Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truth is universal....perception of truth is not.

Interesting NPR story today called "The Rules About How Parents Should Make Rules."

Larry Nucci, a research psychologist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, believes that parents should respect a child's personal domain and that this is where most conflicts between parents and children are generated. Personal domain rules have to do with what children consider to be their own business and that they consider to be private: Friendships, playmates, who they want to play with, who they want to be around, leisure time activities like what sport they want to do or toys they want to play with and ways in which you express yourself through your appearance such as clothing.

Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center doesn't believes that children must have autonomy and that if parents are looking for compliance, the primary thing is to frame rules properly and not approach children in an authoritarian mode, because that tends to set off oppositional behavior.

OK, so I was a parent - still am to be technical about it. I choose the Nucci method, without knowing that it was a method. I found that respecting their privacy and making sure they had some control over their lives would work better. I also have been a big proponent of what Kazdin proposes having always subscribed to "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

I have always had a distaste for authoritarian parenting. My parents were not, although my dad could get madder than a red hot ember and my mom yelled a lot they were not authoritarian just because they were the parent. I took a different approach with my kids, adopting their good attributes and culling out the things - like yelling - that I hated. Bottom line is finding something that works for both parent and child and adopting to their needs. Ask any parent and they will almost universally tell you that their kids were different requiring a variety of tactics to get them to behave. Unless you have some ego problem where you gotta be number one - my way or the highway - varying one's tactics works well.

So I am always interested in research that looks at how we humans interact so I thought this story was interesting, especially how these two scientists come up with different views based on observing the same thing.....kids.

Where I must respectively disagree with Dr. Kazdin is the last part of the story:
One basic difference between these two approaches is this: Nucci will argue that it's important for children to actually have control over a part of their lives, while Kazdin says that it's only important for them to have the perception of control.
Children grow up and when they see that the person they looked to for love, guidance, substance, protection, and all the other things that come into play between a child and a parent has manipulated them, has given them a falsehood, a lie, a make believe world in which they thought they had control but did not, "well what else have you lied to me about?"

Perception works but when the curtain is pulled back what will the child see?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fix It.....Phase I

OK, being a former business owner and working for a large entity, I know the trials and tribulations of trying to get something corrected. I am really aware of how tough it can be and so I try to be nice when I finally reach the point of complaining and I give what I consider a reasonable amount of time before I follow through with another course of action.

So I reached my limit way back on 2/24/10 - which for those of you counting is about a month ago. Here is the email I sent to the TV station complaining about their poor broadcasting during the Olympics:
To: Comments@kcentv.com
Re: Poor technical quality of broadcast

OK, I am going to be blunt. Watching the Olympics on your channel through SuddenLink in College Station has been brutal and I find myself yelling at the TV - which I am too young to be doing.

1. Last night, watching figure skating, young skater from Turkey, moving story of parents sacrificing everything for her, there she is on the ice and 2/3 through her routine you knuckleheads cut to an advertisement.

2. After knucklehead move we get dead air - nothing - black screen - only your channel is out. SuddenLink states its not them.

3. Tonight - advertisements not coming in at the right time, dead air only this time we get to see the peacock icon animation. Over and over again, same thing, poor placement of advertisements and local adds not coming on at the right time.

4. And my number one yell-at-the-TV issue: Get the gosh darn voices to match the lips. This has been an ongoing issue with your station not just for the Olympics. Your news cast seems to sync but the Olympics is aggravating to watch as well as the advertisements that are also out of sync.

You have some serious issues here, enough so that if it were not for the Olympics I would personally block your station so as to not have to deal with what appears to be incompetence on someone's part. Fix it or you will forever lose my eyeballs. I get the feeling that you must not watch your own station - because if you did you would find this unacceptable and would fix it. Oh, and if you want to blame SuddenLink don't bother writing me back. Fix it.
I received a phone call from their tech guy apologizing and giving me the sadsack story of "we purchased new equipment"...."digital to analog"....."I noticed it too"....."its not us its NBC."

One month later - same issue. Don't believe me? See other complaints here.

So what to do.... apparently my email to them did not stir them into action. Apparently I am the only one who complained or they really don't give a hoot about the quality of their broadcast - which in a round about way is telling me they don't care about me as a viewer of their NBC product.

I wonder if corporate NBC cares?

So today starts Phase II of "Operation Fix It." Let's see what corporate NBC has to say before I move to Phase III. They won't like Phase III, but sometimes you gotta play hardball with folks in order for them to do what they are supposed to do in the first place. Fix it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It was his waterloo, he bought it for 99 cents on Itunes

Rep John Shadegg wrote an op-ed called "Democrats will be held accountable." In it he makes a couple of statements that I think need a little bit more back story before they are passed off as what really took place.
Never before in American history has such far-reaching legislation passed on a purely partisan basis — not Social Security, not Medicare, not Civil Rights and not SCHIP.
True statement by the way, but one should look at the bigger question here, and that is "why?"

Now it is easy to come up with lots of reasons and most of them would be legitimate areas of concern. Even the "they are forcing me to buy insurance" argument holds water. But that is not why the vote was partisan. Republican's took a stand not for principle but for politics - that is they wanted healthcare reform to fail so Obama would not have a victory.
"If we're able to stop Obama on [health care reform], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him...." Sen. Jim DeMint
This is why there was a partisan vote, this was the strategy and woe to any Republican who broke it. The Republicans have painted themselves in a corner - walk in lockstep or you will be cast as a RINO - or not conservative enough.

The majority thought pattern within the Republican party bought off on the waterloo approach and it was a bust. Did Obama win? No, there were no winners here because one side decided it was in their best interest to not shape it into something that works but to do everything they could to make it fail.

So here's a news flash for you Republicans: Not everything the Democrats put together is sound and/or good for the country. That's the nature of non-diversity of thought - it becomes one sided. You had a chance to interact, to wheel and deal, to do the politicking to get what you think is needed. That's how it works, its a stupid game of give and take and hopefully out of the mix will come something good.

You lost an opportunity to govern just like you squandered 8 years when you controlled both Congress and the White House. You may indeed win and become the majority party in 2012, but so what - what will you do for us other than provide rhetoric and promote a hands-off let-the private sector-decide model that created the economic mess we are in now and left citizens at the whims of a healthcare system dependent upon private insurance that was unfordable or unavailable unless one's employer was nice enough to offer it?

Healthcare reform was need way before Bush 43 was in office. Obama set out to get it passed which was one of the reasons people like me voted for him. What we ended up with when he signed it into law was not perfect, but it was the best we could get because Republicans choose to sit on the sidelines and pout.

Think about governing, not just for conservative "principles" but for the good of all 300 million people who have a diverse set of wants and needs. Right now you leave me very little choice put to vote for Democrats.

My my, I tried to hold you back but you were stronger
Oh yeah, and now it seems my only chance is giving up the fight
And how could I ever refuse
I feel like I win when I lose

Abba - Waterloo

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You have to be cruel to be kind

Being critical of Obama's new plan to prevent home foreclosures is good sport for those who critical of all things Obama. I wrote a while back, when the financial crisis first hit, that I thought there should be a "hands-off" approach to the situation. Letting those banks and businesses that gambled and planned poorly for a crisis fail would allow for those that did not to take their place. This is the basic premise of natural selection and would, in my opinion, produce a stronger economy by allowing the less intelligent management teams and their institutions become less dominant or die out.

Now the big issue the right-wingers are harping on regarding helping home-owners that overbought and are heading towards foreclosure is one of a "moral hazard." What they really mean by this is that it is not fair to those (them) that played by the rules and did not buy more house then they could afford. To help them is to reward their bad behavior and, therefore perpetuate this idea that someone (the Government) will be there to pick them up should they fall.

This is a valid argument, however, it is not an issue of punishing and rewarding the individual that we should be focusing on, instead it should be what is the right approach to minimize the damage and allow us to move forward quicker and then to never let this happen again. It is unfortunate that the talking heads that have the tea party ears focus on the individual as the problem and not on the situation that was allowed it to take place.

It happened because there were no checks in place on its upward progress. This is one of the downsides to a laissez-faire approach to government as perpetuated by the Bush administration. This does not put blame on 43's shoulders but it does make him culpable.

Businesses, for the most part, exist to accumulate wealth for the shareholders. Sub-prime loans and derivatives were the cat's meow at the time. A lot of big institutions got into it because that's where money was being made. It fed off of home loans and what better way to create home loans then to make owning a home easy as putting zero down! House prices were moving up and up how could it go wrong? My wife and I thought this a risky proposition at the time as did a lot of other people. But more and more big players and trusted financial institutions were all giddy about it so why shouldn't the little guy get in on some of this action?

Which brings us to this point in time now. Millions are poised to lose their homes and the Obama government wants to - will - step in. Sounds good on paper - help the little guy, protect the banks, allow the economy to heal itself. Win-win win!

But it is the wrong solution. NPR interviewed Barry Ritholtz today about his blog "The Big Picture." I happen to agree with his stance. When you help the homeowner you also help the banks. Both were irresponsible and both should take the punishment. It sounds harsh but in the long run it will let the strong and lucky prosper. The real moral hazard is not me being somehow punished because I was prudent, its not letting a true market economy run its course.
Stupid people were in charge before the crisis and this money from President Obama will just keep them there.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Smells more like a rotten subsidy

Obamacare rears it's nasty head already!
"Taxing the subsidy means that more companies will eliminate or reduce the coverage, and more retires will shift to Medicare Part D, which will create more costs for both the government and the retirees." Excerpt from letter sent by 10 companies to congressional leaders" (source)
Gosh darn it! They said this would happen, stupid Obamacare-tax and spend liberal-take away my freedom.....wait....subsidy? Isn't a subsidy getting something.....you know like subsidizing housing or education?

So as I understand it, when we subsidize something we take from the massive pot we call revenue. We take money from this pot in the hopes of reaping a benefit, like reducing homelessness, hunger, poorly educated citizens, or even providing medical/health care for low income folks.

That sounds a lot like a handout. "Welfare!" you say, why should we taxpayers pay for things that should be the responsibility of the person? No..no..no, it' an incentive, see, we do it to get a benefit. Welfare or Incentive, different feel but same result.

Which is why this story caught my eye, you see (no pun intended) they are taking away the handout - the subsidy, the corporate welfare, the incentive.....and in so doing, those that also benefited - in this case retirees - will lose out. When the teat drys up the piglets go a' squealin'!

So lets look at this subsidy they are "losing" a bit closer.....
Jan 8 2004 (From the Wall Street Journal - six years ago)

The new federal program calls for employers to be reimbursed for 28% of the cost for prescriptions of more than $250 per retiree, up to an annual subsidy of $1,330 per retiree, beginning in 2006.

Thanks to a little-noticed provision in the new law, the government will calculate the subsidy based on both what the employer spends for prescription drugs and what the retiree spends. So if an employer and a retiree each pay $1,000 toward the retiree's medical costs, the employer's subsidy is calculated on the full $2,000, bringing the company a total subsidy of $490, rather than the $210 that it would get if it received a subsidy only on its share.

As a result, when combined with tax and accounting rules, the program allows employers in some cases to use the subsidy to erase the entire cost of prescription drugs for retirees, or even turn a profit from a drug plan. For instance, if a Medicare-eligible retiree's prescription costs are $2,550, and his former employer pays $1,000 of it, under long-standing tax rules, the employer can deduct its full $1,000 for tax purposes, meaning the after-tax cost to the company is $650 at a 35% corporate tax rate.

Meanwhile, the company doesn't pay taxes on the subsidy it receives, thanks to another provision of the new Medicare law. So in this example, the employer would receive a subsidy of $644, based on the full amount paid by both employer and retiree, reducing the company's cost for the retiree to $6 for the year.
I think a pretty good argument can be made as to who the real scoundrels are and that what is now taking place is a prudent fiscally responsible correction of a sweetheart deal. Or we can blame Obamacare for taking away retirees prescription payments.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Horse Aint Dead Yet!

Yea, OK, this Roger Ailes speech at the Bush Library has got me in a fluster. What grinds my gears is how the CEO of a company can make statements such as this. It's not media bashing that's the problem, hey his competition is weak now so kickem' to hurry it along - that's how the game is played.

No it's the "make stuff up" statistic:
"90 percent of national journalists ...... don't attend church."
That's not true, that's not what the Pew Study found or reported, but now it's out there for all the world to see. The Head of Fox News quoted a Pew Study that states 90% of Journalist do not attend church. Shouldn't he know better? Shouldn't a guy who heads a news reporting operation understand the need to check one's facts before he speaks? Or is that only what journalists are supposed to do? No, I think he knows exactly what he said and that it was false, but if it serves the greater purpose - to poison the well, then the means justifies the end.

But what end are they looking for? Two things in my opinion, one is to elevate Fox News - increasing market share and wealth for shareholders and two, to confuse just enough people so they vote the way Rupert Murdoch and his friends want them to vote.

"But they're all environmentalists"
No they are not, and you know that. you also know that non-church goers combined with environmentalist makes for a more potent poison to kill journalist and any other news source except "journalist free" Fox News.

But wait! You're not done yet!
"You can only have one god at a time. Too many journalists think they are"
Still more poison - elitist attitude, same kind them liberal professors have - you know the academic types - smart people, not like my audience of Joe Six Packs.

So mainstream media has liberal bias and Fox News - number one mind you - has no bias. None according to Mr. Ailes:
"it only appears that way because of mainstream media outlets' liberal bias"
C'mon, you got to be kidding me. You are the counter to what has always been perceived to be present. There is liberal bias because journalism attracts liberal thinking talent. That's factual but it does not mean all media is biased, because if it does then Fox News is biased as well. Your model has been to cater to the right, c'mon man its working, others are failing because they don't play to one particular audience, that is they want to keep their bias in check. That makes them boring, whereas you give your audience what you have made them want.

It's not fair and balanced in any other world than the one you and other conservatives choose to live, because in that world you have no liberal, pragmatic, enlightened, or logical thought to compare it to. Bias is always bias just as truth is always truth. Which side one leans does not alter what is factual, only perception does, and that's what has been built around the concept of Fox "News."

One day Joe Six Pack will wake up and see that a diet of candy and ice cream only made him slow and dimwitted. But for now, congratulations on your success, not only are you number one in the ratings but you can misinform just like the best of em'.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Welcome New Hires!

Howdy, my name is Roger Ailes and I would like to personally welcome you the the Fox News Family. As the Head of Fox News it has been my passion to purge from our news rooms anyone who calls themselves a Journalist. We do not hire, nor will we tolerate, anybody of that persuasion.

At Fox News, we're still hiring and expanding our coverage, just not with journalist and that goes for any of you youngsters who even set foot in a journalism class. In fact, as my good friend and former boss, ol' 41 was heard saying Fox News is the most trusted sources of news in America today, and we plan to stay that way - by being journalist free.

Now as the most successful media executive of the last 10 years, I think I know a little bit about what makes a good news channel, and it's not one that hires or utilizes the liberal bias of a journalist.

So welcome to Fox News, you Texas A&M graduates you can go right in since your school was smart enough to do away with its journalism department, so y'all are pure as snow flakes.

For the rest of you, we will need to ask a few questions before we can let you in.

Do you go to church?
Are you now or have you ever been a pagan?
Are you an environmentalist?
How many Gods do you have?
Do you think you are God?
Do you revere Chuck Norris?

If you pass, welcome to Fox News please join the Aggies for some tea, and if you don't? Out of my sight you environmentalist agnostic atheist pagan!

Thank you.

Words in blue - those used in The Eagle story
Words in green from PDF

PS for those that can't see satire, this is satire.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Fox in the Hen House

The head of Fox News, Roger Ailes spoke on Friday at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. Now I was not there to hear the speech and I may be taking things out of context since all I have to go by is a newspaper article in The Eagle which I have now come to find out was written by a pagan.

Now, I don't like getting painted with a broad brush nor do I like it when it is done to someone else. So I am going to focus on the utter illogical nature of his comments which included:
Ailes said a Pew Study from four years ago found 60 percent of Americans expressed the belief that God is essential to morality, but that more than 90 percent of national journalists didn't think so and don't attend church.
I fact checked that - what he said was not entirely true. What the study found was 91% of those who work at national news organizations say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral; 78% of local journalists agree. Why he thinks 90% don't go to church is probably just a made up statistic to support the other nonsense he let out of his pie hole, such as this gem:
"But they're all environmentalists," the 69-year-old said. "And I have a theory that environmentalism, to some degree, is replacing religion with those people...."
Oh Really? All of them? Even the ones who work at Fox News? Or does Fox News not use journalists? Hmmmmm it's all starting to make sense now.
  • Pew study finds 91% of Journalists" say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral."
  • CEO of Fox News believes Journalists don't go to church and are pagans.
  • President Bush (41) says Fox News "the most trusted sources of news in America today."
  • Fox News is number one without apparently using journalists to write their news stories.
  • Texas Conservatives vote in Republican Primary 95% to pass "Acknowledgment of God."
  • Texas A&M is home to the Bush Library.
  • Texas A&M is a conservative leaning school.
  • A conservative value is "recognizing the media for its bias, bullying, deception."
  • Texas A&M closes its Journalism department.
Damn, this is not where I was going with this blog, but it is all starting to fit together. Don't counter bias with truth, kill the messenger. Without journalists there will be no scrutiny, no skeptics, no one to call someone out, no voice for the downtrodden, the under-served, the forgotten, the meek, the poor, the average Joe/Jane without connections.

It is really starting to make sense now.....and its kind of chilling how their plan is all coming together. It all starts with demonizing the profession and putting in its place what appears to be an alternative, but one more to their liking..... another Fox to guard our hen house.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It sure looks official.......

I was trying to fact check a statement made by Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News, who yesterday spoke at the Bush Presidential Library. I'll get to that in my next post, for now I am sidetracked.

So I am searching for a Pew Study he quotes when, for some odd reason, I come across a blog on the recent Pentagon shooting by John Patric Bedell. Apparently the tea party gang took offense to a Christian Science Monitor report indicating that Mr. Bedell may have been part of "Right-Wing Extremism."

Well them's apparently fighting words, you know, attaching extremism, murder, and anti-government with right-wing. But they have a point, right-wing is not the sole producer of nut cases - there are lots of them that swing on the left as well.

Unfortunately the argument used by this blogger and all the other blogs that parrot it, has little to do with showing how the report's statement was premature and unfair to those that bat right handed but don't run out to the pitcher's mound to kill the opposing player when they think the pitch was directed at them. No, the argument was:

About the Pentagon shooter; Update: Stop playing games, MSM. John Patrick Bedell was a registered Democrat.

But that's not what this post is about, it's about fact checking which is what I was trying to do when I came across this blog.

You see, when someone makes a claim they should be able to back up where that information comes from. Although I try to be fair, I do not lean right, so if one does, they can/should take me to task for what I post. Now my opinions are mine like them or not, but when I use facts to support them those facts should be correct - or my argument/position loses its punch.

Unfortunately facts are only as correct as the source from which they were obtained. Still, if it is a reliable source we can assume they are true until we find out otherwise. I will always change my opinion if it was based on data that was incorrect, at least that's what I tell myself and I hope I always have the integrity to do so.

My God - I can get wordy. To the point ol' man!

The source for Bedell is a Democrat according to the blog site above is www.Electorates.us which would appear to be a legitimate source for this info, I mean it has the ".us" at the end does it not? But it does not take you to a site where you can look this info up, instead it takes you here. I cannot check this data for accuracy unless I pay what looks like $750.00. (I tried searching without paying but could not acquire this information).

Here is the problem: Google "John Patrick Bedell was a registered Democrat" and you will see page after page of blogs referencing the original blog with the information that cannot be verified.

This is to not say its true or not, its just sad how fast information is passed around with the assumption that it is correct especially when it bolsters one's argument.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Acknowledgement of God - Part II

Yea, I'm a worrywart when it comes to group think. Blame it on my education at a Liberal University up in the Red Woods, but really, my eyes were open by my Sociology Professor, Dr. Samuel Oliner more than 30 years ago. Dr. Oliner was a Holocaust survivor and we spent a semester looking at what happened, why, and especially why some people went out of their way to help him and others Jews even though the penalty for doing so was sometimes death.

It is because it happened then, has happened before, and has happened after, that I worry. It's also the reason I write this blog that no one reads, so that there is a record that some people saw it building even before it happened.

Now I have no idea what will come from all this new found orthodoxy. It's different then when we wanted to elect Perot, this group, the tea party types, are scary. Like I said in my last post, orthodoxy feeds on more orthodoxy, so when Texas Republican's find the need to vote on "Acknowledgement of God" in the Primary and pass it by 95% I kind of get a bit uneasy about where this could - could mind you - go if not kept in check.

Why the concern?

March 4, 2010 -
The Eagle Letter to the Editor

I was joyful when I read the voting results for Proposition 4 on the Republican ballot: "Acknowledgment of God." Here in the Brazos Valley, 92 percent of the voters said yes. Statewide, a huge 95 percent proudly voted yes.

This proves to a lot of folks that we are, indeed, a Christian nation. Those who come here from other religions had best not attempt their terrorist acts or tactics to undermine our nation. We deal with those types in our courts by God-believing judges.

For those who do not believe in God, we have love and concern for you. Perhaps we believers can lead you into the light of truth by sharing why we know God is real.

Thank all who came forwarded and publicly declared we believe in the Almighty, creator of life on this world.



What? Me Worry?.....yea....yea...I do.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

An Arrogant Certainty About One's Own Views

Rep - Ballot
Proposition #4: Public Acknowledgement of God
The use of the word "God", prayers, and the Ten Commandments should be allowed at public gatherings and public educational institutions, as well as be permitted on government buildings and property.

Source: Harris County GOP.

OK, I have been slacking - I said I would write about a couple conservative values I thought needed to be hashed out. So lets look at this one:

Emphasizing humility and open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views.

in light of last Tuesday's Texas Primary results. Only Republicans got to vote on this, and they passed it with 95% of the vote. Now this is one of those silly kind of questions that put one in a bind, kind of like the "do you still beat your wife" question a lawyer can ask. How does one say no to their God? Well 5% did, which means they are either atheists/agnostics or astute - fully aware of just how dicey forcing a whole lot of people to participate in their set of values can be.

That separation of church thing that was written into the constitution (God, there I go again evoking that silly document, which just like the Geneva Convention can be dismissed as "quaint") was done with a lot of thought. It was done primarily to stop a dominant group from forcing a particular dogma on others.

So when I am told that a conservative value is "open-mindedness instead of arrogant certainty about one's own views" and then I see that 95% of Republicans - which align themselves with conservatism want to force God on the rest, I am...shall we say...not buying it.

Now I take a Jeffersonian view of a person's belief in God: "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

But the real harm to this, the real fear of 95% not understanding the danger of what they want to unleash, is that orthodoxy only is satisfied with more orthodoxy. This kind of "feel good" stupidity detracts from real issues and instead emboldens those that are normally kept in the closest. It's not about not being allowed to say "God" or a prayer, or have your 10 commandments on public land, that's how they have framed it, that someone - "them" - are taking away your rights, your liberty, your God.

There is only one logical outcome when it builds momentum, and that will in one form or fassion lead to picking my pocket or breaking my leg. It is a slippery slope, and I fear that with the Tea Party folks, the Texas Republicans, and this new push to be more conservative than the other guy we are heading down it.

Bottom line is that this is not the America we want regardless of how much we love our God. It is not the America the founders envisioned for us and specifically outlined in the constitution that scores of men and woman have sworn to uphold and have died defending.

Ahhh Jeff you're worrying needlessly, its just about allowing us to say a prayer, I mean we make up the majority, us Christians, why should we go without - majority rules, right?

Wrong - the Constitution rules.