Friday, July 30, 2010

Calling a Spade a Spade: Anti-immigrant politics is nothing but Racism.

I'll probably catch a lot of flack for this and may even lose some friends over it, but that has never stopped me from speaking the truth about what is plainly evident before me.

All the chest-thumping, posturing, and other grand standing about "the immigration issue" boils down to plain old racism.

Those taking the position that illegal immigrants are harming us, as a nation, have either let their racial animus overtake their reason or they have taken the pre-packaged rationalizations promulgated by bigots at face-value.  Critical thinking is not an American strong suit.

Shame on you if you are too stupid or too willfully ignorant to see through the appeals to your unacknowledged bigotry.

You can't be a true capitalist and oppose illegal immigrants.  


Americans are nothing if not cheap.  That's why WalMart is such a success.   

If you get two bids for construction work, one from a company that employs only American citizens and pays them minimum wage AND another, lower, bid from an American contractor who uses illegal labor...which bid do you take?

If you choose the lower bid (as most capitalists would...) then you encourage illegal immigration and are now a part of the problem.  

How many check the immigration status of all workers used by a contractor when you hire one?

Failing to do so and then complaining about illegal immigrants taking American jobs, makes you a hypocrite, an idiot, or both.

Let's face it: If we truly want no illegal immigrants working in the U.S., we'll pay considerably more for more things we take for granted.  We can't ignore our anti-immigrant values via denial when we use illegal workers or contractors that do so.

Anti-Immigrant politics is un-American.

How so?

Unless you're Native American, everyone in this country has immigrant ancestors.  This country is a nation of immigrants.  

Immigration gives us our character.  

To deny this truth is to deny our history and heritage.  To suddenly take a position against this central part of our heritage is to deny the core of what makes us a Great Nation, viz., Diversity.

Lastly, anti-immigrant politics is plain old racism with nothing more than air-brushed, pretext, rationales designed to make hate based on ethnicity socially acceptable.

How do I know?

Illegal immigrants are only making rational economic decisions when they come here.  If you or I were in the same position, we'd make the same choices.

Illegal immigrants, by and large, avoid drawing attention to themselves from law enforcement.  They avoid drawing attention to themselves by paying their rent on time.  They avoid drawing attention to themselves by working hard and well at jobs few native-born Americans will take.

These are attitudes and values that improve our nation and to ignore these qualities, while focusing only upon their rational, but illegal choices to come here is to make fools of us all for some simple-minded, but all too backwards notion of what it means to be American.

Now, does the previous mean that I support opening the border?  

Not hardly.

It only means that most people harboring anti-immigrant animus should truly examine what it is they advocate, in light of our history and in light of the economics if illegal immigration.

In the end, illegal immigration is about economics and not race...we shouldn't turn a financial issue into a social one, even if it helps some bozo to get elected.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why we should thank Andrew Breitbart...despite his buffoonery

Andrew Breitbart, that conspiracy theorist who believes everyone has a political agenda and that the media is a liberal whore, recently stepped in another pile of bullshit by publishing a video clip of a USDA employee supposedly making a racist remark to the NAACP.

Being ever-ready to jump the gun on any sort of "gotcha moment," Breitbart proceeded to advance the notion that the NAACP is full of racists.  He did this all within the context of trying to prove that NAACP is racist and since they are racist it gives the Right cover to be racist also...despite the ludicrous reasoning behind such a proposition.

Such a position is logically and rationally untenable yet, Breitbart subscribes to the faulty assumption at the foundation of Fox News and MSNC, viz., since everyone has an agenda, then it's perfectly acceptable to double-down on a particular worldview as a filter for facts and call it "news".

My position on Fox News (who incidentally took Breitbart at his word and ran with the story without doing appropriate background...probably because it fed into their right-wing slant) and MSNBC, is that such assumptions about an inherent slant in every news source is faulty; it does nothing but undermine journalistic ethics and professionalism.  

We have a name for that type of journalism and it rhymes with "mellow".

For example: If you had a choice of information between a source that felt entitled to color the reporting according to their own agenda 


you had a source that freely admitted innate, human, biases, but made a concerted effort to reduce those biases and report the facts---which would you choose?

I, for one, choose the latter.  Going even one step further, I tap multiple sources for the same information, pitting bias against bias so I can get a better picture of the facts.  

Some, Breitbart being one, prefers the arrogance of their own self-important worldview--even when it lays bare the laziness of the media and their own willful ignorance.

This, my friends, is why we should thank Andrew Breitbart:

Not only did he show himself to be the ideological and attention-seeking whore that he is---again.

He shined a light on the laziness and lack of professionalism in the media--more particularly of Fox News.  

Thank you Andrew Breitbart!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Perverse Incentives of Tort Reform and Liability Caps -- Good intentions gone awry.

As a practicing attorney, I've seen firsthand the results of negligence on the lives of victims--lives destroyed by the carelessness of others.

When I hear that BP and other large corporations push for liability caps, I practically cringe at the perverse incentives of restricting damage awards.

When a tortfeasor knows they escape paying the full cost of the damages they visit on innocent victims, where's the incentive to maximize safety of their activities?  

To the contrary, liability limits encourages maximization of activities leading to liability.  

For example, if the law suddenly limited the penalty for robbing a bank to an overnight stay in jail, regardless of the amount of money stolen or injuries caused, then more bank robberies would occur.  It's real simple.  

By creating liability caps, we give corporations a license to engage in bad behavior.  We don't allow our children to behave this way, so why do we let companies?  What message does that send about our priorities?

Let's use an analogy:

When disciplining your child, you have a range of options, viz., corporal (spanking), grounding, and privilege withdrawal.

These punishments offer the full range of disciplinary choices. Their impact comes, not from using all of them, but in the uncertainty of which one will be applied.

Now, lets say your spouse hates spanking and he/she successfully dissuades you from spanking--what result?  

The child knows for certain that any misbehavior results in only grounding or loss of privileges.

Similarly, with liability caps large tortfeasors gain the certainty of knowing the maximum cost of misbehavior.  They can calculate the potential cost; they can now maximize their bad actions, knowing they will not pay the full consequences.  

Unfortunately, those costs just don't disappear.  They must go somewhere.  They get pushed onto the innocent who are damaged by these large entities.

Back to our analogy:  Say your child enjoys staying in their room.  

In that case, grounding offers little punitive effect, since grounding equates to an enjoyed activity.  

Your punishment options dwindled to one: Privilege removal.

If a child knows they only risk one punishment for misbehavior, irrespective of how bad that misbehavior may be, and that punishment is privilege loss, then where's the incentive to behave?

Likewise, capping liability awards, by law eliminates any incentive for corporate actors to behave in a socially responsible manner?

In fact, capping liability incentive-izes bad behavior.  These entities rationally increase liability-inducing actions to offset their sum-certain liability?

Liability caps and liability limits do nothing but reduce the free market. Liability serves to place the costs of doing business onto the party actually incurring them. 

We discourage our children from becoming criminals through discipline.  Why would we, as a society, encourage corporations to ignore safety and push the costs of making profits onto the innocent and least capable of bearing those costs?

By limiting liability and by imposing liability caps, that is exactly what we do? 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Calling Bullsh*t on British Petroleum's attempt to shelter its profits behind Independent Business owners.

Many independent sellers of BP products are crying foul over the dramatic drop in business they are suffering due to the public relations disaster that is "The BP Gulf Oil Spill."

The common refrain:  Boycotting small gas stations that happen to sell BP gas is really only "hurting the independent small business owner."

I call BULLSHIT! on that.

Here's why:

The small business owners made rational economic decisions to align themselves with and to sell BP products.  Do they get only the benefits of the relationship, but none of the consequences?  What fantasy world are they living in?!  When you sign a franchise deal you take the good with the bad--simple business 101.

If BP is a popular brand, then these small business owners accrue the benefits of reflected glory by using the BP trademarks to advertise their businesses.  These businesses gain added revenue by selling other non-BP items to customers attracted to the BP brand.  

In grown-up business language it's called: Win-Win-Win --for BP, Independent Business owner, and customers.

Now, when the proverbial shit hits the fan and BP despoils its reputation, these independent businesses want to throw themselves on the mercy of the buying public's conscience for the "small business owner."  

Frequently, I hear these guys bellyache that "they didn't cause the spill and shouldn't be punished for BP's malfeasance."


These small business owners made rational economic decisions to franchise with BP.  Contractual relationships are like marriages--you take the good with the bad.

If consumers want to punish BP, the only way they can do so is with their wallets.  Just because these small business owners made a bad choice in selecting BP, it doesn't mean the rest of the buying public has to bail them out; their whining is just that.

The real problem here is BP.  If these small business owners want to complain about their loss of income, they should take it up with British Petroleum--not with those of us who want to take our business elsewhere.

These are the consequences of business decisions--small business owners need to grow up and live with the choices they make instead of expecting America to bail them out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Climate change is more complex than global warming--Willful ignorance aside.

There's a good reason why all the climate change deniers refuse to see human-made climatic change as real..instead they prefer to focus on "global warming" as their whipping boy.

By focusing on one extreme (global warming), it's easier to discount the impact human activity has on the climate as a whole.  Rather than seeing the entire weather system as a whole and see the impact on climatic variability as the real issue, their cherry-picking of anthropogenic global warming becomes the easier straw man to tear down.

I've recently been in an argument with a bunch of deniers who, instead of examining the premise of increasing climatic variability (which is the real issue...) they prefer to couch their arguments in terms of global warming ONLY.  Why would they do that instead of examining all the evidence?

As anyone who studies vast complex systems will attest:  You cannot ignore the resiliency of the system, nor can you over-simplify the system and still have the capacity to understand it to the degree necessary to talk about it intelligently.

Climate is one of the most complicated systems we know of.  Reducing it to one aspect (global warming) while specifically ignoring the other aspects (variability and climatic swing intensification) is to deliberately and willfully violate Occam's Razor--which means these idiots are distorting the facts for some agenda. 

Why else would they choose to ignore ALL the evidence and ALL the facts and focus on only one area of climate research--to the exclusion of the entire body of work--UNLESS they cannot face the facts or cannot offer anything substantive against ALL the evidence?

I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin's quote: "We are all born ignorant, but we must work really hard to remain stupid."

These characters remind me of Ron White's quote: "You can't argue with stupid."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Texas seeks to advance the educational interests of the nation's children at the expense of their own. That's big of them!

I am very excited about the prospect that the Texas Board of Education will get it's way in re-writing textbooks for that state's children.

I don't agree with the revisionism nor the content changes the conservatives on the Board are pushing to "balance" what they perceive as liberal slant to history.

However, I get fairly jubilant at the social darwinian experiment  these conservative idiots are attempting to perform on the large number of students in their state.  

If these bozos weren't so ignorant of survival of the fittest as a mechanism for advancement, they would realize the severe handicap they are imposing on the children of Texas--all in the name of their political agendas.  It's brains in action! 

The upside?

The rest of the country's children gain an extreme advantage over those of Texas-educated children when it comes to college and real-world information.

It's great that Texas is willing to handicap their children for the purpose of advancing a political agenda.  

The mere fact that such a bone-headed move will inure to the educational achievements of all children outside the state only adds to the hilarity. 

Kudos to Texas for giving the children of non-Texans a boost at the expense on their own children

That's what I call Texas hospitality.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Return of Tories to America: Neocons

If you examine closely the perspective of many neoconservatives on the operation of our Constitution, you will find their ideas scarcely fit with any modern strand of political thinking.

Specifically, you must harken back over two hundred years in our nation's history before you find an analogue to their political philosophy.

By way of example, take Dick Cheney and his spawn Liz.  The Cheney's take the position that terrorists have no rights.  Regardless of your personal feelings (mine are of the sort that terrorists deserve to be punished..) you cannot ignore the historical founding documents of our nation and also hold to the views advocated by the Cheneys.

For example:  The Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal and endowed..with certain inalienable rights".  How can you follow those guiding principles by positing that certain individuals, irrespective of the heinous nature of the crimes against us, are somehow without those same rights?

To find the closest analogue in our history to this view on individual rights, you must return to the days prior to our Revolution.  At that time, the political allies of the crown, those who supported the strong central authority of the King, the people without truck against the use of unfettered authority against all its enemies were the Tories.  

What the neoconservatives represent is nothing more than a rebirth of the Tory tradition here in America.  Many of the policies they pushed during their time in power resemble similar policies advanced by the allies of King George during the Revolution.  Strong central power, unlawful detentions without trial or charge, abuse of the purse, etc.

The similarities are uncanny.  Defining those who disagree or who decide to fight us as terrorists or other, does not objectify them to the point that they are without rights.  To do so is to commit the same treason many Tories committed against the founding of our fledgling Republic two centuries ago.

Frankly though, the Tories lost.  Giving them any credence now is to obviate the entire last two hundred years of history in the pursuit of freedom from monarchy.

I don't want a return to a unitary executive (monarchy).  I don't want a return to the days when the definition of a rebel (or in this case terrorist) depended upon the whim and will of an executive (read: King) and not the force of law.

Am I classifying the terrorists as "rebels"?  Hardly, just using that as an analogy.  Terrorists deserve capture, public trials and conviction for their crimes against us...just like any criminal.

The Cheney's and their Tory allies have reached too far into tradition, well beyond the realm of reason and well into American prehistory for their values.  

We live in a different world now.  

Perhaps it's time to advocate values of freedom that correspond to who we are now and not to who we were before we became the United State of America.  

Maybe the Tory principles of two hundred years ago lost the battle of ideas for a reason:  They were wrong for America.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bunning to the rescue of big money interests -- "Screw you little guys!"

For the Republicans, Jim Bunning has created a mess with his principled, but seriously impolitic timing for declaring his fiscal conservatism.

The stakes are high.  An outgoing Senator with nothing to lose can afford to be principled even if it underscores sensibilities akin to Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake."

Jim Bunning is not above using his power to award government money to his friends through the earmark process.  When you see his sponsorship of unfunded allocations of our money to private contractors, his stand against government spending benefiting hundreds of thousands of workers in a time of great need becomes a study in hypocrisy. 

I have a thought...if Bunning is so concerned about paying for the benefits that he claims to support, then why don't we rescind every earmark he's placed into law as a down payment?  Check his earmark record; that'll be a good start.

Democrats can't believe their luck.  Neither can I.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Summit

I watched the Health Care Summit today on C-Span. Before I go further, I'd like to give kudos to the network.  They did a fabulous job.

Here's my take on the Summit:

Republicans were intent on arguing for a reset.  Getting a "do over" on the legislation would be a significant win for them.  Not only could they claim credit for "stopping a government takeover of health care," (which incidentally is a misrepresentation..) they would gain more time to whittle away at any attempt for reform in an election year.  Democrats would be fools to sacrifice their advantage at this stage in the game, so my money says the Republicans will be disappointed.

The President handled the matter very well today.  He appeared very Presidential and kept himself above the fray.  Throughout the day, he sought to keep the focus on solutions and grounds for compromise rather than political points.

John Boehner is a lying sack of shit.  Not only does his proposed legislation do nothing to ameliorate the health care problem in any appreciable way, it would exacerbate it.  The true beneficiary would be John Boehner and his re-election committee. Boehner outright lied through his teeth with his figures--his misuse of data was so extreme that calling him a liar is to defame real liars everywhere.

Dick Durbin nailed the problem succinctly.  He asked everyone present if they would be willing to give up their insurance so they would understand the plight of millions of Americans.  Wonder how many of those rich people would do that?  I smell a "let them eat cake" obliviousness run rampant.

Jim Cooper acquitted himself appropriately.  He reiterated that every delay in reform costs lives and pushes the debt onto succeeding generations.  Excellent point.  Jim doesn't photograph well though....

Some annoyances:  John McCain needs to get a clue.  Henry Waxman, although rather accurate, is no Mr. Personality.  

My ultimate opinion:  I think the Summit was a success.  It forced everyone to put forward their ideas to be judged on the merits.  It reduced the partisan advantage of health care reform.

The President and the Democrats have extended the olive branch of bipartisanship (moreso than the Republicans).  I suspect they will push their agenda and pass reform, either with or without Republican help.  If they're smart they'll push ahead.

We'll see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Health Care Reform - Negotiating 101

The President is playing the Republicans masterfully with his proposed Health Care Summit.  Here's a Summary of Obama's Plan.

For too long the Republicans have complained about the lack of bipartisanship in the Health Care Reform business Bipartisanship for those ideological windbags means nothing more than giving them everything they want and getting nothing for yourself.  In my book that's not bipartisanship but being spoiled.

With the Health Care Summit looming, the Republicans, who've been nothing but obstructionist since the beginning of Obama's term, have everything to lose and nothing to gain.  Here's why:

If they refuse to participate in the summit, then the accusation that they are the "Party of NO" begins to stick in an election year.  The American People don't want obstruction, they demand real work get finished.  Refusing to play ball makes the Republicans look more partisan than ever; that will not help in an election where the best way to get elected is to look more moderate.

Secondly, if the Republicans do participate, then their role of lobbing bombs is taken from them and they must contribute to a solution.  This mean compromise is the order of the day.  Unfortunately, this batch of Republicans is the most extreme bunch we've seen in a long time, so their ability to compromise is handicapped ab initio.

The net result:  Obama and his team look reasonable and industrious while working for the greater good.  The Republicans look like partisan hacks who are only in it for advantage, but really offer nothing substantive to the debate.

Fascinating and brilliant tactic if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's been a long time, but I'm back: Health Care Reform Screw up.

I want to apologize for my dilatory posting.  My focus has been on Health Care Reform and I wanted to see how the legislation fared.

With the election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, it appears as if the health Care Bill is dead in its tracks.  Kudos to the Republicans for getting back in the game, but shame on them for ignoring the plight of real Americans to help their real constituencies, viz. Big Insurance, Big Hospitals, and Big Pharma.

You can't support policies that help fat cats and also claim to be working for the little guy.  It's hypocrisy at its finest.  Making it worse in my book is all the idiots who are little guys that believe the propaganda and not the results.

Health Care Reform

Health Reform was the driving issue for my vote during the Presidential Election.  Obama promised to use his political capital (All of it I might add...) to get Health Reform passed.

The failure of the Senate and the House to pass meaningful Health Reform falls squarely at Obama's feet.  Instead of leading the battle for this historic legislation, Obama chose to play it cool and stand back while the Legislature did what it does best: Screw up.

I saw this coming, but was hopeful that surely the Democrats wouldn't mess up something so vital  to not only the nation's financial health, but also their political future over the venal scumbaggery so evident in the Republican Party.

But, alas it was not to be.  With the likes of Ben Nelson holding up passage to get some special favors and other Democrats too worried about their political careers to concern themselves with the literal health of our nation, we got nothing but a lot of drama culminating in a loss of Ted Kennedy's seat.

Obama played it too cool on this issue and he "cooled" himself right out of success.

As a lifelong Democrat I am ashamed of my party.  I'm a Democrat because I can't bring myself to support a party that advocates policies for the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyday folks.  When you fight the well-financed and hypocritical forces of the right, you can't play fair because they won't--they're on a mission from God.

I said it before Obama was elected and I repeat it:  You must fight assholes with assholes. If your aim is to protect the nation's working people and powerless, you must fight fire with fire.  Politics is not the place for playing Jesus and turning the other cheek.

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.