Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Yin and the Yang of Barack Obama

The president is just like George Bush:

The “revelations” from the report poured out to a stunned nation.  There were the CIA’s own figures on the hundreds of children in the backlands of Pakistan and Yemen killed by drone strikes against “terrorists” and “militants.”  There were the “double-tap strikes” in which drones returned after initial attacks to go after rescuers of those buried in rubble or to take out the funerals of those previously slain.  There were the CIA’s own statistics on the stunning numbers of unknown villagers killed for every significant and known figure targeted and finally taken out (1,147 dead in Pakistan for 41 men specifically targeted).  There were the unexpected internal Agency discussions of the imprecision of the robotic weapons always publicly hailed as “surgically precise” (and also of the weakness of much of the intelligence that led them to their targets).  There was the joking and commonplace use of dehumanizing language (“bug splat” for those killed) by the teams directing the drones.  There were the “signature strikes,” or the targeting of groups of young men of military age about whom nothing specifically was known, and of course there was the raging argument that ensued in the media over the “effectiveness” of it all (including various emails from CIA officials admitting that drone campaigns in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen had proven to be mechanisms not so much for destroying terrorists as for creating new ones).

That should finish off the last of the holiday spirit! It's from a report to be published in December 2019 according to the prophet Tom Engelhardt. I feel a ton of guilt just from stupid shit I did as a kid. How people who cause death and destruction to others on the level done by these fucks live with themselves, I'd love to know.

On this level, Obama equals Cheney. Read the rest. It doesn't get better.

Then there's the FDR, Lincoln, LBJ (the non-genocide in Vietnam LBJ); Obama:

However there are a few things that transpired this year that warm the very depths of my cold black heart. I’ve said before that before I shuffle off into oblivion/The Big Empty/infinity-XXL/Bloomington, Indiana, there were a few injustices that I would like to see corrected.

The right of gay-Americans to get same-sex hitched, marijuana to be legalized, and fer-Christ-sakes, accept that the embargo with Cuba was a stupid idea and lets get over ourselves and open up relations and travel with the warm and beckoning tropical nation.

For all intents and purposes, all three happened this year.

As a fellow late-middle-aged, middle-class white male living in America, I join Tbogg in celebrating these 3 bitchin' things America got for Christmas this year.

And some more good stuff from this year from The Nation; including Democrats that are not the same as Republicans. These would be Liz Warren, Zephyr Teachout, Pat Leahy, Barbara Lee, Maura Healey and many more.

There is hope. Yet.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Build Back Better

Haven't given a lot of thought to Indonesia since the tsunami there a decade ago. Recently started getting the Christian Science Monitor as a news source on the Kindle. Gotta say, "I love CSM!" They have fairness and balance any other media can only dream of. I'm very happy to see that the people of Indonesia seem to have built a society that's better in many ways than what they had before the storm.

Yet to visit Banda Aceh today is to visit a city that has not just been patched together but largely fulfilled the post-tsunami mantra of aid officials: “Build Back Better.” In an age when massive outpourings of aid often get diverted or diluted before reaching the needy, fueling donor fatigue, much of the tsunami relief money has trickled down to survivors of the disaster – and made a difference. This is evident in the 130,000 new houses, 1,700 schools, and nearly 1,000 government buildings built in the aftermath. Aceh has new airports, seaports, sewers, and potable water systems; it has 2,300 miles of new roads and a rebuilt power grid.

“In terms of physical infrastructure, we are better off now,” says Saiful Mahdi, director of the International Center for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies in Banda Aceh.

And beyond the rebuilding physically is political rebuilding as well.

The rebuilding has also been about more than simply restoring the physical past. Before 2004, decades of fighting between separatist rebels and security forces had killed at least 10,000, mostly civilians, and mired a resource-rich province in poverty. For that reason, it quickly became clear that absent a credible peace process, rebuilding Aceh would result in the squandering of vast sums of money. Eight months later, the rebels and Indonesia’s government signed a historic power-sharing agreement in Helsinki, Finland. And that deal has held, bringing peace to Aceh, a new crop of leaders, and an end to its political isolation. This d├ętente set the stage for a post-tsunami revitalization, a new chapter to be written.

Yes, I have a happy holiday post to put up. There is good news in the world.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Christmas Spirit Is Alive And Well

My personal feeling is that 20 or 30 years from now, folks are going to look back on the whole EIT torture shame we are witnessing and will feel about it the same way rational people now feel about Japanese internment, McCarthyism and the lynching of Blacks back in the day. Right now, I hear tell, half the good folks of this here United States are reported to be right there with Dick Cheney in saying it was justified. So, for you future readers of Hometown USA, I present some letters to the Post Star. That was a newspaper. You likely won't have them. I'm going to leave the names off the letters, but provide links.

Isn’t it amazing, time after time we are fed these ridiculous stories, news articles from around the world, while the empty suit occupying our White House lies to us, insults and stabs our allies in the back, demoralizes our military, encourages racial strife, and all but destroys the middle class? Then comes this half-made-up story throwing our CIA under the bus, and bam, front page! Let’s embarrass the Republicans. Surprise all our senators, yes even liberal Democrats went along with these proposals years ago. But now that the voters have embarrassed these snakes, let’s take a last shot at tearing down this country.

We pay our police to keep the riff-raff from our door, then tie their hands. We pay our military to fight these murdering cowards, but our know-nothing liberals must guide them. I lost many good friends on 9/11. I still see the falling bodies. I still see three burning bodies hanging from the bridges. I can still feel the pain of the loved ones who saw the bodiless heads of husbands and children. Do I feel anything for these godless cowards? I only hope the next administration has more guts than this one. Hopefully America will again be respected and feared. We are fighting for our lives.

God bless you, John J. Byrnes III. Thank you for your service. Thank you, America’s police officers, America’s soldiers and the CIA.

Number Two:

I think Mr. Tingley should be ashamed of himself for his commentary concerning the Senate report of torture. First of all, this investigation was done solely by Senate Democrats without any input of many key players involved, most notably members of the CIA. It was obvious from the start that this was a totally biased political ploy concocted solely to distract from the many failures of this administration and he bit on it hook, line and sinker. These “enhanced interrogation” techniques are not torture. If you want to know what torture is, ask some of the POWs of World War II, Korea or Vietnam.

I’m surprised of the views of Sen. John McCain considering what he went through. He mentioned Mai Lai and Abu Ghraib. Sure, there will always be a few atrocities in war, but why not concentrate on the atrocities perpetuated on totally innocent people by the most inhumane barbaric savages of our time?

For anyone to have sympathy for any of this ilk being banged against a wall, have water poured on them or being “inconvenienced” in some way is totally beyond belief.

Yeah, what the hell? They pour Gatorade on coaches all the time. The third contestant for humanitarian of the year:

According to the Dec. 17 Post Star, 141 people, mostly children, were massacred in Peshawar, Pakistan, by the Taliban.

On Page A2 is an article about the killing of at least 25 in car bombings, including a school bus, on which at least 15 primary school students were killed in Sanaa, Yemen, which is blamed on al-Qaida.

Now tell me again why, if some of these terrorists were captured, enhanced interrogation would not be justified to help find the rest of the cowards who perpetrated this outrage.

Yes, won't you think of the children? Of course, if they had grown up she'd have had no problem with their being tortured because they were wrongly "fingered" by someone else being tortured who gave out their names. That's the way the witch trials in Europe and America went, I do believe.

And here is a Christmas gift for Matt Funiciello. This is one of those cases where I cannot argue against the fact that on some levels the Obama WH is absolutely as evil as the Bush/Cheney WH. 


Four years ago today, frustrated Tunisian vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and started a wave of uprisings in the Arab world that continue to reverberate to this day – though not in the way that many expected.

Sadly, the promise of what some call the Arab Spring has not come to pass anywhere yet, except perhaps in Tunisia, the small country where it all began.

Since then, a democracy protest movement has been crushed, with Saudi Arabian help, in Bahrain, the kingdom that hosts the US Fifth Fleet; Syrian protests for change have deteriorated into the world's bloodiest current civil war, with 200,000 dead, millions displaced from their homes, and the US fighting jihadis who became dominant in the uprising, not the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.

Yeah, the evil part:

Yet while President Barack Obama spoke of democracy and a change in the way the US does business in the Middle East in those heady days, today his administration and the US Congress, Republican and Democrat, are getting back to business as usual, with security and strategic concerns trumping the lip-service paid to democracy and open societies.

Earlier this month Congress approved a spending bill that calls for $1.3 billion in US cash and weapons for Egypt's military to be conditioned on tangible progress towards democracy. But lawmakers also allowed Mr. Obama to waive this requirement if he thinks security or other interests are more important. Yesterday, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration was delighted with this "flexibility."

OTOH, Obama did take actions in regard to Cuba that neither McCain nor Romney would have done in a million years. And voting for Jill Stein isn't going to make it so.

Oh, and here's Digby on GOP hypocrisy regarding Cuba. 

To think that just last week the man who is preaching today about America’s commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was exhorting us all to thank the people who used torture techniques like “rectal feeding” on prisoners in American custody.

..............................................

(A)s Dick Cheney put it a few years back:
“They’re living in the tropics. They’re well fed. They’ve got everything they could possibly want.”
Fidel Castro couldn’t have said it better himself.

 ...................................................

(W)hen you endorse torture, the least you can do is have enough shame not to sanctimoniously lecture others about morality and high ideals of civilized behavior.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Saying Something Nice About Governor Andrew

And proving once again that Dems don't equal Reps.

In a long-awaited decision, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will not move forward with high volume hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, because of the threat it poses to air, water and public health.

Thank you, Governor. And thanks for this, as well.

Might as well give a shout out to the president, too. Even if it wasn't the right thing to do (and about time), it's worth it just to piss off the Right.

President Barack Obama declared the end of America’s “outdated approach” to Cuba Wednesday, announcing the re-establishment of diplomatic relations as well as economic and travel ties with the communist island – a historic shift in U.S. policy that aims to bring an end to a half-century of Cold War enmity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Matt's Epistle To Pissed Off Dems

I'm beginning to realize how much I'm going to miss out with Matt Funiciello not going to Congress in January. He's at least providing some entertainment as we count down to the winter solstice here in the not-so-frozen North. I hold out hope that once Elise Stefanik takes office, he will provide the promised critiques of her. In the meantime, he's, not surprisingly, finding some Dems who are not enamored of him. After saying reaction to him and his campaign have, in general, been positive:

(T)here has been some negative reaction (in general from hereditary Democratic Party voters) including people like Warren County Democratic Chair Lynne Boecher (whose remarks in The Chronicle about my run For congress were hardly favorable).

Once again, kudos to Lynne Boecher. 

I have also been called a "spoiler" and a "vanity candidate" by some people who would have gladly called themselves friends in the past. My Cafe Manager was told by a loyal customer that he will no longer be coming to our cafe because I am such a terrible human being that I dared to run for office.

OK, kudos to that guy, too. I bake my own bread anyway and have other cafes that I already go to. And as far as I know no one is organizing a boycott. Nor should they. I understand the sentiment of the customer. The reason given there sounds a little "strawmanish." I have to wonder if that was the actual reason or maybe his come closer to mine. It could have been the whole Dems and Reps are the same thing. That makes me either evil or naive for supporting Dems. Maybe the guy saw the "concession." That irritated me a little, too.

I was informed that DFA (Democracy for America) would no longer hold their monthly meetings at my cafe which they have been doing for well over a decade. 

That's right. Good on them, too. He spends more time during and after the campaign attacking the Dem Party and then is surprised when actual Democrats are upset with him? He expects a laurel and hearty handshake? I feel bad for his workers, though. If he wants to hurt his business, that's one thing.

So, this response is primarily for those among you who are angry at me for running or for trying to inject some grassroots democracy into the pathetic, manipulated process we have allowed our political system to become by surrendering our will to the two corporate war parties and their corporate sponsors.

That's just purely a straw man argument. That's so not the reason people are pissed.

Well, at least Aaron's money wasn't from Paul Ryan and Crossroads and the Koch's.

Um, damned with faint praise.

True. But it was his wife's money and it was made by investing in some pretty damaging and unconscious companies (Monsanto, McDonald's, tobacco and oil companies and several hedge funds to name but a few.)

I've done some web searches to find where AW's wife was invested. Can't find it. I do wish I could. Anyway. This seems to be a "degrees of separation" proof that Dems and Reps are equally evil. They're not. Reps are evil. Dems are inept. Woolf was running on the fruit of a poison tree because his wife was invested in Monsanto. Was it an individual stock or part of a mutual fund?

I'd love to hear from MF how you live a life without supporting corporations in some way, without moving to Walden Pond.

I'm going to paraphrase the fors and agins:

For peace, public banks and utilities, single payer health care. Against mono-crop farming. For healthy food and small family farms. Against torture and domestic spying. For clean renewable energy. Against fracking. For public transport, ballot access reform, term limits and public funding of elections. For a living wage.

There's probably nothing there that I disagree with. Do want to point out that I've ridden the bus, a lot. I spent over 4 years without a vehicle and have ridden it off and on for 8 to 10 years. I've never seen Matt on the bus. He drives a Ford pickup that I'm assuming is filled with gas that comes via a corporation. And totally beside the point, Henry Ford was a pretty big admirer of Adolph Hitler. So, I could see where some folks, particularly of the Jewish faith, would object to driving a Ford. I just don't like Fords. But, my Chevy comes from a corporation, too.

A majority of Democratic VOTERS (and many others) may share some or all of these values but the Democratic PARTY, itself, and its corporate sponsors... clearly do not.

I believe the chances of reforming the Democratic Party, while they may be slim, are much better than the chances of ever building a viable Green Party.  




Monday, December 15, 2014

Photos From Paradise

No rhyme or reason or particular order:

Still harvesting the garden:


Um, Brussels sprouts. OK, you roast them with cut up apples and sliced onions at 400 for 40 minutes. Add some veg stock with dijon mustard, cumin and corn starch and let it go another 10 minutes. you will love them. 

The once canal barn and soon to be farmer's market:


Good on you guys for working outside this time o' year. Probably better than July and August, though. This is the canal:


And this is a barge from a few months ago:


More Bookmarks


From Ellensburg (bless their hearts) a great site on community renewable energy.

A little closer to home is Plymouth NH and their renewable efforts.

A very good site from Colorado on solar gardens.

What can NY do for me? We'll see.

Bank of North Dakota

The Bank of North Dakota was established by legislative action in 1919 to promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. Though initially conceived by populists in the Non-Partisan League, or NPL, as a credit union-style institution to free the farmers of the state from predatory lenders...

The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned facility of its type in the United States other than the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, seven indian tribes currently wholly own or substantially control a bank.

And on a different subject: Co-ops

Bakerman Dan with a very nice site and some great links. Thank you Dan and good luck with your efforts.

Another very nice post from Mira with some good links, as well. Thank you, Mira.

Washington County Development link

Institute for Local Self-Reliance





Friday, December 12, 2014

Torture

Just bookmarking this:

As for whether the torture “worked,” Cheney has long maintained that information extracted from tortured detainees helped prevent attacks and save lives. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report says otherwise, and it has a lot of company. “Reports from the Department of JusticeSenate Armed Services Committee, and the C.I.A.’s Inspector General … completely discredit the Bush administration’s long-standing claims that torture prevented attacks against America and helped capture high value terrorist targets,” notes Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress.

The reason Cheney keeps making this argument is that it’s the only card he can play to claim any sort of moral justification for abandoning long-standing international norms on torture and the treatment of detainees. “We did what we had to do” is a better argument than “we did it because we could.” It also helps fend off darker questions about whether the Bush administration embarked on a program of “enhanced interrogation” to manufacture the sort of intelligence it needed to bolster its broader foreign policy agenda.

Need that on hand when I hear someone say that sadism is a viable tactic in the War On Terror.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Republicans: What Have You Done For Us Lately, Uh, Ever

Well, I learned something today. You can't do a strike in the post title. Democrat. Republican. Tomaytoe, tomahtoe.

Now, name one program since Eisenhower, initiated by conservatives in Congress, that the nation looks back on and breathes a collective sigh, on the order of: “Whew, we dodged a bullet when we reversed that progressive misstep.” The left reflects proudly on the strongest part of its history: Where would we be without Social Security and Medicare? It was the Truman administration that integrated the armed forces, and it was Lyndon Johnson who openly embraced the civil rights movement and helped advance the cause of social justice. Conservatives were wary of these initiatives at the time they were publicly debated. Do gays make good parents? Would gay marriage do irreparable harm to the American family tradition? Would the Affordable Care Act create death panels? It takes less and less time these days for conservatives to be proven wrong, to have panicked.

Some would almost say there's a difference between Democrats and Republicans. 

Ideology is corrupting. On the major issues of the day we need citizen education to encourage the kind of independence of thought that fortifies common sense, that balances the just fears of conservatives against programs that (a) insure social progress in the United States and (b) preserve the natural world that sustains the ever-increasing billions on the planet. And we need historical perspective, too. Badly. Because conservatives are generally wrong when they claim, “the past was better when….”

Here’s where the conservatives are right: when they hold up the “great books” of times gone by that need to be a part of a citizen’s education, worried lest today’s faddism replace proven standards of social value.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Democrats = Republicans?---- Post #1

I'm going to number this as the first post, just in case I find other instances where there might be a, shall we say, glaring difference between the two parties.

Prominently featured on Representative Steve King's congressional website are what he calls "illegal immigration stories" that tell of undocumented people, mainly Hispanics, wreaking havoc in America: killing, robbing, kidnapping, trafficking in sex and drugs.

Shit! I thought it was marijuana that caused that. Oops, didn't read far enough for the representative (and God what a district that must be) to clear things up for me.

He also talked of illegal immigrant children with "calves the size of cantaloupes," because he said they were hauling marijuana under their pants as they crossed into the United States. That led Boehner to lash out at King, calling his comments offensive and not reflecting the values of the Republican Party. 

And good for you, John Boehner, though Republican: King still is.

And there's this:

Following their convincing victory in the 2014 elections, everyone is wondering what Republicans will do with their new majority in the Senate and House. Well, their policy agenda is becoming clear. It will be unrestrained class warfare against the poor.

This priority was made apparent over the last week during the negotiation of a colossal tax cut package. Senate Democrats and Republicans had been doing some low-key negotiations to renew a slew of tax cuts for corporations and lower- and middle-income Americans, according to reporting from Brian Faler and Rachel Bade at Politico.

Then President Obama announced his executive action on immigration. Enraged Republicans promptly took vengeance on all the goodies for the working poor (as well as for clean energy), cutting them out of the deal and proposing a raft of permanent tax cuts for corporations alone worth $440 billion over 10 years. Cowed Democrats, led by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), were about ready to go along, prompting a decidedly justified outcry from liberals. Obama then threatened a veto, and the negotiations broke down entirely.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bookmarking Bacevich

Aside from trashing Matt Funiello, this blog exists to bookmark articles I want to save.

Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.
* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.
* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.
* The interests of the United States and Israel align.
* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up.  To take them at face value is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy — or that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell really, really hope that the Obama administration and the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress can find grounds to cooperate.

It's too long for a label, but this might fall under the heading of "shit Funiello and I might agree on." And hey, here's something the neocons will agree with Jimmy Carter on.

Regardless, the assumed energy dependence and “vital interests” that inspired Jimmy Carter to declare back in 1980 that the Gulf is worth fighting for no longer pertain.

I can see why they don't care for Bacevich, tho.

 Like crime and communicable diseases, terrorism will always be with us.  In the face of an outbreak of it, prompt, effective action to reduce the danger permits normal life to continue. Wisdom lies in striking a balance between the actually existing threat and exertions undertaken to deal with that threat. Grown-ups understand this. They don’t expect a crime rate of zero in American cities. They don’t expect all people to enjoy perfect health all of the time.  The standard they seek is “tolerable.”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Greens Against Oil

In the latest Chronicle. Matt Funiello of the neo-Amish Green Party gave his, or someone's, opinion on the Keystone Pipeline.Mark Frost makes it sound like Funiello wrote it, but in any case, here tis:

The Green Party of the United States is calling for the defeat of proposed tar-sands pipelines when the U.S. Senate votes on the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday and opposes alternative plans, including "Energy East," that would route Canadian oil into the U.S. by pipeline or tanker.

I really hope that Mark Frost is going to continue to run his missives. It would've been fun to see him interacting with the Right-wing loons in Congress. God knows. But, seeing him in the local media will suffice as a consolation prize. 

From what I can gather, the Greens want the oil to stay in  the ground in Canada. I'd dearly love to know what they want us to do for energy between now and the time we're running our houses and cars on wind and solar power. Hate to sound like a Republican (Matt'll tell you that Dems and Reps are the same, of course). Actually, I'm greener than the average bear. I went for over 4 years without a vehicle, walking a lot and riding GGFT. That said, I know that Americans still need fuckin' oil.

Just FYI, Matt drives a Ford pickup that I would guess gets 12 MPG. That's if it's tuned up real well and running efficiently. I'm guessing it's not corn powered.

And in bonus Matt-news:

The Green Party might field a candidate, said Matt Funiciello, the Green Party congressional candidate who placed second in Queensbury in this year’s congressional race.

“It is one of the races that Peter Lavenia (of the state Green Party Committee) is talking about,” Funiciello said.

That's because John Strough, the supervisor of Queensbury, is a tool of the corporations and no different than the unnamed Republican who will be running against him.

Queensbury Republican Chairman Bill VanNess said the Republican Party will field a candidate.

It's going to be a fun 2 years.

Stop Whining and Sue Him

Really wish the Republicans would. It would be a repeat of Fox News' lawsuit against Al Franken.

More than 100 immigration professors and scholars declared Tuesday that President Barack Obama's decision to make several million immigrants illegally in the United States eligible to be spared from deportation is constitutional and within his administrative powers.

And I wanted to bookmark this, as well. Love holiday miracles.

Uncle Mike started telling me about his rooftop solar panels. Solar panels! That clean energy-producing, climate change-reducing technology that Obama put on the roof of the White House, that I’ve written about repeatedly and enthusiastically; not only does Uncle Mike have a system of his own, he was willing to talk my ear off about all the benefits he’s getting out of it.

See, it's just like Matt Funiello sez, Obama and Uncle Mike are the same, both loving the solar panels. Fuckin' hippies!

I'll have them myself in 2015 or 16.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tax Meat Now

This will be a plank in my platform when I make my run for Congress in 2016. Meat should absolutely be taxed. Can't believe I found this in Bloomberg.

Meat has always been part of the human diet. Few dishes are as wonderful as a bolognese sauce made with a combination of pork, lamb, and beef. But taxing pigs, sheep, and cows is essential to contain the spiraling costs associated with massive meat eating.

Excessive consumption of meat is harmful to human health and the health of the planet. I'll be eating some turkey on Thursday and I consume it several times a month on non-holidays. It's necessary that the costs associated with its consumption are raised in order to discourage it. 

Paul Krugman Judges Obama

Paul Krugman writes about the president here in Rolling Stone.

Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it's working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

I'm really just putting this up here to bookmark it, a primary use of my blog. But, here is a bit for Matt Funiello.

It's worth pointing out that some criticisms of Obamacare from the left are also looking foolish. Obamacare is a system partly run through private insurance companies (although expansion of Medicaid is also a very important piece). And some on the left were outraged, arguing that the program would do more to raise profits in the medical-industrial complex than it would to protect American families.

You can still argue that single-payer would have covered more people at lower cost – in fact, I would. But that option wasn't on the table; only a system that appeased insurers and reassured the public that not too much would change was politically feasible. And it's working reasonably well: Competition among insurers who can no longer deny insurance to those who need it most is turning out to be pretty effective. This isn't the health care system you would have designed from scratch, or if you could ignore special-interest politics, but it's doing the job.

Yes, the politics of reality.


Marion Barry Memorium Monday Edition

RIP Mayor Barry. It's a shame he'll be remembered only for being set up in a crack bust and not for the good he did.

Former Harvard professor and civil rights leader Cornell West said on CNN on Sunday that Barry "had his flaws" but was a "great freedom fighter" for the poor and disenfranchised.


The Washington Post noted that he "plowed hundreds of millions of tax dollars into job training and employment programs, senior centers and social-welfare endeavors. Rank-and-file workers were hired by the thousands to serve under Mr. Barry's newly-appointed supervisory corps of African American middle and top level managers."


He ardently promoted African-American-owned enterprises.

In happier news, Americans are good with Emperor O and the flooding of the country with illegals.

By a 39-point margin--67 percent compared with 28 percent--likely 2016 voters view favorably the plan Obama announced last week, according to a Hart Executive Research Associates survey conducted for Americans United for Change, a pro-Democratic group.  

And some news on a guy looking to be our next emperor, Rand Paul, on dealing with ISIS.

The Kentucky senator, seeking to define himself as a foreign-policy heavyweight ahead of 2016, will introduce a measure in the Senate next month declaring war on the terror group. 

That doesn't sound very Libertarian-like. Like this did:

In an interview with The Daily Beast in September, Paul said he was against the idea of U.S. forces on Middle East soil. “I don’t think there needs to be any American soldiers over there on the ground,” he said.

It's not a flip-flop, it's apparently just Libertarian-lite. Don't know how that's gonna play with his dad's followers, though.

Doug Stafford, a senior aide to Paul, said the senator has not flip-flopped: “He doesn’t believe we should send a bunch of troops in to start a ground war. But he has always said we have an obligation to defend people in the region. The declaration is tailored to allow for this.”

And good news on the Benghazi front. It's apparently gone on hiatus until Hillary Clinton announces her candidacy. We can be pretty sure how she feels about troops to fight ISIS. 

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

That is the version you will see them present, with helpful highlighting by Tbogg. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Alright, Let's Hear It For Civil Wars

Here's a great clip to watch anytime you're feeling blue because you think Ebola is coming to wipe us all out, and if it doesn't ISIS will finish off the survivors.


And I should point out to Matt Funiello that corporations are much kinder than those cruel colonialists. Took the advice of the great people at Patreon who made this and looked up King Leopold II. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more evil person in charge of a country today. As bad as you want to make out your least liked, most hated world leader to be, he is not in a league with this guy. 

Leopold’s actual work in the Congo was enslaving the population and using its labor to cart off resources. He lined his pockets with the profits and financed Belgian public works, bought real estate, built a fabulous villa in the south of France, and achieved what he regarded as greatness.
His regime forced Africans, at gunpoint, to work brutally hard at the tasks of empire: collecting ivory, tapping rubber, mining copper, building railroads, and carrying raw materials on their backs along narrow paths for miles. People who tried to avoid slavery were whipped, starved, and shot. Families were held hostage. People were raped and held as sex slaves. Crops were burned. Villages were leveled.

That's just a small sample. I implore you to read it all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

One More On The Election

I really did want to have done with the election, already. This past week saw the arrival of the post-election Chronicle with comments by my two favorite MFer's, though. Mark Frost stayed relatively inoffensive toward Aaron Woolf and Dems in general. He calls the Woolf campaign a "wet noodle" and proves that he's no comedian. Not much to disagree with there. If Metroland covered GF, I wouldn't have to bother picking up the Chronicle. Hey, I'm joking! About Funiello, he says:

If he were serious about winning, he might actually seek to line up support in the Democratic hierarchy. Matt as the Democratic and Green Party candidate is at a whole other level than Matt as Green Party candidate.

First, because they say start with a compliment; good use of the adjectival form of Democrat. Now. Hierarchy? I'm just a run-of-the-mill, lowly Democratic voter and I don't want him anywhere near my party. I wouldn't vote for him or give him a dime's worth of support. He wasn't and isn't a candidate for anything. He's performance art.

As for the Green Party candidate himself, he is now Matt Funiello. It's easier to write and say. And it's a reminder that it's not the Democrat Party. If he was looking for my support, he wouldn't be mouthing right-wing stupidity. Consider my goat gotten, Mr. Funiello. Here he is on running as a Dem:

"I'm planting the seed right now, If they really want me to run as a Democrat and like what I say and they think I'd be a good candidate but I can't win without Democrat support, I would say, then don't run somebody next time."

That's Democratic support and I don't think you want it very badly. And I would say "don't run anybody," but then, I speak English. Not wingnutese.

"Just don't run anybody, and we don't have a problem."

Overlooking the fact that it sounds like extortion, I'd have to say, I'd be voting for Elise Stefanik because she would be the lesser of the crazies, if not the evils.

I don't know how plausible that is, but the more I think about it what does the Democrat Party stand to lose by not running somebody in CD21?

Once again, that's the fuckin' Democratic Party, you fuckin' schmuck. And, if I thought he'd honor it, I'd suggest a deal. He goes mano a mano in 2016. After he gets his ass handed to him with a 60 point loss, he goes away.

Special Hometown thank you to Lynne Boecher for pointing out that we don't have openings for conspiracy theorists in the Democratic Party. He's a birther and a truther and a gun nut. Three strikes! From the February interview:

"If you don't feel we need guns to defend ourselves against tyranny, then you're not paying attention."

I pay enough attention to spot a wingnut when I see one. Just gotta ask, since the Warren County sheriff's have an MRAP now; how much firepower do you have? I think there's a good chance they're working for the tyrant.

Jen Sorensen:

Low-information Nation: Midterm Elections Edition


Friday, November 14, 2014

Kansas: Poster Child for Republican Economic Policy

Beyond courses in micro and macro long ago, I don't have a great knowledge of economics. That may still be more than Arthur Laffer has.

Gov. Sam Brownback and his celebrity tax policy consultant, Arthur Laffer, said Tuesday that the income tax cuts Kansas lawmakers approved earlier this year will drive growth and make Kansas more competitive with surrounding states.

That was in August of 2012. And also:

Laffer said his studies show states with lower tax rates outperform high-tax states — a notion several other tax policy analysts say is misleading. Laffer said lower taxes may not work every day of every week, but he said economic growth is consistently driven by low-tax, low-regulation policies.

Ensconced here in the high tax, high regulation state of New York, it's interesting to see how this experiment in supply side progresses. 

Kansas will face a $279 million budget shortfall by July, far worse than state officials had thought before a new revenue forecast Monday that will force Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators to consider spending cuts.

The state will also be required to close an even bigger additional gap — $436 million — during the following 12 months, according to the new forecast.

What to do moving forward?

Brownback and many Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature are not publicly rethinking aggressive cuts in personal income taxes enacted in 2012 and 2013 to stimulate the economy. The state cut its top rate 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from income taxes altogether, and further reductions are promised, including a decrease in the top rate next year.

Double down! Not sure it works at casinos (not being a gambler), but maybe it works with state budgets. Nothing to do but stay tuned.






Just wanted to throw in this bit of apostasy:

A board of medical professionals appointed by Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the state should provide health coverage to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act — a move the Republican-led Legislature has opposed. 

Say it ain't so, Rick!

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/article1097282.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/article1097282.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Photos From Paradise


Tuesday was a beautiful day here in Andrew Cuomo's Northern Kingdom. Everything else (nearly) about the election pissed me off so much, I was actually glad he won. Nearly is because Carrie Woerner was a bright, shining light. Anyway, had to harvest my leaves that are finally dropping. When Baal gives you leaves, make compost.

 

And Tuesday was baking day, since I was home all day raking and piling leaves. BTW, I did not rake all those leaves on Tuesday. Anyway, since I haven't posted any bread porn in awhile:


That's a wild yeast sourdough, a levain if you will. And it's a good thing I got those leaves up on Tuesday because the weather is changeable here in Utopia.



Actually, that was on my camera. It's from last winter. A chilling reminder of what's ahead. The Kindle and my pantry are loaded, though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moving On

Well, I've spent the past week sitting shiva for the election. Time to move on. Now I start to put together my platform for the 2016 run for representative in the district. If Funiciello can run, anyone can. I haven't chosen a party yet and none have chosen me. But, it's early. As an opening plank, I'm advocating for a mandatory 30 hour work week. No overtime for any reason, love or money.

We used to send children down mines, sack women when they got married and expect workers to put in 12-hour day, six days a week. For more than 200 years, we have associated better working conditions and shorter hours with human progress. An average workweek of 40 hours nowadays looks old fashioned and backward.

That's right! All the candidates running in this past election were willing to allow Americans to continue to suffer the 21st century equivalent of Dickens' London. More people working fewer hours equals more people employed in my macroeconomic view. I have more bold ideas in my platform and they will be unveiled over the course of the next year and a half or so.

Moving on to other local happenings: My former employer had a name change announced today. I heard it on the radio as I lie semi-comatose in bed this AM. I first thought they'd be changing it back to Central Market (which seemed like a good move). In the second sentence I heard they were changing it to Market 32 (which seemed like WTF?). Going on-line confirms that I was not still dreaming.

The chain's new name will be Market 32, a reference to Price Chopper's founding by the Golub family in 1932.

OK, still WTF? And they're spending $300 million on it. No, spend money hiring more help, paying more people full-time. I may not have mentioned in awhile that I don't work and it's entirely thanks to Price Chopper for working me like a galley slave for $9.90 an hour. Thanks Golubs.

In national news, not so much with IS, but our war on Ebola has apparently been won. Break out the ticker tape parade for Barack.

Fox News announced on Wednesday that it is terminating its coverage of the Ebola virus effective immediately, because, in the words of the host Sean Hannity, “Our work is done.”

The election of a Republican-led Congress may or may not have ended the War on Terror. Sleep soundly or not, depending on your party affiliation.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thoughts on Chronicle Reprentative Endorsement

I want to jot down a few thoughts on Mark Frost's endorsement of Matt Funiciello. At first, yes I was shocked at the endorsement since Funiciello is quite a bit to the left of Obama. Like all Dems, seemingly, our president is a corporate puppet. Then Frost admits he would not be dismayed if Elise Stefanik was to win and my world is spinning the right way again.

I like the idea of Kate Hogan, Larry Bulman and Funiciello in a 3-way race. And I appreciate that he lobbied them to run. Oh well, one out of three ain't bad. Of course, they're all from Warren County. There are 11 other counties. But, that just goes to his point, that in a district as large as the 21st there are few natives stepping up to run. Mind you, I'd still like to see the most capable person elected over some yokel like me who has lived here for 57 years.

We run into some disagreement at, "I see Aaron Woolf as a privileged dilettante from NYC."


At the point in the election where this statement was made, Aaron Woolf was down by 18 points. I realize politics ain't beanbag and all. But, this seems a little unnecessarily petty. We've had many politicians from the founding fathers forward who would qualify as privileged. Pretty sure Frost would not have referred to Willard Romney as a privileged dilettante. The definition of ad hominem:
   
    1 :  appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
   
   2 :  marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made 

Better yet, from the urban dictionary:

An attack upon an opponent in order to discredit their argument or opinion. Ad hominems are used by immature and/or unintelligent people because they are unable to counter their opponent using logic and intelligence.

He also points out that Woolf only registered to vote in the district 5 days before declaring his candidacy. He declares Woolf to utter Democratic talking points and to have a generic candidacy. You know who else utters their party's talking points and has a generic candidacy? Elise Stefanik! Pretty sure she hasn't been registered to vote in the district all that long either. 

But, when he gets to Stefanik, Frost expresses great affection. He really, really likes her. He states, "She's smart and able-and I like how hard she's working to get to know the district and its people. She's paying some dues." Not like that big city phony, Aaron Woolf.
I'm not going into the actual endorsement except to say thanks for the news that Matt is a Truther Questioner. That bit hadn't hit my RADAR. Also appreciate the Chronicle interview from back in February. There was enough in there to keep me from considering to vote for him.

That reminds me: there was this constant drumbeat from the Chronicle for Woolf to do an interview with them back then. He did two. Stefanik never did one at all, that I saw. And what else I didn't see was the idea that she was ducking them, as was put forth for Woolf. It's different for Republicans.

Random Sunday Thoughts

This just in from poor relation, Kansas. Now that the election is safely over.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the GOP-dominated Legislature will get new revenue projections that are expected to make the state's budget problems look worse and intensify discussions about trimming spending.

The budget problems come after legislators enacted massive personal income tax cuts at Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy. The state has cut its top rate by 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from income taxes altogether.

Supply-side, voodoo economics fails again. What to do? Maybe Kansas ain't Christian enough. Well, you know what is? Phil Robertson.

Along with eldest son Al, ‘Duck Dynasty’ star and family patriarch Phil Robertson has embarked on a new venture designed to share his faith in God with as many people as possible. Having already faced significant backlash from secular leftists over his Bible-based views of marriage, sex, and other issues, the 68-year-old has joined forces with Thomas Nelson Publishers to release a special edition of the Holy Bible.

I saw somewhere else it's priced at $29.99. I already have a copy stolen from a hotel room, unfortunately without Phil's explanation of how the gay is wrong and probably anyone not buying a copy is going to Hell anyway.

This has to go into the category of "more shit Matt and I probably agree."

A federal judge has turned down a request from a Guantanamo Bay hunger striker to alter the way he is force-fed, including the daily practice of inserting and removing his feeding tube.
 

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Friday ruled against Syrian prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who's been held at Guantanamo without charge for 12 years and was cleared for release in 2009.

This is disgraceful and, in this anyway, there is not a difference between Obama and Bush. If Phil's God exists they are both going to have a lot of explaining to do. Phil, himself, would likely find nothing wrong with force-feeding Guantanamo detainees. Preferably to sharks.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Random Thoughts on the Election

I'll start with this from Salon. Otherwise, I may just come back and add to this post.

On MSNBC, Chris Hayes argued that Democratic candidates erred in running away from Obama. So did an indignant Al Sharpton and even Republican Joe Scarborough. Many liberal pundits had urged Democrats to stand by their man. Paul Krugman recently called Obama “one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.”

My feelings exactly. I sent a message to my candidate, Aaron Woolf, telling him not to run away from ACA after he told a reporter he wouldn't give a hypothetical answer to whether he'd have voted yes on it. I told him the answer I 'd have liked to see was, "I would have voted yes on it. If I'd been in the Congress way back, I'd have voted yes on Social Security and Medicare, too. And you know what, Republicans are still trying to get rid of all three."

This was in the news today:

(T)he country churned out 214,000 net new jobs last month.

That kept alive a nine-month streak over the 200,000 benchmark, and a record 56 months straight of growth in the US jobs market.

"With today's report, the unemployment rate is falling as fast as at any point in the last thirty years, and the economy is on pace for its best year of job growth since the late 1990s," said Jason Furman, Obama's top economic advisor.

The data suggested even more strength than that: the numbers for the previous two months were revised upward, and showed that the economy is smoothly absorbing more entrants and returnees into the jobs market.

And yes, the article did say that wage gains were not what they could be. But, as much as I think Matt Funiciello is an arrogant jerk bastard, it would be nice to see a Dem or two with the same spirit. It wouldn't surprise me if the Dems in the district actually do give him a veto on their candidate in 2016.Here's a little something for his supporters:


Obama’s failings are those of a generation of Democrats whose flaw is not how they campaign but how they govern. The only problem with their ‘message’ is that they often don’t mean it. They’re no more apt to change than the donors and consultants who hold their reigns are apt to let them. Since they’re too afraid to emancipate themselves others will have to do it for them, if necessary by primary.

Those possible ‘others’ are mighty disaffected. Do they still think the Democratic Party worth the time and effort that it takes to write a new agenda, build a new movement and challenge old leadership? I don’t know that they do. I only know that I’ve spent my life in that party and that nothing short of its utter transformation can save it now.

Also from Salon (yes, I use this blog to bookmark shit):

Amid this week’s disastrous Democratic drubbing, Connecticut emerged as one of the few bright spots for Democrats. Facing a formidable challenge from wealthy investor Tom Foley, whom he defeated by less than one percentage point in 2010, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy secured another term, fending off Foley 51 to 48 percent. For Democrats seeking a way forward after Tuesday’s rout, Malloy’s victory is instructive: when Democrats build a record of progressive achievements — and run campaigns based on that record — they can win.

Running against a multimillionaire opponent who paid only $673 in federal taxes in 2013, Malloy naturally lobbed plenty of populist rhetorical barbs at Foley. But Malloy also boasted something many Democrats who lost Tuesday night did not — an actual track record of economic populist accomplishments. Malloy could point to specific policies he’d signed into law — most notably, mandatory paid sick leave and the nation’s first-ever state-level minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour — that benefited Connecticut families but would be jeopardized if Foley, who opposed those policies, won the governorship.

My italics, also something for Funiciello supporters, point the bullshit that there's no difference between Dems and Reps. Matt would be attacking Malloy for not getting them $15 an hour.


“The core economic issues – such as the minimum wage increase and paid sick days – really drew a contrast between Malloy and Foley, partly because they are issues that really resonate with everybody,” Farrell said. “Everybody has a sense that everybody who works should be paid a decent wage and people who get sick shouldn’t have to choose between their health and losing their job or losing their pay.”

But, Farrell noted, Malloy signed both paid sick leave and the minimum wage increase into law despite encountering opposition among more moderate Democrats in the state legislature, particularly on the former.

“When we passed paid sick days, when we passed the minimum wage increase, it wasn’t easy,” she said. “We had a lot of opposition from more moderate Democrats. In Connecticut, there are strong Democratic majorities in both chambers, but you get a lot of opposition from moderate, corporate Democrats. So if they had won the day on those issues, we’d probably be preparing for Gov. Foley right now, because Malloy would have been without these strong economic justice issues to run a campaign on.”

Yes, there are ball-less Dems in Connecticut. The moral here is to be more progressive. Change has to come to the Democratic Party, though. Unless you believe in magic.

Well, do ya? Then vote Green!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Election Hangover

Not literally, though that 16 hours at the polls was a bit draining. My candidate, Aaron Woolf, lost fairly badly. He received 32% of the vote to Elise Stefanik's 53%. Green Party candidate, Matt Funiciello received 11% of the vote and enough of my attention to merit this posting. Here's Kingmaker Extortionist Matt in his concession speech.


Yes, that's right, the candidate that got 32% was the spoiler for the guy that got 11%. And no, you did not get 12 to 16% Matt. He did not win against anyone, anywhere, including Warren County where he should have been strongest. He got 24% there and it went rapidly downhill in the other 11 counties. 

I don't know why he's not running for president. His winning that is about as realistic as the chances of his winning in this district.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Because I Want To Save This For Future Reference

And because these guys did the Lord's work in putting it together.

Here’s the short version: The United States invaded Iraq in 2003, claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had both weapons of mass destruction and connections to Al Qaeda. He had neither. Today, both Saddam Hussein and the United States are gone from Iraq. In their place? Al Qaeda.

I have a feeling that unfortunately this is going to come in handy in the near future for knocking down wingnut bullshit about how Obama "lost" Iraq.

Monday Extra: This is something I've been thinking about the last few days. Maybe I have a future in the State Department. At least if my garden didn't need some much work.

Secretary of State John Kerry cautiously signaled on Monday that the United States would be open to cooperating with Iran militarily in Iraq to beat back al Qaida-inspired fighters who pose an "existential" danger to that war-torn country and may look to target Europe and the United States. 

In the interest of making lemonades out of the lemons that George Bush turned Iraq into maybe we can at least gain some rapprochement out of the situation. We've left big, stinking piles of shit on Iran's Eastern and Western borders. Both of our countries have a vested interest in seeing them cleaned up.

UPDATED: Fred Kagan and Wm. Kristol disagree with me, I'm feeling much better about the idea that we should work with Iran. What's President Obama got to lose? The RightWing Media Congressional Complex is going complain about whatever he does anyway. He doesn't have to run for re-election. Israel can have a non-obstructionist role if they like. Time to earn that Nobel, Barack!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An Invitation to Nevadans and to Liberals in Illiberal Places

I'd like to start by asking all those who are currently living in right-wing hell-holes in this country to consider moving to the Northeast Kingdom of our once-great country. This began as an invite to the folks  in Nevada who are burdened with sharing their state with Cliven Bundy and his gang of over-armed and under-educated militia members. I'm also asking all those who are unhappy living under the rule of King Andrew to consider moving to one of these right-wing hell-holes where you undoubtedly be  happier. I'm thinking of starting an exchange program. Let's just divide up. Shirts and skins.

So here is the Cliven Bundy update

1)Authorities call bullshit on Bundy's land claims.

2)Militia members threaten members of the community.

3)Civil war is threatened between Bundy supporters.

4)Authorities prepare for charges to be filed against all involved.

5)Violence spreads to Utah

If we can summarize what’s happened since the spotlight moved on, we see the ongoing spread of lies and violence on the one hand — which is completely unsurprising. The almost-shooting war that Bundy supporters got themselves into is precisely the reason that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what they think it means: As John Locke’s social contract theory explained, civil society was created because individual force cannot guarantee peace and security — even among the supposedly like-minded. Hence, the turning of violence against one another was just as predictable as its threatened spread to Utah as well.

On the other hand, we see a deliberately restrained, but methodical law enforcement process underway. Let’s hope it stays that way, because nothing damages the law as badly as those who abuse its authority, or use it recklessly. But let’s also hope they don’t take too long in beginning to bring folks to justice. Hatred, lies and violence already have too big a head start. We don’t need to let them get any further ahead.

Nearly forgot to mention that, apparently, fighting the tyranny that is Barack Obama's federal government doesn't pay anything. I mean, Bundy is not paying his grazing fees why would he pay these yahoos. So, if anyone passing through here would like to slip a few bucks in the tip jar of these domestic terrorists...

The life of an ever-vigilant anti-government armed patriot is hard. And by hard, I mean dull and unproductive. Also, not very profitable. Maybe that's why all those guys hanging out cleaning their guns in Nevada are now begging hard-working Americans to please give them some money.

I would, but I already gave to SPLC.

UPDATE: Here's a posting I just came across that may help convince you to abandon your gun-laden environs and head for our Socialistic, regulated Mecca.

Myth #2: Guns don't kill people—people kill people. Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements. Update: A recent study looking at 30 years of homicide data in all 50 states found that for every one percent increase in a state's gun ownership rate, there is a nearly one percent increase in its firearm homicide rate.

ownership vs gun death 

The other nine myths are worth checking out as well.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Wingnut on the Pulpit

Reverend John Koletas in Troy believes in keeping his flock well-armed.

After a sermon connecting the "Christian values" of America's founding fathers with the right to bear arms, an upstate New York Baptist minister has raffled off a new Smith & Wesson M&P semi-automatic rifle.

Jesus wept  blasted the money changers. I'm too lazy to look, but I'm sure the outcry would have reached Heaven itself if this had taken place in a mosque.

(Koletas) said in an online letter that he wanted to honor gun owners "who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media" and politicians.

He's going to have to kick it up some if he wants to replace Fred Phelps. Good news on the politician front. In my district, the contenders to replace Rep. Owens are in lockstep defending gun rights, Democrat, Republican and Green Party alike. There's voters in the hills of the Adirondacks.

Koletas has attempted to justify his bizarre giveaway by arguing that America “was built with the King James Bible and the gun" in a letter to his congregation.

Yes. Though I don't give present day gun owners any credit for the Trail of Tears or the building of America. To end with some good news, I was pleasantly surprised to see this today what with all the kvetching I see in the Post Star about the SAFE Act.

A year after the SAFE Act gun-control law was enacted, voters support it by a 2-to-1 margin.

What's better is that I found that on WHAM, the home of my favorite NY wingnut, Bob Lonsberry. And thank you Reverend Koletas for giving me an excuse to put up the Beat Farmers, yet again.



Reverend Alan Rudnick has a nice commentary on this issue at the Times Union and reminded me of a peace loving Jesus episode.

For even upon Jesus’ arrest, a sword was drawn by Peter, and Jesus prohibited him saying, ”Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In other words, “if by your actions you encourage violence, expect violence to come to you.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

At Least He Didn't Call For Death Panels

I know Dan Altman is an economist, but he didn't make the case for me that "old people are sucking us dry" (and not in a good way). And I realize he likely didn't entitle the column, but I would think he'd have some input as to what goes above the piece. As someone who hopes to reach "entitlement" age someday and start sucking that sweet teat that gives government money I was glad to see him point out that:

By contrast, much of mandatory outlays are designed to prevent drags on growth. Reducing poverty and improving health among retirees and the elderly frees up time and resources for the working-age population. Undoubtedly, this is important to the economy as well.

So, he's not putting me in the wood-chipper yet. But, old farts are taking lots of government money that could be better spent?

This situation is not the fault of the elderly. They were promised certain benefits during their lives, and they are at least entitled to try to collect them. This is a time of sacrifice, though, and everyone -- including the country's seniors -- must surely give a little. The problem is that no sitting politician seems willing to ask them. 

I like the part about seniors being entitled to try to collect them. But anyway, it's really the fault of gutless politicians. Moving on from greedy seniors he makes the leap where I miss the connection, though.

As a result, the discretionary share of spending dwindles while mandatory outlays go unchecked. Some of the costs of this choice may already be apparent. Consider, for example, how the ratio of patents to GDP has evolved in the United States and other major economies. From almost identical starting points in 1991, China and Germany have managed to raise their productivity in terms of patent applications much higher than the United States has.

Altman notes Germany outspends us on science.
 
The German government now spends more than $240 per person on science, which would work out to more than $75 billion a year in the United States. But the combined budgets of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health come to less than $40 billion. 

Since I'm aware that there were people collecting social security long before le deluge started in 1991, I'd like to suggest an alternative hypothesis for our falling behind the Germans and Chinese. I could blame it in part on Jimmy Carter who got the notion of a Bible blessed president. And Ronald Reagan who carried it further with the full blessings of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and every other Christian con man out there. And the doves are still coming home to roost.

Forty six percent Americans believed in creationism, 32 percent believed in theistic evolution and 15 percent believed in evolution without any divine intervention.

I realize there are questions about evolution, but there are problems with trying to believe in two contradictory tales of creation in Genesis has its problems too. It could just be that Germany and China have a higher percentage of people who believe in science. There's hope, though.

The survey found that 50 percent of Americans "are convinced the climate is changing" and another 34 percent believe it "is probably changing." Duke said this is the highest level of belief in climate change since 2007. 

I don't know whether it is occurring. Since I don't have the time to become a climatologist, I'm casting my lot with the people who were not trying to sell me on Obama not being born in the US and other such rot. Best I can do. 



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Lupercalia

Pagan origins of our present holy days is so interesting. Really think we should bring back the old traditions.

The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the animals, which were called februa, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city, the line of which was marked with stones, with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth.

Beats Hallmark and candy hearts. The name Lupercalia is derived from the name of the cave, Lupercale, where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus. I was recently wondering about the derivation of the word February for this blustery month. Most of the other months are fairly obvious as to the origins of their names.  

The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar.

It's wild to see how other cultures arrived at a name for the month.

Old English - mud month and cabbage month
Finnish - month of the pearl for frozen water droplets
Polish and Ukrainian - month of hard frost
Macedonian - month of cutting wood

Our present holiday associated with the date comes earlier in the season than the Roman holiday of Februatio. This is sensible as it was a festival for purification and fertility that would traditionally be timed nearer to Spring.

February occurred later on the ancient Roman calendar than it does today so Lupercalia was held in the spring and regarded as a festival of purification and fertility. Each year on February 15, the Luperci priests gathered on Palantine Hill at the cave of Lupercal. Vestal virgins brought sacred cakes made from the first ears of last year's grain harvest to the fig tree. Two naked young men, assisted by the Vestals, sacrificed a dog and a goat at the site. The blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk. 

The Romans grew to celebrate the holiday of Lupercalia as a form of speed-dating it seems and naturally Christians were appalled.

As Christianity began to slowly and systematically dismantle the pagan pantheons, it frequently replaced the festivals of the pagan gods with more ecumenical celebrations. It was easier to convert the local population if they could continue to celebrate on the same days... they would just be instructed to celebrate different people and ideologies. As Christianity gradually advanced through Europe the church replaced pagan festivals with festivals more suited to the new faith. They kept the days of the festivals the same to ease the introduction of the new religion but they changed the name and the reason for the festival. The Lupercalia's pairing of men and women went against the teachings of Christianity. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius ended the festival of Lupercalia and replaced it with St. Valentines Day, declaring St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers. The pairing of couples was replaced with the pairing with a saint. The name of a saint would be drawn from a bowl and the person who chose it would then learn about and try to emulate that saint for the following year. 

Because hooking up with saints is so much more rewarding than hooking up with a flesh and blood partner. Thanks zealots. Bring back Lupercalia! I've already picked out a mascot