Category Archives: Politics

About the current dismal state of political discourse in this nation

The President has been shot…

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Fifty years ago Dallas, Texas was brewing with hatred. The city was a cesspool of militant right-wing activists field by the rabid oilman H. L. Hunt: W. A. Criswell, the leader of the largest Baptist congregation in the South and defrocked General Edwin Walker.

This handbill was circulated on November 21, 1963 in Dallas, one day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The hatred expressed is similar to what is happening to our President today.

Fifty years ago JFK was gunned down in cold blood. The dream that a President could be fair to everyone died a little that day. Our nation has never fully recovered from the tragedy. I fear we’re destined to repeat history unless we learn from it.

Does Anyone Need Another Million-Dollar Politician with Money Sticking Out of His Hole?

does-anyone-need-another-million-dollar-politician-with-money-sticking-out-of-his-hole

It was 47 years ago last month that Uncle John was killed in action in Vietnam. His death left a huge hole in the life of this little 7-year old boy who had no father. I only remember everyone crying at the funeral.

My Grandpa fought in some of the fiercest action seen in WWII. His Seabee Squadron was decimated at Guadalcanal by sniper fire. Out of 32 men only 5 made it out. Some say Grandpa was one of the lucky ones. I’m not so sure about that. Part of him died back there in the South Pacific.

My Dad fought in the horror of Chosin Reservoir during Korea, where he was awarded a Silver Star for bravery. I met my dad only twice in my life. He told me about interrogating a POW and torturing him to death. With a Ka-Bar. In the side of his head. Part of him died there.

I think about the veterans coming back from Afghanistan with limbs blown off and having to re-build their lives before it even started. The guys suffering from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD. Thousands of families forever changed by their sacrifice.

On this Veteran’s Day my Facebook feed is filling up with well-meaning platitudes expressing gratitude to the veterans who sacrificed so much. I know people mean well but it seems so hollow.

We were beat in Korea. We lost Vietnam, Irag and now Afghanistan. Why were we fighting there? They didn’t attack us. Maybe Dwight was right. The Military-Industrial complex, the Merchants of War, Big Oil, all wrapped up in political corruption.

On this day where we remember those who gave so much, I ask you – Why do we need this bloated military? It’s bankrupting us financially and morally. We are killing this nation, one family at a time.

How I Survived a Facebook Troll

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Several days ago I jumped onto my Brother-in-Law Ken’s Facebook post about the GOP’s obstruction of the PPACA. Turns out I got trolled pretty hard by some guy named Manuel. Here is the thread (edited for clarity).

Manuel

Love how it’s always the Republicans’ fault. Harry Reid? Barack Obama? Nancy Pelosi? Why they’re just patriotic public servants.

Manuel

LoL and you just adore republicans. If the democrats were willing to compromise the government would be open. What compromises did democrats make?

Manuel

BTW I don’t have disdain for democrats. I do have disdain for their refusal to offer any compromises, and for the inflammatory rhetoric they use in their effort to confuse the public over who’s really playing politics.

Manuel

Oh you’re right. Republicans should just roll over and let a disaster in the making proceed. Let’s just all get a front row seat to watch the looming train wreck, watch millions of people lose their jobs, or have their hours cut to below 30, and watch them get sucked into inefficient, coercive gov’t exchanges where, while they may see lower premiums, will also bear far higher out of pocket deductibles and co-pays. And those Republican extremists as you call them, who, last time I checked many were elected in 2010 and 2012 to oppose Obamacare? I guess they ought to just shut up and color too, because “Harry, Nancy and Barack” say so. That’s now how government works. But if your real goal was to shut down the government so people like you can jump up and down and blame the “Tea Party extremist,” it’s perfect. Democrats are always whining about wanting to see more compromise; that is, except when they want what they want.

Kenny McCarthy

Manuel I just read your posts. I had to comment. Your posts are chock full of opinion, not rational discourse. Nothing but platitudes and talking points. Please shut off your talk radio and think things through for yourself.

I am sad to see an entire political party get hi-jacked by the medical insurance lobby. I am an independent voter, and after this latest charade I will be hard-pressed to ever, ever vote for a republican again.

Truth be told, private health insurance companies add no value to our health care. We have a serious problem with private health insurance in this nation. The ACA is a step in the right direction.

Manuel

If it were simply a matter of fixing a few parts of the law I’d be with you. Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that. And Democrats shouldn’t be surprised that there’s so much opposition to this law three years after it passed. Consider: It was rammed down the throats of republicans by supermajorities in both houses on a purely partisan, straight line party vote, nearly all of the predictions made back then about how problematic and complex (and contradictory) the law will be has come true, and polls consistently show a majority of Americans oppose the law. But according to democrats delaying funding of the law for 12 months is just too much to ask for.

Manuel

Kenny thanks for your own set of opinions and irrational discourse. And I rarely listen to talk radio so you know where that irrational opinion can go. And speaking of facts, please provide a few to support your view that “an entire political party” was “hijacked by the medical insurance lobby.” Facts please. While you ponder how you’re going to answer, are you not aware that the Obama Administration and “medical insurance lobby” cut a back room deal in order to get the “medical insurance lobby” to support Obamacare??????

Manuel

Kenny you want some facts? Here are a few for you. Sure you’ll find some opinion, but it’s opinion based on empirical evidence and knowledge of past government inter-party crises. Here are three reasons why it’s the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who wanted the government shut down:

1. The Obama administration has already agreed to multiple (unconstitutional) delays in certain sections of the the healthcare law, including delaying the employer mandate for 12 months. (FACT). So any talk about “the law is the law” and must be followed is total nonsense (see political posturing, hypocrisy); any change to the law this time at least would have been constitutional. (FACT)

3. Probably the most telling reason why Democrats are the ones who wanted to see the government shut down: because as in past shutdowns, they know their media allies will make sure Republicans get the blame (FACT), and this is the reason why Democrats are tripping all over themselves get in front of the cameras to attack Ted Cruz, attack the Tea Party, attack Republicans in the most visceral rhetoric not heard in years. Democrats have called Republicans demons, terrorists with explosives strapped to their chests, legislative arsonists, extortionists, Tea party anarchists, willing to tank the economy, deny healthcare to Americans, wanting to plunge the country back into recession (FACT); soundbites they know will get plenty of play on friendly cable stations and network television.

Hopefully the public won’t be so easily duped this time automatically default to blaming Republicans outright without knowing all the facts, just because “the media says so.”

An you want to blame Republicans. Great, Harry and Barack are counting on it.

Kenny McCarthy

Gentlemen, listen. I’m not about to get into a diatribe on Facebook with strangers. It will just get us upset. Life is too short to hate.

Political opinion is intended to sway people’s minds. Most of it is just words strung together. That’s the reality I see when I read all these politically-charged comments.

There is plenty of non-partisan, reputable information out there on the PPACA act. Just google it. Think it through for yourself. And write to your Congressmen and Senators about it. I have.

Is the PPACA act perfect? No. Is it a step forward in the right direction to fix a big problem in our country. Yes it is.

Manuel

Well then name one Ken.

Manuel

Hey Ken, while you’re at it, name one time when democrats rolled over, sighed, and said, “well, it’s the law.”

Manuel

Funny. When democrats rant an rave, call people who disagree with them extremists, and generally accuse “the other side” of some of the most vile things, they have other names to call it, other than “whining.” Love it.

Manuel

Kenny no need to enter into a diatribe. Jut asking you to back up what you’re saying.

Manuel

Still waiting to hear how the medical insurance lobby was hijacked (ostensibly by the republicans).

Manuel

Didn’t see this post so posting again:

Kenny, I appreciate your desire to hear some facts. Here are a few.

Here are three reasons why it’s the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who wanted the government shut down:

1. The Obama administration has already agreed to multiple (unconstitutional) delays in certain sections of the the healthcare law, including delaying the employer mandate for 12 months. (FACT). So any talk about “the law is the law” and must be followed is total nonsense (see political posturing, hypocrisy); any change to the law this time at least would have been constitutional. (FACT)

2. The Republicans have offered multiple compromises during this latest crisis in an effort to find a solution to the impasse, including the last one offered as a compromise last night that would have delayed the individual mandate for 12 months, and remove the congressional exemption from the law. (FACT) The Democratic response? Rejected outright, just like every other GOP offer. (FACT) Not even one counter proposal. (FACT) In fact Democrats have not offered one single proposal or compromise (FACT) why? Because they were more interested in shutting down the government and reaping the political benefits than they were reaching any agreement with the Republicans.

3. Probably the most telling reason why Democrats are the ones who wanted to see the government shut down: because as in past shutdowns, they know their media allies will make sure Republicans get the blame (FACT), and this is the reason why Democrats are tripping all over themselves get in front of the cameras to attack Ted Cruz, attack the Tea Party, attack Republicans in the most visceral rhetoric not heard in years. Democrats have called Republicans demons, (FACT) terrorists with explosives strapped to their chests, (FACT) legislative arsonists, (FACT) extortionists, (FACT), Tea party anarchists, willing to tank the economy, (FACT) deny healthcare to Americans, (FACT) wanting to plunge the country back into recession (FACT); soundbites they know will get plenty of play on friendly cable stations and network television.

Hopefully the public won’t be so easily duped this time automatically default to blaming Republicans outright without knowing all the facts, just because “the media says so.”

So go ahead and never vote for a republican again. Barack, Nancy and Harry are counting on it.

Manuel

I brought that up the other day, ie it would be refreshing to see some courageous democrats stand up and admit this law isn’t ready for implementation. The response I got?: screw that….” A lot’s been said about the inter-party disagreements on the Republican side, and it can look and sound ugly. But what do we have on the other side? We have a whole party that goose steps in unison and does whatever the party leadership tells it to do or else. At least there are some on the republican side who are willing to take a stand knowing they’ll take fire from both sides. We need more of that in congress, instead of the old “the only way to get along is to go along” way of doing business.

Manuel

Kenny, you believe Obamacare is a step in the right direction. That’s your opinion and you are entitled to it of course. But I have seen very little to support that opinion. There were far better ways to address the healthcare problems in this country in a very thoughtful, systematic way. None of them were considered in 2010 and that is why (in large part) I believe there is so much consternation and opposition to this law. People who support this law are in the minority in this country, and that minority will become much smaller in the next year or two when the public really starts to feel the pain this will cause. But let’s be perfectly honest: the law is so bad, so poorly written, so complicated, so intrusive, and so inefficient, that it seems like it was designed to fail. And there is considerable evidence that is the case. But you have to understand what progressives are really after, which is government-controlled, single payer, universal health care. That is the ultimate goal, and in that respect, Obamacare is a step in the right direction.

Manuel

First of all, the majority of Republicans where in favor of “delaying” the law all along why??? So there would be an opportunity to FIX it, that is, if Democrats would have been willing to compromise. Based on the past few weeks that may be a pipe dream. There were only a few senators who supported “defunding” the law. More house members, I admit, but in the end most republicans voted to DELAY to law. And why did we get on the democrat side? One Rejection after another. Look if you think this stating facts is whining, I’m happy to whine.

Manuel

I have been a student of the American presidency (and American history) for as long as I can remember. You would be hard pressed to find an American president that’s been less presidential than President Obama has been. He really is a huge part of the problem. He has no respect for the constitution (like most progressives), no respect for the opposition (like most narcissists), no respect for the rule of law, no respect for the American people, and certainly no respect for his office. Kenny may call this another example of irrational discourse, but there is plenty of evidence to support this. In fact books have already been written about this subject, look or many more once he finally. leaves office. Leadership begins at the top, and for the past 5 years the country has been poorly led.

Manuel

You sound more and more like a typical liberal democrat who doesn’t like or want to be challenged. That being said, actually the delay would help the democrats. Why do you think Obama delayed the employer mandate? Or any of the other 16 changes to the law that favors his core constituencies? I will predict right here and now that the law will be proven so unworkable, so cumbersome, so expensive, and more unpopular than it is today, that many democrats up for re-election in 2014 will regret their vote. It’s their ideology that’s driving their vote, and of course fear of Nancy and Harry.

Kenny McCarthy

Gentlemen, last comment on this because, well, I got better things to do than to make strangers more upset. I really don’t have any skin in this stupid game, but just to enlighten others to think things through for themselves.

This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it.

Health reform is the ethical thing to do. Lord knows, the current system we have now isn’t working.

America is unique to have such a divergent population. Democrat or republican, white or brown or yellow or black, christian or hidu or muslim or jewish or athiest – it doesn’t matter, does it? We are humans that are more alike that not – by a long shot. We have to treat each other better. What I am witnessing here on this thread and on the news is sickening.

The Creed of the Extreme Right Wing has become this:

Poor people have too much money, which makes them unmotivated to work. We need to cut off public assistance, cut tax breaks, bust their unions and cap minimum wage levels.

Rich people have too little money, which makes them unmotivated to “invest”. We need to give them more tax breaks and de-regulate business.

It’s a f**ked up creed if ever there’s been one. It’s reverse Christianity. And it’s killing our Nation.

Manuel

Kenny not upset even a little bit. But I never did see your evidence to prove the “medical insurance lobby” was hijacked by one of the parties.

Manuel

Kenny, wow. The irony here is hard to overlook. So is the hypocrisy on your part. I don’t have time now but I will respond to your erroneous assertions that the 21 individual taxes in Obamacare will only effect the rich. That is patently FALSE. The stink bomb you threw before you left regarding the “creed of the extreme right” is also nonsense, and you’d be hard pressed to back that up as well along with your other unproven claims. I don’t know where you get your information from but you’re being poorly served. Have to go now but would love to see you post anything factual to prove what you just wrote. If you can’t (you won’t be able to) then I’ll just chalk it up as a real example of “opinionated irrational discourse.”

Kenny McCarthy

Manuel

(Well, so much for my last post being the last. Here goes….)

I’m really sorry you are having a problem comprehending what I wrote:

I never wrote the “medical insurance lobby was hijacked”. I wrote “I am sad to see an entire political party get hi-jacked BY the medical insurance lobby”. This is a huge semantic difference between what I wrote and what you quoted.

I am sad that the Republican party stooped so low last night and closed the Federal Government. I acknowledge the fact that a healthy political system requires two parties to work out compromises. That’s not what’s happening today because the extreme right-wing hate Obama.

You’ve mis-characterized me as a “typical liberal” on a number of points that I tried to raised. And therein lies the problem.

Talk radio has destroyed the tone of debate in this nation. People are becoming so quick to stereotype others who have different opinions. Am I liberal on some issues? Yes. Am I conservative on some issues? Yes too! How can that be? It comes down to our environment, our parents, our life experiences, and yes – genetics. None of us are identical. So what am I? Liberal. Conservative? Moderate? How about a little of all.

You see, this thread shouldn’t be an argument. Health Care reform is a very complex issue. Bringing in the “right vs. left” dogma only brings the level of rationality down. Calling each other wingnuts doen’t help.

I don’t know anything about you, whether you are married with kids or not, what type of work you do, what you do for recreation, or whatever. And frankly it’s not my business. But I do know we share a lot more in values that you perhaps don’t realize. The right to pursue life, liberty & happiness; a happy family, a safe home to live in, fire and police protection, protection of the environment, guarding our nation’s borders, affordable health care, freedom. Those are all things we agree on.

Health Care Reform is sorely needed in this nation. Is it perfect? No legislation crafted out of committee ever is. But it’s a step in the right direction. The GOP leadership is doing NOTHING to help resolve the problems we have with health insurance in this nation. Other countries have it resolved. Why not us?

Is it wistful thinking? No I don’t think it so. My experience with the current health insurance system taught me that the private health insurance companies add zero value to health care. It is time to move forward on health care reform and not turn the clock back. More work remains ahead.

Manuel

Kenny , let me make sure I have it right this time: “I am sad to see an entire political party get hijacked BY the medical insurance lobby.” Followed by “I will never vote republican again…..” SO, now that we have that straight, what party are you talking about? If you’re talking about the Democratic Party I would agree. But it sounded a lot like you were referring to the Republican Party. If I’m wrong, please write more clearly. An simple “and” in the right place and you would have been more clear.

Manuel

Kenny, now, to your assertion that “this is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people…” You stand by that?

Manuel

Kenny I never characterized you as a “typical liberal,” let’s keep this conversation within the realm of fact. If you read my responses to you, what I am characterizing is your false assumptions, all of them devoid of any substantive support to back up what you say. I never called you a “typical liberal” but I will say you are woefully un-informed for someone so opinionated.

Manuel

Kenny if what you say is true about private insurance companies providing “zero value” then please explain how pill after poll suggest 85 percent of the public generally are happy with the healthcare insurance provided (mostly through employer-provided coverage). That may be true for you, that’s your experience, that’s isn’t the experience the majority of Americans have had. Not saying the private insurance industry didn’t need reform, but one cannot intelligently speak about the problems inherent in the health insurance industry without talking about government policies which contribute to those problems.

Manuel

I really don’t care to be accused of wanting the poor and aged to go without healthcare in this country just because I believe (based on the overwhelming empirical evidence that the law is unworkable) Obamacare is simply bad law. This applies to anything conservatives support or oppose. I get a little tired of being called “extreme” because I want the government to return to its constitutional precepts, and not waste so much of the nation’s wealth on wasteful, inefficient, and in many cases, unconstitutional special interest government programs. I’m tired of democrats injecting race into every conceivable issue. Or democratic politicians using inflammatory rhetoric without being challenged by the media. Imagine if a republican called democrats “anarchists, terrorists, extortionists, holding the country “hostage” with a gun to its head, demons, heartless cold, radical extremists wanting to hurt the poor and the elderly and children. This is typical language routinely used by many democrats. Julian Bond, referring the tea party as “the Taliban wing of the Republican Party.” This passes for “rational discourse” on the left. A healthy part of the Democratic Party supports amnesty/open borders, federal funding for abortion, abortion on demand, gun confiscation, total control of healthcare, spending billions on failed green energy companies, crippling the coal and oil and gas industries, elimination of work for welfare programs, the elimination of God or religion from the public square, and they call conservatives “extreme.” And it used to be that “far right” was a term used to describe the Tim McVeigh’s of the world, ruby ridge, Waco, the KKK/skinheads/neoNazis, militia groups training in the woods to overthrow the federal government, abortion clinic bombers. NOW if you support the Tea Party, or want limited government, or lower taxes/reduced spending, or want less gov’t control over education, or oppose Obamacare, or support the traditional definition of marriage, or question the notion that human activity is destroying the planet, or want a return to adherence to the Constitution, or oppose amnesty/open borders, or support voter ID laws, or the second amendment, or even if you’re a Christian, you’re labeled a “radical, far-right extremist.” Sad but this is where we’re at. And people wonder why the country is so polarized.

Manuel

I forgot to mention “racist.” That’s a real popular one.

Kenny McCarthy

Wow Manuel, a whole block of text where you hit all the talking points. Nice job there stringing words together. They are just words, platitudes, triggers to incite emotion. You’re just poisoning the well Manuel.

I’m not buying that. Let’s focus on the attempt by the GOP to stop health care reform. Please allow me to re-state the obvious:

“This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it.”

I stand by my assertion that “this is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people…” I never stated, as you quote, “that the 21 individual taxes in Obamacare will only effect the rich.” You’re making a hasty generalization about assuming that I believe only the wealthy will shoulder the load. We all will in one way or another.

I did not write “I will never vote republican again…..”. I stated “I will be hard-pressed to ever, ever vote for a republican again.” Not never. Never implies a sense of hopelessness and finality. It’s an all-or-nothing phrase that does not lend itself to listening, compromising and creating good will.

On the topic of polling suggesting that “85 percent of the public generally are happy with the healthcare insurance provided”, I respectfully digress.

First thing, polls are notoriously mis-leading. There are aided and un-aided questions that can be phrased to steer a respondent towards a particular outcome.

Second, I am talking specifically about Heath Insurance, not Heath care. I think 85% of people ARE satisfied with their doctor and health care providers. I suspect if you were to ask the same population how they feel about their health INSURANCE, the answers would be drastically different.

Thirdly, thank you for acknowledging my experience which does shape my perspective on this issue. My experience is this – I had a health plan. My wife was stricken with cancer. Even though I had health insurance, the co-pays and deductibles were astronomical. The total bill was well north of $600,000. I remember trying to decipher the statements, calling up the doctor offices, asking what was this and that code meant. I learned one thing, we were getting gouged. The prices I was getting charged for were absurd, with markups as high as 10,000%! The hospital rate-setting has no basis on actual costs because, well, they charge whatever they can get away with.

Finally, we spend nearly 20% of our GDP on healthcare, the highest by far amongst industrialized nations.

I retract my accusation about being labeled a “typical liberal”. Chalk it up to too many Ken and Kennys in this discussion. It was Ken who was labeled, not me(Kenny). LOL.

So in essence, this isn’t a political discussion for me. It’s about health care. We need to fix it. Continuing as we’ve had the past few decades will bankrupt this nation. I’m asking you and other to step away from the political rhetoric and and help us fix the problem.

p.s. I congratulate Manuel for eliciting the longest rant I’ve ever made on a comment board. It was kinda fun, I think. Peace.

Manuel

Kenny you’re hilarious. Poisoning the well. I think you’re the one using incendiary language, calling names, and mischaracterizing the facts. But I’m poisoning the well. Do you even read what you write? And I’m sure what I wrote are just words to you. I have no doubt. You’ve proven to be immune to common sense. And sure, you never mentioned the 21 individual tax measures inherent in the law. I did. I’m sure you were clueless about them, but you did allude to the tax increases being primarily linked to “the rich.” Which is absurd. If you knew what you were talking about instead of spewing your own litany of platitudes you’d know that many of those taxes hit the middle class some will actually help increase the cost of healthcare (tax on medical devices, gee you think?), and a few are already hurting job growth. Twelve specifically affect families making under $250,000. That’s a lot of families. So let’s stop playing word games, and for start backing up your nonsense. I’ve lost track of the things you’ve said that you’ve failed to back up. And BTW, wrong again when you state that, at the risk of having to endure your boring word games, republicans are opposed to healthcare? Do I have that right; you write some pretty long rants yourself, it’s hard to go back and look for your nonsense. For the record republicans are NOT opposed to healthcare reform. Stop believing in myths. Republicans are opposed to YOUR brand of healthcare reform. Republicans have NEVER opposed common sense, market driven, health care reform, all, btw, opposed by DEMOCRATS. I’d be happy to list them each and expound on how these ideas would do a far better job at reducing the cost of healthcare, so people like the princess could actually afford to purchase her own rather than go crawling to the government to take care of her. But why bother you with facts or substantive ideas? You’d just gloss over them and go back to your own collection of talking points. (After listening to you all day I feel confident in recommending you add hypocrite to your resume.) If you didn’t write so many things that aren’t true or factually incorrect you’d have more credibility.

Manuel

Found it. You said “let’s focus on the attempt by the GOP to stop healthcare reform.” Pretty much the same as saying republicans oppose healthcare reform. So please, spare me your senseless word games. However you said it, or however I paraphrase your point, it’s still factually incorrect. And however you characterized the law with regard to “stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people,” again totally false. The people that will really be hurt aren’t the rich. It’s the middle class, and this law will go a long way toward reducing the middle class even more than Obama’s policies have already done. Or do I need to educate you on that one as well? And I never did hear your clarification with regard to what party you’re sad to “hijacked by the medical insurance lobby.” And golly, lookie here, this is what you said about voting republican in the future: “I am an independent voter, and after this latest charade I wi be hard pressed to ever vote for a republican again.” So thanks for wasting my time over semantics. It’s what people typically do when they’re losing an argument.

Manuel

Don’t worry Kenny. I have absolutely no faith at this point you are capable of backing up any of your dribble. Basically you’re a leg humper. I hope it felt good. I’m done wasting my time with you.

Kenny McCarthy

Wow. I’m speechless. I’m lying? About everything I wrote? That’s harsh.

I don’t owe you a damn answer to any of your questions. You’re just a partisan hack who gets his information from biased sources. Believe me, you don’t want to directly debate me point-by-point on politics because I will own you.

The GOP is simply trying to run out the clock on health care reform, because they realize that once it takes effect, a large majority will like it.

You got nothing. Check back with me in a year when this legislation has had a chance to work. I’m done trying to rationalize with extremists.

Regards

Manuel

I’m extreme because I don’t want to allow a government that can’t even pass a budget, or that had three and a half years to get a web site running, take over 1/6 of the economy. You’re a joke. I feel sorry for you.

Manuel

Kenny, I forgot to thank you for proving my earlier point, you calling me “extreme.” Clearly your definition of “extreme” is anyone who disagrees with you. Enjoy the Obamacare train wreck. (To quote one of the law’s authors.)

★★★★★

Usually I don’t engage with trolls. But I couldn’t help myself after I read some of the outlandish comments in Ken’s Facebook post. The slandering of the PPACA act struck a nerve in me. I am disgusted.

I’m upset at myself for stooping so low as to get into a Facebook argument with a complete stranger. I was even more upset thinking about what it is with some people who can’t think things through for themselves. What prompts people to go online and regurgitate such stupid nonsense? It has to be more than stupidity, no one could be that stupid. It has to be something else.

There is an erosion of science education, particularly in the Deep South. This is the agenda of the religious right wing to get their fundamentalist creation myth taught as science in the classroom. They want to teach young people at a young age that it’s alright to believe in lies and nonsense. The children learn beliefs and not much more. Many are not exposed to free discourse where they learn the hard lessons about the difference between a good argument and a bad one. They grow up lacking the cognitive thinking skills and the intellectual curiosity to be able to flesh out an issue as complex as Health Care Reform. The kids grow up brainwashed, unable or afraid to think for themselves, entirely reliant on a belief code.

The sordid thread with Manuel taught me to never again get into an argument on a site, no matter how altruist I am. It’s a no-win game. A good friend gave me some great advice about feeding trolls:

NEVER SING FOR THE DEAF PIG. IT MAKES YOU LOOK BAD AND IT ANNOYS THE PIG.

I have one thing left to say to Manuel – Keep on fucking that Chicken!

The Problem with Boeing

the-problem-with-boeing

The 787 Dreamliner is a breakthrough in commercial airliner technology. It’s use of advanced composites, Quet Technology Demostrator engines and ergonomically-designed interior promise 20% reduced fuel consumption, significantly quieter performance, and greater passenger comfort. I like the plane.

Today Japan’s two biggest airlines grounded their 787 fleets for safety checks after one was forced to make an emergency landing. These problems are not because of the bold design of the airplane. The problem is Boeing’s over-emphasis on profit.

Originally, Boeing intended to construct the Dreamliner in Washington, but only if the state approved a twenty-year, $3.2 billion package of tax credits. Officials ultimately conceded, but Boeing took its toys and went to play elsewhere anyway when South Carolina lured it across state lines with the promise of a whopping $900 million subsidy package aka taxpayer dollars, and a non-union plant to set up shop in. The National Labor Relations Board accused the company of violating federal labor law by moving aircraft producton out of it’s Seattle facilities to non-union plants. The case was dropped recently after Boeing agreed to raise wages and expand production in Washingston.

Instead of building the complete aircraft from the ground up in the traditional manner, final assembly would employ just 800 to 1,200 people to join completed subassemblies and to integrate systems. Boeing assigned its global subcontractors to do more assembly themselves and deliver completed subassemblies to Boeing for final assembly. This approach was intended to result in a leaner and simpler assembly line and lower inventory with pre-installed systems reducing final assembly time by three-quarters to three days. Although intended to shorten the production process, 787 subcontractors initially had difficulty completing the extra work, because they could not procure the needed parts, perform the subassembly on schedule, or both, leaving remaining assembly work for Boeing to complete as “traveled work”.

I have a very good friend that worked for one of these sub-contractors in Rockford, IL. He’s a brilliant engineer. He told me about the enomous pressure Boeing put on them to complete their work by their deadline. Boeing constantly threatened the sub-contractor with fines. My friend tells me of many, many months working 70-80 hours per week. Getting called into 2am meetings. Careers flamed out because of the stress. Substance abuse ran rampant. Families suffered.

I hope no one gets hurt or killed flying on the 787. I hope the shareholders get handed a big bill to remedy the teething issues plaguing what was once a promising breakthrough design.

Specious Reasoning

specious-reasoning

“If you make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns!” I hear this every time after a mass shooting. Pundits like to point out that whomever committed the atrocious deed would have obtained their weapons regardless of the legality. It’s so illogical of an argument I do a face-palm every time I hear it.

From the inception of the NICS (National Instant Criminal background check System) on November 30, 1998, to December 31, 2011, a total of 140,882,399 transactions have been processed. The NICS prohibits people from possessing guns if they were convicted of a felony, addicted to drugs, committed domestic violence or were involuntarily sent to a mental institution. Of these, the NICS has denied a total of 899,099 transactions. It’s not nearly enough to stem the illegal flow of weapons.

Prior to the late 1980’s it was very rare for a convicted Felon to be able to petition successfully their right to own a gun. It was then that the NRA began to heavily lobby Congress to permit States to dictate these reinstatements. This gradual pullback of what many Americans have assumed was a blanket prohibition against convicted Felons from owning guns has permitted thousands of Felons to have their gun ownership rights reinstated every year. And it’s gotten scant public notice.

After the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre, President Bush signed a law to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. It incentivized states to submit records of people legally barred under Federal Law from purchasing guns. The 2007 improvement act was supposed to speed development of the system by providing grants to states to help pay for hunting down records and setting up electronic databases. But Congress has handed out just a fraction of the grants allowed. Last year, $125 million was authorized under the law, but just $5 million was appropriated. More than half the states have not yet provided mental health records. The NRA has made it tougher for states to comply — by successfully lobbying for a provision in the 2007 law that requires an appeals process so the mentally ill can seek to have their gun rights restored. States must set that up before they can receive federal grants to help collect records! Federal agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Defense, also have been slow to submit relevant records. Meanwhile, as many as 2 million mental health records are not in the system.

The ATF published a study citing that straw purchases accounted for almost one-half of all illegal gun trafficking. Corresponding research points that nearly two-thirds of these straw purchases originated at only 1% of licensed firearms dealers. The results of these investigations demonstrate that ATF must vigorously enforce existing federal regulation of FFLs, and of all gun sellers at gun shows. For this to work effectively, ATF will need increased funding from Congress, as the agency currently lacks the resources and organizational structure to succeed in combatting illegal gun trafficking and ensuring that FFLs comply with federal law. The NRA has consistently lobbied Congress against additional funding for the ATF for greater enforcement of existing law.

More than 6 million gun sales are unscreened – those from gun transfers, “private” sellers, and purchases at gun shows or made online do not fall under the requirement. This is the “Gun Show Loophole.” Think about this for a minute. It’s insane.

Saying that gun control won’t stop a criminal from obtaining a gun is an illogical fallacy. You can’t take a sampling of one criminal and extrapolate it against a sampling size of millions of gun transactions.

We’re making it too easy for criminals and the mentally ill to buy a gun. I’m looking forward to the President’s Task Force recommendations tomorrow. This shouldn’t be so hard.

The More I Look At This

the-more-i-look-at-this

I ran across this photo a while back and it struck me because it could be Douglas in six years. I don’t want to see my son fight some stupid war for the benefit of the Military-Industrial complex. You could substitute Douglas in this picture. Or my Dad at Chosin Reservior… Horror.

Political Silly Season

Political Silly Season

I cut out this column from the Cleveland Plain Dealer after Nixon passed in 1994. Dick Feagler wrote it. His words resonates to this day. Read and enjoy.

Final exit for an obstinate man

Richard Nixon won’t be back this time

The fat lady has sung and this time there will be no encore. Four times in his life, the press pronounced Nixon dead. Once he even spoke at his own political funeral. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore,” he told the media that loathed him. That was in 1962 when he lost his bid for Governor of his own, conservative home state. He thought he was finished. So did the reporters.

We were deep in Camelot. The Irishman in the White House had stolen the presidency from Nixon with a combination of money, charm and good looks. And help from the Chicago mob, which slipped in the fix as if democracy was a third-rate fight.

Nobody minded much. Even Ike was cool toward Nixon. Ike was a hero and everybody’s grandfather. He knew that Nixon was useful to have around to do the stuff that got your hands dirty. But during the campaign, when they asked what Nixon had done for America, grandpa requested a couple of days to think it over. It was one of the few things Ike ever said that got a laugh. A born straight man like Nixon brought out the comedian in everybody.

No wonder he was paranoid. He was a rare creature, an underdog without sympathy. The media kept trying to get rid of him like something you’d scrape off your shoe. He was a political shark who got to Congress by red-baiting and smear tactics. An early opponent called him “Tricky Dick.” It went into the language and stayed there.

He had the physical grace of a wind-up toy. When he shot both arms above his head to make little victory signs with his fingers, he seemed like a man who’d been jolted by a cattle prod. You figure it would keep a dozen seamstresses busy repairing the rips in the armpit of his suits. In triumph, he looked pained. In defeat he looked sullen. Kennedy in a back brace was more relaxed than Nixon in a golf shirt. He walked on the beach with his wingtips on.

He had the personality of a lousy blind date. His soul was a computer crammed with political software. He was as ambitious as a Borgia. He believed his enemies were out to get him, which was certainly true. He wrote their names down on a list and hatched bizarre plots against them. He had an inferiority complex and nobody to talk him out of it except the goons on his payroll. In the end, they showed him no loyalty. He cursed his luck and even swore off-key, like a man who has read bad words in a book and rehearsed them.

An assassin made him President. That was after he had gone down for the third time. The press played taps for him in ’52 after a scandal over a slush fund. He stayed on Ike’s ticket as vice president by delivering a mawkish, self-pitying speech on national TV. He whined his way into the White House and whined his way out of it.

He was next reported done for when the mob stole the election in 1960. He was listed KIA in ’62, and he thought so too. Then Kennedy was murdered and Johnson sank in the muck of Vietnam and pulled Hubert Humphrey down with him. Nixon campaigned in ’68 as the “New Nixon” on the accurate hunch that nobody would vote for the old one. The hunch was right, but it was false advertising.

He let people think he had a secret plan to end the war. In fact, he widened it. Twenty thousand more Americans were killed in Vietnam after he took office. He sat there while the war ran down. Then along came Watergate, which was nothing. Nothing. A man more human, a man less paranoid, a man who created a small reservoir of good will would have survived it. The plotters in Nixon’s camp would not take the fall for him. He had no cronies, only hit men.

Shakespeare wrote about men like Nixon. In the end, his tragic flaw did him in. One more maudlin speech. Then the most disgraced president in history stood in the door of the getaway helicopter, rendered a final spastic and astonishing victory sign and flew away. And that, finally, had to be the last of him.

And really it was, The media, which tried so hard to get rid of him, is pretending this week that he came to life once more as a revered and respected elder statesman who had mellowed into brotherhood with the rest of the species. But this media, which shamelessly guts and maims the living, can be counted on to speak glowingly and hypocritically of the dead. After it sees the death certificate.

I would rather see Nixon off without phony anthems of praise. To me he represented, from beginning to end, most of what is wrong with the American political process. I have read the glowing eulogies from men who despised him. Groping for things to say, they have lauded his ability to keep getting up from the canvas. And his long service to his country.

For service to country, nobody, in my book, can beat those 20,000 names on the Vietnam wall. He kept getting up from the canvas because he lacked ability to know when he was disgraced. Only drunks, buffoons and politicians count that as a virtue.

I do, though, feel sorry for him. I don’t think it’s an accident that he chose not to lie in state in Washington, D.C. He returned, instead to his home town. Where he was once a boy listening to a train whistle and dreaming of doing great things.

He did them. But I pity him because he never learned to take pleasure in small things. Because he was awkward and a born loser. Because his ambition became obsession. Because his own name should have topped his enemies list.

That’s true of a lot of us. Maybe most of us. But it was the central truth for Nixon. The boy, dreaming to the blue note of a train whistle, didn’t know that. Nixon has returned to the place where the dream was clean. And there he will finally find rest.

Cults

cults

We had The Today Show on while the kids were getting ready for school this morning. The show was running a story on the GOP primary battle between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. I quipped that Mitt was part of a “cult religion”. Savannah said “No Dad, ALL religions are cults”.

I’m so proud of her!