A Few Questions

Pic of the day:  Alphonse Mucha; Spring (1896)

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I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.

Robert A. Heinlein, This I Believe (1952)

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True enough back then, but is it true now?

Wait, this man was a fiction writer…  Was it really true then, or was Mr. Heinlein just flexing his prodigious writing muscle for all to see when he wrote the above 60 years ago?

I have a picture in my head that politics, as sordid and ugly as it is now, is not worse than it was 60 or even 200 years ago, and may have even gotten more civilized.  I’ve been reading “Up, Simba” an Essay about the McCain 2000 campaign, a book from 12 years ago that sounds at home in today’s news.    No different than today.  But then again in terms of politics it the 2000 campaign only happened a little while ago.

I’ve read stories about the John Adams campaign for President back in 1796 that make today’s political back and forth look like kids playing in a sandbox.  And if you read your history books, most of history is the history of politics, and it is usually pretty bloody, violent and generally evil.  We have things pretty easy now, and the microscope that the internet is helps keep people honest, though usually that happens through beating the slow chimps, like American Crossroads (read below), about the head and neck with their own stupidity until they figure out that we aren’t stupid.  They are.

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Why do political organizations lie? This one’s simple, because it helps them tell the stories they want to tell, to get you to feel the way they want about a particular subject.  Because they want you to think like them, and they think that the lie is the best way to reach them.

Example:  American Crossroads has an ad about how 85% of all college graduates move back home, and that this is the Presidents fault.

But the people who did the study that claimed that 85% number are: 1) an organization that no one has ever heard of,  2) using methodology that no one can get to,  3) was supposedly done a great many years ago,  4) one member the organization claims as an employee never worked there, and two others seem to be completely fake, and 5) Pew research says those numbers are pure bullshit, and the number is closer to 40%, and for graduates 30-34, that number is 10%.

I’m loathe to even call it a poll, but that’s what it passes itself off as, So… why did crossroads use this clearly flawed “poll”?  Their use of it gets people to talk about things in a light they want things seen in, even if that light is wrong to the point of incredulity.

That and they’re a bunch of assholes who hate truth… and think right wing Americans are stupid enough to pass bullshit like that off on.  And with the fact that people are talking about it in conservative circles like it’s true, they’re pretty much right.

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Is life something we really hold sacred, or are we all just covering our own asses in mutual agreement making sure that we all make it as far as we can in one piece?  Is that what the basis of all “Social contracts” we live with and by are really about?

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Simple Answers To Stupid Questions

Question 1:  How do we stop the children of America from getting fat?

Answer:  Stop teaching your children to eat shitty food.  If you were better parents, your kids would not be fat.

And the reason I say that, as harshly as I did is to make a simple point.  We can and in fact should say these things to one another, even if they aren’t the things we want to hear.  Although maybe not exactly the way I just did.  What we should not accept is government control over the industries, not to the point where some simple food vendor trying to make a living off of his food truck isn’t allowed to operate where he normally does, thus cutting his business.

A law that does just that is being proposed in California’s legislature, putting even more stringent rules in place for food vendors there than exist for vendors of legal marijuana in the state as far as where they can sell their food.  It’s almost like food vendors are being blamed and punished for the sin of trying to feed people and make money.  Over-officious jerks.

The real problem that creates obesity isn’t food trucks, or their zoning which is what this proposed bill.  It’s too much food and not enough exercise and parents who are either not there when the kids get their food, or are just too tired to do much of anything but just buy them whatever crap is easiest for them to get.

And really, if you didn’t eat like such a friggin gavone, maybe your kid wouldn’t resemble porky fucking pig.  Learn portion control. And more apples and less Twinkies, dammit!  :)

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Pic of the day: Sense of Taste;  By Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens

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Question 2: What do you do if someone calls you a slut and a prostitute?

Answer: Beat the shit out of them.

No one has beaten Rush Limbaugh’s ass yet for doing just that on his radio show a few days ago. And no one will. Don’t think anyone, short of Sandra Fluke’s father and mother maybe, actually wants to.

His advertisers however are doing it for them.  A few of them have left the one time radio giants list of advertisers. And as we know radio is built on the medium of advertising.  Rush would shrivel up and die without it.  And he knows it.  It is why he has given the semi-apology that he has given.

The punk should learn to grovel a bit more.  He fucked up, again, and frankly we Americans are sick of his childish bullshit.  He should go to that place where Glenn Beck has been relegated to.  Wherever that is.  Haven’t seen nor heard from the man since the day he left Fox news.

And the best part is, that in this apology, this sonofabitch says he was speaking “in an attempt to be humorous.”  One word.  Bullshit.  Flippant self aggrandizing bullshit if you want to put a finer point to it. I’m not buying it, and it’s all he has to sell.  Anytime anyone tries to sell that “I was only joking” bullshit is to cover their asses when they fuck up and know it,  and hope the excuse will maybe get someone to cut them some slack because it worked at some point in history.

When?  I dunno.  I’m not Kreskin, I can’t answer every question, and I don’t want to.

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Question 3:  Why are you in such a bad mood, cursing and getting all bent out of shape, Mike?

Answer:  I’m not, this is me happy.  I talk and write like this when I’m in a good mood.  If I was in a bad mood, I would work out why I was in a bad mood, then fix the problem, then write about it in great detail here.  Nothing personal, hence no bad mood.

Plus, writing about stupid legislation and people is fun!

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

A Few Questions, A Few Answers

I’m taking a test right now.  it’s at the site www.politicalcompass.org.   The reason I tell you this is that I have been putting thought into why I think what I think as far as politics is concerned, as is my want, and I’ve decided to putz around for a few minutes on the computer answering basic questions about political beliefs.  I thought it would be a good thing to do to pick a few, not all, of the statements made, write them here along with my answer, and explain, as much for myself as for you, my faithful readers (all 4 of you) why I think what I do.  Pedestrian, school kid stuff, but I like that kinda thing.

There are 4 possible answers: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

Page 1, Statement 2) I’d always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.  My answer: Disagree.  Reason.  If my country has done some visceral wrong, and I live in a democracy, that means I have, in some small degree, taken part in that wrong. Unless I am some kind of fool who wishes harm on people I don’t know and probably never will, that is something I want to avoid.  Therefor if I support my country when it is wrong, I am actively taking part in destructive, anti-social behavior in ways that aid and abet improper behavior in others.  Material support of all such behavior is wrong at all times.  Therefore I will not support my country when it is quote unquote “wrong”.  Now “wrong” itself is open to interpretation.

Page 1, Statement 5) The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  My answer: Disagree.  Reason.  Factually incorrect.  The enemy of my enemy acts in ways I may approve of towards my enemy, but that does not make him my friend, unless I am an idiot.  Bastard may hate me too.  Bastard.

Page 2, Statement 7)  It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.  My answer: Agree.  Here I am agreeing with the general concept.  I am not saying anything about the truth of the statement. I am sure there are many who DO contribute to society.  Just saying those who don’t do for the world around them suck. 

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Viddy of the day.  Crowbar, Existence is punishment.  Great song.

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Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”

Robert A. Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

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Page 2, Statement 14) The freer the market, the freer the people.  My answer: Strongly Disagree.  Freedom doesn’t come from markets, or from people in markets, but from the hearts and minds of responsible individuals.  “Free” markets can be manipulated by players within that market, “free” markets can lie to and cheat players within the system, that is coersion, and coersion subverts freedom, it is NOT freedom.  Anyone who equates market coersion, which is the norm in business, with freedom needs to realize he isn’t trying to protect freedom, but social darwinism.

Page 4, statement 1 )  Our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of counter terrorism.  My answer: Strongly Agree.  Full body scans, aggressive pat downs of citizens of the United States, who have done no wrong.  I getting my bags sniffed when I walk through the Ferry terminal when there is no threat.  NSA wiretaps of citizens who are unaware of those taps.  The Fisa revision essentially destroying the 4th amendment.  Ya, we have issues. Terrorism has given government the reason, capacity, and justification to steal freedom in the name of security.  And we sit here doing nothing….

Page 5, statement 4) Some people are naturally unlucky.  My answer:  Disagree.  No bad day lasts forever, trust me, I’ve had a few.  Luck has nothing to do with anything.  Ever. So quit the bullshit.

Page 6, statement 2) A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship, should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption.  My answer: Agree.  The key statement is “stable, loving relationship”.  Single parents are allowed to raise children, and I’ve met parents who were drunks, we can’t stop them from being parents, and shouldn’t want to, much as I disagree with it.  It’s that freedom thing.  If we really believe in freedom, why stop 2 people in a stable relationship from adopting?  There are no real reasons that don’t stem from personal discomfort about the lifestyles of the people involved.  Drunks are more an issue that gay people, and make more of a mess in this world.

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And just for information purposes, I was, not surprisingly, fairly far left. As a matter of fact, I was about as far left as Gandhi and the Dalai lama.

Damn, I’m good.  Go to sleep America

If I Was Sure, I Wouldn’t Be Asking

Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.   

Tom Lehrer   

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Now, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been doing this for a while, now, this writing thing.  I think I do it pretty well.  Hell, I’m down to one major writing  mistake  per article after 965 columns here.  I think that’s a pretty damn big achievement after starting out writing literally every other word capitalized, writing 500 word paragraphs and run on sentences that were a hundred plus words long.   

I mean, it’s nice and all, if you like to hurt your eyeballs and hate the language, but it isn’t what you’d call readable.   I’ve changed up my style a fair bit as time has gone on as well, from that god forsaken crap to a more conversational tone, and that’s really what I am for here.  To write out one side of a conversation, in hopes that it will help create the other side of that conversation.    

On most nights it doesn’t, and to be honest I don’t really mind.  Part of this is also to let me poke and prod my own mind, to find out where I stand in relation to the stories I read, to the people involved, to the world. And to speak how I feel about a great many things, but you knew that.  As the low man on the totem pole in this world, I like the fact that this venue gives me a voice that I would not otherwise have.  It allows me to speak on thoughts that without this place, I would simply not express.  I watch the news and the world, politics, business with more interest, to write about it here, to learn about the way the world works for everyone else.   

I know how it works for me.  Well.  It has it’s own things to do, and isn’t much interested in me, and that’s OK, it’s a big world, billions of people out there, living their lives, trying to figure things out just like I am, going on with the business of living, they don’t need to take interest in me.   

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Viddy of the day:  a promo for a documentary called Bad Writing, which is something that happens a lot here.  Maybe I’m in it and don’t even know it.  I hope not… That would… suck.  :P   

   

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From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.   

Groucho Marx   

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Translation: and on the 11th day God created Worcestershire sauce, and he was vaguely annoyed by it

 

I say that to say this.  I am trying for the life of me  to figure out what to do with my writing, and I want your help.  I want to write a book, but with so many things going on out there in this big, beautiful world out there, I am honestly not sure what to write about.  Or how to go about writing it, to be truthful with you.   

Have you ever looked at a book outline, a serious book outline? Me either, and I’ve looked for the damn things.  How the hell would I go about writing a book if I can’t get the skeleton of the damn thing together properly? Now I’d write about politics, but have you seen the glut of writers writing about THAT subject?  I want to, but, in a world of  Harvard educated Rhodes scholars, and jaded veteran journalists, what the hell is a guy with a GED and an attitude problem gonna write about that anyone will listen to?  Music maybe?  Again, no College education, who’d listen to an uneducated unrecorded musician write about music?  Economics… please.    

Hmmmm, maybe they would listen.  I dunno.  I just want advice on which way to go on this.  What do I do best as a writer? An honest critique is what I seek.  What do I need to seriously work on? I won’t know if no one tells me.    

So go through some of my stuff, tell me what you like and what you don’t.    

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Have a good night, America, I’ll write to you tomorrow.

Some Questions I Simply Cannot Answer

And who can suffer injury by just taxation, impartial laws and the application of the Jeffersonian doctrine of equal rights to all and special privileges to none? Only those whose accumulations are stained with dishonesty and whose immoral methods have given them a distorted view of business, society and government. Accumulating by conscious frauds more money than they can use upon themselves, wisely distribute or safely leave to their children, these denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw a light upon their crimes.

William Jennings Bryan, 1906 speech at Madison Square Garden

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I admit it, I am at a loss.  Not like that has never happened before, it has, it happens to everyone at some point, more to those who are willing to admit to occasional fallibility, a rare enough thing in this world.  But I say, I am at a loss.

I, while believing that government spending is necessary to get out of this hole of a recession we are in, and we are still in a recession, in case you haven’t noticed, wonder where we can cut spending.  Some spending must be cut due to the rising cost of everything and the shrinking capacity to pay for it all, and simply, I don’t know where to begin.

Anyone who does, and who isn’t an expert is full of crap.  I am going to attempt, in this space to educate myself, somewhat,  simply by going over numbers in programs and trying to figure out just what is crap and what isn’t.

Sounds painful enough, let’s do this!

But first a few quick distractions….

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Viddy of the day:  This happy lil viddy is about 4 years old, but is quite the spot on retrospective of the types of Republicans, even if it does work on stereotypes.  Stereotypes that actually look to be true, given the words and actions of the current tea party/conservative movement.   This one is really funny, and very much worth watching.

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With respect to a true culture and manhood, we are essentially provincial still, not metropolitan, — mere Jonathans. We are provincial, because we do not find at home our standards, — because we do not worship truth, but the reflection of truth, — because we are warped and narrowed by an exclusive devotion to trade and commerce and manufactures and agriculture and the like, which are but means, and not the end.

Henry David Thoreau, Life without Principle

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Back to figuring out what to cut and what not to cut.  Let’s eyeball military spending as a yardstick to measure other spending programs by.

Military spending, including “Overseas Contingency Operations” is, this fiscal year costing us a grand total of $663,800,000,000.

I’ve looked, momentarily, at the actual listing of expenses, and both the amount of data and the numbers shown in that data are startling, at least to the untrained observer, such that I am.  The relevant numbers would be on this page, in section 3.2, outlays by function and sub-function.

I knew we spent a boat load of money every year, but just let this though roll around your head.  We have spent, just on national defense, a quarter of a trillion dollars annually for the past 25 years.  By comparison, agriculture doesn’t get a tenth of that.  Education, at the height of spending in 2006, got barely a quarter of that.  Medicare, which is usual spoken of as wasteful has itself hit the quarter trillion a year mark each of the last 7 years.

And community and regional development for the entire nation, has never gotten more than 5% of that amount annually.

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So it’s not just THAT we are spending too much, it’s WHERE we are spending too much.  But again I must return to the question, where to cut?

And I return to the answer, I just don’t know.  The problem here is one of scope.  The problem is massive, It’s not so much an issue of wrapping your mind around the trillions of dollars.  It’s the specifics of thousands of programs that affect millions of people.

It is ridiculously easy for me to sit here and say “Cut all the spending involved in any pentagon project that costs more than …$1.5 billion dollars” Just as an example.  But lets look at the effect of the economy just for a second.

How many jobs are we losing by cutting all that spending?  According to numbers I’ve seen, that’s $53.3 billion in spending across a great many platforms.  Cutting that now would cost thousands of jobs in an economy that is still very unsteady on it’s feet, and looking very much like it is getting worse, not better.

And I really would like to see programs cut, there is just too much unnecessary spending getting in the way of effective spending programs that actually help people, but where can it happen and not negatively affect the economy? 

Dammit, I so want to give an answer to the question where to cut… And I still cannot see where to cut and how much.

Adoption services? Student Loans? Disability resources?  Head start? Pension benefit guaranty Corp?  Social Security?  And if you touch any of these programs, do you destroy them completely, leave them partially intact, and if so, which parts do you leave be?

I find it amazing that people talk about just CUTTING SPENDING without putting actual honest to J.R. Bob Dobbs thought into the effects of the cuts. 

I apologize, I thought I might be able to give at least a glimmer of an answer, but after looking at a number of sites, and seeing the vast array of services they all bring to the public, I find it hard to know what to say except I just don’t know.

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Good Night America,  I’ll write to you again tomorrow.