Thursday, September 3, 2009

When Good Faith meets Bad.

I've watched the Health Care fracas stunned by the ignorance, stupidity, and partisanship on display.

The Democrats, like they usually do, checked their spines at the doors of the Capitol and allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking the Republicans would actually exercise good faith.

The Democrats are fools for expecting the most extreme Republicans this country has seen in decades to act within the bounds of decency.

As a group, the Republicans have shown their complete dearth of intellectual integrity.  They follow the lead of their demagogue-in-chief, Rush Limbaugh, and misrepresent facts (golly, a politician lying?!); they prey upon the fears of the elderly and rile up the stupid.  

And for what?

Partisan advantage.  

By their actions, the Republicans manifest their desire for victory over any sort of fiscal responsibility.  Health Care reform will bankrupt us unless we make dramatic changes, but these bozos don't care.  Their agenda is more important than the future of the country.

What about the President?

He's made the mistake of pushing for good faith bipartisanship--but with a group lacking any desire to participate.

He's been a chump.

The President is smarter than this.  It's time for him to man-up and  push the agenda WITHOUT Republican support. 

You can't expect morons and partisans to act with reason and mutual regard for the country's best interest.  It's not in their nature to compromise nor even to understand the complexities of the issue.  

They've deliberately planted their flag on the dunghill over-simplification to rouse the nincompoops to their ramparts.

I knew that failing to pass the Health Care bill prior to the August recess was a mistake.  You give a mouthy and trenchant minority an inch, they will take a mile.  Stupid mistake.

Now, we have people crying "socialism" and other such nonsense.  Those calling Health Care reform "socialism" when in fact it is the moral and fiscally responsible thing to do don't deserve a response. They clearly wear blinders to the failings of capitalism--failings that threatens to ruin us.

Does that make me a socialist?  Not hardly.

Ignoring the failings of the private market or glossing over them doesn't make us immune to the impending collapse of our economic well-being brought on by the booms, busts, and fiscal failures created by completely unregulated markets.

I got a message for all the free-market, kool-aid, addicts out there:  Free-markets don't always correct, free-markets don't always fix things.  Don't believe me?  Look at the most recent banking debacle.

I'm sick to death of idiots spouting ideologies adopted as a short-cut to certainty--all because they lack critical thinking skills and an inability to logically and effectively evaluate issues separate from a talking points memo. 

It's time for the adults to show up and take charge of this mess and for the morons on the right and in the Republican party to sit down and learn something from us thinking folks.  

I would like to see the President do his damn job and make the right thing happen, in spite of the Republicans.  The Republicans lack the  intent to engage in constructive bipartisanship.  So quit trying to "play nice." 

In the long run it will be better for the country if we don't allow a bunch of radicalized windbags and their fiscally idiotic constituents to run the table.

Disagree?  Look to your history.  The economy always does better under Democratic presidents.  That's a fact.  It's time the President give the minority party a bloody nose and push this through.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Passing of an Era: So long Teddy

Teddy Kennedy passed away today after a struggle with brain cancer.

He had a long a storied career. Whether you loved him or hated him, it's undeniable that he left a mark on our country.

He lived his life in the public eye. Sometimes that made his foibles seem larger than life. His mistakes were tried in the pubic realm. Similarly though, I think his strengths must also be viewed as larger than life too.

Ted Kennedy stood for the positive impact that government could have on our lives.

Too many today live in a binary world where government is either all bad or it should be a nanny state. Either extreme is irrational.

Ted Kennedy attempted to straddle the middle. Sometimes he failed, but still he tried to bring about good government that works for the benefit of the people it's designed to represent. Ted Kennedy saw government as a tool for the betterment of people--he believed until the end in the edifying power of good government.

I met Ted Kennedy once. He treated me as if we were lifelong friends and with a graciousness far beyond what his position and history would suggest.

I'm moved for the loss that we all suffer by his passing.

So long Teddy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Law Enforcement wants an end the War on Drugs.

When you have law enforcement advocating for the legalization of drugs, in my mind it means that we have a serious problem without our drug laws.

Two longtime law enforcement officers submitted an editorial to the Washington Post providing gory, first-hand, details of the real War on Drugs.

If doctors got results like we've obtained from the War on Drugs, they'd be out of business. Not only is it morally questionable for the punishment for drug use to be all out of proportion the danger posed--it's also Constitutionally suspect via the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel & unusual punishment.

Drug users are typically non-violent. Drug violence arises primarily from the dealer side or from users who commit crimes to support their habits--habits that if brought into the open could be treated medically rather than ignored by the criminal justice system.

Our War on Drugs forces users underground. In the past, lepers were forced from normal society because of a disease beyond their control. Drug users are marginalized similarly by our stupid War on Drugs, yet even worse is that nothing is really done to deal with the problem.

It's time to use our heads. Deal with drug use as a medical issue and not a criminal justice matter. The criminal justice system has never successfully treated a medical condition. To keep pouring the political snake oil known as the War on Drugs onto it won't fix it. Our political leaders need to man-up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Health Care Protesters violating the spirit of the Constitution--shameful.

I've watched the debate on health care with some interest. As a person denied coverage due to preexisting condition, I have a dog in this fight.

The protests occurring at town hall meetings have me alarmed. Not because I think they are wrong, but because of their tactics.

"Why would you want to deny citizens their 1st Amendment Right?" you may ask.

I am the last person to argue for an abridgment of 1st Amendment rights. I think every citizen has the right to speak publicly their mind and opinion. I think the Constitution protects every citizen who endeavors to address their duly elected representatives.

The protests at the town hall meetings are different.

The purpose, it seems, behind many of the protests is not the free exercise of 1st Amendment rights. Citizens are exercising their 1st Amendment rights, not to engage in civil discourse, but to deny others the free exercise of their rights.

What do I mean?

Simply this: A person's 1st Amendment Right to flap their lips ends where it prevents me from exercising my 1st Amendment Right to flap mine.

By analogy: If I were to exercise my Right to Bear Arms in a way that prevented you from exercising your Right to Bear Arms, then my act would be outside the law.

Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins, so to speak. This utilitarian doctrine underscores many of our freedoms.

Now, if citizens wish to debate on the merits of health care reform, then by all means the law protects them in civil discourse. These protests are not civil and they are not designed to discuss, but bludgeon. Civil discourse demands respect for the rights of others.

But, if the purpose is to thwart discourse, then it defies Constitutional protections and smells of tyranny.

As a nation, we cannot allow the loud voices of a few to drown out civil dialogue necessary to the proper functioning of our Republic.

Crybaby complainers who lie and misrepresent because they can't get their way is not the American Way.

Adult discussions based on facts, based on civility, and based on reason--now, that's the American Way.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Apple in danger of Antitrust violations over App Store policies: The Rise of Cydia

For those of you enamored of the Apple IPhone or its litte brother the ITouch, the App store provided by apple may be your only avenue for finding those beloved features to make you phone work.

Yet, Apple draws many complaints because of its often "tyrannical" App store policies. Some make it through, while many others do not. Making matters worse, those successfully lighting in the App Store rarely make enough cash to justify their investment of time and money to create the App. Apple makes money regardless of how well an app sells because they invest no money nor time (save the approval process) to create the app.

What to do when you blow your life savings to create an app that fails to curry favor with the gatekeepers at Apple? You go to market anyway--just down the street at Cydia.

Cydia is the marketplace for all the misfit apps.

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Apple established a system demanding high investment for entry, low chance of return, and they topped it off with a gate-keeping system known more for whimsy than for integrity.

The market will always find a way around monopolistic aggression. When the market doesn't Antitrust Law will.

Either way, Cydia is the result.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Republicans receive support from Al Qaeda

How convenient. It seems that the Republicans have found an ally in Al Qaeda.

For a time, the Republicans have bashed Obama. Hell, there's a contingent of wingnuts claiming Obama isn't really American by birth.

Now, Osama bin Laden's number two is siding with the Republicans and their extremist leader (Limbaugh), their extremist hatchet man (Hannity), their extremist court jester (O'Reilly) and their extremist idiot (Beck).

Who'd a thunk it: Republicans and Al Qaeda on the same team!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A note on religious hypocrisy -- 500th posting!

500th posting!!

Plenty of people in my life remain dumbfounded as to why I'm not religious. Aside from the fact that nothing positive in my life has ever been linked to religion, is the fact that many of those of the Christian stripe provide poor references for their faith because of their utter hypocrisy.

To quote George Orwell on Socialism: "As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents."

George makes a good point. Adding more weight to this general antipathy toward faith of any kind, I give you the story of Tennessee State Senator, Paul Stanley.

Senator Stanley preaches evangelical values and a socially conservative agenda. He's a Republican.

What makes him a poor advertisement for evangelical Christianity is his utter hypocrisy.

Of course, many apologists will give bumper sticker responses to my claim: Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven. Hate the sin, love the sinner, etc.

I call bullshit on those sloganistic rationalization for bad behavior.

There's a real simple solution to all this hypocrisy: Don't be a hypocrite. Do what you say. Preach, not with your mouth, but with the example of your life.

I know many atheists and agnostics. Not a one engages in such immoral behavior.

So this begs the question: Maybe its faith that makes people morally weak? You gotta create a problem in order to sell the solution...right?

I don't know. I do know that such hypocrisy is what keeps many people from organized religion.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Corporate welfare is okay with Congress, but not health care reform? Explain that to me please!

When it comes to welfare, it seems that our Congress has skewed priorities.

When health care reform comes up, we get gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes about the cost---from Democrats, no less. Republicans become apoplectic at the mere mention of government oversight of the system.

I recall Ronald Reagan--Republicanism's modern hero--advocating against Medicare in the 1960's saying that it would lead to socialism. Never happened--in fact, Medicare is a good model for health care reform today.

How soon we forget the lies of conservatives past when they recycle their deceits again to scare us from real reform.

But I digress...

Congress decries socialism when it comes to health care reform, but when lining the pockets of defense contractors, our fine legislature becomes a paragon of profligacy and wealth redistribution. Making it worse, the Pentagon objects to the excess, but does anyone listen?


I'll be writing my Congressman and Senator about the disconnect.

The duty of our elected officials is to serve the needs of the many. Instead, they feather their beds by serving wealth and the will of a few.

Maybe it's time for a change from business as usual.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Congress, Senate, and the President should waive all health care insurance until they pass health care reform--it shows solidarity with America.

I've watched the health care drama with close scrutiny.

As a working, middle class, American priced out of medical insurance, you can damn well bet I have an interest in reform.

As with most Americans, I think we need reform.

Insurance has failed in its appointed task: To spread the risk by covering as many people as possible. In fact, insurance companies reduce costly beneficiaries that cost them profits. In the short-term, their bottom line benefits, but it defeats the central premise of good insurance practice, viz., spreading the risk.

Policy makers have a conflict of interest. All of them... ALL OF THEM have coverage paid for with tax dollars. Their judgment is skewed since the sword of Damocles doesn't hang over their heads.

In order for the health care legislation to reach a suitable and equitable conclusion, I suggest a change for our policy makers.

All of them. Every last elected official with the power to vote for or against health care reform must waive any insurance coverage for themselves and for their dependents until every working American has access--real access-- to affordable health insurance.

I suspect that none of them will take my suggestion. That underscores the real point. None of them has a clue about the struggles and the fears that real Americans live with daily due to our current system of insurance and health care.

This isn't surprising though. My Congressman and Senator both come from money and have never done without, so they haven't a clue about the rest of us.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Political Porn: Television & Radio talking heads arouse emotions to short-circuit critical thought

I make a point to ignore talking heads on television and the radio. I also make a point to avoid pornography. I keep clear of both for the same reason.

They arouse desire devoid of meaning and significance.

Do I think we should outlaw talking heads and pornography? Absolutely not. Free speech is protected.

Talking heads, of both the left and right, offer little in the way of substantive analysis or well-reasoned argument. Their purpose is to incite and arouse, much like agitators, who then sit back and decry their innocence when people act on their inflamed emotions.

It's nothing more than cowardice and bullshit, all concealed behind the 1st Amendment.

The problem with talking heads is like the problem with pornography: Both are legal, and they should remain so, but both degrade critical thought and honest emotion.

We recognize porn addiction.

Maybe it's time we recognize political porn addiction represented by talking heads and radio personalities.

As with most addictions, you can't reason someone out of it; the addict must first recognize their problem.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Recession: Economic theory taken to a religious extreme has put us where we are today.

Finally, a reputable magazine is finally reporting on a problem that has festered for too long among the financial classes in our country, viz., the infection of ideology.

The Economist points out that much of the economic mess we find ourselves in results from slavish adherence by our financial and economic priesthood to the conceptual ideals of economic theory.

I regularly instruct my students on the conceptual assumptions of economics: supply & demand curves, the invisible hand, rational actors, self-interest. I go the extra step to remind them that humans aren't entirely rational. Markets don't always correct properly without some assistance.

The incentives of the financial world boil down to money. When the goal is to maximize the cash, an ideology justifying greed easily takes root. Like all good memes, the language of economics eliminates or hides any threats to its existence.

Those reifying economic theory to validate and justify their self-interest (greed) fell victim to the irrationalities that their faith ignored. They took us along with them.

Religions and ideologies provide ready-made concepts to explain events; it's a type of reductionism to avoid internal inconsistency--Economics As Religion is no different.

We--and by that I mean those pushing the economic levers of power--must disengage from the ecstasy of their ill-conceived, economics-driven faith.

It's time for a reality check. As a nation, we can't afford any more flights of religious or ideological fancy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tennessee Court rules against opponents of gun law change.

I posted a few days ago about the hoopla surrounding a change in the criminal law in Tennessee removing the penalty for handgun permit holders who carry their weapons into restaurants.

I noted that it was a tempest in a teapot.

I got some flack from friends who disagreed.

It seems the court generally agreed with my assessment today.

My prediction was that restaurant owners could post a sign prohibiting patrons from carrying guns. The judge said essentially the same thing.

So the effect? The law goes into effect tonight.

The judge will entertain arguments in three months on vagueness.

The Law is the Law: No one is above it.

Before people begin taking sides in the whole "failing to disclose to Congress" matter, perhaps we should examine the obligations imposed by law n the Executive Branch.

Specifically, 50 U.S.C. Section 413 reads in paragraph (a):

The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity as required by this subchapter.

I think the statute is pretty clear that the Executive Branch has an affirmative obligation to keep Congress informed.

I'm sure we can all agree that the Executive Branch is NOT above the law since it derives its power from said law.

For Dick Cheney to argue that his failure to disclose such activities was in furtherance of ostensibly protecting our national security is bullshit, plain and simple. This is an either/or situation: Either the Executive Branch followed the law OR they failed to do so. Where's the middle ground?

The Executive Branch lacks Constitutional and statutory authority to ignore this law. It does so at its peril to the law. Every good, law-abiding, citizen should demand prosecution for this illegal conduct.

Apparently, too many place party loyalty above the Constitution and the law, since they argue against prosecution.

Patriotism is not merely for our convenience.

AG Holder should prosecute.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cussing has palliative value.

These results are awesome!

Now, I have a scientific excuse for my foul mouth.

When you hurt yourself, it's good to let fly with a stream of expletives to reduce the perception of pain.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Traitors in our midst--Cognitive Dissonance must give way to justice.

For years I've complained of the illegality of warrantless wiretapping by the Bush administration. My patriotism and my support for our War on Terror has been questioned because I exercised my duty as a citizen to question our government. The founding fathers would be aghast at the ideological demands of the right.

Now, it seems my criticisms of the Bush administration's flaunting of the law in an effort to thwart the Constitution were not so far off the mark.

When the executive branch of our government goes to great lengths to conceal illegal activities, regardless of the motive, then we have a serious problem.

Dick Cheney and his cronies skirted the law, much like Nixon. They violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution and to support the laws of our nation.

These traitors deserve justice.

Fudging the law to fight our enemies makes us no better than those who attacked us. If you ignore these crimes because of party affiliation or ideology, then perhaps you should read the Constitution again.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Health care rationing is a reality but Wall Street makes the decisions instead of doctors

When I read this article, I became quite angry because the subject says what we already know to be the case, viz.,. Insurance Companies get rid of costly customers for their bottom line.

Our current system violates every moral fiber of my being. The subject of the article finally awoke to the immorality of serving Wall Street over Main Street.

The best point made by the article: Health Care rationing is a reality.

The reality: Insurance Executives do the rationing now to mollify their Wall Street masters.

This begs the question: Who would you rather ration your health care? An executive whose primary interest is to shareholders?


A government that is subject to the will of the electorate at least every couple of years?

I don't know about you, but I'd prefer a government beholden to me and my fellow citizens over an executive beholden only to shareholders.

I leave you with this: What's the moral choice here? Leave the greedy in charge or let doctors, patients, and elected officials decide?

Tennessee authorizes gun permit holders to carry weapons in restaurants---big deal.

Tennessee has changed the law to authorize concealed carry permit holders to exercise their right to carry in restaurants.

Everybody is up in arms about this---to a ridiculous degree.

Even a Nashville restaurant owner has gotten in the act by suing to have the law declared unconstitutional.

My reading of the State Constitution at Article I, Sect. 26 tells me the lawsuit won't succeed. The legislature has plenary power to make laws related to the right to bear arms. They've done so here.

Here's why I think it's a tempest in a teapot: Nothing in the law requires a restaurant owner to admit anyone who carries a gun. The law only authorizes those with a permit to carry it in a restaurant.

Randy Rayburn needs to take a chill pill and just put up a sign on his door that reads: No Guns Allowed.

If he does so, the law will back him up if he wants to throw someone out. Simple enough.

Instead, everybody has to go all ape-shit over nothing just for press attention. Makes me sick.

I support the 2nd Amendment, but I also support the right of restaurant owners to bar those who wish to pack heat too. This law doesn't interfere with either right.

Climate change is undisputed. Deniers are liars.

For all you climate change deniers out there, I'd like to provide you with a link to a study that shows just how stupid your asinine recalcitrance has become.

I suspect that climate change deniers (liars?) prefer sticking their heads in the sand because to admit error is tantamount to becoming a liberal.

For those of you with the spine to read the study, I half expect you to shoot the messenger by claiming it's some vast intellectual conspiracy.

For those of you afraid to critically examine the evidence, I suspect you'll believe the pseudo-intellectuals in the media who agitate and lie about a leftist plot to destroy the free market.

Either way, you're being an idiot unless you use your brain.

Oklahoma politician showing her stupidity through proclamation--what else is new.

Politicians who do things like what Sally Kern from Oklahoma has done make a mockery of our political system.

Do I think she should be stopped from asserting her opinion? Absolutely not.

Do I think she's a bozo? Absolutely yes.

Bigotry and narrow-mindedness in any form is anathema to a free society. When a politician uses her position to advance an agenda of stupidity and ignorance, then maybe her constituency should reconsider their choice in representative. If they like Ms. Kern then it says a lot about her constituency.

Can't we get a proclamation against stupidity and bigotry please?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Closed-mindedness linked to insecurity in recent study---Proof at last.

This study confirms what many of us already suspected.

Closed-mindedness travels in the same coach as insecurity.

When I read studies like this I'm reminded of my days in church--Baptist church--where so many were so quick to judge and so quick to dismiss any notion of tolerance.

Thankfully, the faith of my childhood was left to my childhood.

Bottom line: Closed-mindedness is a compensatory facade for chickenshit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Capitalistic medicine defies the laws of economics and risks patient lives

Our medical system has many problems. Greed is the worst feature of the system.

When the primary motivation for doctors or future doctors is money, patient health and well-being take a backseat.

When the demand for primary care physicians isn't being met, then the invisible hand of economics has broken down.

Capitalism is great, but to ignore its problems won't improve our system. It's time for a change.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Palin-Letterman donnybrook nothing but a tired attempt to remain relevant with irrelevant fake outrage. Please.

The whole Palin-Letterman dustup shows how devoid of ideas the Republican party truly is.

Instead of working to improve our nation, Palin, her crew, and the Republicans would rather turn a joke by a tv host into the central issue of the week.

This is why the Republicans lost the election in large part. They have nothing but fabricated outrage over stupid stuff said by a tv personality that amounts to nothing more than a hill of beans.

What happened to substance over style?

Palin's a loser without any redeeming qualities except her attractiveness and moronic right-wing ruthlessness--isn't it time we call bullshit on that old style of repudiated politics?

I think so.

If Palin and the Republicans can't offer up more than an Atwater/Rove retread tactic, then they deserve exile. No wonder McCain has nothing to do with Palin now...he knows she lost him the election.

Good riddance.

Lies, damn lies, and agendas. Hoaxer causes more harm to her agenda by lying.

When people with an "agenda" do things like lying to push their views on people then it bespeaks more of their lack of integrity and their dearth of intellectual honesty than in the value of their worldview.

Escaping those of faith who champion their particular religion through dishonesty and deceit is the fact that hypocrisy kills any legitimacy their particular beliefs might have.

This woman who blogged about a fake troubled pregnancy to garner sympathy did nothing more than anger those sympathetic to her plight. What was she thinking? How do you translate sympathy based on a lie into a change of heart in those who were duped by the lie?

You don't. Lying is counter-productive.

This is the problem with agendas. When agenda supersedes the truth, then we are left with nothing but an unfounded belief upon which to built a edifice of trust. All based on lies.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

60% of Bankruptcies caused by medical bills--shocking!

This story sums up the problem with health care, as it is currently run, in this country.

When our system prefers to send people to the poor house so that medical providers can rack up significant bank, then something is askew.

Explain why health care for profit benefits our country when we see results like this?

Things must change.

Think on this: If you had to choose between a doctor who practiced medicine because they saw it as a calling or doctor who went into medicine because of the income possibilities, which one would you choose?

Our medical system needs a lifestyle adjustment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Study indicates our tendency to ignore news that conflicts with our worldview.

Studies like this one underscore the necessity for reading or viewing a number of media sources instead of relying on one or two.

As we age, the danger of viewpoint ossification increases. We seek certainty. When a news story contradicts our particular worldview, then chances are good we'll minimize its value, criticize its source, or seek out other stories to offset the perceived threat to our cozy little worlds.

The Founding Fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, were acutely aware of this natural tendency, despite having no name for it. Jefferson felt so strongly about the dangers of narrow-mindedness and simple-mindedness in the electorate that he donated all his books to start a library (University of Virginia). Along with the other founders, Jefferson noted that the dangers of a free press were far outweighed by having no press at all.

We find ourselves in an awkward situation today. Our media strives for profit. Profit motive fuels the tendency of the media to feed consumers what they want instead of what they need, viz., real news and conflicting stories.

My prescription: Read many sources, take them all with a grain of salt. Don't parrot some bozo who makes his or her money from maintaining an audience instead of actually adhering to a code of journalistic ethics.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Customer service is making a comeback---thankfully.

I'm of the opinion that automated phone systems are designed to thwart customers instead of addressing service issues.

Think about it: Who benefits from wasting your time and possibly frustrating you to the point that you hang up and maybe go away? You most assuredly don't benefit, but the companies do.

Service will differentiate the good from the bad. Price pressures from competition will keep price differences minuscule, so intangible--like good service--will inform the choices.

The internet makes it so much easier to hassle key decision makers so things will change.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's time we get back to being Americans and live up to our Constitution

Stories like this highlight the vast dividing line between rich and poor.

I've been fortunate to grow up middle class. I've had every opportunity to succeed. My parents were not so lucky. Both came from poor country stock and both carry the attitudes and proclivities of the poor.

Those attitudes impacted me in a significant way--making me sensitive the the plight of the poor and downtrodden. These lessons, more than anything, explain my tendency to support the many over the few--the weak over the strong. Essentially, growing up with middle class resources, but a lower class mindset shaped my political values.

For many decades now, a scary, class-ist, and ultimately aristocratic attitude has governed our society. Hopefully, its final expression in the Bush administration and their mouthpieces in the press (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck to name a few..) will be nothing more than a death shudder of a narrow and mean view of society.

Policies enacted over decades make it easier to exploit those with little social power. Greed--encouraged by an ideology of self-reliance and a laissez-faire agenda reminiscent of pre-Depression era government and country, has resulted in an exploitative society that is nothing less than predatory.

It's time we own up to meanness. It's time we live united as a people. Too long have self-interest and the narcissism of certain self-satisfaction governed our land.

We should begin by treating the poor as people instead of like peasants to be abused for our own gain.

If we fail, then it won't be too long before our aristocratic tendencies lead to our undoing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cafferty Agrees with me on dealing with Bush Administration...for what it's worth.

As a charter member of the crotchety old fart club, of which I consider myself a member in good standing, Jack Cafferty of CNN calls for a special prosecutor for the Bush Administration.

Obama is making a big mistake by ignoring the crimes of the last administration. Until the matter is examined, publicly and fully, then our country won't be free of taint from the Bush years.

I say again that it's not a liberal/conservative or Republican/Democrat issue; it one of crime and justice.

It should surprise no one that two cronies from the Nixon Administration (Cheney & Rumsfeld) share a large part of the blame for the screw-ups and law-breaking of the Bush years. You can't teach old dogs new tricks. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld learned at the feet of the master--Tricky Dick. These two bozos retained the paranoia and the deceit that marked the Nixon administration. On top of that, they had something to prove.

I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went to great lengths to turn the Bush Administration into a continuation of the Nixon years. In some sick psychodrama, they sought redemption for themselves and Nixon by making policy indicative of their previous tenure. America is saddled with the results of these two geezers who couldn't let go of their ignominious service with Nixon.

Obama must excise this blot from our collective conscious. Pelosi, although a good conciliator, should own her failure to impeach Cheney and Rumsfeld; she could have stopped the tragedy of the Bush years caused by the Dicky & Donny Show.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pelosi dust-up is tacit admission that Bush administration engaged in torture.

In a display of "gotcha" politics," the Republicans have pounced on Nanci Pelosi's allegation that the CIA lied to her about torture.

I don't know who to believe in this dust-up. I'm inclined to think Speaker Pelosi was informed of the torture. Thinking back on my general complaint of the Democrats during the time in question, I suspect she was. Democrats displayed such spinelessness just prior to the mid-term elections in 2004, so it's in keeping with their character at that time.

What should result from this?

If the Speaker was informed, then she should admit her complicity in the torture for failing to act. On the other hand, if she was misinformed, then those responsible must account for their omissions.

In my opinion, the best approach to resolving this matter--the ENTIRE matter--is to seat a Truth Commission to evaluate and report on everyone involved in the torture issue--including Nanci Pelosi.

The Republicans, by attacking Pelosi, tacitly admit torture occurred by the Bush-led government. Owning up to their part in these sordid events instead relying on a logical fallacy (Tu quoque - "you did it too") to score political points would begin the process.

I don't expect that to happen.

Now's the time for the Obama administration to show some leadership and jettison the impunity granted by their "looking to the future" agenda. This isn't a liberal or conservative issue, but one of justice and criminal activity going unpunished.

The current administration shirks their responsibility by ignoring the criminality of those aligned with the previous administration. Looking to the future doesn't mean ignoring the crimes of the past; it means we must properly resolve issues of the past in order to move into the future.

Letting previous malefactors slide as a courtesy scarcely qualifies as responsible governance.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Morons on parade.

The more I work with corporate America, the more I understand that the value of ....shall we call it VALUES!

For a time now, I've provided advice and other services to a corporation.

In the scant two (2) years of my association, I've experienced a caricature of corporate America.

First of all, this company (although one I hold deep regard for in my personal life...) seems to hire what I charitably call "flunkies" for their management staff.

These people spend most of their time avoiding responsibility, shirking work, and shifting blame rather than actually working.

Secondly, whenever I provide any advice, legal or otherwise, if it conflicts with their bottom line, I immediately suffer demonization and threats against my future tenure.

What I've learned from this experience?

Schmoes work in corporate America. They sacrifice integrity for their own self-interest.

I don't think the founding fathers had this in mind when they set up our great country.

I've also learned that the truth is really scary when money in involved.


It seems that every decision made by my corporate affiliate gets resolved in a fashion that results in maximization of their cash-flow NOW rather than for their long-term financial stability.

Such is the life of Mr. Brutal Honesty.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama has ticked me off! Military brass is a bunch a wusses.

Obama has finally pissed me off.

I'm sorry that the troops might be put in danger over the release of the photos of abuse.

But all I have to say is "Tough shit."

If they're so damned worried about the effect it might have then perhaps they should have obeyed the Constitution instead of following the dictates of their Commander-In-Chief (Bush) when they had the chance.

Need I remind everyone that soldiers take an oath when they join the service. Every last one of them swears to uphold the Constitution before anything. Next in the oath is to follow the orders of the President. If the President gives an order that contradicts the Constitution then as I see it, every soldier has a legal obligation to disobey.

Why? Because the Constitution governs all of us, including the President. Otherwise, we are no longer a nation of laws, but one of tyranny.

The way I see it, if the military want's to act like a bunch of pussies and worry about the effect that photos of their malfeasance and broken oaths might have, then perhaps they should have thought about that before they violated the damn law!

I may get hate mail for this, but one thing I am not is a wuss. I speak the truth and when Obama wimps out on the truth because some pansy-ass Generals are worried about hurt feelings and the potential consequences, then I draw the line.

These Generals are more worried about their careers than they are about their oaths to uphold the Constitution and defend our county. If they aren't smart enough to follow the law then they need to be replaced.

Sometimes to the truth hurts. Grow a spine you sissies.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama administration is restoring competitiveness to the marketplace.

Upon reading this story all I could say to myself is this: It's about time we restore some real competition to the marketplace.

Despite all the blathering about the "free market" and "capitalism", the Bush administration did more to undermine real competition than many previous administrations by gutting anti-trust law.

You can't call yourself a capitalist unless you support strong anti-trust enforcement.

Anti-trust law, when properly applied, eliminates monopolies and punishes those profiting from anti-competitive contracts. Basically, anti-trust law punishes croneyism--a hallmark of the Bush years.

For a market to work properly, concentrations of market power must be thwarted; that's what anti-trust law does--it prevents concentrations of power and greases the wheels of commerce.

Easy commerce makes for cheaper stuff.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Williamson County Tennessee--Home of Right-Wing Douchebags

People amaze me. Rarely am I astounded by depth, intellect, wisdom, or grace. Usually, people astound me by their utter stupidity and willingness to expend precious energy being assholes.

While roving the aisles of a bookstore in Brentwood, Tennessee (Brentwood is in Williamson County--home of Marsha Blackburn (R)), an employee mentioned that he and his fellow workers devote many man-hours to fixing the displays when right-wing bozos mess them up.

How? You may ask.

This guy, whose name is Evan and is nicknamed "McLovin" (a bit of humor to this story..) mentioned that some cretins enter his establishment and cover or hide any book with Obama on it.

I suppose this small gesture, or little rebellion on the part of Williamson County and it's mass of rich, Republican, idiots passes for "counting coup" on the Right. What else is a Limbaugh sycophant, Glenn Beck fan, or Bill O'Reilly nimrod supposed to do when their ideology, their whole raison d'etre is repudiated by a majority?

For those of you unaware: Williamson County Tennessee is one of the richest counties in the country. It's offers exceedingly large homes, expensive shopping, Land Rover driving housewives whose only work involves keeping up with the Joneses and who lack any capacity to yield while in traffic (why should they? It's all about them anyway...), and predominantly white, Republicans who believe Reaganism is still a viable political ideology (if it ever was one).

Sometimes, it's the little douchebaggeries that stick in my craw.

Rather than examine their own failings, these nitwits make life harder for the low-paid employees of a bookstore.

Suppose that's the price paid by a business that caters to the educated and well-informed. God knows no self-respecting right-winger would be caught in a bookstore that wasn't LifeWay unless they were up to mischief.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Miss California may lose her crown over nude pictures---but she's still against Gay Marriage.

You'd think that after repeated displays of hypocrisy throughout time, that those positioning themselves as "moral" paragons, taking a stand on some controversial issue would realize what idiots their actions bespeak.

What am I blathering about?

Miss California and her stupid public statement against Gay Marriage.

Why is it hypocritical?

Because she is positioning herself as an upstanding Christian, but has posed nude.

If you'll recall, Vanessa Williams lost her crown for posing nude back in the '80's.

Now we have this Prejean woman claiming to be an upstanding Christian, and asserting (much to Perez Hilton's chagrin...) that Gay Marriage is wrong.

I don't get it. If you plan to take a moral stand, shouldn't you have the brains to make sure you've not done something stupid in your past? When the Moral police complain that the "liberals" call them stupid, maybe it's because they do stupid things like Miss Prejean.

Irony---it's what makes life worth living sometimes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Murtha's nephew may have gotten $4 million in no-bid contract---Drop in the bucket compared to Halliburton.

Graft on the federal level--hell, on any level--is serious business.

When John Murtha's nephew gets a no-bid, defense contract worth $4 million, then it must be investigated. If anything wrong occurred, then the offending parties should pay the price.

But before we start jumping on $4 million, we must first investigate and prosecute the billions of dollars spent on no-bid contracts that went to Halliburton. We all know that Halliburton was the former employer of Dick Cheney and that Rumsfeld's defense department awarded those no-bid contracts.

Making matters worse is that Halliburton allegedly over-charged after short-circuiting the contract process.

I suspect that Republicans are doing everything they can to neutralize Murtha since he has a distinguished military career.

Let's do investigations all around.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Supreme Court wants to review the Janet Jackson breast video...again. Guess Justice Thomas' porn subscription ran out....

Apparently, the Supreme court wants another look at the Janet Jackson Superbowl wardrobe malfunction.

My suspicion is that Justice Clarence Thomas was behind the need for the male-dominated Supreme Court "needing to review the case again."

In the real world, I suppose it's hard (no pun intended) for the Justices to get their porn fix, so they gotta do what they gotta do.

Too bad this issue is really stupid. It highlights the inane things the Court finds itself being asked to resolve.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

RNC attempting to set Steele up for failure because they're devoid of ideas.

After the election of Michael Steele to the chairmanship of the RNC, I thought that maybe, the Republicans were beginning to turn a corner.

Apparently I was mistaken.

The RNC is attempting to hamstring Mr. Steele by limiting his ability to spend RNC cash without a permission slip.

Even Newt Gingrich calls the RNC a bunch "ego maniacs."

Here's my two cents: Many of the RNC want a fall guy. Mr. Steele is the guy out front, he's also African-American. Limiting his ability to spend money is the quickest route to setting him up for failure. The RNC will have someone to blame (Steele) and it will further their pretext racism by having the stool pigeon (Steele) be African-American too.

Let's watch and see if I'm right.

White Collar criminals should go to the same prisons as the hard cases.

I don't know how I feel about this.

I have a serious problem with dividing the prison system into two camps--one for the hard criminals and one for the soft criminals.

Personally, I think all criminals should go to the same jail.

It doesn't matter to me that someone has an education and committed embezzlement of $50 million dollars as opposed to knocking over a liquor store for $200.

Crime is still a crime. Criminals should all pay the same penalty at the same venue.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bigots alive and well and blaming Mexicans for Swine Flu--Dumbasses!

Among the various reasons I have for not listening to talk radio or watching Fox News, one has to be the bigotry and racism prominently displayed.

When Michael Savage gets fired because he blames Mexicans for the Swine Flu and says things like "they wipe the butts with their hands" (what else would they use their feet?) or Michelle Malkin of Fox news uses the Swine Flu to justify closing the border, then I draw the line.

In an effort to show my contempt for this slag that passes as media, I plan on eating Mexican food today, prepared by real Mexicans.

Screw you bigots! Screw you too if you support such drivel.

Relgious more likely to support much for forgiveness.

All I want to know: What exactly do they teach these people in church that causes them to be more likely to support the use of torture?

I mean, the Bible says nothing about supporting torture. In fact, the Bible says to forgive and turn the other cheek.

It's been awhile since I've been to Church, but if the results of this study provide a glimpse into what passes as Christianity these days, then I don't want to go.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crappy broadband a legacy of Bush policy against enforcing Anti-Trust law.

Surely most of you get tired of me bashing the last President. Yet, there remain so many screw-ups by Bush, some intentional and many a result of his ideological blinders, that I must point out what his penchant for laissez-faire boob-ism wrought.

The Justice Department under Bush instituted a policy of refusing to enforce anti-trust law. You know, the laws enacted to prevent monopolies and anti-competitive practices. Ashcroft dropped an Anti-Trust lawsuit against Microsoft during the early years and it set the stage for later malfeasance.

This whole atmosphere of ignoring anti-competitive business practices in the name of--wait for it--free markets has actually reduced our supply of market-friendly internet.

For example: In Tennessee, when municipalities began looking at providing free wi-fi, the cable companies cried foul and spent a lot of cash greasing the General Assembly's palms to pass a law prohibiting cities from competing with cable. The Justice Department did nothing.

Now, it seems the lack of competition and the virtual monopoly on broadband by a number of providers means we have to suffer with crap for speed, crap for customer service, and crap for expense.

If Bush had really been in favor of business, his policies would reflect the value of maintaining competition instead of encouraging monopolies.

We all would have the best broadband in the world instead of the 15th best.

When Republicans talk of capitalism they can't ignore the dangers monopolies create.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Green means NO MEAT.

I'm gonna make a bold statement.

You cannot be green unless you avoid the consumption of meat.

Those of you who know me, understand that I've been a vegetarian for over two decades. My reasons are ethical, but my decision to avoid meat for all these years accords with my personal belief that the environment deserves our protection and not our continued exploitation for our personal appetites.

For more evidence supporting my personal view, look at this article and the links found therein.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Using Rove arguments to support Obama--try it for fun.

I've decided to try a thought experiment as an homage to the last administration.

I want to trot out some of the same arguments used by the Bush administration and followed by McCain & Palin during the '08 election.

If you supported McCain/Palin or Bush you will remember these. As a point of consistency, they should apply equally well to Obama.

If you find yourself incapable of applying these same chestnuts to Obama, without caveat, then you need to ask yourself if you're not being a little intellectually dishonest.

1. Since Obama's been in office, the terrorists have not attacked us. Therefore, Obama's policies on national security are working. (You'll recall Bush used this same argument as validation for the efficacy of his presidency despite the fact that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence--it's sophistry, specifically argumentum ad ignorantiam --Glenn Beck's stock in trade).

2. Don't change horses in the middle of the stream. Even if Obama's not doing such a good job, things are so bad right now that we shoudn't go messing up things by replacing him because during a crisis, we need stability more than change. (Bush used this and McCain/Palin tried to link into the whole stability of vision thing to keep the Republicans in power--again, this is nothing but Bullshit and the results of the Bush years show it to be the case.)

3. Obama's a secret Muslim and is going to turn us into a communist state. (This doesn't pass the laugh test so I won't even diginify it with an answer except to say that if you believed this crap, you're an idiot.)

I'll stop here. Once I've gone through my Rove file, we can talk about it some more.

The same arguments used in the past must work equally well for the other side. if they don't then perhaps the arguments are suspect to begin with.

Night owls have advantages over early birds.

The results of this study add fuel to a fire that's been burning for awhile with me.

I've always taken issue with those who point to my tendency to rise late and stay up late. Our society, due to its Calvinist legacy, puts great stock in the dictum: early to bed early to rise.

My point is that late risers and early risers each have something to offer and to force one into the mold of the other is prejudice.

This recent study offers proof that being a night owl gives certain benefits.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pill could kill Alcoholics Anonymous and Doctor Drew's Business

This story is encouraging. A pill that can help addicts kick their problems.

Love the idea.

More troubling though is the recalcitrance of the Rehab industry and the AA crowd to using a pill to stop addiction.

Why would anyone holding themselves out as a professional or support group for addicts take issue with a medication showing such promise?

Money. For the rehab industry, a pill eliminates the thousands of dollars billed for treatment.

Even if it works.

For AA: The whole edifice of AA is built around the disease model of addiction. AA operates like a cult whose success at treating addiction is no better than chance (50/50). That's the level of remission among alcoholics WITHOUT AA.

When a pill stops addiction, what use would anyone have for a twelve step system?


I think this work is great.

Bullets to the head will stop the piracy--Violent, but effective

I'm not one for violence as a policy. In fact, I think too many people are quick to use the gun when other tactics might work better.

Too many advocate government sanctioned violence, especially if they're not the one doing the actual killing. Somehow the sanitary nature of government violence makes it more palatable for the rest of us to tolerate.

But then, there's the piracy issue.

Three issues fuel the piracy mess off Somalia:

1) No strong government in Somalia to put the smack-down on those exploiting the territorial waters.

2) Willingness of commercial shipping companies to pay ransom because it's less expensive than to pay the families and customers should the results become dire.

3) Willful ignorance by countries with the capacity to stop it militarily.

We're seeing a sea-change (literally) off Somalia. The U.S. under Obama has manned up at sent the pirates to Davey Jones' Locker for messing with us.

A few bullets to the head will stop the lawlessness caused by shipping companies cowardly, albeit capitalistic, ways.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Morality may just be post hoc rationalizations for what we feel.

Apparently, we are all moral hypocrites. Recent research indicates that most of us use our emotions to guide our morals and devote considerable time to justifying our morality to fit our emotional state.

No surprising about this work: Conservatives spend a lot of time thinking about sex while liberals think mostly about food.

One look at the Moral Majority could have told you that.

As for me: I still think it possible for people to behave with cool rationality, but only if they exercise extreme effort and realize that emotions are to be compartmentalized instead of followed as the ultimate guide to truth.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stress from poverty undermines children's mental development. Time to change that.

The results of this study are stunning.

When science finds significant evidence that poverty diminishes a child's mental capacity then we have no choice but to eliminate poverty for the sake of the children.

The study showed that the central factor--the only cause--was stress caused by poverty.

Can we afford any philosophy or attitude that undermines the mental capacity of our nation's children?

I say "No".

Poverty is probably one of the last conquerable social evils. Alleviating poverty is within our grasp, but we must willingly give up outdated dogmas that serve only a few at the expense of our future.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Technology takes away our privacy to our own genitals for the sake of "Stopping the Terrorists" No way.

Okay, this technology, although really cool from a technical point, is extremely scary from a Constitutional standpoint.

When you can see genitalia from a technology then it's too much.

I don't care about thwarting terrorists if it means I have to show my business.

The company making this scary piece of equipment says that there's zero storage of images and it's viewed at a remote location.

SO WHAT!? Look at the detail.

My mantra about the shifting nature of our rights (primarily away from our best interest) is this: Just because we can do something doesn't make it alright.

I can buy a gun and shoot someone in the face, but that doesn't make it okay. Similarly, this x-ray technology is not okay.

It won't be long before someone would offer to sell nude pictures of celebrities and politicians from this technology, despite all the safeguards.

Hell no!.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crazy often defined by proximity in time. The farther away in time, the less crazy it seems to be.

Will someone please explain this to me?

A Maryland woman made a plea deal that includes a "resurrection" clause.

Her request was that when and if her son is resurrected from the dead that all charges against her will be dropped for allowing him to die.

Of course the D.A. agreed because the resurrection of the victim from the dead means no crime happened. Kind of a moot point.

Most of us agree that this woman is a little crazy.

My next question will probably tick off a lot of people: Why is her belief crazy but the belief in the resurrection of a man thousands of years ago not a little insane?

I'm just saying. If resurrection is possible thousands of years ago, why not now?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Universal health care the cure for foreign competition in medical treatment

Failings in the U.S. health care system are highlighted by the plight of the uninsured.

Our profit-driven system benefits the vendors of medical care (doctors, hospitals & pharmaceuticals) at the expense of patients.

Many, myself included, find a system where lives are placed at risk primarily for profit immoral and scandalous. A supposedly advanced society doesn't place a price on lives like we do to profit certain industries.

Our profit-driven system generates one side-effect: Lower cost providers will always pop up to push prices down. That's the nature of market economics.

In the case of foreign doctors and hospitals, these low cost competitors are rising to fill a long-felt need in American health care.

It's a good thing too.

American doctors and hospitals need competition from their American-trained foreign brethren. Foreign competition will encourage the American medical industry to get on-board with universal health care because that will be the only thing to save American medicine from overseas competition.

Universal health care will take the form of protectionism for U.S. medicine. There's no way to maintain the best health care system in the world with the highest individual cost to consumers when the customer base shrinks as a result of the insurance industry policy of excluding people from coverage who most need treatment, leaving these externalized costs for the rest of society to pick up.

Something's gonna have to give in our health care system. I suspect that doctors will realize that insurance providers don't have the public's best interest at heart and will protect their own bottom line by preferring a universal plan insuring payment over the headache of dealing with private insurance companies.

Better late than never.

Tesla Sedan finally makes its debut

Tesla, the electric car starup that made out mouths drool over their roadster, has bitten the bullet and produced a sedan for the mass market.

The price is around $50 k. More reasonable by comparison to the $100 k price tag of the roadster.

The car looks great.

I just hope the hype meets up with reality after a poor showing of the roadster during a BBC road test. I blogged about it previously.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Drug warriors asking for more money to fund ineffective approach to drug problems. Just "Say No" to misspent cash.

Here's where the disconnect occurs in our efforts to combat drug abuse and the attendant crime associated with illegal drugs.

Those from law enforcement always want more resources and stiffer penalties. Just like this bozo advocates.

The problem with the education angle is that programs that historically receive government funding have shown little to no effect--in essence they are a waste of money.

I give you the D.A.R.E. program. D.A.R.E. has never been effective. If you don't believe me, then look at the government's own scientific study supporting my claim.

Law enforcement and its apologists and advocates have no credibility when it comes to treating the drug problem in the U.S. They've had three decades to prove themselves and have FAILED.

The criminal justice system has never successfully treated what amounts to a health issue.

Until our policies reflect the health aspect of drug problems, we'll endure further demands for cash from the law enforcement lobby.

It's time to stop the police-industrial complex our drug policies have created.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Secretary Clinton speaks the truth about U.S. Drug Policy--Good for her, good for us.

Here's a positive sign. Someone in the Obama administration actually speaking the truth about U.S. drug policy.

Secretary Clinton stated publicly that the War on Drugs has been a failure.

She noted this while in Mexico.

In my previous post I noted how we must honestly address our failures and look to alternative policies.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time for a new approach to this failed drug war.

The escalating violence in Mexico and the potential for spillover into the U.S. highlights the failings of our decades long drug war.

Prohibition enforcement has not worked. Every angle has been tried and yet rates of drug addiction and drug use are roughly the same as they have been every year since the 1920's--the first decade to see good records on drug use and addiction.

What's been the result of enforcement? More prisons, more cost to society in lost economic potential and a law enforcement boondoggle.

Drug abuse isn't pretty, but one thing is clear: Continuing down the same path of failed policies, increasing corruption and wasted capital is not the better choice.

Trying alternatives is our best option. We know prohibition doesn't work. Admitting our failures is not giving in; it honesty in policy. Aren't we due for some integrity in our drug policy?

The Obama administration is trying the same old failed approach to the Mexican drug problem, but it won't work. You can't target Second Amendment rights when the real problem boils down to failed drug policies that have no effect on demand.

Ending the violence means hitting the drug cartels where it counts: Their cash flow.

Demand is not affected by prohibition, that much is proven by our history. When a product has consistent demand over decades, someone will always try to meet that demand, despite the legal obstacles our policies might place in the way.

What are we left with?

Legalization and regulation.

By legalizing drugs, we remove the financial incentives. Legal substances have lower margins. Legal substances have better quality. Legal substances are subject to taxation and oversight.

The costs to society for legalization are far less than what's been paid thus far for prohibition. The benefits are incalculable and might just deal a fatal blow to those organizations inured to the profits prohibition has created, namely the Drug Cartels.

Dramatic times call for dramatic measures.

Meat consumption linked to dramatic risk of cancer and heart disease. Just say no to meat.

A fun new study paints a grim picture of the long-term consequences of red meat consumption.

Apparently, eating red meat increases the risk of cancer and heart disease dramatically. Women suffer an increased likelihood of death as a result, moreso than the risk men face.

Men increase their risk of cancer by about 25%. Women increase their risk about 50%.

This is dramatic.

Another call for vegetarianism.

Obama giving up the macho in favor of the smart approach to Iran.

I would like to point out that President Obama's approach to Iran is exactly what is needed.

For far too long the U.S. has tried to bully and threaten its way to a solution with the Islamist nation--all to little effect.

I would also like to point out that I suggested just such an approach in an earlier post on this blog.

Being the big dog on the block gives us ample strength without us needing to strut around and tell everyone about how great we are. Previous administrations and our most recent Republican nominee for president pursued the same agenda: Talk tough and be tough.

It didn't work, except at the polls. The message lost on all the talk tough crowd is that being macho and being smart are mutually exclusive endeavors. This is why you don't find big tough rednecks on Jeopardy and why you don't find pointy-headed nerds on the football field.

Obama's nuanced approach to Iran creates an untenable situation for the mullahs. The "Great Satan" ceases to motivate when the U.S. is extending a hand in peace. The youthful Iranian population wants to participate in the world at large. The restraints placed on them by their reactionary leaders generates increased discontent when the "Great Satan" is perceived as the "Great Peace-Maker".

Obama's approach boxes in the Iranian leadership between moribund rhetoric and youthful population bristling under the reactionary yoke of oppression. Strategically, it's brilliant.

Kudos to Obama for being smart instead of macho.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Running may be better for us than once thought. Good news.

Here's some very good news for me and the millions of other runners out there.

I've been a runner for over 20 years. Running keeps me sane and stable.

For the past few years, I've worried that I must give up my running to preserve my joints and bones.

This study suggests that I need not worry and keep to the road.

I think I'll celebrate by running.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Legal profession fills in the gap where government oversight is scant

When politicians complain about lawyers ruining America or some right-wing idiot blathers about trial lawyers hurting the medical profession or so on, stories like this provide the real value lawyers bring to society--quasi-regulators.

I'll be the first to complain when some lawyer goes too far. However, the legal profession is not defined by some outlier of a lawsuit, regardless of how newsworthy it may be. Lord knows that the media reports the stupid lawsuits, but ignores the millions of stupid cases most lawyers refuse to file.

This present case highlights the legal profession's role in protecting the public.

Who else protects the public from unscrupulous sorts when government neglects its obligation to protect consumers taken in by unfair trade practices?

Lawyers stand as society's safeguard against companies and individuals that profit by externalizing costs to the public's detriment.

You'll note that those complaining about trial lawyers do so as a pretext for complaining about the true costs of doing good business. Good business factors in all the costs of doing business, not just the quickest way to make a buck.

If a business can't survive without externalizing their costs, then, economically, it loses any claim as a viable concern and more resembles organized crime--the height of extreme cost externalization.

Profitability based on cutting corners is artificial. The rest of society must absorb those costs to ensure the continued existence of extreme eternalizers.

The complexity of our economy militates against a purely caveat emptor business system. Demanding that every consumer evaluate fully every commercial decision to maintain profitability defies reason and can't possibly be an effective approach.

Arguing otherwise is tantamount to arguing for a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive. Fortunately, social darwinism as a social model has long been discredited as an effective policy. Besides few people want what amounts to plutocracy anyway.

Lawsuits re-balance the equities created when producers exploit informational inequities in society for profit by taxing the costs to those best able to prevent them and those best able to bear them---the producers.

China will learn the meaning of good business after our legal profession gets done with them.

Good thing too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

AIG can't seem to learn its lesson.

AIG really screwed the pooch. They can't seem to learn.

Not only did they help create the mess that is our economy, but through their government allies, they managed to profit from it at the expense of taxpayers.

The public is understandably upset. In days of yore, this would be a tarring and feathering event.

I am utterly stunned at the audacity of AIG. They have little concept of the political nightmare they've created--and for what? Money.

What astounds me more is the political response. Republicans are blocking the political backlash against AIG's stupidity and greed. In essence, Republicans are advocating stupidity and greed at the taxpayers' expense.

My suspicion: Republicans are guarding their Wall Street constituents. If the previous administration and its cronies in the legislative branch had not set the environment for this greed and de-regulation, AIG might never have gotten away with this. Besides, those on Wall Street are notoriously Republican-leaning and to hurt them would cause campaign coffers to dwindle, despite any pretexts offered to the contrary.

Arguing that failing to pay these bonuses will be bad for the economy is what most of us clearly see as bullshit clothed in fearmongering. It's nothing more than a bunch of greedy bastards using that old Bush tactic of scaring us out of wits so they can sneak up and screw us when we're not paying attention.

I got a news flash: The economy is already screwed so these bozos need to come down to reality.

The public outrage is justified. The rapid Congressional response is exactly what the founders had in mind when they created the House, viz., a body to reflect the passions of the electorate.

Making matters worse: The previous administration orchestrated this with the complicity of Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke. Can anyone please explain why Bernanke neglected to mention these bonuses months ago when he learned of them? He should be fired over such a colossal blunder, since he is touted as the wizard of our economy.

AIG should be forced into bankruptcy. Every entity getting paid by AIG needs disclosed.

Until all the greedy cockroaches see the light of day, this mess won't be clean and our economy won't heal.

We can either drag this out to our detriment or we can make it quick and clean.

I opt for Robespierre's method: Off with their heads.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Employer-provided insurance hampers labor mobility.

Home ownership and employer-sponsored insurance may play a bigger role in unemployment than taxes or other alleged issues.

I've noted this for a time, that without some form of universal health coverage, people were tied to their jobs due to employer-provided insurance. When a health crisis hits, people can't just leave a job and lose their insurance, COBRA be damned.

Our system cements workers to their jobs when it might make better economic sense to move.

With the downturn in real estate, home owners are given a double-whammy with the loss of home value. They can't sell and they can't lose what they have sunk into their houses either.

The country may not be ready for this, but portable, universal health coverage would be a boon to labor mobility. People could move to where the jobs were instead of suffering with a job for the sake of the insurance and the house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Faith eludes the faithful when death comes knocking

This study tells me one thing: The religious aren't less afraid of death and neither are hey more certain about an afterlife. It's just a show.

For awhile, I suspected that religion fills a need for certainty in an uncertain world.

Certainty is a pipe dream. Nothing is fixed and no one knows what happens after death, despite what religion tells us.

Too many willingly believe in an afterlife, but studies such as this give credence to the fact that those beliefs provide little guidance when death calls.

It takes great courage to face death with the knowledge that the end is near. Holding onto beliefs in spite of supporting evidence may be fine while death seems distant, yet when those beliefs get tested the truth hits like a slap in the face.

True courage requires no fantasy of an afterlife to soften the possible truth of existence, viz., that this is all there is.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

California to legalize and tax marijuana to fix budget crisis. It's about time.

California is at the vanguard of new taxation strategies. The state is the 8th largest economy in the world--meaning that California has a greater GDP than the vast majority of the world's countries.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I've frequently noted that as California goes, so goes the rest of the country in ten years.

California is suffering a serious budgetary crisis and needs new revenue streams. A state legislator is offering up a bill legalizing marijuana.

In my opinion, California is taking steps that should have occurred years ago. The proposal would allow adults to buy cannabis and pay a tax.

Since marijuana is one of the highest cash crops in the state, the treasury will have scads off cash.

I see marijuana legalization as the next lottery or casino for many states.

We'll see.

Intelligence reduces risk of death--Duh.

Sometimes scientists find results that most of us already know intuitively.

This study links High IQ with reduced risk of death.

In my opinion, stupidity is nothing more than "Darwin in Action." You know, the human version of natural selection or survival of the fittest.

We all shake our heads when some idiot decides to play chicken with a train.

In my mind, stupidity serves a very useful purpose. It weeds out the weak and unfit from our gene pool. The immediate result may suck, but over time, the accumulation of stupid actions by many individuals improves the quality of our species leaving only the best and brightest around to reproduce.

Darwin was right.

These results may be a no-brainer, but sometimes it helps to verify with reproducible results.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rihanna is apparently willing to sacrifice her career to save Chris Brown's--huh?

I normally stay away from items featured prominently on or, but I must add my meager voice to the growing throng against this mess.

As a former victim of domestic abuse, I cannot help but think this crap Rihanna is purportedly doing, like recording a duet or staying at Sean Combs house, is just further evidence of Chris Brown's abuse.

It is no secret that abusers exercise considerable control over their victims. They cajole and apologize and use everything to prey upon the low self-esteem of their victim. The victim often falls for it and forgives. Sometimes when it's too late.

Rihanna is obviously being further victimized by Brown and his camp because it helps his case.

I think she needs to wake up.

Furthermore, I think her father and brothers should have an aggressive conversation with Mr. Brown behind locked doors. If you catch my meaning. This may be why Rihanna has apparently cut all ties from her family. It's common for abusers to isolate their victims from family and friends; it's the same thing a cult does when they gain new recruits.

I'm calling out Sean Combs on enabling this mess. He's an idiot and deserves an ass-whipping too for being such a moron. I thought he billed himself as being smart? This doesn't seem to bright to me.

Rihanna is going to kill her career and for what? To save Chris Brown's? How stupid is that? Why is his career worth more than hers?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

World economic downturn shows political fragility of some nations.

Failing U.S. economic health has unintended consequences on immigrant labor. Without the steady flow of cash from a booming U.S. economy, many Central American immigrants are forced to return home for the security of family.

Jobs often filled by immigrants, legal or otherwise, are the first to go when times get tough and the economy shrinks.

Wholesale job losses by immigrants reveal just how dependent their home countries' are on U.S. dollars.

Currently, Mexico is in danger of becoming a failed state. Right next door, we have a country that has depended upon direct infusions of cash by immigrant workers in the U.S. sending money home.

Without any thought for economic security and future prosperity, Mexico has maintained a status quo for years and the corruption resulting from its inability to change its policies is beginning to show.

Drug cartels are the primary power source operating in the country. The government has little ability to stand up to the demand for drugs in the U.S. so on the one hand it needs the cartels, but on the other the drug cartels threaten the legitimate power in the country.

I'm afraid the failed policies began by Nixon, promoted by Reagan, and endorsed by all succeeding presidents are coming home to roost in a major way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Survey highlights the fall of religion in America due in large part to the Religious Right--Ironic isn't it?

The results of this recent survey underscore the same trend that has happened in Europe. It also highlights the founding father's warning in the Establishment Clause to the Constitution.

When politics and religion mix, religion loses.

The Germans have a state supported church and few Germans identify themselves as Christian or even attend service anymore.

In our country, the Religious Right have driven many people from religion altogether with their emphasis on prosaic matters above that of the spirit. Their striving for worldly power leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Even the bible says not to cast your pearls before swine, but that's exactly what happens in the marriage of politics and religion.

Personally, I welcome the decline. I've predicted it for years. You can't push a religious political agenda in a country with a long history of separation between church and state and expect faith to come out ahead.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Science regains its rightful place--being unmolested by politicians.

Obama is undoing the anti-intellectual crap spewed all over science by the Bush administration.

All I can say is: "Thank God!"

Irony is intended.

My problem with the whole selling out to the Religious Right boils down to this:

Insecure faith is the cause of the anti-intellectualism and fear of knowledge that governed such policies.

There, I said it.

Those intolerant of conflict with their world view are the last people to consult when making science policy. Bush screwed the pooch big time with that policy and it's time for the Galileo's of the world to be set free from the yoke of faith.

Despite what the faithful might think, the world isn't constrained to one particular worldview.

The rest of us adults realize this and accept that forcing others into our own circumscribed reality might just be the worst "tyranny over the minds of men" that Thomas Jefferson was referring to when he said it two centuries ago.

Reason has returned and the idiots are being shown the door. Our forefathers saw the dangers of mixing religion and politics, but for the past eight years we've had to endure the result they warned against.

High time for secular society to return to American politics and government.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New service may be the answer to little choice in cable television

Here's new service that I would definitely jump on.

Any opportunity I can find to get rid of cable while keeping a good supply of tv entertainment on the cheap is my kind of product.

The only thing keeping me from dumping cable is the broadband.

DSL sucks because you must have a phone line.

Since Tennessee passed a law prohibiting municipalities from putting in free, citywide, WiFi (thanks to the generous contributions to our venal state legislature by wireless providers who didn't want the competition...) we've been left with cable broadband (from one provider!) dsl, dial-up, or wireless broadband with low download limits. None of the above cut it except the cable broadband, but then you have only one choice.

I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of competition in communications and any service that gives me the choice of paying for shows or accepting advertising sounds good.

Sign me up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Morality is a primitive emotion without need for a higher power.

A new study mentioned in Science Daily shows that morality might arise from rather primitive brain functions.

The importance of this find cannot be understated for the simple fact that some philosophers and theologians have contended for centuries that morality comes from some higher source.

I've been in arguments with people who argued that morality couldn't exist without some higher authority, viz., God. I always found that position weak and opted for the more parsimonious view, viz., morality is innate.

The argument goes that without God, one can't be moral with the implication that atheists and agnostics lack morality.

I call bullshit on that view because the facts show otherwise. Furthermore, is it moral to be scared into doing right or doing right because it's the right thing to do? I think the latter is the higher morality, while the former is the view of the religious moralists.

Many of the atheists and agnostics I know have a better grip on morality than a lot of the religious folks running around.

Interesting study that scores another point for secular humanism.

Friday, February 27, 2009

NationaL Rifle Association's ideological blinders leads to alienation of Democrat allies--idiots.

Here's a new fun fact that I'm sure will get few mentions from the bloviators in the Right-wing media.

Pelosi and Reid both oppose the Assault Weapon Ban.

Personally, I agree with them. Who gives a crap about some guy with a cache of AK-47s? Hell, I'd like to have a few machine guns myself.

If you'll note, the National Rifle Association says nothing about Pelosi and Reid on their legislative website.

Their failure to support politicians who support the 2nd Amendment begs the question: Is the NRA really in favor of politicians that support the 2nd Amendment or is their ideology so strong that they cannot imagine a Democrat actually being in favor of gun rights?

Who knows. I do note that most of the bozos touted by the NRA come from the right-wing of the Republican Party, so the NRA isn't exactly a paragon of balance.

Why do you suppose that is?

Personally, I don't think either party has a lock on the personal freedom and protection of rights agenda.

Personal beliefs cannot trump quality of medical care--ever.

Finally, the President is bringing some Constitutionality back to health care.

The Bush administration pushed through a regulation that allowed health care workers to refuse health care that violated their beliefs. Now, Obama is proposing to rescind such a reactionary, unconstitutional, and morally suspect piece of right-wing pandering.

Why do I oppose this regulation?

Health care professions are similar to the legal profession in that we assume the duty to perform to the best of our skills and to subordinate our personal interests to those we serve--it's known as a fiduciary obligation. Someone entering a field where people's lives are on the line has a fiduciary duty to subordinate their personal feelings and beliefs to the standard of care required in their field.

As a lawyer, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I represented defendants in criminal cases that I found personally repugnant, but I took an oath to uphold the law even for those I thought should be locked up. The law is not some suggestion to be discarded in favor of our own predilections despite what medical school may teach.

Health care workers incapable of providing the highest standard of care due to personal beliefs have a moral obligation to leave the profession, since they obviously cannot give the best quality of care due to a personal issue.

Similarly, if I could no longer uphold the law because I disagreed with it, even for those most deserving of its punishment, then my fiduciary duty is to remove myself from its practice in order to protect the law from my personal failings.

No one argues that medical providers should sacrifice their beliefs, but they have a legal and moral duty to avoid placing themselves in situations where they will be forced to choose between their beliefs and the highest quality of care for their patients.

No one, even a doctor, has the authority to elevate their personal beliefs above that of their patients' well-being. That's the height of arrogance and self-righteousness.

Welcome back to some sanity.

Eat less, exercise more: The only true diet that works.

This study confirms what most of the world has known for years.

Fad dieting and tricks to lose weight don't really work.

Losing weight depends on a simple formula: Eat less and Exercise More.

Weight loss boils down to burning more calories than one consumes.

Diets don't work. Lifestyle change does.

Cut calories by changing what you eat and how much you eat. Burn calories by increasing activity.

Simple huh?

There are no quick fixes to years of overeating and inactivity.

Bankruptcy for automakers would make public executive compensation: The Real Reason for avoiding bankruptcy

For the past few months I've been wondering why the Big 3 automakers have assiduously avoided any thought of filing bankruptcy.

The stated reason is that it would undermine their market share since consumers wouldn't buy cars from companies in bankruptcy.

I find their reasoning a little off and have for awhile. Bankruptcy would allow the auto makers to renegotiate ALL their contracts with the unions while providing some protection for the already retired workers. This falls under 11 U.S. C. Section 1113 of the Bankruptcy Code.

After thinking about it, I've figured out the real reason the car companies don't want bankruptcy.

Executive Compensation.

Under the bankruptcy code, when a company enters Chapter 11, all executive compensation must be approved by the Bankruptcy Court. Insider compensation must be disclosed in the bankruptcy too so the public would find out the extravagant pay packages paid out.

With the economy in such shape and their companies in such a state, these executives know the court will deny them millions of dollars a year after balancing that with layoffs and bad business decisions.

Of course the public would rise up in anger over the millions of dollars paid for executives who made bad decision. That's ultimately the reason why the big 3 would lose market share. I'm sure the creditor's committees in these bankruptcies would also complain about the excessive salaries too.

This begs the question: What's more important? The bottom line for the executives or their fiduciary obligation to their companies and the economy as a whole?