Friday, May 31, 2013

Philosophy vs. Age

From an email:

Punny Things Confucius Did Not Say

From an email:

Man who wants pretty nurse, must be patient.

Passionate kiss, like spider web, leads to undoing of fly.

Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intent.

Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.

Man who runs in front of car gets tired, man who runs behind car gets exhausted.

Man who eats many prunes get good run for money.

War does not determine who is right, it determines who is left.

Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.

It takes many nails to build a crib but only one screw to fill it.

Man who drives like hell is bound to get there.

Man who stands on toilet is high on pot.

Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

Man who live in glass house have faded furniture.

Man who fish in other man's well often catch crabs.

Finally CONFUCIUS DID SAY. . ...

"A lion will not cheat on his wife, but a Tiger Wood!"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Republi-CON 'Regular Order' Budget CON

UPDATE:  "Republicans don’t want to enter into conference negotiations over the budget (even though they had previously insisted on 'regular order' for a long time). Instead, Ryan wants a pre-conference agreement before regular conference negotiations. He gives a bunch of procedural reasons for this, such as the fact that if conference negotiations fail, the House minority has the authority to force Republicans to take uncomfortable votes (on so called 'motions to instruct'). . .

The simple fact of the matter here is that Republicans are not willing to enter into negotiations over the budget unless they can use the threat of crashing the economy to get more of they want. . .

At the same time, it’s politically problematic to openly admit they are only willing to enter into negotiations in which they can avail themselves of the threat of something as destructive as default to maximize their leverage. So Ryan is forced into the above contortions to explain the Republicans’ strategy — or, more accurately, their lack of any coherent strategy."

Read the Washington Post, Paul Ryan admits GOP can’t govern without a hostage crisis.

Republi-cons have "spent years calling for a return to 'regular order' in which the House writes a budget, the Senate writes a budget, and the two chambers move to a conference committee to hash out their differences. This year, for the first time since 2009, Senate Democrats wrote and passed a full budget, shepherding it to passage through an open amendment process. Now various Senate Republicans are blocking the move towards conference — blocking, in other words, the move towards the regular order they demanded."

Read  the Washington Post, GOP moderates feud with conservatives over stall tactics on budget

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hoodwicked by the Hoodie??

UPDATE V:  It's been more than a year since the killing, and the trial starts in two weeks.  As part of his defense, Zimmerman wants to smear Martin's name.  He better watch out, character assassination cuts both ways.

Read the Washington Post, George Zimmerman’s relevant past, which notes that "over the course of eight years, Zimmerman made at least 46 calls to the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department reporting suspicious activity involving black males." His cousin is also quoted as saying "'I know George. And I know that he does not like black people.'"

UPDATE IV: It appears that "[w]hat is likely is that both men scared each other for different reasons, and one tragically overreacted." Read the Washington Post, Fear and bloodshed in Florida.

UPDATE III: What happened that night?

Watch as "Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, details what the detectives told him about George Zimmerman's account of his son's fatal shooting" at the Washington Post, Trayvon Martin's father: What the police told me:

Also see an interactive article that summarizes the evidence known at The New York Times, The Events Leading to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin.

UPDATE II: Although I think there is much to discuss about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the way that it was discussed yesterday on WEBY's Your Turn program by the owner of the radio station was inexcusable, with attacks on Obama as a 'race pimp' for his comments on the matter.

From Politico, Obama: 'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon', watch what Obama said in response to a question about the shooting:

As the article notes "Obama [had] come under fire from some black leaders for failing to comment on a case that has become a major national story — and brought thousands of Americans into the streets for demonstrations calling for the arrest of Martin's shooter. . .

The president was careful not to comment too extensively on an active investigation on both the federal and state levels, noting that as head of the executive branch, the Department of Justice reports to him."

This wasn't Mike's first inexcusable attack on Obama.

Mike's comments yesterday were a poor attempt to use fear, anger and hatred to pander to worst element of the Republican Party.

I challenge Mike to play Obama's comments and explain why those comments justify the label 'race pimp.' If he is unable to do so, Mike owes the WEBY family an apology for his show yesterday.

UPDATE: It should be noted that the account of the incident in the Orlando Sentinel is "entirely at odds with the account of Martin’s girlfriend, who says Martin was talking to her on his cell phone just before his death. The girlfriend says she heard Martin ask a man, 'What are you following me for,' and that the man answered, 'What are you doing here?' Then she heard Martin pushed to the ground." Read Slate, Can We Trust the Cops’ New Account of Trayvon Martin’s Killing?

Hoodwink means: "1. To take in by deceptive means; deceive. See Synonyms at deceive. 2. Archaic To blindfold. 3. Obsolete To conceal."

Has the media hoodwinked the public regarding the Trayvon Martin case?

Read the Orlando Sentinel, Police: Zimmerman says Trayvon decked him with one blow then began hammering his head, which is only now reporting that Zimmerman "had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from behind, the two exchanged words then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground, and began beating him." The article also states that was "the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say."

Friday, May 24, 2013

For Heavy Thinkers

From an email:

1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
3 - Half the people you know are below average.
4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 - 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 - A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 - A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 - If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 - All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 - The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 - I almost had a psychic girlfriend,  But she left me before we met.
12 - OK, so what's the speed of dark?
13 - How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
14 - If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 - Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 - When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
17 - Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 - Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 - I intend to live forever.  So far, so good.
20 - If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 - Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
22 - What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 - My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
24 - Why do psychics have to ask you for your name.
25 - If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 - A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 - Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
28 - The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of  the bread.
29 - To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 - The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 - The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.
32 - The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 - Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.
34 - If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you. 
And the all-time favorite -
35 - If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baracknophobia aka Obama Derangment Syndrome

UPDATE III:  With foolish talk of impeachment, will 2014 be Republi-con déjà 1998 vu all over again?

Read Bloomberg, 'Obama Scandals' Could Actually Hurt Republicans.  

UPDATE II:  That old Republi-con 'blind rage' continues, they "are so focused on their bitter battles against Obama, they can’t see how little impact the 'scandals' have had on public opinion."

Read National Journal, Republicans’ Hatred of Obama Blinds Them to Public Disinterest in Scandals, which notes: "Red-faced Republicans, circling and preparing to pounce on a second-term Democratic president they loathe, do not respect, and certainly do not fear. Sound familiar? Perhaps reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s second term, after the Monica Lewinsky story broke? During that time, Republicans became so consumed by their hatred of Clinton and their conviction that this event would bring him down that they convinced themselves the rest of the country was just as outraged by his behavior as they were. By the way, what was Clinton’s lowest Gallup job-approval rating in his second term, throughout the travails of investigations and impeachment? It was 53 percent. The conservative echo machine had worked itself into such a frenzy, the GOP didn’t realize that the outrage was largely confined to the ranks of those who never voted for Clinton anyway."
Without fear, anger and hatred, where would the Republi-cons be.

 UPDATE:   "Welcome to the Obama Haters Book Club—a parallel universe of fear mongering for fun and profit. 

 Over the past four years, no less than 89 obsessively anti-Obama books have been published, as now catalogued by The Daily Beast. I’m not talking about cool statements of policy difference, but overheated and often unhinged screeds painting a picture of the president as a dangerous radical hell-bent on undermining the Republic by any means necessary. It is hate and hyper-partisan paranoia masquerading as high-minded patriotism.

Here’s the worst part—this steady drumbeat of incitement is having an impact on this presidential election because it has poisoned the well of civic discourse for many voters and those in their radius of damage. It has helped divide the nation beyond reason, distorting the president’s real record beyond all recognition.

By their very nature, books offer the promise of education and enlightenment. These conspiracy entrepreneurs prey on the prejudices of their audience."

Read The Daily Beast, The Obama Haters Book Club, The Canon Swells.
Like our local Pastor Egomaniacal (AKA Pastor 2+2 Does Not = 4, Pastor Dred Scott, Resident Pastor-to-the-Dictators, Pastor Truthiness, and Pastor Poppins), his friends at WND just can't admit that Obama was re-elected.  Read USA Today, No, Obama can't be stopped at the Electoral College

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Republi-CON Government and Household Debt CONparison

"A government does not have a life cycle, does not ever expect to stop generating income to support itself, and, therefore, does not ever have to retire its debt. It must keep its debts at a manageable size relative to the economy, which the U.S. has done over that 60 year period. If the economy is growing over the long term, that means the government can run a deficit and grow the debt every year -- sustainably. . .

If the recent expansion of the public debt is a matter of overriding economic concern, why is Boehner so resolutely opposed to tax increases to pay it down? America’s economy has thrived under a variety of tax policies, including much higher top marginal tax rates than are in effect today. Shouldn’t Boehner be willing to accept tax increases, or perhaps even be eager for them, in order to fight the debt menace he cites?

Boehner doesn’t really care about the public debt, as he made clear when he repeatedly supported debt-expanding measures under a Republican president. What Boehner and House Republicans really want are excuses to cut federal spending, particularly on programs such as Medicaid and food stamps that support low-income Americans. But those cuts are unpopular, so Republicans frame fiscal debate to make such cuts appear necessary to avoid disaster."

Read Bloomberg, Boehner Accidentally Explains Why His Deficit Position Is Phony

The article includes a chart showing the growth of "the net debts of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. They have soared -- up 5,760 percent since 1987. By comparison, the roughly 600 percent rise in the U.S. public debt over the same period looks restrained. Is Wal-Mart mad? How long can it go on just borrowing and borrowing and borrowing?

The answer is 'as long as Wal-Mart keeps growing.' The white line shows Wal-Mart’s ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. And what that shows is that Wal-Mart’s debts have been rising to keep pace with its growing earnings. Similarly, for six decades U.S. government debt has been rising roughly in line with the growth of the economy. Over the last few years, it’s grown a lot faster because of cyclical economic weakness. The proper matter for debate is whether recent deficits are too large -- not whether six decades is too long to run them."

Why Are Republi-CONs Opposed to Immigration? In Order To Protect the 'White Native Population'

The Heritage Foundation is a CONservative think tank. 

It "made something of a splash with its study suggesting that immigration reform will cost the public trillions. Past work by one of its co-authors helps put that piece in context.

Jason Richwine is relatively new to the think tank world. He received his PhD in public policy from Harvard in 2009, and joined Heritage after a brief stay at the American Enterprise Institute. Richwine’s doctoral dissertation is titled 'IQ and Immigration Policy'; the contents are well summarized in the dissertation abstract:

The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.

Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — 'the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ' — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, 'No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.'"

Read the Washington Post, Heritage study co-author opposed letting in immigrants with low IQs.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Republi-CON Myth of Expansionary Austerity

UPDATE IV:  "The nation’s unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower, roughly 6.5 percent, and economic growth almost two points higher this year if Washington had not cut spending and raised taxes as it has since 2011, according to private-sector and government economists.

After two years in which President Obama and Republicans in Congress have fought to a draw over their clashing approaches to job creation and budget deficits, the consensus about the result is clear: Immediate deficit reduction is a drag on full economic recovery."

Read The New York Times, Economists See Deficit Emphasis as Impeding Recovery

UPDATE III:  "At this point the economic case for austerity — for slashing government spending even in the face of a weak economy — has collapsed. Claims that spending cuts would actually boost employment by promoting confidence have fallen apart. Claims that there is some kind of red line of debt that countries dare not cross have turned out to rest on fuzzy and to some extent just plain erroneous math. Predictions of fiscal crisis keep not coming true; predictions of disaster from harsh austerity policies have proved all too accurate. . .

And if you look at United States history since World War II, you find that of the 10 presidents who preceded Barack Obama, seven left office with a debt ratio lower than when they came in. Who were the three exceptions? Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes. So debt increases that didn’t arise either from war or from extraordinary financial crisis are entirely associated with hard-line conservative governments.

And there’s a reason for that association: U.S. conservatives have long followed a strategy of “starving the beast,” slashing taxes so as to deprive the government of the revenue it needs to pay for popular programs.

The funny thing is that right now these same hard-line conservatives declare that we must not run deficits in times of economic crisis. Why? Because, they say, politicians won’t do the right thing and pay down the debt in good times. And who are these irresponsible politicians they’re talking about? Why, themselves."

Read The New York Times, The Chutzpah Caucus

UPDATE II:  "Economic debates rarely end with a T.K.O. But the great policy debate of recent years between Keynesians, who advocate sustaining and, indeed, increasing government spending in a depression, and austerians, who demand immediate spending cuts, comes close — at least in the world of ideas. At this point, the austerian position has imploded; not only have its predictions about the real world failed completely, but the academic research invoked to support that position has turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.

Yet two big questions remain. First, how did austerity doctrine become so influential in the first place? Second, will policy change at all now that crucial austerian claims have become fodder for late-night comics? . .

Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we’re paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong, that the reason we have mass unemployment isn’t that we spent too much in the past but that we’re spending too little now, and that this problem can and should be solved. No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering — and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren’t at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent."

Read The New York Times, The 1 Percent’s Solution.   

UPDATE:  "For three years, the turn to austerity has been presented not as a choice but as a necessity. Economic research, austerity advocates insisted, showed that terrible things happen once debt exceeds 90 percent of G.D.P. But “economic research” showed no such thing; a couple of economists made that assertion, while many others disagreed. Policy makers abandoned the unemployed and turned to austerity because they wanted to, not because they had to."

Read The New York Times, The Excel Depression.  

Another Republi-con myth fails in the real world of factual reality:

"With all the theatrics going on in Washington, you might well have missed the most important political and economic news of the week: an official confirmation from the United Kingdom that austerity policies don’t work.

In making his annual Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was forced to admit that his government has failed to meet a series of targets it set for itself back in June of 2010, when it slashed the budgets of various government departments by up to thirty per cent. Back then, Osborne said that his austerity policies would cut his country’s budget deficit to zero within four years, enable Britain to begin relieving itself of its public debt, and generate healthy economic growth. None of these things have happened. Britain’s deficit remains stubbornly high, its people have been suffering through a double-dip recession, and many observers now expect the country to lose its 'AAA' credit rating."

Read The New Yorker, It’s Official: Austerity Economics Doesn’t Work.

As you may remember, the myth of expansionary austerity has been the subject of numerous posts over the past several years.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

America's New Religion: Market Capitolism (Pun Intended)

"Some say the moral failing at the heart of market triumphalism was greed, which led to irresponsible risk-taking. The solution, according to this view, is to rein in greed, insist on greater integrity and responsibility among bankers and Wall Street executives, and enact sensible regulations to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

This is, at best, a partial diagnosis. While it is certainly true that greed played a role in the financial crisis, something bigger was and is at stake. The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the reach of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to have a public debate about where markets belong—and where they don’t. . .

Consider, for example, the proliferation of for-profit schools, hospitals, and prisons, and the outsourcing of war to private military contractors. (In Iraq and Afghanistan, private contractors have actually outnumbered U.S. military troops.) Consider the eclipse of public police forces by private security firms—especially in the U.S. and the U.K., where the number of private guards is almost twice the number of public police officers.

Or consider the pharmaceutical companies’ aggressive marketing of prescription drugs directly to consumers, a practice now prevalent in the U.S. but prohibited in most other countries. (If you’ve ever seen the television commercials on the evening news, you could be forgiven for thinking that the greatest health crisis in the world is not malaria or river blindness or sleeping sickness but an epidemic of erectile dysfunction.)

Consider too the reach of commercial advertising into public schools, from buses to corridors to cafeterias; the sale of “naming rights” to parks and civic spaces; the blurred boundaries, within journalism, between news and advertising, likely to blur further as newspapers and magazines struggle to survive; the marketing of “designer” eggs and sperm for assisted reproduction; the buying and selling, by companies and countries, of the right to pollute; a system of campaign finance in the U.S. that comes close to permitting the buying and selling of elections.

These uses of markets to allocate health, education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation, and other social goods were for the most part unheard-of 30 years ago. Today, we take them largely for granted."

Read The Atlantic, What Isn’t for Sale?

The Afghanistan-CON

"And so it turns out, the war in Afghanistan has been an even bigger mug’s game than we imagined. The latest blow comes from a story by Matthew Rosenberg in the April 28 New York Times, reporting that, for the past decade, the CIA has been dropping off bags of cash—now totaling tens of millions of dollars—at the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who in turn has passed it around to his cronies and favored warlords.

This is a very big deal, much more than most scandals about secret payoffs and bribes. It suggests that, in a crucial way, the war was a sham from the get-go, that the conditions for success would never—could never—be fulfilled, and that our own actions helped ensure our failure. . .

[A U.S. Army study] laid bare two important facts about the war. First, the U.S. and Afghan governments did not share the same interests. The American strategy required Karzai to reform, in order to enhance his legitimacy and thus dry up support for the Taliban; Karzai’s strategy was to stay in power, which required payoffs to a network of cronies.

Second, because of this tension, the American strategy’s two goals—to secure the Afghan people from the Taliban and to help reform the Afghan government—were themselves incompatible, or at least in constant tension with each other. For instance, the first goal sometimes required us to pay local security forces, i.e., warlords. This boosted corruption and alienated the population, which worked against the second goal.

This was known all along, certainly by McChrystal and Petraeus, who saw the dynamic of corruption—how it was interwoven with the nature and structure of Karzai’s regime—as their biggest challenge.

But now the Times story tells us that the CIA was stiffening this challenge by providing Karzai with the money to keep the network rolling.

The money was self-defeating in another way. By seeing how much money the Americans were willing to pay just to keep him in power and to support the U.S. mission, Karzai must have inferred that the war was at least as important to them as it was to him—maybe more so. As a result, when McChrystal, Petraeus, and other top U.S. officials made noises about reform, he had good reason to doubt their sincerity. Their own CIA, after all, was bankrolling the corruption; they couldn’t be too serious in their demands to end it.

Which raises a question that some congressional committee might want to probe: How deep, how high, did the complicity with Afghan corruption go? Was this a CIA rogue operation, or did everyone know about it, and, if the latter, did anyone in a position of power see—or say anything about—the contradiction between pushing for reform and abetting corruption? How seriously did the people in charge take this war?"

Read Slate, Feeding the Hand That Bites