Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dave Bliss and Allen Academy: Lack of institutional control and....wisdom

/sigh.  Wonder if anyone with a brain did not see this one coming.

In The Eagle today:
District 7-2A athletics directors met last month in Conroe and questioned [Dave] Bliss over issues related to student transfer forms for Allen Academy basketball players. Rather than rule on the players' eligibility, the district committee sent the issue to the state level.

"There was uncertainty among the athletic directors on how those student-athletes ended up at Allen Academy and how they are attending Allen Academy," Brazos Christian athletics director Marko Hahn said. "Because we didn't feel we had the power to investigate the matter properly, we just turned it in to TAPPS at the state level. We were in agreement that if TAPPS said everything was clear, we were OK with it. If TAPPS found something wrong, we trusted that TAPPS would handle it."
I wrote about Dave Bliss in a previous post.  Yeah, I am no fan of a guy who would make up a story about one of his students - especially one that had just been murdered - just to save himself from NCAA rule violations.  A real class act.

But Allen Academy thought otherwise:
"He's a great coach and a great Christian" says Former Allen Trustee Dennis Goehiring.
Lets see what TAPPS - Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools - had to say about ol' Dave 'throw the kid under the bus' Bliss' actions:

Seems the issue is over two students who transferred to the school after the former Baylor University head men's basketball coach - Dave Bliss - was hired in May of this year.  You know, that's why they have the NCAA, UIL, and TAPPS, to keep students from being recruited to play for one particular high school. 

And what does Allen Academy have to say about Dave Bliss - their athletics director, dean of students and head boys basketball coach - and his "lack of institutional control in establishing the eligibility of student athletes?"
"Some of the students that were attending the boarding school were going to play basketball, and they ruled those kids ineligible," Rouse said. "We challenged that because that's not what we were told when we applied to be a boarding school. It's their organization, and they set the rules. They didn't match what we think is appropriate for a boarding school, so we just pulled out."
So.....what part of TAPPS' 2010-2011 rule did they have trouble with?  Maybe it was over the word ineligible - you know - as in can't play.
Students not Living with Parents who live with someone other than immediate family members (The Host family and the Guardian must be the same person) are ineligible to participate in Varsity athletic competition for one calendar year from the first day of attendance at the TAPPS member high school.
This means - and I am doing complex math here - that if the two kids were convinced by their parents to put them up in a boarding school so they could play for Coach Bliss in May of  2010, they would not be eligible (the opposite of ineligible) to play until May 2011.  Why would anyone think a boarding school is any different than sending them to Uncle Pete who lives in a winning school district?

That's the rule.  Rules are necessary for order and fairness.  Allen Academy was part of TAPPS and them's the rules you play by - just like all the other schools they competed against who did play by the rules.  But ol' Coach Bliss has a thing for ignoring rules, that and smearing the name of a dead kid - so those rules shouldn't apply - not if they can get a good basketball team together!

But dangit all anyways - someone called the "Coach and Great Christian man" on this issue.  Guilty!  Probation! Public Reprimand! Suspension!

And what does Allen Academy do?  They are withdrawing from TAPPS.  "They didn't match what we think is appropriate for a boarding school, so we just pulled out."  That's right, if you can't cheat, lie, steal, deceive, ignore, mislead, or hire a coach that does all those things to get a winning sports team - pick up your ball and go play somewhere else.

Really Allen Academy?  After all you knew about this guy and his past behavior you hire him to teach and mentor high school kids?  And now your participation in athletics is severely jeopardized because of this guy.  And you still support him?  If you see a decrease in enrollment don't blame the economy, blame the idiots who thought Dave Bliss was a good hire.

/sigh.  As if anyone with even half a brain could not have seen this coming.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

He's was on a mission from God.

In our paper, The Eagle, there was a condensed and edited question and answer session with President George W. Bush by William McKenzie at the Dallas Morning News.

I was a bit taken back by one of his answers, mainly because its ramifications are so apparent and obvious that I am worried.  Here is what Bush said:
Q: When you say it may take a while, how long do you think it's going to take in Afghanistan? How long in Iraq?
Bush: "That's hard for me to predict. I do know that the speech I gave in South Korea recently, in front of a stadium full of religious people, an American president would not have given such a speech in 1954."
"I also believe that if people are given a chance to be free, they will see, they will take the risk necessary. I believe in the universality of freedom. This is a controversial doctrine, believe it or not. The controversy is best manifested when people say, "Bush is imposing his values." Well, if they're universal values, they are not my values."
"Now what made this even more controversial in some places around the world is I believe they are a gift of the Almighty. Just recognition of the Almighty Himself is controversial, believe it or not. I am optimistic that these freedom movements will flourish if the United States does not abandon them."
So there really is a Bush doctrine - or at least one he subscribes to.  So why me worry?  Look what he said, and carry it through...
"[w]hen people say, "Bush is imposing his values." Well, if they're universal values, they are not my values."
In other words, I am imposing something not of my doing or development.  It is something bigger than me and, well, I have no real choice but to impose them, besides, I agree with them!

And who imposes these universal values?
"I believe they are a gift of the Almighty."
I am not taking this out of context.  He even alludes to the difficulty in imposing these universal values, because they - as he believes- come from God.
"Just recognition of the Almighty Himself is controversial, believe it or not."
Now it is difficult to argue that freedom is not a universal value, nor can one make a good argument against life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as not being a divine right (if you believe in God) or a basic human right (if you don't believe in God).

What can be argued is exactly what 'freedom' is and just what that risk imposed to obtain it should be.  Today as I write this - as there have been for over 40 years - there are soldiers sitting in underground bunkers with the duty and obligation to press a button that could destroy all of humanity, or at the very least, make the world uninhabitable.

The assumption that "they will take the risk necessary" is forced on me by those who have decided that to live without some 'freedom' they value is a fate worse than death.  You know, a 'better dead than red' way of thinking.  My point here is that no one asked me if I wanted to take this risk.  It was not my choice to live with or without these universal values when the decision for mutual total annihilation was made.

Now I understand fully that the guys at these buttons are there really to stop the other guy from using them.  That is, we need these bombs so that these bombs will not be used.  Strange logic, but man is a strange thinker, especially when fear, protection, and God come into play.

So lets look at the price of freedom through the use of war.  When Bush said:
"I do know that the speech I gave in South Korea recently, in front of a stadium full of religious people, an American president would not have given such a speech in 1954."
...he was saying that the ability to talk about God was worth the cost of the Korean war.

In other words, the cost of 373,599 South Korean civilians killed and 26,516 American soldiers killed, let alone all the hundreds of thousands from North Korea and other participants, was worth it so that Bush could give a speech to a bunch of religious people in South Korea.

Now it's not the fact that is was God that makes it troubling, it could also be Winston's desire to say "1 + 1 = 2"  The issue is how one defines 'freedom'.  Would I want to be killed so that these two events could take place?  Maybe.  But did anyone ask the 373,599 South Korean civilians killed in the Korean war if they thought a 'freedom' like this was worth their life?

And that is what I find troubling about those who believe that there are universal values.  Values are beliefs.  Beliefs are based on a lot of different things  And when you throw God in there, well there is no telling where you will end up and what you would be willing to do or who you would be willing to sacrifice for it.

So when you talk about freedom, I understand what you mean, but let me decide if I want to take the risk so that you can have this freedom you think is so precious that it is worth killing for.  Freedom is not free but its cost should not be imposed on those who neither have a dog nor hunt.

So yeah, I worry about these" freedom movements" that are unleashed and supported by us.  If there is a universal truth or value it is to do unto others as they would want done unto them.  One man's dictator is sometimes another man's leader.  Just ask 9 out of 10 Ukrainians.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apparently she missed that memo

On my public radio station KAMU this morning, I hear a segment on Marketplace called "The Senate looks at a bill to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963" in which the U.S. Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, makes the following statement regarding the upcoming Senate Bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act:
What's really important to understand here is that women still earn only $.70 on the dollar compared to men. And for African American women, it's $.69, for Latinas it is $.60.
Now before you go calling me a woman hater, chauvinist pig, or - God forbid - a Republican, you gotta remember I am a scientist (or at least I try to be one, plus I stay at Holiday Inn Express a lot).  I use data to help me decide what to 'believe' about something.

Those numbers just did not sound right to me.  They sounded too 1970's.  Plus, to my way of thinking, there were other factors involved that could contribute to this disparity.  I am here now writing this Blog because I looked it up.

Seems that difference, $0.70  on the dollar gets passed around a bit.  I found it similarly quoted here, and - nicely I might add - they quoted the source.  Seems this data is obtained from a document with the easy to say title of:
NWLC calculations from U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2009 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Table PINC-05: Work Experience in 2008—People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Earnings in 2008, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex,
Now before you say "it's from the Government so it has to be true" or "it's from the Government you can't trust it" - let me state: that does not make the use of the data correct or incorrect.  Assuming it is correct, accurate and precise, the use of this data to determine a wage disparity is wrong.

What this data looks at is the total wages of one group and compares it to the total wages of another group.  It looks at the whole without taking in relevant and real factors that affect it but have nothing to do with discrimination.  What they are doing is comparing apples with oranges using data from Florida and Washington.  Is Florida anti apples because more of their citizens eat oranges?  No.

Now when I heard her use those figures I was pretty sure there was more to the story than that.  But that 'sureness' was based on a feeling - that - because I hate woman - may have biased my thinking.  Do woman make that much less then men?  Yes - her numbers are correct based on census data.

Do we need a Paycheck Fairness Act?  Maybe...but not based of this idea that their is a disparity in pay because employers treat woman differently.  Do some of them?  Yes - probably - most likely.  Companies are run by humans and we humans have very strange belief systems on what is right and what is fair.

But is the pay difference a result of unfair policies and attitudes of business that must be addressed by a new law?  No.  And Ms. Solis should know that.  But, for reasons that are either due to an agenda, ignorance, or lack of intellectual curiosity, she supports this Law on the premise that the work place is still unfair to woman:
So what we're looking at here is really trying to create a level playing field, and actually having the government help provide support -- data collection -- so that we could really look across the board to see where these inequities exist.
What is disappointing about this - which if I know it, she should too - is that  when she was confirmed as the Labor Secretary on January 9th 2009, a report titled:
An Analysis of Reasons for the Disparity in Wages Between Men and Women
...had been prepared for the Department of Labor dated January 12, 2009.

In the report's forward, Charles E. James, Sr. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Federal Contract Compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor, summarizes the findings as follows:
Although additional research in this area is clearly needed, this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers. 
That's kind of what I was thinking, but you gotta go where the data takes you.  Apparently Ms. Solis was never given this report?  More likely, though, and disappointingly so, she knows of its findings and instead choose to go with the numbers that best fit her agenda.

Do we need a Paycheck Fairness law?  Maybe...maybe not.  What I do know - or at least feel comfortable in stating - is that we do not need it because woman make $0.70 on the dollar when compared to men due to workplace discrimination.

What part of "unambiguous" did she not comprehend?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eat the Rich! Fun with math.

Big debate on what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts.  What to do...what to do.

If you listen to those who want it extended, you would think that it will be the end of the world for growth and investment should we make the 'rich' pay what they used to pay.

NPR had a pretty good story on what could be expected if the Obama plan for the Bush Tax cuts were to go into affect.

I will need to assume what I heard is true.  I base this off of the source they used - Clint Stretch - who is Managing Principal, Tax Policy, at a company called Deloitte.

First off, I am not making an argument that it is OK to get more money out of 'rich' people.  I think I could make that argument, but that will be for a different post.

Secondly, no one wants to pay more money for something they don't want to pay money for in the first place.  So it is understandable that people - looking at these tax cuts ending - may get a little on edge.

Thirdly, we got ourselves a crisis here people!  If you don't want a deficit you need more income to pay for the things budgeted for.  Cut! you say.  Cut what? I shout back.  Well cut all them entitlements, all that money that goes to the non-productive members of society.  Cut!  Don't take money from the job makers!

What to do...what to do.

Well, I think looking at the actual burden - in lost dollars for the family - might help with making an argument on who should have the Bush tax cuts extended, and who should maybe...just maybe...stop whining and suck it up for their country.

According to Mr. Stretch - if the Bush tax cuts expired - on an adjusted gross income of:

  • $75,350.00 the increase in taxes would be $2,600.00
  • $325,000.00 the increase in taxes would be $5,400.00

In other words the guy making more than four times the salary will pay twice the taxes.  Now that alone sounds a bit unfair, but lets look at it in relative terms.

A family of four living on $75,350.00 is considered to be in the median, that is, they are the average family in the good ol' USA.  Mom, Dad, Bubba, and Maryjo live on $6279 per month .  From that they buy gas, food, electric, water, healthcare, clothing, lodging, and entertainment.

A family of four living on $325,000,00 is considered 'rich.'  They make up only about 3% of the families in the USA.  Mom, Dad, Geoffry, and Buffy live on $27,083 per month.  From that they buy gas, food, electric, water, healthcare, clothing, lodging, and entertainment. which basically - all things considered - will be the same amount of money spent as was spent by the medium family.  That is, it does not cost 'rich' people more money for the basics, unless they choose to pay more.

This means that the 'rich' family has  $27,083 - $6279 = $20,804 extra dollars to spend on other stuff or to upgrade their standard of living (gold plated shower curtains, 200 pairs of shoes)

The tax burden proposed by Obama for this 'rich' family will be $450.00 per month.  This leaves them with $20,804 - $450.00 = $20,354 extra dollars to spend on other stuff or to upgrade their standard of living. (Buffy could use a Sequined Tie-Waist Gown)

Yes, they just lost $450.00 of income because of Obama.  But they still have three times the amount available to spend than the median family had in total!.  And this amount 'to spend' is AFTER they have purchased all the basic living essentials (this assumes that "basic" is what would be considered "normal" living - as it done by all of us median families).

Another way to look at this, if the Bush tax cuts expired:

  • ($450.00 / $27,083.00) * 100 = 1.66% actual 'tax' on their monthly income.
  • ($216.00 / $6279.00) * 100 = 3.44% actual 'tax' on their monthly income.

Doesn't sound like much, or much of a gap, until you remember that the $216.00 is taken away from what is being used to provide a "basic" standard of living.  The $450.00 for the rich comes out of what really can be called excess money they have available to them.

There is a difference between the median and the 'rich' in terms of money available to spend on 'needs and wants.'  'Needs' cost $6279.00 (and even in that, a lot of it is 'wants').

And the argument that the rich create jobs with that money?  Yeah....maybe, but not as much as the median family who can spend more on 'wants.'

But what about extending them and cutting government services?  Guess who pays the price for that?  Even if government services are cut, the 'rich' family still has $20,354 extra dollars to make up for this, while the median family has had to dig into the $6279 to pay for what they no longer receive.

Wait, so by cutting entitlements and services to keep the Bush tax cuts we are technically passing on additional costs to those who depend on those government services?  And the result of that is an extra cost to these median families?  And that extra cost means less money for them to spend on what they have previously been spending it on?

Wait...isn't that like putting a tax on the middle class?

A small price to pay to stop the $325,000.00 family from having to pay an additional $450.00 per month to bring down the deficit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Was "dolt" the proper metaphor to use for Christine O’Donnell?

OK, so Christine "I'm not a witch" O’Donnell lost her bid to become a tea party patriot.  Good for us.  Unfortunately I was on vacation and could not write my thoughts here in this blog for nobody to read.  I do feel the need to add another dimension to what she said that was picked up and used to reinforce her stupidity and make her look like a dolt.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the woman is another Sarah Palin empty suit and terribly misinformed and ignorant.  But to call her a dolt (not a name chosen by Leonard Pitts by the way) for her comment:
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" 
...is really not fair.  Even, in my opinion, Leonard Pitts got it wrong in his analysis of what was behind that statement:
"It was a bizarre exchange that permits but two conclusions. One, O’Donnell is frighteningly ignorant, particularly for a woman who claims constitutional expertise and aspires to the Senate. Or, two, assuming you buy her after-the-fact explanation (she was merely observing that the phrase "separation of church and state’’ is not in the First Amendment), she is terribly disingenuous."
So there are only two conclusions?  Ignorance or being disingenuous?  Like I said, I think she is ignorant, but was that statement - "Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state" - said out of ignorance?  Or was she being terribly disingenuous, that is, "not straightforward or candid; giving a false appearance of frankness"?

Oh, how I hate to defend people I do not respect as a whole, but there are many shades of gray, and in this case, there is more than just "two conclusions" as to what motivated her to say what she did.

First of all, I think one must understand the psyche of people who unabashedly align themselves as a tea party patriot.  They are fundamentally ideological in their thinking.  This means they are not analytical or logical in how they look at the world and most often lack the ability to comprehend things that do not align with their ideology.  The ability to comprehend is a necessary component of intelligence.

So if my conclusion is that Christine O’Donnell is not very smart, was her statement that the term "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution made out of ignorance?  I contend that it was not.

I believe that she fully understands what she said as being true.  You need to understand the reasoning behind it to be able to give her some credit and come to her defense.  What you need to understand is that she most likely believes that Jefferson's Danbury Baptist letter where he writes: 
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
...has been incorrectly used as a sword to sever religion from public life.  This, along with the fact that it is used as a metaphor for the First Amendment to the Constitution - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion - puts her in a quandary.  If she was intellectually competent she would understand that accepting the metaphor does not mean one accepts severing religion from public life.  But such is the trap ideologues always fall into.

But she is not alone in making this type of 'doltish' sounding statement:
"In 1962, Justice Potter Stewart complained that jurisprudence was not "aided by the uncritical invocation of metaphors like the 'wall of separation,' a phrase nowhere to be found in the Constitution." Addressing the issue in 1985, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist lamented that "unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson's misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years."
But in the end, first and foremost, Jefferson's wall of separation phrase was intended to mean just that.  For most of us, we understand it as a metaphor - a concept of understanding one thing in terms of another. It succinctly sums up the wording in the actual Constitution into something that can - or should - be easily understood.

The problem for people like Christine O’Donnell is that Jefferson's words have been used to justify Supreme Court cases she and others find intolerable.  And because it is often used as the justification for severing religion from public life it cannot be accepted as meaning the same as the actual words written in the Constitution.

If she was a critical thinker she would never had made that statement, not that it is wrong, but because it must be seen as a metaphor and not as a defense of one particular way of defining just what is meant by "shale make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

So sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes wall of separation means making a law respecting the establishment of religion.  It's just a metaphor, you know, like "Jesus is the son of God."  Oh, you didn't know that statement isn't in the Bible?  Yeah, go ask Christine O’Donnell to stop using that statement of truth.

Ten bucks says she will defend it as being implied.  You know, like that wall of separation thingy Jefferson wrote about.  It ain't in there but it sure as heck explains it well.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are we the people we've been waiting for

President Obama was on the Daily Show last night and took a "profound disagreement" to one of John Stewart's questions.  Leaning forward in his chair to make his point bold, he told Stewart:
"This notion that healthcare was timid..."
But that's not the timid Stewart was talking about, at least I don't think it was, since I understood the question posed to Obama in the context of what, I too, think has been a problem with Obama's use of the bully pulpit.

Stewart said:
"You said great leaders lead in a time of opportunity...we're the ones we are looking for.  Yet legislatively it has felt timid at times.  I'm not sure at times what you wanted out of the health care bill...."
In other words, what we needed from you, then, and now, is boldness.  Rhetoric is just that, however, it does have the power to restore or sustain momentum.  Behind the scenes, the deals, the compromise, the politics...that's the sausage being made.  What we need from the leader is - this will be the best tasting, healthy, good for you sausage you could ever dream of.

Obama tried to play the give and take model, because that's actually how things get done in a democracy, or for that matter, in any situation where you have over 250 million people living under one roof.  Where Obama failed, and the Democrats as well, is that they did not counter the opposition's rhetoric with there own.

Obama was caught off guard with how difficult Republicans were going to make the job of leading.  Under a "normal" give and take political atmosphere, his model would have worked quite well.  But the desire to obtain control back from the Democrats has taken precedence over governing.  This is not something new,

And what this desire has unleashed is a monster that does not care who gets hurt in its path towards dominance. What Obama, the Democrats, and the bulk of us did not realize is how many people would welcome it into our lives.

No politician can win - legally - without someone voting for them.  Those votes need to be gained through whatever means necessary.  So if fear works, make people fearful.  If negative works, sling mud.  The Tea Party unleashed the beast, bought into how necessary it was for it to destroy this new "audacity of hope."

The monster did not come out on its own, it came when there was no concerted effort to keep it at bay.  Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought my fellow Americans were as stupid, ignorant, and as self-serving as I have come to see them as now.  And I too, have been timid in my recourse.

The Teas Party rhetoric was not countered which emboldened the Republican politicians looking for a way to get back into power.  What they adopted was a simple strategy of "No" to everything.  No compromise, no quid pro quo, no politicking...just "No" to everything.  Failure means disgust, disgust leads to wanting a change.  The Tea Party momentum emboldened them.

And because Obama and the bulk of us did not see the monster that they were willing to let lose, we did nothing to stop its release.  So now we have a President who needs 60% to get something passed.  Not a majority, but 60%.

And we the people see nothing wrong with that?  No, we the people fall into one of three camps:

  • Failure is good for us.  President is bad.
  • Congress can't get anything done.  Throw the bums out.
  • Let the process work.  Compromise and vote.

Unfortunately there are few of us who see bullet three as an option.  Republicans want the first, and the bulk of the people have no idea of the super majority "requirement" and instead adopt the "it's broke" attitude of number two.  That's where Obama has missed his opportunity to redirect the mindset.

So that's what I think Stewart meant by Obama being timid.  Not the legislation itself, but the lack of boldness from the audacity of hope leader to stand up quickly to the we-want-you-to-fail beast.  The only way to counter a message is with one of your own.  Why did we ever let "socialism" become a normal word to describe what most of us voted for?

So take the gloves off Mr. President.  Everything you say must be bold, that audacity thing has to ring from every word and action.  If they want to see you fail make sure that message is out there loud and clear.  Then, when no one is looking get on with the making of sausage.  The best damn sausage you and Congress can possibly make.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Cal Thomas in the Oct 20 San Antonio Express had an article titled "How to begin cutting budget?  Here's a plan"

Mr. Thomas starts off with the statement:
In the last two years, spending by the current Congress has increased 21.4 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Now looking at that statement one would think wow! them tax and spend Demoncrats are at it again!  Has spending increased?  Yes.  Was there a reason for this increase?  That depends on which model you wanted to follow.  Obama's model said - pump money into the economy to replace money that is being withheld by nervous investors and a public now in 'save mode'.  The opposing model; let the chips fall where they may - hands off - was not chosen.

No one has hindsight to know which model would work best.  You can't say the one not chosen is better because, well, you have no data.  There are economists that will tell you their model is better, but as the Authors of Superfreakonomics stated, economists today can't agree on if Roosevelt's New Deal programs were good or bad.

Economics is not my strong point.  I know enough about the basic principles in play to be able to listen, but not enough about the dynamics to make any type of bold statement as to what is, or is not, sound.  So when a statement like "spending by the current Congress has increased 21.4 percent" is made, it is stated primarily for the sake of appearance and not to show cause and effect.

Which means I too can show something that has a lot of detail enclosed, but paints a really striking picture when you look at it.

US Outlays v. Revenue

If you are like me, this probably looks a little confusing, especially if you don't understand the terms associated with each line.  Here is how the CBO defines them:
Outlays: Spending to pay a federal obligation. Outlays may pay for obligations incurred in a prior fiscal year or in the current year; hence, they flow partly from unexpended balances of prior-year budget authority and partly from budget authority provided for the current year. For most categories of spending, outlays are recorded on a cash accounting basis. However, outlays for interest on debt held by the public are recorded on an accrual accounting basis, and outlays for direct loans and loan guarantees (since credit reform) reflect estimated subsidy costs instead of cash transactions.
Revenues: Funds collected from the public that arise from the government’s exercise of its sovereign or governmental powers. Federal revenues come from a variety of sources, including individual and corporate income taxes, excise taxes, customs duties, estate and gift taxes, fees and fines, payroll taxes for social insurance programs, and miscellaneous receipts (such as earnings of the Federal Reserve System, donations, and bequests). Federal revenues are also known as federal governmental receipts.
So what you are looking at in this graph is a lot of accounting stuff.  That means that behind each point on the graph is something that may, or may not, be the fault or credit of the group in charge.  Yes it has spiked in 2010 because of the stimulus.  But that stimulus was the result of an economy that was collapsing.  Same thing can be said for the dip in 2001 under Bush.  That's when 9/11 hit and people changed their behavior which affected our economy.

You can also see a real dip in revenue under Bush because of the 2001 & 2003 tax cuts, which I contend, was ill advised since we had a war going on and we, as a society, should have paid for that instead of borrowing money from China to pay for it.  But I digress.

An argument could be made from the graph that revenue increased around 2004, but some of that could be from a nice little deal worked out that would temporarily drop the tax rate to 5.25 percent and hundreds of billions of dollars came back into the US.

Another argument could be made that this is when the real estate bubble was starting to kick into high gear and lots and lots of money was changing hands.  But revenue based on a bubble, in my opinion, is not a sound way to sustain a big ol' giant entity like the US.  And in 2009 you see it sink when the bubble burst.  If you look at the graph to bolster the argument that tax cuts increase revenue, then I think you are missing what is really behind those graph points.

But lets say the graph - as it looks - does support a few perceptions.  Obama has increased spending, the Bush tax cuts increased revenue.  It's all there in the graph.  OK, fine.

What else does the graph show?

Which president had the best period of revenue vs. outlays?  Go on...you can do it.  Say it...say it....

President Bill Clinton - 1993 through 2001.

Oh, and remember, that outlays include interest on the debt.  All that borrowing for the war and stimulus adds up in the form of an interest payment - which, by the way, is going to the rich investor types who argue against any increase in their tax rate and make huge bonus payments for their wise investing deals. 

We are fools to not recognize this and, as a Nation, pay for it now.  You cannot cut spending enough to slash the debt being accrued.  It has to come from taxes.  Either raise them or stimulate the economy to the point that revenue increases because money is changing hands and taxes are collected.

We got a crises here people, get off your blame the other guy horse and start walking the talk.  If we want it fixed, then we need to accept that our bad behaviour in the past has brought us to this juncture. 

It wasn't me that did it....or was it?

Nah...it's all Obama's fault.  Just look at the graph!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What does a bad guy look like?

I was going to try and offer a 'here is what he is thinking' analysis of Fox and Friends' Brian Kilmeade's recent remark:
“not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.”
...but then I came across this little gem of wisdom that dribbled through his lips:
"we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and ... the Swedes have pure genes, because they marry other Swedes. Because that's the rule."
...and realized that I can't defend anyone stupid enough to believe this and then say it - out loud - to millions of people.  Didn't eugenics get discredited back in the 40's?

But alas, it still trudges onward, thanks to Fox News and the "Friends" they keep.  They seem to have a knack for putting in front of the cameras not just talking heads, but idiot talking heads blurting out the most illogical reasons and opinions for what is taking place in the world.

So on to what I wanted to write about....What does a bad guy look like?

With the understanding that Brian Kilmeade is an idiot, lets ignore the "him" in this equation and look at it from the standpoint that there are lots and lots of Brian Kilmeades in the world all prone to think illogically, egged on by fear mongers and Fox News who has settled on a business model of 'we tell you what you want to hear so you watch us and we can sell advertising.'

So lets look at a Kilmeade statement that is - and I know this to be true - shared by a lot of other people:
"From what we've seen from the Khobar Towers to the Cole bombing to the embassy bombings to the Times Square, the shoe bomber, do you think Americans have a right to look at moderate Muslims and say, 'Show me you're not one of them.'
"it's time for the military to have special debriefings" of Muslims, because "I've got to know the guy next to me is not going to want to kill me."
How does one show that they are not one of them?  Should they sign a confession?  A declaration?  Raise their right hand and swear to God and the Koran?  Take a lie detector test?  Water-boarded?

What would suffice as proof?  I contend - and  Kilmeade and his lot know this - there is no proof that can be offered.  They are asking for something that can never be achieved because you can never know what is in the heart of the person sitting next to you.

So what does this mean?  It means that the only logical way to view the culprits in the "war that was declared on us" is excepting the fact that - as he stated:
"all terrorists are Muslim"
Now if we did not learn anything from locking up Japanese Americans in internment camps during WWII then I don't know what else could be offered as proof that painting the individual with the same brush does nothing to further anything real other than to make you "feel" better. 

Apparently Kilmeade and his fellow classmates slept through their history class.  Which was a shame because the hero of conservatism, ol' Ronald Reagan himself, signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government which stated that government actions were based on:
"race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership".
...and you thought only Obama was an apologist for America's misunderstood behavior!

You see?  That type of 1940's thinking is no different than what is being supported by Kilmeade, O'Reilly, and Fox News in general in the year 2010.

One needs to fight this illogical and harmful way of thinking simply by replacing the object of fear with an object one relates to.  Would it carry the same weight if one said:
  1. All conservatives are pro-life?
  2. All Tea Party members are Republicans?
  3. All men are stronger than woman?
  4. All woman are mothers?
In the cases above, the majority is true, yet one cannot make the statement that All are.  This is the same with Muslims.  A small fraction are radical and even a smaller fraction of those are terrorists.  The chance of a person who is Muslim being a terrorist, supporting terrorism, or having terrorist leanings is far less than a woman being a mother, so if you can't say all 'women are mothers' you can also not say 'all terrorists are Muslims.'

Or, looking at it another way:
  • Mohamed Ali is a Muslim, therefore,
  • Mohamed Ali is a terrorist.
  • If Mohamed Ali is not a terrorist, then he is not a Muslim
But if you were to ask Mohamed Ali his take on the above he would say most likely: 'I am a Muslim and I am not a terrorist.'  At which Brian Kilmeade would say: 'Show me you're not one of them.'  And had Parkinson's not brought down the champ, Ali would have decked him yelling: 'how's that for proof, idiot!'

So what does a terrorist look like?  It depends on your definition of terrorism:
[a]cts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.
Here is what I think a terrorist looks like:

...and what does a terrorist group look like:

...as if you did not see that one coming!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Some people call me Maurice...

In the Oct 19th USA Today - the Nation's newspaper (free read in a hotel) - there was a big ol' full page add titled:
Well America what do you think now?
It was from some guy who calls himself “The Grizz” but goes by a less ominous name of  Maurice Taylor.  It seems that The Grizz ran for the Republican nomination for President back in 1996 garnering a substantial 1% of the vote in all the primaries he ran in.  I would not bring this up had it not been for the tone he set in his open letter to the American People.  Apparently he lost becoming the nominee and hence our President because no one liked him.
I know how all politicians want to be liked, but I don’t care. I just want to get the job done.
If I had to hazard a guess, its because you are really not the kind of guy the working man could like.  Which is odd because from what I can gather you came up from a blue collar start.  But alas, a lot of people forget what it was like to walk in the steel-toed boots of their past.

I get kind of peeved when these CEO types brag about how they create jobs.  As if there would be no jobs without the benevolence and financial outlay these fine men and woman exude.  So when they makes the statement "I have created jobs" I start to suspect they are probably taking credit for something that would have happened anyway.

Still, maybe he is a job creator - maybe he does care about making sure worker type folks have a "great paying" "manufacturing" job so they can support their families and contribute to society and share in the American dream just like the CEO of Titan International does.  Maybe he is everything to America as he paints himself to be.  Maybe...oh....wait...really?

On May 1, 1998, the 650 members of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 164 [w]here forced into an Unfair Labor Practice Strike.  During the negotiations preceding this strike, Titan International Inc. President and CEO, Morry Taylor, attempted to eliminate pension and medical benifits and illegally move jobs and equipment out of the plant.  He also forced employees to work excessive manditory overtime, sometimes working people as many as 26 days in a row without a day off.
Well sure, that's probably just made up stuff from the lame-stream liberal media that just has it out for the job producers just trying to make a go at it.  What?  Thats from where?  The June 27, 2001 Congressional Record?

Well sometimes a few eggs get cracked when tough negotiations need to be made (that's why they call him The Grizz and not Maurice).  After all - as he states - "I’m not some intellectual talking head who has never run anything."  What he does to create these jobs is to leverage "closed, bankrupt or money losing companies" and when they are "turned around" Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! It really is that easy to create jobs and according to our job producing CEO named Maurice, the plan is simple.  All you got to do is follow this Titan International business model for producing jobs:
More than 300 workers at Titan's Natchez, Mississippi facility went on strike in September 1998 after Titan fired the entire workforce in a fashion the NLRB has since alleged illegal. The firings followed a complex financial deal in which Titan and various interests associated with Titan CEO Morry Taylor and his family took a controlling interest in Condere Corporation, a bankrupt company which owned Fidelity Tire in Natchez. In September 1998, Titan bought Condere's assets, and then proceeded to fire the Natchez workers, who were represented by the USWA.
OK...OK, so he doesn't like Unions...I mean can you blame him?  The nerve of paying a guy $33.00 bucks and hour when you could get away with $21.00!  Pesky Unions, if a guy can't support his family on a pre-tax income of $43,000.00 a year he's doing something wrong.  Jiminy Cricket if money is that tight send the wife to work!

So what else does ol' Maurice think would make for a better America and would be good for the made in the USA blue-collar bunch.
  1. Well eliminate Government jobs for one.  Unemployment would help bring down the cost of government and would be in line with the 25% tax rate he thinks should be placed on corporations.
  2. Eliminate sick leave for Government Employees.  My god!  You know what that costs for an employee making $35K a year?  $134 bucks a day - or looking at it another way, that equates to 52,238 sick days worth of pay savings that could then be spent on something like - oh I don't know - maybe a run for the Republican Nominee in 1996! ($7,000,000.00 if you were wondering)
  3. Freeze all Pension Plans.  You know - that 401K is such a better deal (well it is for the public companies needing to sell shares).  And besides, a guy who has worked for 19 years under his current pension agreement would be more than happy to have things changed mid stream.  Especially if he is in his 50's.
Such brilliance!  I don't know where to start.  But ol Maurice did get one bit of observation right:  
There is a difference "between public companies like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Ford, etc.  It is the private companies that create jobs. The public companies I have listed were all private at one time and run by an entrepreneur. They are all run today by professional managers who are really business politicians. Entrepreneurs are not smooth politicians; they focus on building their business. Professional managers look at building their business but also building their image."
So when you said at the very beginning of your "Well America what do you think now?" USA Today advertisement:
I am Chairman/CEO of Titan International, Inc. (NYSE: TWI) - [a public company].
Where you including yourself as one of those smooth business politicians?

So what do I think now?  You are nothing more than a narcissistic blow-hard interested in building wealth for yourself.  You don't give a shit about making jobs unless they pay a wage low enough where you can contend it is reasonable.  But I suspect what is in play here has more to do with ridding yourself of the name Maurice and replacing it with a big and scary sounding name like The Griz.  That's what will give you stature!  That's what you value - the perception that you are tough and able to provide that "entrepreneurial leadership" although you lack the same intellect as your peers.

I'm not going to take anything away from the fact that your holdings have performed well.  It's how you have done it that leaves a lot to be desired.  Alls fair in business and politics I hear and you have played it well.  Too bad you could not have tried to achieve the same outcome in a bit more sensitive way towards the men and woman who provide the product you sell.  All workers who are dependent upon job creators deserve consideration for a fair and livable wage, dignity, security, and a share in the wealth you and your other job creators feel so entitled to keep to yourselves.

So what do I think now?  Not much Maurice...not much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My son's are starting to become more aware of just how cruel some people who occupy space in this world can be.  They are also seeing that for every act of cruelness there is often an act by the exact opposite type of person.

The internet has done wonders in bringing to light the fact that there are socially responsible, kind, and considerate people who walk amongst us.  So on Facebook my oldest sends me a link the the video on YouTube of the Fort Worth City Councilman - Joel Burns - "reaching out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope."

If you think his message is a gay only thing, then you have missed the point.  Sure he can relate, and sure it addresses kids who may have been gay who committed suicide, but his plea was directed at the fact that no one - especially at the age of 13 - should not be offered the chance to see where life takes them.

Bullying for whatever reason is a terrible thing to be exposed to and endure.  Trust me I know first hand on this.  Lucky for me it stopped because I became bigger than the small-minded and stature grade school bullies.  I did not realize the power of size until I was an adult.  But I'm a gentle giant in personality, and a wussy when it comes fighting (it's a lack of self-efficacy in my fist-a-cuff abilities).

Now you couple that bullying with a kid who is starting to see himself differently than his peers, and is - through misguided and cruel adult comments - told his thinking is wrong, evil, a sin....and you can see how a gun or a rope or pills can loos like a pretty good option to stop the pain.

And this death will be for what reason?  Well the bully acts in a way to cover up shortcomings in their life.  They may be picked on at home, they may see this as a release for their angst, they may be troubled, and, in a lot of the "pick on the gay kid" situations, its because they themselves are struggling with thoughts and feelings that they have been told are bad - but they are having them anyway.

There was a great letter to the editor in the Oct 14 (or 13?) Austin American Statesman newspaper from an 87 year old WWII vet telling the story of his childhood friend who was gay but in the closet.  I need to get a copy of it from the actual paper since the stupid Statesman web site does not have it.  I'll write about it in another post.  The take-away message was that being gay did not stop the guy from achieving great things for himself and his country and that the letter writer - having known the man - could see this and how little importance the "gay" part of his being played in the wholeness of the actual man.  In other words, if you don't know any gay people you will never know how normal they really are.

Anyway, back to the video - or really back to some of the comments.  As you would expect, there are a lot of negative ones to the video.  My "favorite" is this one:
You kids best learn.  Human beings have a pecking order...get used to it...it's called....Life!
Some humans love to attack as a pack..like wolves or wild dogs.  I do think this bullying now is being blown out of porportion. Geeks , fags & fat kids have been here forever.
All from a guy with that goes by the name of  "DontStutterbitch."

What more can be said.  The world is full of DontStutterbitchs - they lack the ability to show compassion and have a deep seated need to offend.  But the world is also filled with Joel Burns.  Our problem is that we don't have a deep seated need to offend and instead keep quiet letting the mind set of the bullies become the dominant model.

But DontStutterbitch is right, it is called life.  But it's a life made by those who control it.  We let people without compassion and with issues that require them to belittle or force their perverted ideology set the tone for the rest of us.  We let them be the Alpha males.  Not because they are genetically better in some evolutionary way, but because we don't choose to not stand up and fight back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Motivated!...for a sales pitch.

In the paper there have been these big full page adds for something called a "Get Motivated! Business Seminar."

Now I am naturally cynical, and when I look at the list of live speakers, I am even more cynical...and skeptical.

My mom - who taught me a lot of things one could classify under 'wives tales" - also taught me some things that have turned out to be true.  From 'don't rob Peter to pay Paul' and 'If everyone was jumping off the Empire State building would you?', to the one about 'there is no such thing as a free lunch.'

When I look at the add it just does not add up.  There are eight big name speakers, including Laura Bush, Colin Powell, and Rudy Giuliani.  Now because I know there is no such thing as a free lunch, I know - without a doubt - that these eight speakers are not there because they want to "give you ground-breaking strategies to sharpen your business skills, ignite your motivation, accelerate your effectiveness and increase your income!" - but instead are there for a speaking fee.  A speaking fee paid by someone.

I have nothing against speaking for a fee - heck that's what I do - and I think that those that attend will get what they wanted from the eight.  The purpose of this post is to look at the "free lunch" aspect.

So for $1.95 a person - or $9.50 for the whole office! - you can sit for eight hours or so and listen to eight speakers who - on average - charge at least $25,000 per speaking engagement.  Rudy Giuliani alone is reported to fetch $100,000.00 for a talk.

Now if the attendance is around 18,000 on average at these events, and each person were to pay $1.95, how do you pay for eight speakers of this caliber on $35,100.00 worth of income?  This does not even pay for the venue and staff needed to put on an event of this size.

Lets look at just the speaker costs alone:  Assuming the average is $50k, 8 x 50,000 = $400,000.00 worth of revenue must be garnered just to pay for that one particular cost.  At 18,000 average participants, that means the cost per person is 400,000 / 18,000 = $22.22 each.

$22.22 - $1.95 = $20.27 extra revenue per person is needed to just cover - conservatively - the speakers.  Just like there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a $1.95 eight course meal.

What is strange is that there is very little information about what goes on - other than the marketing hype - at one of these seminars.  I found information that I assume is reputable journalism on the Indianapolis Star web site.  "Then came the pitch"
Six, two-day workshops coming to Columbus, with a stated value of $1,995. Kittell was offering them to attendees for $99. More of the same followed as the day wore on.
James Smith spoke 45 minutes about his real estate investment system. At the end, he offered three full days of wealth-building workshops in Columbus next month. He said they usually cost about $2,000, but seminar attendees who bring one family member need pay only $49.
Then, a 10-minute break to sign up.
Later came a pitch for a Stay Motivated Seminar in Columbus. Usually $99, but free to attendees.
Then a man named Stephen Pierce talked 30 minutes about how to make money online.  At the end of his speech came an offer for a three-day workshop and software at a stated valued of $11,226, but offered to seminar attendees for $29.
So if all you paid was a $1.95 and walked out of there with nothing more than a feeling of inspiration, you got your money's worth.  But, you need to know this, someone sitting next to you or in your general area paid money to cover you.  You can call them a sucker, a patsy, a mark...you can say they were inspired and jumped at the chance to better themselves, that they were risk takers, shrewd, can-doers...what ever you want to call them, they paid for your eight course dinner.

And maybe for those extra fees these folks ended up with something of value.  Cynical me looks at it this way.  If your real estate investment is so good why are you trying to get me to pay only $49.00 for it?

No, what this seminar is really all about  is nothing more than a way to find gullible people who are still willing to believe that they too can be successful if only they had the right information...which can be had for $29.00 or $49.00 bucks.  And what is really sad is that it is given the look of legitimacy by people we hold as reputable.  I mean, Laura Bush and Colin Powell?  How much more upstanding can you get?

But what do I know about the value obtained?  Rose Hunter, who sells houses for the Horizon Palm Realty Group in Spring Hill, says Giuliani is a hero to her.  "These days, her best business is foreclosures. Giuliani fought his way out of a tough Brooklyn upbringing. He survived prostate cancer."
"His message to me was, 'Take action. Just do it.' "
If it were that easy, Nike would have cured obesity by now.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


In case you haven't been following this story, some pasty christain Assistant AG for the state of Michigan - Andrew Shirvell - has been actively speaking out against Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong since shortly after his election in March and maintains a blog called “Chris Armstrong Watch,” where he criticizes what he calls the MSA president’s “radical homosexual agenda.” 

OMG! this Shirvell guy is a douche bag.  And he was hired to represent the people of the state of Michigan?

Can you get a guy any more stupid sounding than him?  The Michigan courts must roll their eyes when this guy stands up to speak.  Who would hire a guy like this, I mean he could not have interviewed well.

Well it turns out ol' Shirvell was a  political supporter of the "family values" AG, Mike Cox.  'Family Values' seems to be a synonym for bigot, bully, idiot.

CNN's Anderson Cooper seems to allude that Shirvell's fixation and obsession about Mr. Armstrong borders on something akin to a jilted lover, but Shrivell has been obsessed with gays before Mr. Armstrong was even out of high school, unless......

Apparently back in 2005, the rainbow flag on pizza restaurant door made him see all the colors of the spectrum.
Shirvell said Maurice Grillo, one of the owners at NYPD, told him that an incident of some sort involving the gay community “forced his hand.”
Grillo said in an interview that he was never pressured to hang the sticker on his door by anyone and that Shirvell may have misunderstood what he told him.  “It was just a decision,” Grillo said. “There was absolutely no pressure whatsoever. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. If we feel like taking it down — we will.”

If you ask me, Shirvell has exhibited all the signs of a gay man in denial.  

Accept it Shirvell, then move on.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Red Skelton's misunderstood attempt to explain the pledge

My cousin sent me a link of a video with Red Skelton telling his audience about what the words of the pledge of allegiance meant.

Now I always like Red Skelton having watched his show on TV when I was a kid.  So I click the link and it brings me to a Facebook page called Media Causes with this little blurb about the video:
Red Skelton--from his television show in 1969 WOW ! Just think, he said this on his television show in 1969 and really had no clue it would ever come about. SAD, isn't it? What a wonderful and worthwhile clip to watch and share with all your friends and acquaintances!
I should have known from that blurb what I was being set up to watch.

Now don't misunderstand me on this, Red Skelton's words and feeling were beautiful, and even his comment at the end was OK, because it was heartfelt and he was trying to call for some understanding and reasoning regarding his concern.  He was subtle and gentle and so not like the in your face lets force God down everyone's throat bible-thumpers out in force lately.

But wanting a deeper understanding of the words in the pledge was not why the person who posted this video did so.  Instead it was to bolster the same old tired whining of "we can't do anything anymore because it upsets a few people and we are going to hell in a hand basket because we can't say "God."

Case in point, look at all the silly-ass comments posted.
do we really like where we are going in this country?
How times have changed!!!! 
Let reunite and bring it back
Put Christ back in the schools and watch this country turn around for the better! God bless the U.S.A.
I agree with Holly its way past time to take our country back. The government works for us, we are not suppose to work for them. I'm afraid if this country keeps going in the direction it is, we will all be standing in a line waiting for our bread and toilet paper. REMEMBER, ONE NATION UNDER GOD. Not Obama.
please watch and really listen and think.... back in 1969 he was trying to make a point... IF ONLY WE COULD DO THIS TODAY WE AND OUR CHILDREN WOULD BE DIFFERENT...

So my question is: What do you want to take your country back to?

I found a picture of those good ol' days showing just how well saying the pledge of allegiance and praying every day in public schools worked in Little Rock back then:


No they wouldn't.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It would be the same only if you allow it to be

The conversation goes like this:
Steve's on the line with us from Norman, Oklahoma.
STEVE (Caller): Hello. I just want to make a comment about putting that mosque next to the World Trade Center site. I live in Oklahoma, and obviously, that was a big event in everybody's lives. And it would be just the same as putting a Ryder truck rental right across the street from the new federal building. It's inappropriate, and I just don't think it should happen.
(Neil) CONAN: Steve, you know it's not a mosque, and it's not across the street.
STEVE: Well, still, you know, it's close. You know...
CONAN: How close is too close? It's two blocks away, can't see it.
STEVE: Well, you need to have some I'm a firefighter for the city of Oklahoma City, and I just - stuff like that, symbolic stuff like that, it just really gets to the core of all of us.
It would be easy to make fun of Steve, to disregard him, to ridicule his lack of insight, but that would be disrespectful on my part.  What one can see - if one looks - is a guy troubled with what seems on one hand to be very wrong and on the other an uncertainty as to why.

He does not understand the why, he just knows there is a feeling of it being wrong.  He can't articulate it because it stands on both sides of the aisle.  It is both wrong and should not be wrong all at the same time.

Because if you really think about it, the placement of the Islamic center is really no different than putting a Ryder truck rental sign right across the street from where the Murrah Building.  Both had nothing to do with the culprits responsible for the act - but both are seen as an welcomed reminder.

And therein lies the problem for guys like Steve. For me, I can understand how Steve feels, and I can give credence to the example he gave.  But I choose to move past that and accept the other truth in play.  That despite how inappropriate it looks, the real harm is to punish the one who's only guilt is by association.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Horse says "Not so fast...."

234 years later, the same arguments.  Only this time we have the internet where everyone's "take" on a subject can be presented.  Yeah...that includes mine.  I am a bit different (well of course you are!) then most, because I look for information to change my current way of thinking.  That is, I want to go where the truth is, regardless of how I feel about it.

So as a public health guy, I am naturally biased towards actions that benefit the health and safety of my fellow citizens.  That includes access to health care - which more than just helping my fellow American would also help me.  So now you know that whatever I write will be biased towards that end.  Well if that be the case it kind of defeats what I am trying to do with a blog I call "consilient inductions."  So yeah, some bias will sneak in, but it is not intentional or designed to mislead.

So as I was googeling I came across a website called called "From Reason to Freedom - Think for Yourself."

Now one of the things I force myself to do is read and listen to those who have an opposing view to mine.  I already know how I see it, I want to see how they see it and the reasoning used to support their view.  So this site has a discussion on the "General Welfare" clause of the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”
Whooohboy, does this illicit a bunch of view points!  And a whole ton of quotes from our "founding fathers" in order to support a particular way of interpreting the constitution.  Now when you quote you should cite.  And when you read a quote you should understand it's context (see my last post) - which means you should look it up.

Now there are two issues of contention in play when discussing Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution:
  1. Does the term "public welfare" give Congress the power to do anything other than those powers specifically enumerated?
  2. What does "provide for the public welfare" mean? 
Now this is a pretty large debate to tackle in one blog post, so I'm going to come back to it again.  For today, dear reader, it will involve looking at question 1 and how those who oppose anything the Federal Government does support their argument of "too much" government involvement in our lives.

A guy that calls himself "Capt. Karl" responded:
Question: When confronted by the indisputable facts, what excuse do those in Washington use to justify actions that factually exceed enumerated constitutional limits? Answer: They hide behind that ubiquitous General Welfare Clause. And what is the General Welfare Clause?
Now we’ve argued about the definition of this for over 200 years in the courts, in the congress and on the streets and you can reference almost any opinion you like because most will seek out the interpretation that justifies their action. Given the difference of opinion over the years, whose opinion really counts? Whose view is definitive? Speaking as a simple solider, I’d say it would be the folks that wrote the original document even more so than the subsequent courts that bastardized it.
What did the Founders really mean? After all, they’re the ones that can actually answer questions first hand concerning original meaning/intent and not be speculative or twisted politically by the passage of time wouldn’t you think?
OK, let’s see what they had to say and put this question to rest. Let’s ask James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Could they possibly shed any light on this?
Admittedly, Jefferson and Madison were not our only Founders. These two were strict constitutionalists who feared the potential strength of any government. So let’s look at another Founder’s opinion—Alexander Hamilton who historically saw it in a somewhat looser vain.
“This specification of particulars [the 18 enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8] evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd as well as useless if a general authority was intended.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 83
Hamilton uncategorically states that all congressional powers are enumerated and that the very existence of these enumerations alone makes any belief that Congress has full and general legislative power to act as it desires nonsensical. If such broad congressional power had been the original intent, the constitutionally specified powers would have been worthless. In other words, why even enumerate any powers at all if the General Welfare clause could trump them?
“No legislative act … contrary to the Constitution can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 78
In short, Hamilton tells us that since the powers of Congress are enumerated and limit Congress to those powers, any assumed authority outside those specified that don’t have a direct relation to those explicit powers must be contrary to the Constitution and therefore — unconstitutional.
From the proverbial horses mouths to your own eyes — the all-encompassing General Welfare Clause is not as all encompassing as our current “leaders” would have us believe. In no way does that one phrase grant unlimited power to the Federal government rather it pertains only to those enumerated powers that can and ought to be applied universally and in general to the several states.
Now if you read what he quotes, he makes a pretty convincing argument that we have gotten way off course from what the writers of the constitution wanted.  There is some truth to that, but that's the nature of having people govern themselves.  Sometimes we are right on and other times we veer off course.  Not everything one opposes means we have gotten away from the "original intent" of the constitution.  Nor do quotes from these old timers always lend support to our way of thinking.

I have spent the last two days (and I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express) reading up on this subject.  What I have come away with is this:  If you are against something Congress does, it is either constitutional or it is not. It has nothing to do with how you interpret the meaning.  Most people opposed always shout something along the lines of:
A more reasoned argument, along the same lines, goes like this:
If the portion of the clause "to provide for the common defense" was indeed a standalone power, why would the founders then explicitly list a power "To raise and support armies"? It would be redundant. Does providing for the "common defense" exclude the raising and supporting of armies? Absolutely not. Therefore the only reasonable construction is that the power to raise and support armies is the explicit enumeration of the manner in which the general power to provide for the common defense is to be carried into effect.
What is missing from all of this is a clear understanding that the framers knew exactly what it had to say, which is why they wrote it and substantially got it approved and ratified.  The idea that somehow we veered off course with FDR's "New Deal", Medicare, Social Security, or "Obamacare" is what you may think but has nothing to do with it being constitutional.  You may think the powers are enumerated to 18 and that that the Power "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States" can't be a standalone power because it makes the other 18 redundant, but it was decided a long..long..long time ago that this view is incorrect.

To put it bluntly, the Jefferson view of what the Constitution explicitly allows Congress to do - lost.  It did not loose because of Obama, or Johnson, or FDR, it was decided way-way-way back when the framers were still very much alive.  We the people - which includes me and you - through the governmental setup we adhere to (President, Congress, Supreme Court) - and a Constitution that gives this government its guidelines, has said that the Hamilton point of view is the correct one.

Now Capt. Karl quotes Hamilton's views on the subject, so lets look at one of them in whole.  This from 5 Dec. 1791, Papers 10:302--4:
A Question has been made concerning the Constitutional right of the Government of the United States to apply this species of encouragement, but there is certainly no good foundation for such a question. The National Legislature has express authority "To lay and Collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the Common defence and general welfare" with no other qualifications than that "all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United states, that no capitation or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to numbers ascertained by a census or enumeration taken on the principles prescribed in the Constitution, and that "no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state." These three qualifications excepted, the power to raise money is plenary, and indefinite; and the objects to which it may be appropriated are no less comprehensive, than the payment of the public debts and the providing for the common defence and "general Welfare." The terms "general Welfare" were doubtless intended to signify more than was expressed or imported in those which Preceded; otherwise numerous exigencies incident to the affairs of a Nation would have been left without a provision. The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used; because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union, to appropriate its revenues shou'd have been restricted within narrower limits than the "General Welfare" and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars, which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition.
It is therefore of necessity left to the discretion of the National Legislature, to pronounce, upon the objects, which concern the general Welfare, and for which under that description, an appropriation of money is requisite and proper. [edited]
The only qualification of the generallity of the Phrase in question, which seems to be admissible, is this--That the object to which an appropriation of money is to be made be General and not local; its operation extending in fact, or by possibility, throughout the Union, and not being confined to a particular spot.
No objection ought to arise to this construction from a supposition that it would imply a power to do whatever else should appear to Congress conducive to the General Welfare. A power to appropriate money with this latitude which is granted too in express terms would not carry a power to do any other thing, not authorised in the constitution, either expressly or by fair implication.
So Capt Karl is half right:
From the proverbial horses mouths to your own eyes — the all-encompassing General Welfare Clause is not as all encompassing as our current “leaders” would have us believe. In no way does that one phrase grant unlimited power to the Federal government rather it pertains only to those enumerated powers that can and ought to be applied universally and in general to the several states.

Friday, August 27, 2010

That egg on your face was brought to you by Humpty Dumpty

My last post dealt with a bit o' back n' forth between a couple of commenters on another website over a 2001 speech made by Obama and his use of the word "redistribution" (among other things).

One of the posters, nathanbforrest45, felt that anytime someone comes to Obama's defense by saying "that's not what he means" what they are really doing is hiding the fact that he really is a socialist that hates America and wants to do away with the Constitution.  Why is "the left so esoteric" he asks "that we cannot understand their true meaning?"  "Perhaps," he states "the left should say what it really means in less "nuanced" phrasing."

And then he posts, without understanding the irony, this quote from "Alice Adventures in Wonderland" a book considered to be "one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre."
"Words mean precisely what I want them to mean, neither more nor less" said Humpty Dumpty to Alice.
But alas, irony and logic are lost on the simpleminded.  The conservative wingnuts on the right have made a parlor game out of trying to make Obama sound like the evil antichrist they need him to be.  The reason you must understand the concept of context and nuanced phrasing is because that's how we speak.

If words only had one meaning, and only one meaning, Paul Simon would never have written "I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued."  There would be no need for the word misconstrued because words would mean precisely what was said.  So let us look at another example of how something got misconstrued and used in a way that it was not intended.

Way back in 2000, George W. Bush (you remember him) made the comment:
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier," pausing and then joking, "just so long as I'm the dictator."
Now, if you want to play the - they should "say what it really means in less "nuanced" phrasing" - game, Bush said he wants to be a dictator. I mean there it is in black and white.  He said it......I'm not putting words in his mouth or selectively editing.  What I would be doing, however, is taking them out of context, and misconstruing their meaning (which was an appropriate and funny joke about how difficult it is to get things passed).

So if you thought for one tiny second that Bush wanted to be a dictator, well now you know the truth.  If you continue to think this even after reading my explanation, well you are an idiot.

Which brings me to:
"He called the Constitution a deeply flawed document," 
Context and selective editing.  As a poster named Evelyn_S succinctly wrote back in 2008:
He did not  call the Constitution a deeply flawed document in either clip.  Did not use those words.  He was referring to the racism in colonial times, when humans were held in slavery.  This, he was saying, is a flaw in the thinking of the framers of the constitution.
So my fine Humpty Dumpty, words do indeed mean exactly what the speaker wants them to mean.  Now that you know what was actually said and meant, I'll excuse your ignorance.  But if you continue to want them to mean what you want them to mean then you are more akin to Tweedledum, which in less nuanced terms, I am calling you an idiot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Smart Makes a (good!) Comeback


Reading makes me begat stuff, and I came across a website while looking up what the definition of "Public Welfare" means in the Constitution's welfare clause.  Found an interesting site, but the guy's bias shows through on his interpretations - however, a lot of the comments - both for/against - are really insightful .  But there is always one...that requires me to go a googlin' and a begatin':
P.S., with regard to recent revelations that Obama said that the Constitution is "deeply flawed" because the framers were "blind" and that the "constraints" they placed in it are impeding "spreading the wealth," it seems his goal is to rewright the Constituion or at least to "reinterpret" it out of existence.
Did Obama really say that?  I don't know why I just can't accept it as factual....but there are too many idiots out there making stuff up a'la' Fox News.  So I used the search terms:
Obama said that the Constitution is "deeply flawed"
Got a bunch of blogs that all seem to have the quote...I choose:
Barack Obama Wants SCOTUS To “Break-Free” From Constitution ...Oct 27, 2008 ... He called the Constitution a deeply flawed document – this IS the ... He simply said the Warren Court didn't break free of the basic ...
Which lead me to a website called "Argue with Everyone" and a post is by a guy named "naturemomma" where he quotes the 2001 radio interview and then (surprise, surprise) completely misunderstands the comments made and even makes stuff up.  Well another poster named "Smart Makes a Comeback" will not let this go unchallenged.  Some really funny stuff gets bantered back and forth.

smart makes a comeback 
You have no idea what any of that means do you ?
Nevermind..clearly you dont
You read a blog that told you it meant he wanted to change the constitution, you saw the word "redistribution" you dont know any better, so you ran with it.
My I suggest you get a smart friend to help you define some of the terms and put that intervirew into prospective. You will feel really stupid when you find out he was actually taking on a conservative point of view, but at least you wont go on spreading stuipidty and humiliating yourself even more

Argue with some..IGNORE the stupid
'nough said....

smart makes a comeback
I know...but I was trying to be charitable and help you out.

Ever wonder why EVERYTHING Obama Biden time says, is "taken out of context" or "misinterepreted"?
Because he is lying you idiot!
In 2001, he wasn't watching what he said. He wasn't on good behavior, nor was he attempting to hide what he actually thought.
You people are incredibly niave and stupid.

"Words mean precisely what I want them to mean, neither more nor less" said Humpty Dumpty to Alice.
So redistribution does not mean redistribution it means?????????????????
If I said I think Smart Makes a Come Back is a socialist turd I think she/he/it would see the negative in that statement and "run with it"

C'mon now nathan, you know you can't use common sense with stupid-is-as-stupid-does. 
Words mean nothing to these people. And neither do actions... So I really don't know how they decided on the character of this man. 
......Ahhhh, this must be where the, "hope and change" thing comes in! 

smart makes a comeback
Nathan, once again, your home schooling by illiterates betrays and fails you.
I understand, the entire interview and it’s content are far over your head, but you when you take your cue from idiot talk radio, faux noise, whacky right wing blogs, and blithering dundereads like naturemomma and parrot what you hear, you display your ignorance all too graphically.

Excuse me you arrogant and condescending bimbo but if the man says he believes in redistribution and that the courts need to do more and the Constitution only tells us what the government can't do then what exactly am I supposed to believe. Its not an issue of talk radio (and since I never listen to NPR I don't listen to idiot talk radio in any event) or right wing blogs (which I don't read), its an issue of reading the words and hearing the words and gaining an understanding from what is actually said, not what some commentator tells me that I should have heard.
I am able to read and understand. If the left is so esoteric that we cannot understand their true meaning that perhaps the left should say what it really means in less "nuanced" phrasing.

smart makes a comeback
Except that is not what he said you pathetic mouth breathing hick...LOL...so it seems you clearly are NOT able to read and understand 
"Nuanced" phrasing ? 
hahahahahaha !!!!!!!!
A reasonably intelligent 10th grader could understand that what he said was, that contrary to the belief of some, the courts did not engage in such activism.
Read and listen to what people say...Not what Limbaugh and Hannity TELL you they said....you wont look so silly
Good GAWD…can these people be THIS stupid ?

Good GAWD indeed!

Oh, and by the way.....no Obama never said the Constitution is "deeply flawed"