then there's Josephus. Josephus was a Pharisaic Jew. He would never have called Jesus the Messiah so if it actually says that then it is almost certain that the main passage is at least a partial interpolation. If he was recording the beliefs of others then the entire passage is hearsay isn't it?  Yes there is evidence but it isn't very strong and the silence of people such as Philo of Alexandria is deafening. Personally I was always of the position that Jesus was a historical character despite the weak evidence. Recently however Richard Carrier has been winning me over a bit so now I have to say I'm uncertain. The web site you reference presents nothing new. In order to accept that as sufficient evidence one would already have to be a believer.

Charlottesville

Thing just keep going from bad to worse.

I admit that I've been a bad boy. I've haven't done any posts because they're too depressing but I can't let this one go by.

The background is a slow but steady movement to tear down monuments to the Confederacy across the south. The complaint is that they glorify the defense of slavery and slavery itself. The defense is that they are simply representative of "Southern Heritage."

You know, like lynchings and Jim Crow laws.

There is a statue in Charlottesville Virginia that some people want taken down. White Nationalists, including Neo-Nazis and the KKK, emboldened by a Trump White House, rallied in solidarity to protest any removal of Confederate monuments.

Left Wing elements, including Black Lives Matter and a group known as Antifa (Anti-fascist), rallied to counter protest.

Now, I wasn't there; I'm too old for that sort of stuff, so I really don't know what went on and neither do I care. When you put two such groups of people together there are going to be sparks, fist fights and flying debris. The Charlottesville police force would probably quickly find itself out of ideas for keeping things under control.

That seems to be just about what was going on but then something else occurred. A 20 year old right wing supporter from Ohio drove his car into the counter protest crowd killing one women and injuring 19 others.

He's been arrested and is being held without bail to face a 2nd degree murder charge in addition to a dozen or so other charges.

This reminds me of the 1960s and the Civil Rights and Vietnam War clashes but it's different, Those were conflicts surrounding mostly a single issue. This strikes me as a conflict about cultures and covers a broader range of issues.

The other thing that is different, and dangerous, is that we have a major political party in the Republicans that appears to be supportive of right wing radical politics.

Now, I'm going to be honest. I'm not sure if the GOP actually agrees with the extreme right wing or just wants their votes. I used to think it was the latter but I'm no longer so sure about that.

Worse is we have a president that first declares that blame is on both sides, then declares he's opposed to white nationalism, then declares that blame in on both sides and finally declares that there are some "very fine people" among the white nationalist demonstrators.

Someone seriously needs to put a muzzle on Trump. Every time he opens his mouth he sticks his head up his rear end.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Categories of Trumpettes

And now for a completely unscientific analysis.

In my experience I have found that there are two main categories of Trumpettes.

Category #1 — The Greedy. These are people who make a lot of money. They work hard and either through talent or luck have managed to place themselves in a position of wealth. These folks don’t like paying taxes and they don’t like it even more than the rest of us don’t like it because they think their money is going to help people too lazy to work for themselves.

They think they should pay a smaller share of taxes even though they benefit from government activity far more than people of more modest means. If nothing else they have more to lose. When I talk to these people I can’t help thinking of the Phil Ochs song “The Ringing of Revolution.”

“In a building of gold, with riches untold,
lived the families on which the country was founded.
And the merchants of style, with their vain velvet smiles,
were there, for they also were hounded.
And the soft middle class crowded in to the last,
for the building was fully surrounded.
And the noise outside was the ringing of revolution.”

Category #2 — The Spiteful. These are your uneducated white working and lower middle class folks who struggle to pay the mortgage, put food on the table and meet unexpected bills yet they have enough money to buy guns, cigarettes and cases of beer on a regular basis.

They claim to be highly religious but if they ever met the real Yeshua bar Yosef they would be horrified at both his appearance and his ideas.

They think Christianity is under attack by the universities and educated people in the cities and suburbs. To a certain extent they’re right about this but they don’t understand why that’s the case. They don’t understand that hostility to religion is a backlash from Christians trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else whether it’s abortion restrictions or raising massive stone tablets of the 10 Commandments on public grounds.

These people look around and think they see blacks, Hispanics, immigrants and basically everyone but them being helped by handouts from the government using their hard earned tax dollars. These people will vote for anyone who will put THOSE PEOPLE in their place even if it means hurting themselves.

Like I said, this is an entirely unscientific analysis based upon my own observations and probably significantly colored by my own prejudices. But I don’t apologize for that. People in these two categories are never going to see the farce and danger the rest of the world sees. One group is blinded by their greed and the other by their hate.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Obama Economy

It never cease to amaze me when people talk about how horrible the economy was under Obama. The latest criticism had to do with the fact that the number of people within 125% of the poverty line increased under the Obama presidency while real income declined.

They manage this slight of hand by comparing the numbers from 2007, BEFORE the great recession to the numbers near the end of the Obama presidency in 2015 while ignoring everything that happened in between.

If you think the economic meltdown under Bush had nothing to do with those numbers then you need to have your head examined.

The percentage of people below 125% of the poverty level in 2007 was 17.0%. Thanks to the 2008 Great Recession the number ballooned to 19.8% in 2011 and then dropped to 17.9% by 2015. Looks to me like Bush was the problem and Obama was the solution.

Now let's look at real income. The real median household income in the US in 2007 was $57,423. Again, thanks to the Great Recession it dropped to $52,666 in 2012 but by 2015 it was back up to $56,516. So again, the problem was Bush and the solution was Obama. Rather than bad mouthing the man based upon no facts, maybe next time people should check where the real problem was.

When Obama took office the stock market was at 9,000, unemployment was at 10%, the economy was SHRINKING and the deficit was over $1 trillion. When he left office the stock market was over 19,000 (Nov 2016), unemployment was down to 4.7%, the economy was growing and the deficit had been reduced to around $570 billion.

All of this while avoiding a double-dip recession.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trump and Comey and Sessions OH MY!

Watching this soap opera unfold in the Senate is an absolute joke. Basically everyone says everyone else is lying. Of course Trump can't make up his mind whether Comey "vindicated" him or told terrible lies about him.

Sessions say the whole Russian collusion idea is a lie. Well, Jeff baby, it's only a lie if the person making the accusation knows it's a lie.

What to make of this he said, he said, he said fiasco?

It's generally been my experience that people lie when either they (a) can gain something from the lie or (b) they need to protect themselves. I think we can pretty much exclude the altruistic white lie from the conversation.

The guy that appears to have the least to gain or protect is Comey. That doesn't mean he isn't lying but it's not clear to me what reason he would have for opening himself up to perjury charges.

Trump isn't making his statements under oath and I'm not sure Sessions knows the difference between a lie and the truth.

So I sort of suspect that Comey is closest to being completely honest, Sessions is a distant second and Trump still trying to get out of the starting gate.

Do I think Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice in the Flynn investigation? Yes, I do. Do I think he meant to obstruct justice? No, I think he was simply doing the same sort of backroom maneuvering he's used to in the business world and didn't realize what he was doing was illegal.

Do I think the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to tilt the 2016 election to Trump? Six months ago I would have said that's ridiculous but now I'm not so sure.

So what happens if that turns out to be the case? The proper thing to do would be for Trump and Pence to resign or be impeached leaving Paul Ryan as president.

Do I think that will ever happen? Not in a million years. Even if you could come up with sufficient evidence I'm sure the Republicans would come up with some "alternate facts" to try and smooth the whole thing over.

Do I think this could lead to civil war? Probably not. I don't think enough people are ready to start killing in the streets over this.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Paris Accords on Climate

I never learn. Seriously, I never learn. I always assume that people actually understand what a thing is before deciding whether it's a good witch or a bad witch.

After going though a few comment sections on the Paris Accords it was obvious that no one, including Trump and his "advisers," had any idea what was in the agreement.

First, allow me to identify what is an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC. An INDC is the amount of emission reduction that a country VOLUNTARILY establishes as a target in order to meet the stated goals in the agreement of (1) staying below an average temperature gain of 2 degrees C or (2) staying below an average temperature gain of 1.5 degrees C.

Switzerland was the first country to submit an INDC calling for a reduction of 50% of emissions over the 2005 level by 2030.

India's INDC called for a 33%-35% reduction per unit of GDP by 2030 but warned it would need $2.5 trillion in financing to meet that goal.

China's INDC called for a 60%-65% reduction per unit of GDP by 2030.

The US INDC called for a 26%-28% reduction of green house gases over the 2005 levels by 2025.

However notice the slight problem here. Different INDCs are specifying targets in different ways.

Switzerland and the USA are specifying their targets in total reduction of green house gases (GHG). China and India are specifying their targets per unit of GDP which means their total emissions may actually increase.

Why the difference?

Because while Switzerland and the USA are "developed countries" by the United Nations definition, China and India are considered "developing countries" whose GDP per capita is still a fraction of the GDP per capita of developed countries,

So basically that's the problem that people express in different ways. I'm more than a little terrified that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt doesn't appear to have a clue as to not only the details of the Paris Accords but even as to who emits the most GHG.

Who emits the most you ask? It depends upon how you're measuring. You can measure either as total emissions or emissions per capita.

In total emissions China is first followed by the US then the European Union and then India, In terms of emissions per capita the US is larger than China and India combined but I think total emissions is the more important way to measure.

And China is a real problem. Its total emissions of 10 millions kilotons of CO2 is twice the US total of 5 million kilotons. Yet as a "developing country" China will do no more than stop the increase of CO2 per year by 2030.

The assumption is that developed countries have the technological base to do more in a shorter period of time. The Obama administration has made the right moves for the US to meet its INDC by 2025.

With Trump trying to resurrect the dead coal industry and allowing the initiatives of the Obama Administration to wither, there's not a snowball's chance in hell.

This may well turn out to be the stupidest decision ever made by a so-called President of the United States. Luckily states and cities in the US are moving forward and essentially saying fuck you Trump.

It's only a matter of time before a Trumpian pronouncement forces some of the states to refuse to implement or enforce what he's ordering. If Trump then tries to force the issue all hell will break loose.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Trump Pulls out of Paris Accords

President Trump has announced that he intends to pull out of the Paris Accords on climate.

If you needed any additional evidence that Trump in particular, and Republicans in general, care absolutely nothing for the country, the planet and the people living on the planet this should do it.

This is a pure play to the under 80 IQ trailer part set. This is beyond stupid; this borders on criminal.

The science on climate change is very clear despite what some conservative pundits try to claim. It's not that hard to understand.

By digging up fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and burning them, we have added to the carbon cycle by putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Add to that deforestation and the cutting down of rain forests, which decreases the amount of carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere, and you get a slow but steady build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This is clear from measurements.

Carbon dioxide is a hothouse gas. It tends to hold in heat. This is leading to a slow but steady rise in global temperatures. The rise in global temperatures is leading to melting icecaps, rising sea levels and shifting climate.

Everyone in the world appears to understand this except Trump. the Republicans, Syria and Nicaragua.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump's Budget Growth Assumptions

All budgets make assumptions about anticipated growth and the Trump budget proposal is no different. They're assuming a 3%-4% growth rate long term.

Most economists think that's unrealistic.

Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney, rather than DEFENDING their assumptions. attacked the growth assumptions the Obama administration made in sort of a macabre tu quoque pastiche.

The Obama administration assumptions were in line with so-called economic wisdom at the time and after a short 3%-4% recovery phase estimated a long term growth in the 2%-2.4% range.

These numbers also lined up with the CBO estimates because historically the US economy has rebounded for a short period at about double the depression rate before settling into a more modest long term growth.

To put it bluntly, they were wrong. Growth was only about 2% average coming out of the recession. Why? Because economics is one part mathematics, one part black magic and one part confidence and the nation never really recovered its confidence in the economy because the "recovery" was so uneven. Some areas recovered quickly and other areas can justifiable ask "what recovery?"

Now the Trump administration is assuming 3%-4% SUSTAINED growth, which is much more optimistic than anything the Obama administration ever assumed, without providing any justification beyond we're going to cut taxes and then a miracle will happen.

Trump's Budget Proposal

Basically the proposal calls for slashing just about every social safety net including Medicaid, SNAP and Social Security Disability while increasing defense spending by some $50 billion, increasing the Homeland Security budget and allocated a few billion for that stupid wall.

The budget also calls for significant cuts in almost every department including the EPA and the Department of State.

Let me start by saying that I'm am absolutely in favor of a balanced budget. As a matter of fact after the budget is balanced I would like to pare the debt a little bit year by year until it gets to a more manageable level.

But now the question becomes who pays for balancing the budget and trimming the debt? Apparently the Republicans believe that the most vulnerable people in our society are the ones that should pay because, by some incredibly twisted logic, they seem to think that the poor, the elderly and the disabled have somehow benefited the most from our overspending while the rich and powerful not only haven't benefited but have been stoically footing the bill.

How do you think these folks got wealthy? By being taken advantage of or by benefiting from the overspending that has occurred?

We all know it's the latter so now that the time has come to pay the piper, how about we ask those who can most afford it and have benefited the most from the splurging to carry most of the burden.

I'm willing to kick in a few more shekels to help balance the budget but NOT to finance another $50 billion in military spending or to build a silly wall because El Jefe in Washington has to throw lots of scraps and raw meat to those who financed his campaign.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Roger Ailes is Dead

I was wondering why the air smelled better this morning. Then I found out that Roger Ailes had died which solved the mystery.

Ailes was an evil man. He wasn't on the scale of a Hitler or a Stalin perhaps but the damage he's done with the innuendo laced, accurate but misleading and outright lying format that still dominates Fox News probably won't be repaired for decades and may never be repaired.

Fox News is not a news station. It's a Right Wing propaganda outlet and needs to be viewed that way.

Allow me to provide a recent example and explain exactly what Fox is doing.

In Mid-March two young men in Maryland, 17 and 18 years old, were accused of raping a 14 year-old female classmate in a bathroom stall at their high school.

One of those young men was an undocumented immigrant.

That was all it took, simply an accusation, for Fox News, in the person of Tucker Carlson,  to go all beast mode on illegal immigration. Carlson claimed that city officials “don’t want to think about the connection illegal immigration might have to this crime or others like it.”

Carlson's conclusion about the case was “This is insanity, of course, a sign of a sick civilization at war with itself. A strong country enforces its laws and protects its citizens. That’s Job One. In the U.S., too often we ignore our own laws and allow ruin to be visited on our own people.”

Now, notice two things, first he is assuming the boys are guilty even though he interviewed their lawyer who told him the sex was consensual. Carlson's response was to badger the attorney saying “You’d better be right about this because if you’re going to be impugning the character of a 14-year-old girl who says she was raped — other people said they heard her screams.”

Second, notice that he is introducing things that may or may not be true as facts. (1) Illegal immigration has a significant connection to crime. (2) City officials don't want to think about that. (3) People heard the girl scream. (4) In the US we ignore our own laws. (5) You're in danger because these things allow "ruin to be visited on our own people."

All of these things are asserted as facts with no justification, no evidence and no dissenting opinion. A lot of people are going to walk away from this barrage believing all of this crap.

Meanwhile, back in Maryland, the charges against the two boys were dropped because as the county prosecutor put it, “The facts of this case do not support the original charges filed."

Now Fox News wasn't the only Right Wing outlet jumping to conclusions but they were probably heard by the most people and did the most damage.

So, they're going to issue a retraction right? ****crickets****

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

DOJ Appoints Special Counsel

The Trump administration appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Friday evening as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations Russia and Donald Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election.

This is precisely the right thing to do.

We need to get this resolved one way or the other and Mueller is clearly qualified to head the investigation.

Everyone should be happy with this move which is the first intelligent thing Trump has done since taking office.

I suspect he's learning that you can't steamroll things. That's probably a good thing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

May Gallup Poll

The folks over at Gallup have provided us some interesting numbers in their May poll on social issues.

The first is a record high number of Americans saying Gay Marriage should be legal at a whopping 64%. When Gallup first started asking the question in 1996 only 27% supported it.

The support for same sex relations has also climbed to 72%. I hear NOM has a financial crisis. If so, then given these numbers it's not going to get better any time soon.

Democrats support Gay Marriage by 74%, Independents by 71% and even Republicans are figuring it out as support among the GOP has inched up to 47%.

The second interesting tidbit is that for the first time more people view the Bible as "a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man" than as the literal word of God by 26% to 24%. Most of the middle group still think it's "inspired by God" at 47%.

Men, at 36%, are more likely to consider it a book of fables than women at 24%. College graduates at 36% are more skeptical than those with no college at 19%.

The younger you are the more likely you'll view the Bible as a group of fables. Of those 18-29, 33% viewed it skeptically and of those 30-49 33% viewed it skeptically.

Well, that's a start but we still have a long way to go.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Trump's Tax Plan

Rational analysis says Obama did a pretty good job. He took an economy from the brink of disaster and brought it back to pretty decent health yet the Right Wing decries the "anemic growth rate" of "only" 1%-2%.

Which is a whole lot better than shrinking which is what we had at the end of the Bush years. Obama took a low risk approach and got modest results.

Trump and the supply side Republicans are going to take a high risk with massive tax cuts. Of course most of those tax cuts will be going to the very wealthy and to corporations rather than to where it should be going.

If you want to grow the economy you need to do it from the bottom up. Put more money into the hand of low and middle income who have a high mean propensity to consume. In other words, they're going to spend the money.

Supply follows demand. Without new demand there is no particular reason for companies to expand. If the corporate tax rate is low, there is no particular reason for companies to re-invest. It's more attractive to take the profits.

There is a theory that corporate tax cuts give a short lived boost to the economy but ultimately lead to an economic crash for that very reason. Companies tend to take profits rather than reinvest.

Trump and the Republicans keep pointing to Ronald Reagan as an example of the success of tax cuts.

There are three fundamental problems with this analogy.

(1) Reagan had a very different economy. Inflation was at 11% and unemployment rate was 9%. The current economy has an inflation rate around 2% and the unemployment rate is at 4.4%.

(2) Another ignored tidbit is that while there were two tax adjustments during the Reagan years there was also a major increase in payroll taxes, the closing of a large number of tax loopholes and a $400 billion increase in spending from $745 billion to $1.14 trillion. Reagan didn't just slash taxes like Trump seems to want to do.

(3) Reagan had first Donald Regan and then James Baker as secretaries of the treasury AND they worked closely with congress in particular senators Jack Kemp (R) from New York and Bill Bradley (D) from New Jersey.

In other words Reagan had very good advisers and people working on the tax changes.

Steve Mnuchin is either a clown who honestly believes that manufacturing plants aren't going to be highly automated (read that run by robots) or he's a crook who's bullshitting everyone and is waiting to grab his bag of cash and bolt.

Needless to say I'm concerned about what this tax plan is going to look like. I'm betting the rich get a lot richer and the rest of us get squat. I could be wrong but I doubt it.

Partisanship run amok

Donald Trump could cure cancer, end poverty and insure world peace and the Democrats would still criticize him.

Donald Trump could rape a 12 year old, nuke Iran and North Korea and steal half the treasury in broad daylight and his Republican and Evangelical Christian supporters would still support him.

Things have gotten so polarized that people aren't considering WHAT. All they're considering is WHO.

If the other side does it then it's bad. If our side does it then it's good is NOT a rational approach to anything.

Trump three months later

I haven't changed my mind. He continues to be self centered, immature, delusional and a lousy judge of character.

If there is one aspect of his personality that is most frightening it's his refusal to even consider that some claim he's made could ever be wrong regardless of the amount of evidence demonstrating that he is wrong.

The latest nonsense is he's going forward with a special investigation into voter fraud despite zero evidence that there is any.

Worse he's picked Chris Kobach from Kansas for the panel who has made a career out of figuring out ways to disenfranchise voters.

This sets up the suspicion that the panel is actually being tasked with manufacturing evidence rather than performing a real investigation.

The Comey Firing

Let's be very clear about this subject. You have to separate the man, James Comey, from the office he held as Director of the FBI.

Comey probably deserved to be fired. If there was a guy at his level better at putting his foot in his mouth I can't recall him off the top of my head.

The problem is in firing Comey with immediately filling the void of the Russian interference investigation with say a special prosecutor, Trump impinged the integrity of the office of Director of the FBI.

When you are playing with this sort of explosive stuff you not only have to be right you have to have all of the appearance of being right.

Trump is pretty good at putting his foot in his mouth as well. It's seems clear that he has lousy advisers.

The Heath Care Bill

It's been seven weeks since I had any desire to say anything about anything. A lot has happened in those seven weeks and I'm going to put down my thoughts about them in a few posts in no particular order.

Like Lazarus rising from the grave the Republican health care bill doesn't want to stay dead. I'm no expert and I will admit that I didn't have the heart to read the new bill so I'm sort of relying upon what others say, but I'll give you my impression.

The Republicans are absolutely full of crap.  Yes they did rush the legislation without waiting for the CBO assessment or input from interested groups. So far I've heard the AMA and the AARP have both panned the bill.

You can't cut Medicaid dollars and essentially hope the states will pour money into some sort of high risk pool for people with preexisting conditions without guaranteeing a bunch of folks will either lose health insurance or not be able to get it.

The other thing I don't understand is why cut the tax on tanning salons? Is there anyone that seriously thinks we shouldn't be discouraging people from using those cancer incubation machines? I mean come on.

If you take all the sick people out of the market AND essentially put no requirements on what a health care policy has to include of course premiums are going to come down. Profits are also going to go up but some people are also going to die.

In the meantime the senate sounds like its going to essentially write their own bill. Can't wait to see that one.

It seems pretty simple to me that you write a bill you need to include two important things in a summary somewhere.

(1) What is the objective or objectives of the bill.

(2) A specific explanation, complete with numbers, on how this bill is expected to accomplish that objective or those objectives.

If you can't specify these two things, then you're just blowing hot air.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Transgender Confusion

I never cease to be amazed about the ignorance making the rounds about transgender individuals.

No one is telling anyone that they can be a girl if that's what they want to be. Let me try and explain it as I understand it.

Sex: Is determined by biology and can be either male, female or intersex. Intersex individuals make up about 1.6% of the population and have either physical or chromosomal characteristics that don't match the typical male or female types,

Gender: Refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. Obviously gender is not arbitrary but extensively influenced by sexual characteristics.

Gender Dysphoria: Strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one's own biological sex that results in significant distress or impairment.

To be clinically diagnosed with gender dysphoria:

A. Must persistently and strongly identify with the opposite gender (aside from desiring any perceived cultural advantage of being the other gender).

B. A persistent discomfort with his or her sex traits or sense of inappropriateness of the gender associated with those traits. Must have strong discomfort with own gender and express that discomfort.

C. Not concurrent with physical intersex condition.

D. Causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

I don't know where people get this impression that one can simply declare themselves a member of the other gender. For instance one would not be recognized as transgender in a school environment without psychiatric concurrence.

The number of transgender individuals in the US is minuscule. Depending upon whose numbers you believe they are somewhere between 0.3% and 0.6% of the population.

To put this in perspective, 14% of the US population lives in poverty so I figure we have much more important things to worry about.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a program that bring food to the elderly that a difficult time shopping for themselves are on a limited budget.

The food isn't fancy but it's generally nutritious. It's delivered by volunteers so the cost is mostly for the  food.

But not to worry, according the Trump White House the program is "not showing any results" so they want to cut it in order to free up funds for a $54 billion increase to defense spending.

Like the man said, Republicans only care for themselves.

What the hell kind of results are you expecting from delivering small parcels of food to older folk who otherwise might not be eating regularly?

Is this part of the Republican plan to help out Social Security? Kill off the elderly so they stop collecting?

And to make matters worse, the extra money they want to spend on defense appears to be earmarked for the wrong sort of stuff. They want to fight the cold war rather than a 21st cetury war where insurgency and cyber warfare are the real dangers.

Give me a goddamn break.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Trump

Every day Trump gives more evidence that he is precisely what we were afraid he was, self centered, immature, delusional and a lousy judge of character.

He is the ultimate example of the Dunning-Kruger effect and appears to be working overtime to make himself look ridiculous.

I'd like to offer him some free advice.

(1) Stop being distracted by trivial nonsense. What difference does it make who's inauguration crowd was bigger?

(2) Get a grip on reality. There was no voter fraud. You really did lose the popular vote and no, the media is not refusing to report terrorist incidents. If anything they beat them to death like a bunch of ghouls.

(3) Get rid of the obvious incompetents giving you bad advice and making you look dumb. That includes Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, Kellyanne Conway and that utter clown Sean Spicer.

(4) Stop listening to the Religious Right. Collect the actual facts before making a decision.

(5) Get rid of your Twitter account.

If you listen to me then maybe, just maybe, we might avoid a national catastrophe.

Super Bowl LI

I was almost dozing off. I actually started finishing "Around the World in 80 Days" on my tablet. It was 28-3 Falcons. I figured I'd just kill time till the game was over.

As Phileas Fogg and Passpartout were looking for a ship across the Atlantic the Patriots scored but then missed the extra point. That made it 28-9 and I remember thinking to myself "boy, nothing is going right for these guys."

A short while later the Patriots failed to get into the end zone and settled for a field goal. The score was 28-12 and Joe Buck was desperately trying to keep the interest up by exclaiming that it was now a two score game.

I remember thinking, "yeah two scores and two 2-point conversions."

As Phileas Fogg starting burning the last of the good ship Henrietta's upper structure the Pats scored again and got the 2-point conversion. I put my tablet down. The score was 28-20 and Tom Brady was clearly in the zone.

Even so the Falcons blew a chance to just about put the game away by allowing a big sack followed by a holding penalty when they were inside the 25 yard line. Two running plays, burning time off the clock or forcing the Pats to us their timeouts, followed by a field goal would have made the score 31-20 and the Patriots would have been hurting big time.

Instead they ended up punting. Brady took the Patriots down to the tying score and then took the overtime kickoff and just as easily marched to the winning touchdown for a 34-28 come from behind win.

Is there anyone in the country that still doubts that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump's Cabinet

Trump's not off to a very good start.

Many of his choices for cabinet posts are absolutely dreadful.

Rick Perry didn't even know what the department he now leads does. DeVos thinks the public schools should be used to pave the way for God's Kingdom and doesn't understand the basics of education. As for Ben Carson, maybe we'll get lucky and he'll lose his way trying to get to Washington.

Those are the total incompetents and I'll be surprised if any of them last a year.

Then we get the downright spiteful. Tom Price who would like nothing better than to dismantle Medicare, Steve Mnuchin who thinks swindling 80 plus year old grandmas in search of a profit is just fine and dandy, Scott Pruitt who thinks environmental regulations should be left up to the states and Jeff Sessions who seems to think they had it right back in the 1950s Jim Crow South.

On the plus side Linda McMahon for the SBA is probably his best pick and I think Rex Tillerson may turn out to be his most critical pick since he's about the only guy that might be capable of beating any sense into Trump's thick skull.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Clemson vs. Alabama

That was a great game. That was more than a great game. That was an absolute classic as Clemson took down Alabama 35-31.

Clemson trailed 24-14 as the 4th quarter began, They cut the score to 24-21 and then, with 4 minutes left, took the lead for the first time 28-24.

But we're talking about Alabama here and the Tide came roaring back sparked by a 24 yard trick play lateral and a 30 yard scramble by true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts for a touchdown to take the lead back 31-28 with 2 minutes left.

But Deshaun Watson and Clemson weren't done yet. They methodically moved the ball to the Alabama 9 yard line and called timeout with 14 seconds left.

The big question was how many chances would Clemson get to win it before going for a tying field goal remembering of course that Alabama was a team that lived by taking the ball away.

The next play was an incomplete pass moving the clock down to 9 seconds. The next pass went to the end zone and Alabama was called for pass interference which placed the ball at the 2 yard line with 6 seconds left.

Then, in a thing of beauty, Clemson ran a pick play to the right side and Watson dropped it into 5'11" 180 pound Hunter Renfrow for the TD.

Renfrow had been a thorn in the side of Alabama all night with 10 catches for 92 yards and 2 TDs but, perhaps bigger, was a huge tackle to prevent a recovered fumble from turning into an Alabama TD that would have made the score 21-7 early in the 3rd quarter. Instead the Clemson defense held and Alabama had to settle for a field goal.

But the game wasn't quite over yet. There was still one second on the clock. Clemson dribbled the kickoff and fell on it after it had gone 10 yards, The celebrations began, everyone poured out onto the field but there was still one second on the clock.

The zebras began to huddle. The field was cleared. Calls were made upstairs to the replay booth. The game announcers were confused and all half of America could think of was, "Oh no. They're going to pull out some obscure rule, give the ball to Alabama and there will still be a chance for them to win."

But it wasn't to be. Clemson's Watson took a knee from victory formation and the game was over.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The College Football Semi-finals

Wow. The Alabama defense is scary and the Clemson defense looked just as scary.

Alabama took care of Washington 24-7. Clemson utterly obliterated Ohio State 31-0 but it wasn't even that close. What impressed me was Clemson's defense which held Ohio State to 216 yards while the Clemson offense racked up 473 yards.

So January 9th we get the final. Alabama is a 6.5 point favorite but if anyone can calm the Tide I have to believe it's Clemson.

Should be fun.