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Why???

September 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-09-15_20-26-03I have a question for my Republican friends.

Yes, that sounds like the setup for a smackdown, but though the question is pointed, it is also in earnest. I’d seriously like to know:

If Republican fiscal policies really are the key to prosperity, if the GOP formula of low taxes and little regulation really does unleash economic growth, then why has the country fared better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones and why are red states the poorest states in the country?…

Yet, every election season the party nevertheless makes those claims. It will surely do so again this fall. So it seems fair to ask: Where are the numbers that support the assertion? Why is Texas only middling in terms of per capita income? Why is Mississippi not a roaring engine of economic growth? How are liberal Connecticut and Massachusetts doing so well?…

It seems to suggest Republican claims are, at best, overblown. If that’s not the case, I’d appreciate it if some Republican would explain why. Otherwise, I have another earnest, but pointed question for my Democratic friends:

How in the world do they get away with this?

 

SOURCE:  If GOP is right, why are red states so far behind? – Leonard Pitts – Newsday.

Why is probably my favorite word in the English language. Everyone should use it many times a day. If we don’t questions things in our lives then we leave the door open for others to determine how we live.

Why do we let others, particularly the politicians, say almost anything they want without questions? The above example is a biggie for me. If the Republican mantra of low taxes, no regulation, and small or maybe no government at all is the answer then why are so many of the red States so poor. With their iron-fisted control of their State governments why are so many “liberal” States so much better off then the red ones?

Theoretically it is possible to replace over 85% of our representative in congress in the coming months. So, if as the polls suggest, we are all so disgusted with those folks why will we return the vast majority of them to a job that they seem utterly unqualified for?

Are we just too lazy to take the necessary actions to turn our totally dysfunctional government around?  What we have to do is really not that difficult; just a couple of button pushes in early November. Out with the old and in with the new. The new couldn’t be any worse so why not give it a try?  Why??

One final question I have is why is my home State of Indiana a red one when all our surrounding neighbors are so blue? For the life of me I can’t figure that one out. :)

 

Is It Worth It???

September 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

2014-09-04_09-31-04If it were challenged by Russia, how important is Estonia’s sovereignty to you? Would you kill and die for it? Send your children to do so? Would you risk the nuclear annihilation of your civilization? Is your gratitude for use of Estonia’s airspace during the war on terror that great?

SOURCE: Don’t save Ukraine – The Week.

The publication “The Week” is becoming a favorite of mine. It is from a British organization so it lends a different viewpoint than most traditional U.S. sources.  It seems to have the same contrarian philosophy as me. When we take away all the spin of being the “policemen of the world” is preventing part of a country’s population from splitting off into a different allegiance worth billions of our dollars and more importantly thousands of American kids lives? That should be the first question we ask ourselves whenever we get involved in yet another conflict on the other side of the world.  I know my answer to that question and I suspect you know yours without hesitation.

Apple Innovations…

September 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-09-01_09-28-00The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger….

“Love it or hate, Apple drives a lot of standards in the industry,” Bajarin said in an interview. “They are the mover in these markets. When they do something, the industry seems to follow.”

SOURCE: Apple Said to Team With Visa, MasterCard on IPhone Wallet – Yahoo Finance.

Today being the day for the “big” announcements from Apple almost necessitates that it also be the subject of this post.

A couple of years ago I downsized the wallet I used to have from a one inch behemoth that bulged from my back pocket to something less than a half-inch and the size of half a dollar bill and I found out I don’t miss all that other stuff I used to needlessly haul around. I have been waiting to move to the next stage and that is to chuck the whole wallet. It looks like with the latest Apple innovation I might be able to do that sooner rather than later. Of course soon is a relative term when it comes to our electronic gadgets.

Over the years I have seen quite a bit of miniaturization in the world around me. The doctor’s office, of which I seem to spend more and more time lately, has finally  gone totally digital. The dozen or so ten foot high by twenty-foot wide racks of patient records now reside on laptops carried around by the nurses. The doctors for the most part still stubbornly resist having to use “those things” so they relegate that responsibility to them.

I used to get about ten different paper magazines a month in order to keep up on what is happening in the world and to follow the hobbies that interested me.  I am now down to one weekly magazine. Everything else is on-line. Let’s face it the digital world saves trees and since trees give us our oxygen that is a good thing. :)

Our world is becoming smaller each year and it is about time to chuck the old wallet of the 19th and 20th century for a digital one. I am still using a three-year old iPhone but will upgrade to the iPhone 6 after the hoopla dies down. When that happens I will move as much as possible to digital transactions. Thanks Apple for giving us 21st century solutions to our daily challenges. I certainly look forward to your announcements this afternoon.

 

The “It” Factor…

September 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-09-01_09-41-00Now, the fact that we call It “It” implies that this certain something is a little squishy and difficult to define. You just know It when you see It. Still, there are some obvious components. Good looks certainly help. So does confidence. Gravitas, swagger — both help you have It. And it’s often very important to be cool — whatever that is. Competence and the notion that you’re a winner who can get things done? Now that’s It.

JFK had It. Reagan had It. Clinton had It. So did George W. Bush. And Obama — well, let’s just say he was once heralded as “the biggest celebrity in the world.”…

Think of the last several presidential elections — Obama over Romney, Obama over McCain, Bush over Kerry, Bush over Gore, Clinton over Dole, Clinton over Bush, Bush over Dukakis, and so on. The candidate who has more of It always wins. So my fellow conservatives, I urge you: We’ve gotta find a candidate who has It. Because we’ll need It in 2016.

SOURCE:  The elusive ‘It factor’ in presidential politics – The Week.

I will admit that this article didn’t immediately catch my attention because it is from a well-know conservative blogger but the picture and the title pulled me in. Yeah, I am like everyone else in that I primarily read those I agree with. As to be expected I don’t agree with everything in this article but the overall premise is certainly true.  In the last thirty years or so we only elect people who we think have “it”. Some end up having “it” and some just don’t in the end measure up.

One of those characteristics mentioned above is almost the exclusive domain of Republicans and that is swagger. I suspect if John Wayne were alive today he, like the fellow actor of his time, would almost be a shoo-in for president given that he is the epitome of swagger.  But what these guys have in swagger they totally lack in cool. JFK certainly had cool but I’m not too sure the other Dems had it to any degree.

Getting back to the real purpose of this post, I’m just not sure why we insist that our presidents have “it”. Why don’t we pick the one most qualified to be in the Oval Office instead? As mentioned to a degree in the article some of our most effective presidents have been those who definitely didn’t have “it”. Look at LBJ, he was anything but cool but he got a lot of things done including Medicare, and Civil Rights. Look at FDR, he didn’t have any cool, swagger or much else on the list but he got things done.

We just don’t seem to be able to look beyond “cool” for our presidential choices lately. But at least one saving grace is that the country seems to survive almost anyone being in the highest office in the land. As proof of that look at Reagan and baby Bush….. :)

No More Whoppers For Me…

September 3, 2014

2014-08-26_08-36-25Burger King’s plan to scurry across the Canadian border to avoid U.S. taxes could be seen as the corporate equivalent of flipping President Barack Obama the bird….

“My sense is this is Burger King trying to dodge paying its taxes. I don’t know that I’d attribute it to their making a move like this to directly challenge Obama,” Frank Clemente, executive director of the nonprofit Americans for Tax Fairness, told The Huffington Post. “I can’t say what’s on the company’s mind here, whether they’re trying to beat the clock on this and do something before Congress passes legislation or do something before Obama signs an executive order.”

SOURCE:  Burger King Dares Obama To Stop It From Fleeing To Canada.

It irks me to see U.S. corporations declare bigger than ever profits and then shirk their tax responsibilities by moving out of the country.  As far as I am concerned Burger King might just as well move all their stores to as I will not be frequenting any of them in the future.  They can send me all the coupons they want but they will go immediately to the trash can.

Burger King is also known for paying no more than minimum wage to most of their store employees.  In my small town that results in huge turnover and low customer service. I’m sure the executive officers are well paid and like most others have figured a way to get their lavish bonuses year after year.

Goodbye Whooper…… We overthrew one king I guess we can do the same to this one…

Please Run Ted…….

August 27, 2014

2014-08-08_08-34-15To all appearances, Cruz is riding his fight with the Republican establishment into the 2016 race for President. He has established himself as the hardest of the hard-liners on Obamacare and on immigration. His likely rivals Marco Rubio and Rand Paul agree with Cruz on the health-care law though neither invested as much as Cruz in the fight; on immigration, Rubio joined with McCain in the Gang of Eight, and Rand Paul has at least hinted at a softer line on the issue.

SOURCE:  Ted Cruz, Immigration, and the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

It would be a dream come true if Mr. Cruz did get the 2016 presidential Republican nomination.  Yes, I know he is the darling child of perhaps 20% of the population but to the other 80% including some Republicans he is toxic. He is an extreme narcissist who deems himself the savior of the world. Kind of like Goldwater did in my early voting days. His ego seems to have no bounds.

If by some fluke he managed to kidnap the Republican nomination for president that would without any doubt secure the demise of the Republican party and therefore open up our country to just maybe a more sane political system. Yeah, the same thing would result if we managed to get rid of the Democrats but they seem just too disorganized to make that happen.

Ted Cruz is a primary example of what is wrong with this country today. Too many people, me probably included, think they know more than they do. They think they are perfect and have all the answers.

I will leave here with a short quote from a recently reacquired hero Alfred E. Neuman. I couldn’t possibly say it better….

MyScans112

2014-08-11_07-46-54

1: Mississippi. The poorest state in the U.S. Also the one whose corruption most approaches levels in a Third World country.

SOURCE:  Gallery: America’s most corrupt states.

When they talk about corruption in this article they are talking about corruption of public officials and that is generally from taking bribes. As shown above Mississippi comes in as number one in this category. And as also mentioned they are also the poorest and most uneducated State.  I suppose those facts are somewhat related.

I read an article somewhere that much of the South’s poverty came from their reliance on slave labor which prohibited a free market place type competition to reign. Yes, slavery was  abolished officially over 150 years ago but most of us know that it continued to have its effects until the Civil Rights area and even today has not disappeared from the mentality of some of its citizens and their public officials.

Here is the list of the ten most corrupt:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Louisiana
  3. Tennessee
  4. Illinois
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Alabama
  7. Alaska
  8. South Dakota
  9. Kentucky
  10. Florida

It is interesting to see that six of the ten States are in the south, two in the Middle, one in the Plains, and then Alaska.  During much of my lifetime Louisiana was at the top of this list. Huey Long and his dynasty openly had their hands out in almost all public contracts and such. The same goes for Illinois, particularly Chicago with Mayor Daily (the father that is).

It is surprising to see South Dakota on the list but with all the shale oil boom going on I suppose it is ripe for corruption and kickbacks.  What is even more surprising is that there is no State from the Northeast/New England on the list. Tammany Hall ruled New York City for years but I guess that effects have finally evaporated.

If you are interested in more click on the source above to see the article. Some of what you read will probably surprise you too.

 

Whitewashing of torture….

August 20, 2014

2014-08-07_08-41-18Out of the horror of World War II came one of the great achievements in all of human history: the Geneva Convention of 1949. It was a statement from humanity to itself that, in the aftermath of the bloodiest war in history, some decency might still be rescued. Despite the millions of senseless dead, despite all the mass murder and genocide and terror bombing, despite all the filth and hypocrisy and witless incompetence, the Convention states these things shall be held inviolate in war:

Wounded and sick soldiers shall be treated humanely, and medical facilities shall be off-limits to attack.

The same shall be true of wounded, sick, or shipwrecked sailors, and humanitarian ships.

Prisoners of war shall be treated humanely.

Non-combatants shall be treated humanely.

In 1988, President Reagan signed into law a treaty adding another stipulation to the list:

Torture shall be absolutely forbidden.

Reagan was no saint. His foreign policy caused tens of thousands of pointless deaths in Nicaragua alone. But he worked hard to get this treaty passed, and it is to my mind his greatest achievement. It added a bright star to the narrative of human progress….

Let’s compare that to the text of the Convention Against Torture:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of President Obama (aside from his unflappable, even cadence) is the way he instinctively tries to understand and legitimize both sides of every debate. When well-applied, as it was during his famous speech on race during the 2008 campaign, it adds needed nuance and complexity to difficult subjects.

Torture, on the other hand, is a simple subject that has little nuance or complexity. It is an absolute evil that has no place or function in a civilized, decent society. It is illegal under United States law. Only a complete idiot would try to use it to gather intelligence. Its only effective uses are thoroughly totalitarian: to intimidate, punish, and extract false confessions.

SOURE: President Obama’s despicable whitewashing of torture – The Week.

For the most part I am going to let the words above speak for me. Torture and anyone condoning it is simply idiocy. Yes, I kind of agree that one of President Obama’s most distinctive characteristics is trying to legitimize both sided of a debate.  Many times he is just too intellectual for his own, or the country’s good.

I also agree that Reagan was no saint but he came through with his abject hatred of torture.  I wonder how that affects his image for many of the current crop of conservatives who condone that tactic? Torture simply has no place in humanity.  Enough said…..

Triangle Factory Fire…

August 19, 2014

The Triangle Factory Fire was a defining moment in US history. Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about it

2014-04-30_09-32-20The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911 was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the history of the city, and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history…

The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men [1] – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three…

Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks[6] – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

I recently watched a very moving documentary about it on PBS. One of the shocking things I learned from that program was just how much the “system” was against the striking workers. The police, judges and city hall did monstrous things to beat the women back.  It would take J.P. Morgan’s  very privileged daughter to turn this trend. When she came out in favor of the workers things finally started to shift.

For those who might misunderstand the meanings of my words I want to state up front that I believe capitalism is the greatest monetary system in the world. Nothing else even comes close.  But this tragedy is a lesson learned that you just can’t have unregulated industrialization.  Without regulation greed overwhelms the capitalistic system. The owners who caused these unnecessary deaths took their insurance money and basically disappeared with no consequences for the deaths they caused.

I do thank God that these sort of things don’t happen in this country today but they continue to happen in those countries that supply us with our unquenchable desire for more and more cheap goods. We have current government agencies such as OSHA and although they are generally very understaffed compared to those they regulate they do a good job of reigning in unsafe corporate greed.

 

 

Nearly 25 years later, the North Korean People’s Army, Navy, and Air Force are relics of a different era. Nearly everything is obsolete. North Korean tanks and armored fighting vehicles are up to 50 years old. This summer, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was photographed onboard an old Romeo-class submarine, an antiquated design first produced in the 1950s. The North Korean Air Force is only slightly better off; its newest fighter jets are now 25 years old most are closer to 50.Not only is the equipment obsolete, it’s becoming unusable. Late last year during naval exercises, two North Korean People’s Navy patrol boats sank within days of each other, killing tens of North Korean sailors. On June 24, a helicopter exploded in midair.One major problem: North Korean equipment is so old nobody makes spare parts anymore. For years the military has cannibalized some equipment in order to keep the rest running. The fact that three MiG-19s have crashed in the span of seven months is a strong indication that cannibalization is no longer working and entire types of equipment are overdue for a trip to the junk heap.

SOURCE: North Korea’s military is falling apart — is Kim Jong Un’s regime next? – The Week.

The above article is good news but also bad news.  We just might be able to see some light at the end of the Korean tunnel. As more and more of their military equipment breaks down the North Korean despot will lose more and more power. But that is also the bad news.  As he loses power he will likely strike out on a last ditch effort to maintain his stranglehold. I know he is frantically trying to build a nuclear bomb and if he manages I have little doubt that he would use it!