You think Bill O'Reilly gets a bit personal in attacking the opposition? Michael J. Scott of Mad Mike's America gives to us a new look at how personal O'Reilly can get as he pulls every unethical string he can to hound his ex-wife, including trying to get her new husband fired from the police force, and attempting to get her expelled from her church. Hell hath no fury like a prima donna scorned.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite covers the new conservative divide about whether slaves should have been thankful for free room and board before President Lincoln messed it all up. Most conservatives still go to the Lincoln side on that one. Whew.
The Heathen Republican has pushed pretty hard in the past to regard all economic measurements only in relation to GDP. Well, almost all. When it comes to deficits he abandons that standard. Seems the Republican economic plan is deficient because it only reduces the growth of the deficit to less than the Obama record, and not much less. Actually deficit has been going down as a percentage of GDP, the normally preferred Heathen standard. Let's not boast about that. It's horrible economic policy.
Last Of The Millenniums documents why the deficit has been shrinking as a percentage of the Heathen Republican's former favorite measurement. It's on the backs of the most vulnerable members of society.
- Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot comes up with a few ways to imagine how far beyond the imaginable is the size of the universe.
The Heathen Republican tries argument by analogy, using his family finances to show how government should be run. Manages a twofer. Point is obscure plus comes across as a combination of Dan Quayle and a recent Presidential candidate. Seems to be equating breakfast programs for hungry kids with his own lavish live style. Good writer, but anyone can have a bad day.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite listens to Donald Trump at CPAC so we don't have to. This week the grand idea is to change immigration laws to let in more people from Europe who have the right ethnicity to become American Republican voters.
Max's Dad offers a series of rational reasons to explain why he doesn't like Paul Ryan. Although I don't like the Ryan proposals to do away with Medicare and Medicaid, I have already confessed to having to compensate for less serious reasons having to do with his head.
Manifesto Joe of Texas Blues gets irritated at yet another news story about lucky duckies, those who too deep into poverty to pay federal taxes. So Joe vivisects evidence and story and author and publisher and anyone goofy enough to buy into the narrative.
WAFormby at Mad Mike's America goes on an entertaining rant about annoying drivers, overweight people, and religious nuts. Okay, I'm religiously committed, I drive. The weight? Let's just say I'm very tall when lying on my back. Still, I find the rant kind of funny. At least he didn't mention bald people.
Apparently the Intelligent Design God-should-be-taught-in-science-class crowd has looked at DNA research and discovered evidence of non-functional design. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, takes a close look and finds a form of complicated numerology. I'm a sort of intelligent design guy, I suppose, just based on the fact of my own consciousness. I don't see it as objective evidence. I don't consider it science. I oppose teaching it in public school.
- Conservative Chuck Thinks Right leaves blogging in frustration, but leaves on a personal happy note.
James Wigderson detects a shortage of credibility after Democrats launch investigations into a Republican governor and find only petty larceny among a few aides. Makes the casual reader wonder if a lesson might be hidden in the wreckage for national Republicans. Is Darrell Issa a loyal reader, by chance?
The Heathen Republican outlines what a State of the Union evaluation might evaluate on national health. I expect he will later give President Obama a low grade, although it is hard to anticipate how he will explain economic good news. Heathen is an avid researcher with an affinity for evidence. He may surprise.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, is not running for President of the Lewis F. Powell Fan Club. Jack does his research homework and comes away uninspired by the late Justice.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite couldn't figure out who Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was quoting when he described the right to vote as a racial entitlement and added, "It’s been written about." Tommy reports that someone managed to find out the literary luminary that had enlightened Justice Scalia. Oh my.
Michael J Scott of Mad Mike's America believes he has discovered the one individual who symbolizes everything wrong with the Republican Party. It's a miserable job, but someone has to carry that load.
When I was a kid living near Rochester, New York, I would watch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on local television. I was enthralled at the simplicity of his easy explanations of world events and how they fit into God's plan. A few years ago, I came across a few old videos. They seemed less simple than simplistic. Still, he had an easy manner and seemed like the original Great Communicator. T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, brings us a few excerpts from a video trove. I hope others enjoy them as I do.
At News Corpse Mark brings us the gory details as Andrew Breitbart follower James O'Keefe is forced to pay $100,000 to a former ACORN employee. Seems an edited video seemed to show the employee helping out what he thought was a pimp of underage girls. In reality, the guy had immediately called a police detective about the "pimp". The video and the O'Keefe-Breitbart account combined into a smear.
Vincent of A wayfarer's notes reminisces about reminiscing, as he recalls being honored for his days as a young cadet. Once more, Vincent takes not quite random thoughts and weaves them into something golden.
- Infidel 753 walks us through developing technology that might meld minds to machines or to other minds. It works with rats. Can you and I be far behind?
Joe Hagstrom at Mad Mike's America observes the strange episode of Bob Woodward and the White House threat cleverly disguised as a friendly apology. It actually kind of reminds me of another great man..
News Corpse also takes a look at the Woodward controversy, examining the exact nature of the threat as uttered by a mild mannered economist. Personal note: Last night was a little icy here in St. Louis. I warned my wife, as she left to run some errands, to be careful, lest she skid into danger. Oddly, she was not offended by my threat.
Max's Dad is in awe that Woodward's delicate sensibilities could detect the subtlety of such a threat. At least the little economist didn't have a lethal weapon. . . like a flyswatter.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite adds to the ongoing scandal, revealing that he was also threatened by the White House, and in a way that was eerily similar to the threat against Woodward. Is there a pattern here?
The Heathen Republican does a creditable job of educating us on judicial review, talking us from Marbury v Madison onward. It is much more interesting than it might have been in the hands of a less capable writer. Heathen includes his own reactions to a few objections by historical figures throughout history. No mention of the current inadvertent intellectual challenge to judicial competency in the person of Justice Antonin Scalia, who views the right to vote as a "racial entitlement."
Infidel 753 is mildly hopeful about the election rebuke by Italian voters against Europe's disastrous austerity policy. It happens to be the same policy urged upon the United States by misguided conservatives.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, expresses a bit of impatience with the story behind the story of the sequester hostage crisis.
Advocates of unrestricted gunplay often propose that widespread gun ownership makes society safer. Last Of The Millenniums observes the idea in practice as a gun owner goes after a shoplifter. Lots of pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders get in the way of street justice. Fortunately, they all survive.
Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot finds cautionary lessons in the problems and eventual recovery during yesterday's space launch.
- PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, suggests that experimental studies in evolutionary psychology are hopelessly flawed because their subjects come from of select and unrepresentative group of the weirdest people in the world.
Unknown in January 2009 to newly elected President Barack Obama, and to everyone else, was that figures not yet compiled for the last quarter of 2008 would show an economy that had been shrinking at an annual rate of 3 percent. And not known until many months after that was that the 3 percent figure would be a mistake. As data came in, the figures were revised. The economy had actually been in a free fall of 9 percent. An economy contracting at a 9 percent rate is a very big deal. Deregulation, massive financial fraud, and a discredited economic policy were the root causes.
In the last quarter of 2012, the economy shrank again. This time the initial figures show one tenth of one percent. The trade deficit turns out to be far less than expected, so most experts think revisions will show that one tenth percent shrinkage is actually growth: very small growth, but growth. Still, the initial one tenth contraction is what was announced at the end of January, so that's what those who pay attention have noticed. The main causes of the slowdown have been a 22 percent reduction in defense spending; a massive layoff of such government workers as teachers, police officers and first responders; and a substantial reduction in business inventory.
The Heathen Republican joins, by proxy quotation, the joyful conservative glee at national economic pain. But Heathen also adds a peculiar conspiracy. It seems President Obama did not speak at all about the one tenth of a percent in his Inaugural Address, which occurred over a week before he, or anyone else, knew about the economic data which had not yet been calculated. I suppose you could call it a sort of telepathic coverup. Election loss has an unsettling effect on some minds.
Last Of The Millenniums explains one reason Republicans oppose renewing laws to protect women against violence. It's because conservatives want to protect white people against Native Americans. General Custer is unavailable.
Conservatives have been after President Obama's choice as Defense Secretary, conservative Republican Chuck Hagel. The main stated reason has been some sort of convoluted blame for Benghazi, but John McCain let slip that it was actually because Hagel had turned against the Iraq war, and criticized "his own people." His own people turn out to be Republicans, which is disappointing to those of more ecumenical disposition: shouldn't all us be his people? But that is not the only reason. Max's Dad reacts as conservatives attack Hagel for his association with a fictitious group. I suspect a conservative plot to put satirists out of business with public positions that cannot be parodied.
News Corpse also covers Hagel's ties to that fictional group, and the amazing reaction of the breitbart.com writer who broke the false story. He stands by his piece, which he also acknowledges to be phony. It's the tabloid standard: I didn't say it was true, I only said there were sources who said they talked with someone who said he heard it was true. Such is the current state of contemporary conservative thought.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite fame captures the moment as Senator McCain sternly lectures a woman whose son had the poor judgment to be among those murdered in an Aurora, Colorado, theatre. A conservative audience cheers him on. Take that, lady. Pretty much the direction of the GOP, I believe.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, makes the case for compulsory national service. I'm not quite seeing a burgeoning movement here. On the other hand, I didn't think, at the time, that Obama had lost his first debate to Romney.
Conservative James Wigderson has more on his favorite crazy Wisconsin sheriff. Seems the sheriff was interviewed by a local wingnut, found the interview reported by a mainstream journalist and got a little irked by the coverage. James seems amused.
In addition to his hyper-talented writing, Vincent of A wayfarer's notes also has a keen eye for discovering off-the-beaten-path literary ability in others. He finds, and posts, a short piece of fiction about a train ride of an anti-Indian bigot who resents that he is, himself, a son of India.
- Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot goes poetic in his explanation of why engineering is a fun and joyful profession. It really is a beautiful piece. Warning: If you click the link, you may end up wondering how to join.
Rumproast seems to share the sense of awe many of us feel as the NRA tips over into a sort of bizarro type Wayne's World. Wayne is Wayne LaPierre, breathlessly screaming "Annie get your gun," itemizing the conditions we will face as we go to the supermarket: Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. Frankly, Wayne is too mild. He didn't mention zombies. My take is here.
Why can't conservative politicians get their media consultants to stop with the hallucinogens? Michele Bachmann can't keep her two wild and crazy eyes on the camera. She talks to one of the voices in her head, apparently standing off to the side. Bobby Jindal's folksy entrance into camera range comes off like he's been wandering around like a confused bar denizen after a few too many. And now, well... Mad Mike's America can't resist reviewing poor Marco Rubio who proved that you can indeed give a major policy speech while high diving into a little bottle of water. Who the heck put that water so far away? In a bottle! The pastor of our church, with a membership of just a few hundred, is provided water to drink within easy reach, on a stand, in plain view, in a glass, at every worship service. It is routine. I love the guy, but he is not a speaker widely known outside the borders of Missouri. Did it occur to even one advisor to these national figures that a live broadcast to an audience of millions might merit at least one rehearsal? Did I mention putting water in easy reach? On a stand? In a glass? IN A GLASS, people?
As long as there is life, there is a morning after. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite covers Marco Rubio's interview one sleep after his unusual presentation. Unfortunately Senator Rubio gets into substance, and Tommy applies a scalpel. The good Senator should have continued gulping bottled water.
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster links to discussions about whether political party primaries should be functions that are strictly for political parties.
The Heathen Republican examines whether the Republican Party is dying, and concludes that losing a national election does not mean the GOP has collapsed. Quite so. The demise of the Republican Party is based less on 2012 than it is on this.
Infidel 753 explains the significance of Charles Darwin and the mechanism of evolution. My favorite story about Darwin concerned his interaction with a religiously conservative ship's captain who threatened to have Mr. Darwin thrown overboard.
Watching the hardships endured by those poor captives of a disabled cruise ship, it is difficult for me to imagine anyone with a soul so callused as to observe the callamity without laughing. Max's Dad contemplates the coming lawsuits and wishes himself on one of the juries.
This seems a little obscure to me. Conservative James Wigderson covers a Q and A session that included a candidate who once said, in a legal proceeding, that she was discriminated against. Now she is asked if she ever lied under oath. She answers no. James is aghast at the assertion. There she goes again! There must be some reason to think she lied before and is lying now than what James reveals. At least it seems such to me. Can someone explain?
Why do we have to do this, Sir? is back (Yay-y-y-y!). I had always identified the word "epiphany" with Paul's revelation on the road to Damascus. Our friend explains another epiphany: the discovery by Jesus that his mission was not restricted to the Jewish people.
The Heathen Republican, an excellent writer whom we occasionally harpoon for his straw man misinterpretation of liberal arguments, this week laments the sad inability of liberals and conservatives to understand opposing viewpoints. I tried to find some sense of irony, even a trace, but I ran out of time.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite notes yet another wisecrack at MSNBC about Governor Chris Christie's weight, and springboards into a few thoughts on the topic. For instance, the governor had a valid point in getting annoyed about a physician's long distance diagnosis. My own thoughts go to a President famous for his weight. There was less significance to President William Howard Taft's girth than to his strengthening of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Chris Christie has been a pretty good sport about it all. Let's move on.
A conservative sheriff who is black, and a Democrat, and wants to arm pretty much everyone, thrills tea party types in Wisconsin, right down to their tippy toes. But conservative James Wigderson takes a look at the fulfillment of his public duties and is less than impressed.
Max's Dad goes nucleotoid over a bill in Iowa that takes personhood-at-conception to a new level. It declares zygote destruction to be murder with the woman being the one to be prosecuted for a capital crime. My take is here.
Infidel 753 carries video of a fellow who goes to a courthouse, declares that rules do not apply to him because the federal government has no jurisdiction over citizens of a state, and eventually gets tazed and arrested. Especially impressive is the patience of authorities before the guy tries to push his way into a no-camera zone with his camera.
Last of the Millenniums researches a conservative message from Bill Cosby, tired of, and angry at, liberals and their crazy programs. Turns out to be yet another fake, traced to a Republican state legislator. Not all chain mail frauds come from the fevered imaginations of dishonest conservatives, but I get at least some occasionally. Here is my take on one.
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster brings news of the upcoming annual conference of an organization of political independents. An organization of people declaring themselves independent of political organizations is not necessarily a self-contradiction. Could be an irony, though.
Rumproast reacts to a fun loving Republican public figure who tweets giggles about a black kid killed by violence, gays, and those who drowned in New Orleans during Katrina. Well, HEY. Can't anyone take a joke? Well . . . Maybe we have the next Republican nominee for President.
I read this a couple of times. It was late and I was sure I had missed the thrust. Conservative James Wigderson begins with a fable about Zeus and frogs, then writes an entertaining tale of a group of shop owners who want government bosses replaced. They meet the new boss, worse than the old boss. Certain details are obscure. What did the old boss do wrong? What did the new boss promise? What did the new boss do that was worse? It's quite entertaining, though. James is really that good.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, is pretty upset about a bill here in Missouri mandating that "intelligent design" be taught as part of school curriculum. I suppose my beliefs could be characterized as a sort of hybrid, mutant form of intelligent design. But it does give me the willies that my religious beliefs might be taught as science in any classroom funded by taxpayers or where attendance is a matter of law. My beliefs are not science.
Rumproast hears from a conservative activist in Idaho that insurance companies are kind of like the victims of the holocaust. I guess we could see it as an expansion of Mitt Romney's "Corporations are people too, my friend."
It's hard to imagine how it must feel to be a parent of a child lost in Newtown. Michael John Scott of Mad Mike's America looks into an incident of heckling that may not be heckling as a father speaks out in a public meeting. Facts and video are provided and we are asked to decide for ourselves.
News Corpse watches as Fox News creates another story out of thin air. Seems the University of Chicago is going to tear down a small building where Ronald Reagan lived for a short time as a little kid. The university is also trying to get Obama to consider letting them host his eventual presidential library. If there is ever an overflow, it might be possible that some visitors to the library, the one the school hopes Obama might consider letting them host, could find their way over to park in the parking lot that hasn't been built yet. So Fox News is abuzz with the permutation of the speculation that has Obama tearing down the Reagan boyhood home to build parking for his library on the smoldering remains. Conservatives are furious at Obama for the plan, that is not a plan, that he has no part in, that has nothing to do with the Obama Library, that may or may not be built there. It's a multi-degree of separation sort of story that primes the perpetual Republican outrage machine.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports on conservative attacks against, of all people Gabby Giffords the Congressional representative who had to resign after her miracle survival when a gunman put a bullet into her brain. She spoke movingly and haltingly before a hearing on gun safety, and is now ridiculed by some conservatives who maintain she couldn't possibly have come up with her own words.
I wish I knew how he does it so I could do it. Vincent of A wayfarer's notes combines Plato's philosophy of a plane of existence in which the perfect form of each idea exists, combines it with algebra in a variable substitution, then pretty much contrasts all of it with lilacs he notices growing in the mud. Fascinating.
Infidel 753 notes the verbal assault by British Prime Minister David Cameron on those controlling the European Union. Infidel sides with Cameron. I suspect Cameron's attack would not resonate if the EU had not embraced the austerity policies that Cameron actually seems to like. Those policies just don't work during a recession.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite fame finds CNN promoting "balance" by uncritically embracing the NRA argument that the problem with assault weapons is their image rather than that their function is to kill huge numbers of people in seconds, and that those people are sometimes little kids.
The Heathen Republican once more invents arguments he opposes, like "if no one has a gun, no one can commit gun violence" which nobody advocates. He then objectively examines counter arguments like "if more people own guns, there will be fewer people for criminals to target and gun crime will go down" to oppose the anti-gun goals that he invented that nobody advocates. He does this by quoting discredited studies by John Lott. Did you know that gun safety advocates exploit massacres of little kids in classrooms to promote their evil agenda of preventing massacres of little kids?
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, finds a military recruit who agrees with his anger about the gun safety issue. Seems gun safety is an insult to gun owners because it assumes someone is a threat to a lot of people just because that person assembles a huge arsenal of weapons whose only use is to kill a lot of people in an instant. Just because such a weapon is used on a classroom filled with little kids is no reason for such a derisive concern.
S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion seems to disagree with the current Republican campaign to prevent future Social Security cuts by slashing Social Security now. On the other hand, why put off for later what you can slash today?
Chuck Thinks Right blasts Leonardo DiCaprio for traveling about using fossil fuels as he advocates for the environment. It's an argument we sometimes hear from conservatives. We don't have the moral right to speak or work or vote for environmentally safer technology unless we adopt the spartan lifestyle of the Amish. It's the love-it-or-leave-it sentiment applied to global change.
Republicans have a problem with minorities, which used to be the black vote, then the block vote, now the urban vote. Whatever the euphemism, voter suppression schemes haven't worked so far, although the day ain't over yet. Reducing hours didn't work, at least not enough to keep Obama from re-election. The anti-democratic, slavery preserving, electoral college wasn't enough. Max's Dad reviews the latest scheme: changing election laws so only a Republican can become President, no matter what voting totals show. My take is here.
Kent Pittman, writing from Open Salon reacts to the watering down to uselessness of filibuster reform. Exposing it to light may dispel the "Senate Failed to Act" headlines with actual televised talking and talking and talking.
RANDOM THOUGHTS links the leadership of President Obama to the dream expressed half a century earlier by Martin Luther King.
- Although PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, tends to lump all Christians together, he does discover examples that straddle the line between repulsiveness and camp, as does this analysis of feminism.
Max's Dad commits vivisection on newer extremist trends in contemporary conservatism, including attacking the President's children. You get a quick sense of where he's heading at the first sentence: "Can these paranoid freaks shoot themselves any more without dying?"
A few months after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, future President Ronald Reagan gave a speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in which he characterized supporters of the Kennedy administration as making certain public statements: "peace at any price" and "better Red than dead" and, (this last Mr. Reagan swore he'd heard in a statement from an unnamed public figure) "he’d rather 'live on his knees than die on his feet.'". I was pretty young, but I do believe I would have heard of such positions taken by Kennedy, anyone in his administration, President Johnson, or any of their more prominent supporters. T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, proudly revisits portions of the Reagan speech.
I do confess some interest in Mr. Paine's reaction to another Reagan statement, 30 years later. After, presumably, growing in wisdom while serving in office, President Reagan joined with President's Ford and Carter, together sending this to every member of Congress:
While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.
We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.
The Heathen Republican features a Fox News personality who essentially argues that American revolutionary forces must match the armaments of US military forces. The analogy is that colonists would have lost had they faced the British with only crossbows.
I dunno. It seems to me that such brave revolutionary talk provides pretty thin cover for a cold blooded ideology. The argument accepts that the killing of dozens of little kids at a time is undesirable. It is an unfortunate, but necessary, collateral cost of the actual objective. That actual objective is the killing of multiple members of the of US Marines, infantry, and other military personnel in the coming armed insurrection. Heathen is featuring a prominent conservative who regards as oppressive the inadequate protection by the government of his future right to carry out such killings.
That strikes me as unrealistic.
The apparent position by conservatives is that it is unreasonably oppressive to require a shooter to reload after firing the first 10 shots at little kids. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite quotes a televised question posed by Martin Bashir that illustrates why that number is important.
Rumproast reports on the NRA attack on the President's daughters for not rejecting Secret Service protection, and the an under reported near deadly shooting during a road rage incident by the son of ... well you've got to read it. Sounds like some of these folks ought to either give up firearms or stop consuming bath salts.
Ryan at Secular Ethics looks at arguments for three different approaches to taxation and finds there is little room for argument about any of them beyond a restating of subjective standards of fairness.
There is a segment of Serious People, somewhat insulated from the rest of us, for whom federal deficits are not a problem: rather they are THE problem. S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion suggests that timing is the real priority. Starving the patient back to health is not always practical.
Conservative James Wigderson says the closing of a long time dairy plant illustrates the danger of state anti-trust laws. The Governor's office says anti-trust actions have nothing to do with the closing, and the attorney for the company says the move was caused entirely by market forces. What those forces were, what the anti-trust actions were, and just how each set connects to the newly empty buildings, is left frustratingly unclear. One available insight is unintended, with apologies to James. If you want to know why voter frustration tends toward a pox on all houses, ambiguous reporting obscures responsibility. Who do you blame when you can't tell who to blame?
At Dreg Studios, Brandt Hardin has apparently been stopped and fined for failing to buckle up. This week, he rants that, while such laws may save lives, the only motivation for seat belt laws is state revenues. Okay, Brandt, there is no safety consideration. It's all a scam. Now buckle up and be safe from being penalized by court, fines, delays, and ... you know ... death.
Mad Mike's America reports on the Obama administration's reply to a petition to build a Death Star using the Empire's Star Wars model as a design prototype. Michael John Scott carries the Empire's reaction.
It's been a week in which we all kind of inadvertently focused on religion, with (forgive me) spirited debate. Thanks to frequent contributors T. Paine, Ryan, For Your Consideration, and John Myste. Jerry Critter, Infidel753, Trey, Emily deserve their own special thanks. In fact, as I recall, it was Infidel, on his own site, who pretty much lit the fuse here.
I am a committed Christian with an appreciation for disagreement. I believe I am not alone in that. One of the largest megachurches in Missouri is Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area. It's a couple of hundred miles away, so I've only been there once. Their bookstore hosts prominent displays of authors such as atheist Richard Dawkins. I understand respectful debates and discussions are sometimes featured as well.
Emily suggests a respite from a "tread on Mr. Deming's blog" but I confess to enjoying it. I hope nobody gives up for a while.
And from around the web:
Ryan at Secular Ethics reprises in bullet form his arguments against the arguments for religion. I do have one advantage in coming from a background of skepticism. I can often recognize a bit of religious smugness before it erupts into view. I seldom offer polemical arguments. My evidence is internal and I understand why it is not compelling to others. Ryan offers a view that should be cautionary to those of us who walk by faith. If, as Shakespeare points out, the eye cannot see itself except upon reflection, Ryan provides to us a mirror.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger, at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, offers a cautious, even tempered, conclusion to a completely objective, balanced, study of an internationally known social service network. The piece is called: I HATE FACEBOOK!!!!!
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster brings news of how "nonpartisan, non-ideological" voters will come together in a National Conference of Independents in February. A sort of harmonious convergence of nonalignment?
In President Obama's first term, the administration identified sky rocketing healthcare costs as the biggest non-defense danger to efforts to produce a balanced budget. So the administration began a campaign to reduce those costs by forcing hospitals and other corporations to stop overcharging schemes that included multiply repetitive testing. It saved 750 billion dollars without affecting healthcare. During the election, conservatives accused the President of slashing healthcare by 750 billion dollars. Remember that bogus charge?
Republicans have a hard time accepting that sort of thing didn't work. So now some have executed a Mitt Romney type flip. John Boehner, in a rambling interview with Stephan Moore of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, accuses President Obama of privately "blaming" health care costs as a scapegoat for spending. Boehner accuses the President of saying there is no spending problem, only a health care problem.
Of course there were no witnesses to that discussion. Possibly the President whispered his secret musings into Boehner's ear. Conservatives are eager to take Boehner's word for his version. After all, who could be more objective than the guy struggling under the weight of disapproval by ordinary Americans for the way he conducted the last fiscal crisis?
In fact, health care costs are the single skyrocketing domestic cost that will not disappear as the economy improves. Cure that, and you've handled the biggest chunk of it. Handle that, and the entire deficit as a percentage of the economy is already shrinking.
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, joins his despondent fellow ideological soul mates who just can't believe that Americans did not have the wisdom to reject the national figure conservatives hate most. "Obama has redefined a 'balanced approach' to mean tax increases only, so it seems," laments our misguided friend. Mr. Paine, you really must stop believing some of the stuff you read. It really is bad for your heart.
The Heathen Republican copies some figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and adds a bit of Fox News type spin: "If the labor force participation rate were the same as when President Obama entered office, true unemployment this quarter would be 9.8% instead of 7.8%." Republicans tried hard during the last election to include, in their evaluation of Obama policies, those months before those policies could even be passed,much less applied, and much much less have an effect. Voters didn't buy it then, but that doesn't keep diehards from re-litigating November.
Those conservatives who cringe at gun safety measures don't mind targeting media violence as a substitute, rather than a supplement. Tommy Christopher, of Mediaite, documents the strange case of a video featuring Eric Holder. About the only thing conservatives hate more than background checks and limits on rapid-fire weapons is Eric Holder. Several right wing sites have "discovered" a 17 year old video in which Eric Holder castigates the media for engendering a "fascination with violence" by targeting young men with a message that it is "hip" to flash lethal weapons. Pretty good "gotcha", right? Making it appear that Holder agreed with the gun manufacturers' lobby that it's all about media? Well, no, actually. Conservatives are attacking Holder as if he was attacking gun ownership and gun owners.
When these guys are in attack mode, they really can't stand agreement.
Jerry Critter at Critter's Crap offers, from the best authority, the reason Republicans should want to leave Social Security alone.
- Rumproast notes a new poll asking respondents to compare Congress to other people, places, and things. Congress does not compare favorably to most of them, with some exceptions.
Complicated things are often understood with the help of analogies. Bad analogies kill brain cells. Rumproast points out that a few really bad analogies about deficits and the economy are leading the country into extreme economic danger.
Jack Jodell, at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST recounts, with appropriate outrage, efforts by the conservative Republican fringe to bring down the US economy, then deprive victims of superstorm Sandy.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite looks at contrasting televised analyses of a CBO report on the fiscal cliff resolution. A panel of Fox News experts is befuddled and finally gives up, while Rachel Maddow carefully breaks it down and presents it with clarity.
The Heathen Republican contemplates a series of conservative predictions of evil results from liberal actions, such as increasing deficits, which evils never seem to come true. Well, it's a beginning. Since he has previously embraced the measure of deficits only as a proportion of GDP, he may want to go on to examine that portion of the deficit that will disappear as the economy improves. He may find that President Obama is addressing the issue pretty well. The Heathen Republican is often one of the more thoughtful conservative political analysts on the web. I try to forgive him for his talent.
Dave Dubya suggests that, as their national support continues to diminish, Republicans in Congress will grow more radical and rely increasingly on brinkmanship.
Conservative James Wigderson graciously re-posts a review published here of the largely unknown wartime experiences of actor Charles Durning, who recently died, and the important lessons his bravery and suffering provide. Thanks to James. And especially thanks to Charles.
Intelligence shortcuts, such as torture, tend to be impractical as well as ... you know ... real wrong. Conservative Julian Sanchez takes on the Wall Street Journal over warrantless wiretapping. This is one of a series of articles at his site dissecting recent FISA legislation, including this short video.
Max's Dad doesn't normally take the lead in cheering for CNN's Piers Morgan. He makes an exception in the face of know-nothings who seem to believe the Constitution begins and ends with the Second Amendment. They advocate the deportation of the television host for exercising rights covered by the First Amendment.
Infidel 753 posts a series of images - words and photos - ranging from skepticism to derision about religion. I confess I have never been able to generate within myself much empathy with the anger that so many invest in debates about spirituality. My thoughts about faith are here, and also here.
- PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, holds a bad cold as evidence against evolution. I suspect sarcasm. He goes on to describe a few underreported stories of the year just past.
President Obama looked stern, parental, and quietly impatient as he spoke of his "modest hope" for Senate leaders to pick up pieces of the Republican House and fashion a fiscal deal. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite chronicles the Presidential event as the Chief Executive took a brief break from scolding Congress who "can’t do their jobs" to scold someone to the side making noise, then went back to giving a lashing to Republican caucus members who have turned the House of Representatives into a variant of Lord of the Flies.
The Heathen Republican quotes Thomas Sowell, who laments that politicians allocate the nation's governmental resources in a way that might get them re-elected. If I recall my grade school social studies classes correctly, serving the people is kind of the way representative democracy is supposed to work. I could be wrong. It was a long time ago and more modern Congressional Republicans seem to have attended a different school.
From the extreme right, the Westboro anti-gay hate group is on everyone's not nice list. They disrupt every military funeral they can reach and attempted to picket a memorial service for the little kids killed in Newtown. Fox News really doesn't like liberals. So News Corpse notices the conflated mix-n-match as Fox posts a caption labeling Westboro as the "left-Wing Westboro Cult."
Conservative Chuck Thinks Right contemplates the Newtown killings, and is profoundly saddened by gun control advocates who seem to react to every little thing that goes wrong. Also, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre is a great humanitarian.
Jerry Critter at Critter's Crap brings word of one response to Newtown killings of a classroom of small children. LA offered a buyout of guns from anyone who would turn them in. Jerry includes a photo of the impressive result.
Vincent of A wayfarer's notes does what he almost always does. He starts with some tiny incident and lets it cascade into some vital new reality. This time he finds a copy of a book. It is a work that he had once possessed but gave away many years back. He looks up a word, unfamiliar to most, describing in dramatic fashion spiritual progression . From there, he notes the definition, and repents, in his way, from an initial reaction. He goes on to apply, obliquely, the definition to his own recent life. His insights are far from the original starting point, but the line is maintained. It must be a remarkable book, if only because it captures the attention of a remarkable human being.
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster abandons writing altogether this week to bring to us an outward Christmas view from inside the Time Warner Building in NYC. She does have an eye for such things.
Manifesto Joe of Texas Blues, whom some of my more treasonous family members regard as the best blogger ever, celebrates a new job, just as Republicans end unemployment benefits that the jobless desperately need. Let's hope it's very temporary. Still, we should wish a good holiday, even to Republicans who are hostile to those dealing with economic hard times. Merry Christmas, jerks.
At Why do we have to do this, Sir? our favorite teacher sees a contemporary interpretative display of the nativity and reacts to the reactions.
- James Wigderson reviews the predictions for 2012 he got wrong, and finds a degree of empathy with ancient Mayans.
There are many reactions this week to the murders of children in Connecticut. My own nightmarish mental image is of one moment, as a teacher lay dead and a combat weapon was turned and trained on a classroom of horrified little kids in their seats.
Ancillary issues are worth addressing, treatment for mental illness being the most obvious. When those issues are used to avoid the more urgent concern, that of where to draw lines on guns, I become suspicious of motivation.
Some people should not have guns.
Some firearms should not be allowed outside the military.
Where those lines are to be drawn makes for a legitimate discussion.
S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion seems to endorse the NRA proposals to the extent that they include mental health care. I'm okay with it, although I believe treatment would have been easily available to the Newtown killer. Anderson parts from the NRA on an assault weapons ban. So do most of us.
Conservative, and friend, T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, offers arguments as far as I can tell, intended to support the NRA position that the ills of guns can be solved by more guns. He conflates all restrictions as reacting "in knee-jerk fashion to disarm those citizens that are law-abiding so that they are unable to adequately defend themselves and their loved ones."
I dunno. Does it really obstruct legitimate protection to say that a gun owner should not have the ability to execute a classroom of little kids without reloading?
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite notes that, as the NRA was preparing to present their more-guns-will-cure-gun-violence, a mass shooting was happening in Pennsylvania, with several police injured and 3 people killed.
James Wigderson writes about the killings of the children, beginning with "Proposed gun laws will not stop evil", an observation that seems impervious to challenge. Speed limits and anti-fraud laws have a similar flaw. If you can't eliminate evil, I suppose nothing is worthwhile.
Rumproast notices an aspect of the NRA plan that has escaped everyone else. It is the only jobs program Republicans in Congress will support.
The Heathen Republican continues his research, showing that "Under Barack Obama, government handouts like food stamps, unemployment benefits, welfare, disability, and others have risen steadily..." Sadly, there is no mention of the driving force for those costs, the horrible recession, or that their cost is lessening as the economy improves. The Heathen Republican does rant about the presumably prevailing belief that "none of it costs anything anyway," something nobody actually says and nobody actually believes, outside of the fevered imagination of this conservative writer. The Heathen Republican merely carries on what is becoming a tradition. As with previous arguments, he constructs a strawman and then knocks him down.
Papamoka at Papamoka Straight Talk notes the vacancy in the US Senate left by the appointment of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State. Republicans have counted on this to get another Republican elected. But Papamoka has an alternative.
Conservative Julian Sanchez likes privacy. He also likes gmail. But Google doesn't encrypt gmail, which presents concerns. Julian educates us on the technical obstacles and possible solution. Interestingly, he manages to keep it understandable.
- News Corpse takes a look at the fate of a beauty queen who became a drug smuggler and died in a shootout with the Mexican army, and Fox News reporting it a little differently. They turned it into an Obama assisted killing of a sweet pretty contestant.
Lots of charts, enough to make an aging Democrat lose hair from head scratching. Since that ship has pretty much sailed for me, I looked at his basic argument. He first says that Truman tax rates, being held steady during the Eisenhower years, also produced a steady stream of revenue during those years as a proportion of GDP.
The fact that a stable rate of taxes produces a stable rate of revenue in proportion to what is being taxed will not seem amazing to most of us, but Heathen concludes "higher tax rates don’t necessarily lead to higher tax revenue as a share of GDP." Huh?
He compares tax rates with revenue as a proportion of GDP. He does this up through the years of George W. Bush. He finds no pattern that indicates the success of Supply Side or of Keynesian economics, aside from a spike in revenues after the Kennedy tax cut. Ah yes, the Kennedy tax cut. "From this positive trend, conservatives tend to draw the lesson that lower tax rates always lead to higher tax revenue." That "always" describes theology, being a mathematical impossibility. Would a zero rate produce more revenue? How about a negative rate?
But over all, he finds no connection between tax rate and revenue as a proportion of GDP. So he ends up with a hand fluttering conclusion, which is that there is no conclusion. It's just all too complicated and confusing. There are too many factors at play. Since only growth proves to be a constant correlation (you think?), the no-lesson lesson is "increase tax revenue, focus on economic growth instead of increasing tax rates." Yeah, that's the lesson when the data present no lesson.
Here's what he seems not to get. The entire argument Supply Siders (aside from The Heathen Republican) attempt to defend is that even though lowering rates will, of course, lower tax revenue as a proportion of GDP - Duh - raw revenue will rise precisely because that proportion is lower, thus producing fantastic levels of economic growth. Always, always, always.
Except that the George W. Bush years pretty much disproved that yet again, and put a stake in its heart, and buried it. Not in the minds of true believers, but for those who got through multiplication tables in grade school. Heathen does provide an unintentionally relevant graph showing straight revenue. He dismisses the only part of it that proves anything. "Tax rates did not vary significantly across those recessions, so they cannot correctly be associated with Bush’s tax policy."
Actually, the first sharp acceleration downward coincides fairly closely with the effect of Bush tax cuts, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.
Heathen is right about the second major drop, the major and catastrophic near depression, which is more commonly traced to the collapse of sensible regulation of mega-financial institutions than to the tax policies that favored the fabulously wealthy.
If Supply Side economics is correct, Heathen's analysis would be blind to it. And if Supply Side economics is completely bogus, Heathen's analysis would be oblivious.
The Heathen Republican produces a series of complex graphs that prove and disprove very little, pretty much because his central focus misses the point his own side has been trying to make for more than a generation.
Maybe he'll try again after a good long nap.
S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion manages to explain with a bit of common sense why Republican economic policy has been shown not to work. If you're feeling dizzy after The Heathen Republican's metaphysical mobius strip, this will bring the universe back into focus.
Debra Dickerson is back (Y-a-y-y-y-y) with an article at US News and World Report. She talks of a form of minority recruitment that parallels affirmative action, putting promising but currently unqualified candidates for officer training, candidates of any race, through hard military prep school. It is called United States Military Academy Prep School, or USMAPS. Good to see Debra Dickerson, herself an Air Force veteran, in print again.
Last week James Wigderson politely decapitated the candidacy of a Republican who is on record as wanting to arrest any Federal official who tries to implement Obamacare in Wisconsin. This week the candidate responds. Seems it is old news and, besides, he only thinks state law enforcement should take up arms against federal officials if there is a law in Wisconsin that says so. James is having none of it. Fort Sumter is mentioned. Good for James.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite recounts it. I heard it Monday morning while I was getting ready for the morning commute. I've got to learn not to shave while listening to conservatives. People I meet are startled at the bruises. The controversy has been whether torture of terrorist suspects, while wrong, is a reliable source of information. Many experts have concluded it just eats up valuable investigative hours chasing down false intelligence. But Joe Scarborough informed his audience that torture works. He knows. He saw the movie.
Joe Lieberman's farewell address was sparsely attended, since he is pretty much friendless. Dana Milbank says it is because of Joe's noble efforts to "push back against the mindless partisanship." Rumproast notes the departure of the courageous old fighter and responds with what I take to be a bit of skepticism. "What a steaming load of horseshit," says Rumproast. Yeah skepticism, that's the word I'm looking for. My own explanation of Joe's popularity comes from four years ago. Rumproast goes on to acerbic contemplation of Barbara Walters' mindless contemplation of the girth of Governor Christie. But Joe's departure is a bit more substantive.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST puts forward a series of pithy thoughts from philosophers, public figures, and some dudes through the ages. Easy to read, some thought provoking.
Well, atheists have their internecine fights too, I suppose. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, makes a public presentation, has an onstage exchange with a woman, and is breitbarted by fellow athiest Reap Paden. A video is edited and captioned to make it appear that PZ Myers is anti-feminist. A sort of Godless war on women?
Vincent of A wayfarer's notes amazes again. He goes from a broken refrigerator to a brilliant point on defining spirituality. He finally applies it all to home repair. Reading Vincent slowly isn't to overcome any complexity. It's to consider each nuance. Kind of like some incredibly condensed product. Just add water, and his writing explodes your mind.
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, correctly points out that the Scientific Method was invented by church people. However, his point is not that belief is compatible with science, it is rather that atheism requires a "greater leap of faith" than the rationality of Christianity. A worthy point becomes a bumper sticker gibe.
- Michael John Scott of Mad Mike's America brings to us everything Jesus says in the Bible about homosexuality..