Archives for: June 2011
Dialogue with a chat room bully from long, long ago.
Gosh, Robby. I am truly surmised at your responsive reading of my last message. I certainly won't deform your character. I am very ready to bereave your explanation of the IP addresses and passwords and all getting into the wrong handles. Still, it was nice of the hackers to tell off the young pretty ladies for insufficient holiness before posting those photos from your IPs. Those who say it was really, really you are not following the rules of judas prudence. Their intendos are preditated on putting the cat before the horse. They talk of science and safe gourds and such.
Those in chat who do not go in for miracles, well, I think they miss you too. Even those who say they were happy to see you bite the dutch.
We all imagine you doing all sorts of stuff away from chat. Like moping the floors. Or panting the walls new mordrid colors. Or dropping your trousers by the laundry. Stuff like that.
So everyone must be missing you in some way. Everyone knows you were left with the short end of the spit. But thats beating a debt house.
In the old days, there you were every day, big as lice. You were cool as a concubine. You were the cream of the cramp. You were blight eyed and busty taled.
Having you gone goes against the grange. The room is going to hell in a ham casket.
And I'm sure that most would agreen with me in a secret ballad.
You should embargo on a return. Right away.
We pay a lot of attention to things like unemployment, war, terrorism, giving bin Laden a new home under the sea, gay marriage. That's not necessarily a bad thing, taken in perspective.
The temptation, of course, is to keep too much of our focus on policy. We also have to pay attention to simple morality among our national leadership. Think of Weiner. Or Ensign. Or Vitter. Or Gingrich. Think of President Clinton.
Now think of someone equally high and very, very current. Now that Blagojevich is facing prison, can President Barack Hussein Obama be far behind. After all, look where he's from. As Michelle Malkin so adroitly puts it: "In Chicago politics, I don’t believe anybody is innocent until proven so — and usually not even then." Already the long hidden dirt is now coming to light.
And boy. This looks pretty bad. The lamestream media are really in the Obama family pocket. Just look at the headline in Real Clear Politics:
And the summary of the link to a CNN article:
— In an interview with CNN, First Lady Michelle Obama thanks the media for their “support” and “kindness.” CNN reporter: “How's the family ready for this [the election]? It's going to be quite vicious, isn't it? How do you prepare for that?”
Wow. Support? Help? Thank you media for your gracious bias?
Those who do click on the headline can read about the entire scandalous interview. It turns out to be about the Obama children: "People have respected their privacy and in that way, I think, you know, no matter what people may feel about my husband's policies or what have you, they care about children and that's been good to see."
The smokescreen might well have stayed buried if conservatives were not prepared for battle against such coverup.
Michelle Obama Tells CNN 'Fortunately We Have
Help From The Media'
In a contrast with biased liberal media, the article bends over backward to present the other side. You can find it by scanning down to a couple sentences just before the end.
Now, in fairness, she was talking about how the media handle her children.
Even so, could you imagine a Republican president's wife saying, "Fortunately we have help from the media?"
Methinks Michelle Obama was talking about more than the Obama children when she praised and thanked the media.
Being thankful to news media for respecting the privacy of their children is not the only troubling aspect of the Obama family. Consider this headline at the Free Republic:
Dana Perino: If Obama Has Time To Tweet, ‘We Should Re-Examine’ The President’s Responsibilities
Left wing, fact obsessed, Mediaite carries video of the disturbing accusation first aired on FoxNews.
Dana Perino, who served us well as Press Secretary to President Bush, is on point. There is a slippery slope danger here. You never know where these gateway time wasters might lead. Next thing you know, the President might become a user and abuser of other cutting edge devises.
The telephone, perhaps.
Such is the state of concern about the President and his family. Give them credit for their diligence. When it comes to Obama, Mrs. Obama, and the little girl Obamas, conservatives today never lose focus, never get lost in the mundane details of policy.
People with larger hat sizes are, on average, more likely to be able to perform difficult calculus equations.
Now, that's a fact. It's truth. It's actual. If you don't believe it, read on. You can demonstrate many things with a creative use of statistical analysis.
For example, the newest proposal to save money by raising the age at which the elderly can be covered by Medicare is based on just such an analysis.
It's part of a Medicare compromise put together by conservative Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and sometime conservative Joe Leiberman (I-CT). Folks reacted sharply against the last proposal to make Medicare solvent. The Republican plan to privatize Medicare would have reduced medical costs partly by lowering benefits to retirees. The expectation was that lowering benefits would give each older American an individual incentive to bargain with insurance corporations and large medical centers to lower costs for life maintenance procedures.
Costs would also be reduced by increasing the age at which a retiree could qualify for Medicare.
The savings from these cost cutting measures, all of it, would go toward yet another tax break for the extremely wealthy. Making the case that this sort of cost cutting would strengthen Medicare was a bit of a challenge, especially since none of the savings would go to Medicare. Republicans began to be taken to the woodshed by voters in special elections. Congressional representatives began to perceive some bumps along the way through the next election, and support began to ebb a bit. Still, pretty much all Republicans were on record as favoring the abolishing of Medicare, and the replacement of the program with a new private voucher plan.
The weakness of the plan is illustrated by one of the main selling points for seniors. The plan would not affect those currently over age 55. See what a wonderful plan this is? It won't affect you.
In fact, Republicans in New Hampshire hammered on this advantage to privatization when they petitioned a television station to stop airing an ad opposing the GOP plan (pdf).
The Budget Resolution as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives does NOT end Medicare. In fact, the Budget Resolution makes no changes at all to Medicare for current or near retirees, as none of the Medicare-related provisions in the Budget Resolution would even take effect until 2022.
This was their selling point. It's wrong to say the voucher program would be a bad thing. Why? Because it wouldn't fully take effect immediately. Would you buy a product on that basis? I know everyone is telling you this used car is a money sucking clunker, but it's actually cherry, and besides you can keep your old car for another month while we work on this one. I'd certainly be sold but, as I explained to my daughter's new boyfriend, I'm a little crazy. They've since gotten married. In fact, they've been married a couple of years and he's turned out to be a really nice guy, so maybe I should let up.
So now we have a new plan. This one is a compromise. The voucher part is dead. Instead, the elderly will simply pay more out of their pocket. And raising the age of retirement will be kept. One bit of good news is only half of the savings will go to the extremely wealthy in another tax break.
Forbidding retirement until later in life is backed by an interesting statistical argument. The honorable Senators argue that life expectancy has gone through the roof since the plan began in 1965.
Since the creation of the Medicare program in 1965, life expectancy and the average length of time that people are covered by Medicare has risen dramatically. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when Medicare was passed in 1965, the average lifespan for Americans was 70.2. In 2006, the average lifespan for Americans was 77.7 - an increase of 10.6%. This increase in the length of time an enrollee may be covered by Medicare has significantly raised the costs of the overall program.
And here's where what looks like real magic turns out to be a cheap card trick. What conservatives are not telling us is that the average lifespan will go up because infant mortality has gone down. Programs to get healthcare to little kids is having an effect. Fewer infants are dying. This raises the average life span.
What about retired folks? Here's the actual truth, not the statistical razzle dazzle. The remaining life expectancy for someone at 65 has gone up. In 1965, it used to be 15 years. Now it's 19 years. That's not 10.6%. And that's not all. Another study shows, as you might expect, those whose life expectancy went up the most are the wealthy who are a lot less likely to depend on Medicare. While "earners in the top half have seen an increase of their life expectancy at 65 rise about five years over these three decades, the bottom half saw their life expectancy at 65 rise barely a year." Not much of an increase for those who really need and use the medical program.
Shame on you, Mr. Coburn.
Shame on you, Mr. Lieberman.
Shame on you, conservatives who repeat the bogus argument for stripping part of medical care from the elderly and giving more tax breaks to the extremely wealthy.
Oh, one more fun statistical trick.
The main reason people with larger hat sizes are, on average, more likely to be able to perform difficult calculus equations, is that those with small hats include millions of tiny little babies. Aren't they cute in their little blue and pink bonnets?
But they can't do calculus worth a lick.
Boy, were those guys mad. Politics often makes for bad blood, occasionally even individual violence between politicians. We can recall from our history books Aaron Burr dueling with and killing Alexander Hamilton. Violence on the floor of either of the Houses of Congress is a relative rarity.
But this was brewing for a while. Dirk Langeveld, a young scholar in Connecticut seems to have an interest in all things historic. His research into the incident instructs us in how easily, in this instance, political passion translated into physical confrontation.
Matthew Lyon had fought in the Revolution. His record was blemished by an accusation of cowardice, after he led the abandonment of a strategic fort in the face of attack. He was demoted in disgrace, but eventually was reinstated and promoted. Still, the accusation stayed with him. It had to have hurt. His enemies made fun of him. One bit of hilarity was that he had been ordered to wear a wooden sword as part of his punishment.
The war ended with independence and a Constitution eventually made the states the United States. The people of Vermont elected him to the new United States Congress. During one debate in 1798, he loudly discussed how unpopular fellow members of Congress had to have been back home in Connecticut. If he decided to venture into that state, all he would need would be a printing press, and he could instigate a revolt against the politicians. One Congressman provoked laughter when he asked if Lyon would be wearing his wooden sword. Lyon spit on the man, and a fight had to be broken up.
A couple of weeks later, the fellow returned and attacked Lyon with a cane. Lyon got a pair of tongs from a fireplace and they battled for a while until other members again broke up the fight. It was quite the event.
Nothing like it happened again until decades later, just before the Civil War.
In 1858, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts talked about another Senator, Andrew Butler, embracing "the harlot slavery" as his mistress. For a long time any debate at all about slavery had been forbidden in Congress. That had been years before, but debate in 1856 still provoked occasional anger. This comparison of slavery to a wanton woman provoked outrage. It was almost like saying slavery was as immoral as adultery. Applying it to a United States Senator upset a lot of folks. One of the angriest was a Congressman who was related to Butler, young Preston Brooks.
Brooks walked into the Senate, confronted Sumner, then attacked him with a cane, knocking him unconscious. He continued to beat the unconscious Senator while a confederate held others at gunpoint from interfering. It took three years for Sumner to recover enough to return to the Senate. Southern politicians were joined by regional press in hailing Brooks as a hero. They jeered at Sumner as a coward for taking so long to return to his duties. Nice.
The idea of one justice attacking another is a harder image to process, the judiciary being a forum of decorum, so to speak. "Order in the Court" is a phrase that is imbedded in the American psyche. That is what made the film And Justice for All so startling: the Pacino character screaming at the Judge "I'm out of order? You're out of order. This court is out of order!"
Newly re-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has a history of allegations, but none go to the extreme of the latest. Last year, in a closed meeting involving several members of the state Supreme Court, he is said to have yelled at an Associate Justice, calling her "a bitch," screaming that he would "destroy" her. He later admitted part of the story. "I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted." On the surface, that seems like the abuser's contradictory excuse. Okay, I went a little too far, but she deserved it. Two women justices were guilty of bullying him. "They are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing."
It gets worse. The Honorable Judge now is under investigation for physically assaulting one of the two bullies. As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
They say an argument that occurred before the court's release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.
The Dane County Sheriff's Office and the Wisconsin Judicial Commission are both investigating.
As in all legal proceedings, process must be followed before judgment is rendered. Public opinion is often a little freer. We are entitled to opinions. Yet fairness does dictate a need for confirmation before opinion is too settled.
Still, other Justices, particularly those tough female bullies, may be well advised to avoid unchaperoned meetings until it is determined whether Judge Prosser needs to be placed into judicial restraints.
Members of the House of Representatives reported up to $6.1 million in staff bonuses between January and March even as they debated spending cuts and came within minutes of shutting down the federal government over fiscal problems, a CNN investigation has found.
At least one congressman gave thousands of dollars to his staff as he criticized other federal workers as being overpaid.
It is certainly not impossible for a fundamentalist Christian organization to violate the Ten Commandments. Examples are easy to find. We don't even need to go back to Jim Bakker's PTL club, although our search can end there. It can be argued that the sex scandal was not organizational, being the downfall only of individuals. But the organizational defrauding of loyal contributors would seem to be a violation of the prohibition against stealing.
In some interpretations of the Talmud, this is actually a commandment against kidnapping, not against the taking of anything material. This might leave some evangelic organizations in the clear, except for more earthly authority, like Chuck Grassley (R-IA) or the the IRS (Pitbull from Hell).
Lesser offenses like false witness are more common. They just carry fewer civil penalties when directed against public figures. When President Obama was still candidate Obama, he was accused by angry evangelicals of distorting the beliefs of conservative professional Christian James Dobson. Obama had suggested that Christians of good will could have differing interpretations of scripture. Here was the Obama libel:
And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount -- a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our Bibles now. Folks haven't been reading their Bibles.
It was the only reference Obama made to Dobson in the disputed speech. To be fair, those false-witness conservatives were not speaking for Dobson's organization. And it should not be surprising that conservatives can be inflamed by political passion into distortions that occasionally cross the line into falsehood. But Dobson himself accused Obama of ... well ... having an incorrect interpretation of the Bible. Okay, actually, Dobson went a little farther. Obama had deliberately distorted Biblical teachings. Well, this could be defended as an innocent misinterpretation by a rigid old man. Or it could be dismissed as a violation of the 9th Commandment by an individual, rather than an organization.
What about when an organization lies about policy debate? Would that count as false witness?
Dobson's organization, the Family Research Council, recently did a Breitbart style editing job on a document issued by the Congressional Budget Office. They put ellipses to clip out part of the document in order to change the meaning. They were attempting to reinforce their position on morality, that work on reducing debt must never ever reduce tax breaks for the extremely wealthy. The part they edited out is highlighted:
To restore investors' confidence, policymakers would probably need to enact spending cuts or tax increases more drastic and painful than those that would have been necessary had the adjustments come sooner.
They then omitted completely the words immediately following:
To keep deficits and debt from climbing to unsustainable levels, policymakers will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of GDP, decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches.
The CBO then cautioned against acting too quickly while the economy is still in recovery. This was also left out by the Dobson organization.
Making such changes while economic activity and employment remain well below their potential levels would probably slow the economic recovery.
Here is the CBO document. And here are the Dobson organization claims. The altered bit that was left in was placed within a series of quotes from prominent Republicans so that it seemed to validate their veracity.
Certainly this is is an example of false witness. But is false witness always against God's word? The commandment, in most translations, reads "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor." This would seem to exclude lying that is not against someone. The classic hypothetical case involves lying to Nazi authorities looking for hidden Jews.
And truth telling is not always right, Wikileaks notwithstanding. When Tom Foley (R-FL) was outed for making sexual advances to young boys serving as Senate Pages, angry conservatives published the youngsters' home addresses in retaliation for tattling. When two seriously ill children, siblings, survived with the help of a government program, they served as examples of why the program needed expanded funding. Fox contributor Michelle Malkin defended the publishing of their address and driving directions to their home. Both times, conservatives were completely truthful. In both cases, the conservative ethic was reprehensible.
Some translations of the Ten Commandments show the prohibition against false witness as applying only to formal testimony in a legal forum. This interpretation would liberate even Andrew Breitbart clones. Lying is okay, even smearing innocent people. God does draw the line at perjury.
It could be that religious conservatives violate none of the Ten Commandments when they lie, smear, or publish the home addresses of children. There may indeed be divine loopholes. Besides, they believe themselves to be untruthful in the service of the Lord.
But the case they are making, and conservatism itself, may be seen more skeptically if they do not have enough confidence in their beliefs or themselves to defend that case honestly.
If you've been abused by the EPA like Shell Oil, I'm going to ask the CEO of Shell Oil would he like to be on this commission, and give me some recommendations. The people closest to the problem are the ones who can solve the problem.
- - Herman Cain, Republican Presidential Candidate, June 22, 2011
It's the way a lot of rights become embedded into the American character. Americans, at first, do not advocate rights. We acquiesce. We just stop opposing, then we stop objecting. Later, after we're used to it, we endorse out of a sense of status quo conservatism.
Even in parts of the country in which any sort of rights for black folks provoked denigration, filibuster, nullification, riots, and lynchings 50 years ago, politicians today tend to lose votes by hinting at rolling the clock back. To be sure, some tactics only gradually fade. Voter suppression no longer relies on literacy tests and poll taxes. Instead we require special IDs, photo IDs most non-drivers don't have, in the hopes that at least some black, or poor, or elderly people will be discouraged from voting. After all, they tend to vote wrong, which is to say liberal. But, even at that, we no longer, as a rule, advocate openly racist voting restrictions.
Interracial marriage is opposed by a majority of Republicans in Mississippi. That is considered startling news today. When Loving vs Virginia was decided in 1967, several states prohibited marriage between white people and black people. In 2000, Alabama was the last state to take interracial marriage off the books. Court administered law took interracial marriage out of criminality, and it became accepted over the next few decades.
When Judge Leon M. Bazile ordered Mildred and Richard Loving to leave Virginia, his accompanying words provoked little controversy:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Imagine a jurist today saying such a thing.
Americans stopped opposing, then stopped objecting, eventually accepting. That's the way the arc of the moral universe bends. There is an ever so gentle curve toward justice, but few sharp angles.
And that is why New York's new law is so significant. It does add one more state, a very large state, to the 5 plus the District of Columbia in which gay people are allowed equal rights to marry whom they love. But only one of those, Vermont, chose marriage equality legislatively. The New York legislature is controlled, although barely, by Republicans. One, James Alesi, opposed gay marriage and voted against it when it came to a vote two years ago. Just before this vote, he apologized:
It's time for me in my life, when I am given the opportunity, to take the opportunity to vote for something I believe in my heart is right. We don't get that opportunity very often.
New York is a reflection of the accelerating acceptance of Americans for something that is transparently fair. This year, clear majorities are showing up in multiple national polls saying yes to marriage equality. With New York's action, several states are said to be on the edge of legalizing this basic right. Opposition is irrational and fierce, and wishful thinking is hard to avoid, but support is growing. Maybe complete legal status is not so far over the horizon after all.
We seem to be moving beyond acquiescence, past tolerance.
Richard Loving died in 1975 in a car accident. A year before she died in 2008, Mildred made a rare public statement about marriage equality.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
One wonderful thing about the statement, perhaps the best thing, is that it created few waves. It was considered quite unremarkable, completely in the mainstream.
Right where it ought to be.
The Heathen Republican considers all the arguments and comes out against gay marriage, partly because of tradition and partly because of the anticipated horrible tactics that for sure will be launched by leftists like ... well ... me.
Our T. Paine writes his own, often brilliant, conservative blog, Saving Common Sense, at which he is horrified by America's lack of knowledge about history. My guess is a few don't even know much about Paul Revere.
Slant Right's John Houk is outraged at the suspension of a police captain for two weeks, because his religious beliefs keep him from showing respect toward law abiding Muslims at a law enforcement appreciation day sponsored by a local mosque. Houk refers to the police supporting citizens as the "radical Muslim Islamic Society of Tulsa." Radical supporters of local police? Well, see, the supporters of the police are Muslims so they must also. um. be. um. terrorists. Right?
The late William F. Buckley, founder of the one-time ascendent intellectual right, once laughingly criticized some of the teachers of his youth, quoting George Tyrell. "The Jesuits score off the exaggeration of their critics. Accuse them of killing three men and a dog, they will triumphantly produce the dog alive." Tommy Christopher of Mediaite fame continues his fawning coverage of smear artist Andrew Breitbart, featuring wretched treatment by a single reporter who heckled him as he, Breitbart, crashed the recent netroots conference without paying the entrance fee.
The video Tommy displays is thoughtfully provided by the camera crew accompanying Breitbart. Presumably, the video, being of Breitbart himself, is not creatively edited, but how horribly rude of the reporter. I like Tommy. He has been personally gracious to me and to this site. But wow, Tommy. Andrew Breitbart?
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster takes on the weird defenders of the Electoral College. Nancy is impatient with those who oppose fair elections, including cronies of Tommy Christopher's pal Andrew Breitbart. She must be some kind of radical. Tommy! Andrew Breitbart?
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, doesn't seem to think that things go better with Koch. He chronicles the low points of the brothers Koch. May not rise to the scandal level of reporters who are rude to Tommy's friend Andrew Breitbart, but these guys are not exactly harmless. Oh Tommy! Where did your mother and I go wrong?
Manifesto Joe of Texas Blues takes note of the famed Republican sense of hilarity. Seems an Obama impersonator was hired to make a few racially tinged jokes at a GOP gathering. Hee-hee. HEY, can't those black folks take a little harmless ribbing? But then the dirty rotten so-and-so started to make fun of Republicans! Joe guides us to the rest of the story.
Chuck Thinks Right writes about the deserving poor. Poor because they all deserve it. Not much research involved. Chuck doesn't need research when he knows what is in his gut. A good summary of contemporary conservative thought. A fair representation of truthiness. Kind of undoes the good effort put forth by more diligent folk. Happy Anniversary, James!!
Our favorite spiritual leader at Why do we have to do this, Sir? reveals some of his differences with Church leadership. He apologizes for self-indulgence. His readers will disagree with the apology, and embrace the difference with authority.
- What the heck was Tommy Christopher thinking? See THIS.
From Insight Channel 2:
Republican Gov. candidate David Williams says he doesn’t agree with statements made by former Rep. Gov. candidate Larry Forgy about Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Jerry Abramson’s faith.
Forgy said in Sunday’s Lexington Hearld-Leader that Gov. Steve Beshear only picked Abramson to be on the ticket to help “attract New York and Hollywood Jewish money” for the campaign.
- More -