Disregard for Humanity…..

2013-11-02_16-33-00“Don’t romanticize charity, we can’t make up for these cuts,” Margarette Purvis, president and CEO of Food Bank For New York City, told MSNBC.com in September. “No one is more afraid of these cuts than charity, because we cannot cover it.”

Negotiations began this week between the House and Senate on the 2013 Farm Bill as the two sides try to reconcile their differences, including on food benefits for the country’s poor. The Senate version of the bill would cut about $4 billion more from food stamps over the next decade. But the House bill would cut $39 billion, causing nearly four million people to lose eligibility for the program.

SOURCE: $5 billion in cuts hit food stamps | MSNBC.

I am on the front lines of the battle against starvation in America. Weekly I see hundreds of people come through our soup kitchen.  We live on a shoestring budget to put out healthy meals to those who would probably not get one if we were not there.  To cut $5 billion now and another $39 billion later while we continue to ramp out our grossly insane military budgets is more than stupid it is an utter disregard for humanity.

I recently heard a Republican Senator self-proclaim that he is really a liberator of the poor. He proudly states that our safety net has trapped so many people he is here to dismantle it in order to rescue them.  He claims that if we can just tear them loose from the net they will all go out and get good paying jobs and then everyone can keep their own money and live happily ever after. I am hoping that this story makes you as sick as it does me. I am sure this person actually believes what he is saying or at least he rationalizes it being so. But if he were to actually get out on the front lines of our war against poverty he would see a very different story.

Many of my GOP friends seem to think that “those” people actually prefer to be poor and to not know where next weeks food will come from.  They seem to think that people are just too lazy to get a job.  I can honestly say that I have never met a person who wishes to be poor. Many without jobs would love to work if only they could find it and had a means to get to and from it daily as required. Of course all of us know that most jobs that would be available to them if they had a reliable car and good health are at minimum wage.

Of course I see and realize that there are those who have brought the problems they have on themselves.  They made some poor choices in life that have resulted in addictions and often prison terms trying to support those addictions.  Some of my friends are in that boat and I sympathize with them. But with that prison term around their necks for the rest of their life most employers, even minimum wage ones won’t touch them. There are just too many others they can choose to take on their roles.

Cutting food stamps instead of our obscene military budgets is total insanity and a gross lack of humanity to me.

But I am just a simple guy so what do I know……..

One thing most New Testament scholars agree on—and they don’t agree on much—is that Jesus’s main aim was the kingdom of God—not some saccharine vision of a future in heaven, but a clear political statement about the here… Read More

Kingdom Of God…..

Intolerance….

2013-11-02_16-44-25 Now which is the narrowest, religious intolerance or political intolerance?   – Will Rogers, 20 April 1927

That is a tough one Will. Even tougher is which does the most damage? Many have blamed, and rightly so in some regards, religious intolerance for most of humanities wars.  But political intolerance has caused so much damage to society as to rival that.

Which is the narrowest? I don’t know….

Buying Innovation Instead Of Creating It…….

Innovation“Now is the time to build on this momentum and accelerate our share and profits in phones,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in an email to Microsoft employees. “Clearly, greater success with phones will strengthen the overall opportunity for us and our partners to deliver on our strategy to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.

SOURCE:  Microsoft Buying Nokia’s Devices and Phone Business for $7 Billion – ABC News.

I was around in the beginning of Microsoft. I was a very early implementor of the Office programs. They were a brash company of young hippies who dared to take on the monolithic IBM corporation. They were just too young and naive to know that they couldn’t play on the same field. That’s what makes for the true game-changers in today’s world. The paradigm shifts occur most frequently from these brash startups.

But as is usual success breeds complacency. After you get so big you start worrying about profits and such above innovation. It seems almost impossible to prevent that from happening.  Apple seems to be about the only company that has at least today  that been able to defeat this trend. But, even for them, the writing seems to be on the wall now that Steve Jobs is gone.

Getting to the point of this post, when a company becomes too big to really be a success at innovation they try to buy it instead of creating it.  Microsoft has spurred more billionaires than most any other company. They try to buy small companies and the somehow hope to inherit their zeal. Most often all that happens is the original owner, with his recently acquired billions just moves one to something else. Buying innovative zeal seldom seems to work but it is almost a last-ditch effort for most large corporations. I personally was involved in an attempted merger between two very different work cultures. Within a year it was obvious to everyone that nothing productive would result.

It is a fact that the vast majority of employment in the U.S. comes from the mega-corps. Companies with more than 500 workers employ about three-fourths of the current workforce. So when people say that small business drives America that is just not true when it comes to actual employees but it is generally true with it come to innovation.

Still True Today….

2013-11-01_16-23-30

Lets visit some recent history to see if maybe we are a little wiser now than we were then. I have always liked Joe Biden. He just seems like a down to earth say it like it is type of guy. These words are just as true today as when Joe said them more than two years ago. Why can’t more people understand that???

Stifling Possible Peace Talks…

Waving flag of IsraelIsrael on Wednesday announced new construction in east Jerusalem – an area the Palestinians demand for their future state – just hours after it freed a group of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set peace talks in motion.

The building is seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release, for which he has been sharply criticized at home. The prisoners were jailed for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter said Wednesday that four projects are being promoted, including 1,500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo in east Jerusalem.

SOURCE:  Israeli announces plans for settlement in contested area – CBS News.

I know I am going to get myself in trouble here for even hinting of criticizing Israel but the fool that I am I will do it anyway.

I must admit that I don’t really follow all the Israel news on a daily or even monthly basis.  To me nothing seems to change in that part of the world. There have been possible peace talks going on there for fifty years and every time Israel somehow manages to do something stifle them. Usually it is by the current action of building more settlements in disputed areas.  It seems to me that they don’t really want peace; maybe not enough people have been killed yet to make it reachable?

Yes, I know there is an extreme amount of hatred in that part of the world. So much so to keep animosities flared for centuries to come. I just don’t understand how they can keep that hatred going for so long a  time. It must be very tiring to do that? My main hope in this regard is thinking of Ireland.  That country too was plagued with religious upheaval for decades. For them it was within only the Christian side of religion whereas Israel’s is cross religions.  But somehow  that conflict has finally come to an end.  At least the official version of it. I’m sure that there is still some deep-seated feeling still there among the older generations. That is one nice thing about long time conflicts that future generations don’t put the importance on them as the generation who started the original conflict.

Will Israel ever find peace with the neighbors? Probably not in my lifetime but you never know. One thing that seems to keep the flames going in that area is our funding of the Israeli military establishment. They are the totally dominant military faction in that part of the world. We continue to pump billions of our tax dollars into providing the latest weapons for them. Is that insuring their continued existence or is it just stoking the flames of hatred in the Middle East.  I don’t know enough about that to really have much of an opinion.  But I do know that something needs to change in that part of the world. Maybe when we, and the rest of the world, finally rid ourselves of our dependence on their oil something might change….

100% American…

Print“I think the same fellow who started that self-made man gag started that other asinine expression, ‘100 per cent American.'” – Will Rogers, 28 October 1923

Will was just not one to parse his words. He spoke what he thought. I like to think I am like him in that regard. I also like to think that I also, like him, do it in a respectable manner without rants and personal attacks. At least I try to do that.

Will was turned off by certain phrases and these two above were on that list. To him there is no such thing as self-made. We all owe a debt to the society that sustains us. We all depend on others for what we have in life. Our mentors, our heroes, and yes even our advisories shape who we are. No one is ever self-made.

Likewise there is no such thing as 100% American. We are a very diverse country with  many different opinions and beliefs. What makes us great is our willingness to accept others views even when they differ from our own. At least that is what has made us great in the past. In today’s USA I’m not sure that idea has legs anymore.

So when I hear all those out there saying that they are somehow 100% American I, like Will,  immediately am cautious of what words may follow.

When Will It End???

2013-11-03_08-21-41

When will we ever learn????

In case you have lost track, he is the LAX shooter. Considering there have been a couple more in the news in the last day or so I guess this is old news… How sad is that???

A Sign Of Things To Come???

2013-11-02_08-39-24Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wants his old job back. This time, he’s running as Democrat. Crist filed paperwork on Friday, and plans to make the official announcement Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Republican-turned-Democrat is considered a front-runner for the Democratic ticket. He would likely be up against current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Scott represents a far more conservative version of the GOP than Crist ever did…..

“I’m an optimist but let’s face it, the last few years have been tough: government on the fringes, donors in politics above you the people,” said Crist in the video. “You’ve seen the attacks against full-time working people and their health care; against women and their doctors; against teachers, public schools and college affordability; And even against the simple act of casting your vote. It’s not working.”

SOURCE:  Charlie Crist running for Florida governor as a Democrat | MSNBC.

I have been following politics for a long time now. When the national conventions actually meant something I was a gavel-to-gavel viewer. I stayed up very late into the mornings to see who would eventually be the party nominee. I watched both the Republican and Democrat conventions with the same fervor. There was some pretty rough politicking going on but unlike today is was mostly civil.

One thing I have noticed is that politics as the State level is quite different from at the national level. And politics at the local level is down right weird🙂   At the State and particularly at the local level the “sticking to principles” concept is played much more loosely. It is more about getting things done than beating the other guy.

So when Charlie Crist turned from a Republican to a Democrat I was not terribly surprised. He no longer fit into the mold of a Republican so he moved on to the next party.  I wonder if that will be the fate of more moderates, that is those who want to actually accomplish something.   Will they fight to take back control of their party from the present wing nuts or will they simply abandon it? For me, that question is still very much up in the air but I hope they fight to keep their brand.  We have lost too many once noble institutions already in this country. I really don’t relish losing another one.

Yes, I am a social progressive but I am also a fiscal conservative. As long as there is a balance between my political choices I freely switched back and forth depending on which candidate could best accomplish the compassionate balancing act between those two worlds.  It has been several years now since that balance has been near the center.  I pray that someday it will level out again.

But I am just a simple guy so what do I know…..

Our political system has increasingly been working in ways that increase the inequality of outcomes and reduce equality of opportunity. This should not come as a surprise: we have a political system that gives inordinate power to those… Read More

Our Warped Political System….

JPMorgan Chase, Justice Department reach tentative $13 billion deal over mortgage-backed securities

Steel box with keyThe person close to the talks told CBS News’ Stephanie Lambidakis that the tentative settlement was sealed Friday during a 6 p.m. phone call between Attorney General Eric Holder and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon along with their top lawyers.

SOURCE: JPMorgan Chase, Justice Department reach tentative $13 billion deal over mortgage-backed securities – CBS News.

$13 billion is a lot of money for most corporations so this settlement had to hurt JPMorgan. But what I don’t understand is that the agreement was “sealed”. That means that no one can see what actual agreements were made.  I am a firm believer that the government does the people’s business. In that light they represent all of us. So why can’t we as their clients see the details of the settlement?  Seems kind of strange to me. If I were a conspiracy guy I would be putting out all kinds of allocations.🙂

Shall We Celebrate the 1%?

MoneyIt continues to amaze me that there are Christians –both preachers and politicians- who seem to be much more interested in defending the honor and the interests of the very wealthy than they are to lending support to the less advantaged ones among us. Their priorities are the opposite of those reflected in scripture (James 2:1-7; 5:1-5). They will speak up for low taxes on the rich but not defend livable wages for the working poor. They will call for deregulation on businesses but not stand up for better consumer or environmental protections. They sound much more like the devotees of Ayn Rand than disciples of Jesus Christ.

SOURCE:  Craig M. Watts: Shall We Celebrate the 1%? | Red Letter Christians.

The Ayn Rand worship by many including of course Rep. Ryan who says he is Catholic greatly confuses me. Ayn Rand was an in-your-face atheist who proclaimed empathy to be one of the biggest detriments to mankind. Isn’t Jesus Christ the absolute bedrock of empathy?  How do those who call themselves conservative Christians reconcile those facts? I just don’t know….

The Irony Of It All…

Medicare CardI have been kind of watching the preliminaries for this latest “super committee” forming in Washington to come to some sort of budget deal and I am not impressed. On the one hand my Republican friends often scream that Medicare doesn’t pay enough for the services rendered. That doctors are dropping out of the system due to not making enough money. And then comes the first salvo of this latest round of budgeting. The first thing the GOP comes up with is cuts to Medicare??

I know that many on that side of the aisle are for a total defunding of Medicare and instead just giving seniors a small voucher and then put them out into the private insurance system to fend for themselves. So, maybe this all makes sense from a higher level than I realize. Cut Medicare so that it becomes so underfunded that no doctor will accept patients from that system. David Stockman who was Reagan’s budget director called that “Starving the beast”. That is continue to cut taxes (income) until the government is drowning in deficits. In that regard the GOP has been somewhat successful lately.

I am still on the fence as to whether the GOP will go the way of the Whig party. If they actually do attempt to “privatize” Social Security I think there will be enough of us seniors to insure that they disappear from the landscape. Those Tea Party folks just don’t seem to want anyone to have affordable healthcare; that is except those in the 1%.  Their latest hit against the Affordable Care Act is that with so many new people being able to see a doctor that some physician groups are saying they must limit their patient contact to no more than 15 minutes to keep up with the case loads. They say that is proof that Obamacare will wreck our healthcare in this country. It never seems to occur to them that they need to try to figure out a way to increase our doctors and nurses to meet the load. Maybe a good start would be to help medical students with the bone crushing debt many have when they finally become practicing doctors. These Tea Party folks are just “anti-” to the bone.

But getting back to the budgeting process, We have not actually had a budget from the folks in Washington in over five years. This year both the House and the Senate created bills but then failed to come together for the reconciliation process because the House GOP speaker would not allow it to happen.  With that in mind I don’t see much hope for this latest committee to accomplish much.

In The Other Fellow’s Yard….

Will Rogers 6“A nation is just like an individual. If a man’s neighbors all hate him and he is continually in trouble, and all his fights and troubles are always over in the other fellow’s yard, he must be wrong.” – Will Rogers, 30 March 1927

Why we continue to always be fighting in the other fellow’s yard is beyond me. I am very thankful that for the most part our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. We will likely on leave a couple hundred thousand of our soldiers there but that is considered a withdrawal by modern standards. .😉

I am very thankful to our president for not getting us into more fights in Syria and Iran. But I am kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop. One of my biggest disappointments with President Obama is he is listening to all the generals way too much. That and his killer robot drone program totally disappoints me…

‘I cannot even stand to look at you’

RespectThe No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, says that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that they are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them.

“In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you,’” Durbin wrote in a post on his Facebook page over the weekend.

Calling a government shutdown strategy from Republicans “disastrous,” Durbin did not specify which leader made the comment, what the context was or how the president responded.

“What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin wrote.

SOURCE:  Dick Durbin: GOP leader told President Obama ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’ – Tal Kopan – POLITICO.com.

It looks like our country has now devolved into gutter politics. That is where an opponent is treated with utter hate and anger. It used to be that when other politicians were addressing the president they did so with respect for the office.  That is the reason that presidents are usually address as “Mr. President” instead of their name.  We might not particularly like the person in the office but we treated him with respect.  To hear this sort of thing happening is a direct insult to our very institution of democracy.

When someone says that they can’t even stand to look at you, how would you respond? As for me my first inclination would be to shout a profanity back at them. But I hope I would be controlled enough simply to walk away from the vitriolity.  I don’t know which GOP leader said the words but I can imagine who it was.  How can anything approaching a respectable conversation occur when it start with those words?

President Obama always seems to be pretty cool under fire so I’m sure he didn’t respond like-for-like as I probably would have. When he came into office in 2009 he seemed to almost bend over backwards to get a conversation going with the Republicans but after so many failed attempts he finally wised up and quit compromising when nothing was returned. Since as a result of gerrymandering it is unlikely that Democrats will get control of the House so I expect this sort of ugly politics will continue throughout this second term.

I just wonder how much could actually been accomplished in improving ACA and reducing our deficits if both sides learned to treat each other with R-E-S-P-E-C-T   as an old song used to say.

Never in my life has one of our political parties devolved into such a sorry state…..

Punditry is an industry built on confirmation bias. Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter—these people provide fuel for beliefs, they pre-filter the world to match existing worldviews. If their… Read More

Man Bites a Dog…..

Seeking Evidence….

EvidenceIn science, you move closer to the truth by seeking evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the same method should inform your opinions as well.

SOURCE: “You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself”  (McRaney, David)

I have a lot of quotes from this book now residing in my database and will be bringing them out from time to time. I am a scientist so the words above ring very true to me. Being a scientist got me into trouble in the Christian church that I once belonged to.  I just questioned too much for those folks; it made them very uncomfortable asking questions that they didn’t have the usual firm answers for my inquiries.

I pride myself on being a contrarian. That is I often question things that others just take for granted. I am always looking for an alternative view of almost everything I come across. But I am also a realist; I know that there are many many people out there who seldom question any of their beliefs either spiritual or otherwise.  They just take whatever they are told that agrees with their current worldview as facts. There seem to be many around now who are proud Tea Party members even though they haven’t really considered the consequences of that affiliation. I am also a U.S history buff so I can look back and see similar groups in our history and know that they almost always do  more harm than they do good.

There are many who simply don’t want to be confused with the facts when it comes to their personal opinions/prejudices/bigotry.  Being that I seem to question everything I don’t really have any understanding of those who question nothing.  Are they simply too lazy to think for themselves? Are they too ingrained in their tunnel vision beliefs? Or are they simply not able to reasonably consider the alternatives?  I have no answers to these questions; I don’t know if I ever will.

But I kind of believe that this additional quote below from the book has much to do with some people’s views.

THE MISCONCEPTION: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

THE TRUTH: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you believed, while ignoring information that challenged your preconceived notions.

Too Many People…

crowdThis is kind of a continuation of yesterday’s post about why Republicans hate Obamacare. One thing I didn’t come across in my one hour search of why they hate Obamacare but I have seen it used as part of their opposition is that it puts too many additional people into the system. They say adding 30 million more consumers of healthcare will overwhelm our system.

This seems to me to be a somewhat typical complaint among many of my conservative friends. They look almost exclusively at themselves and the status quo when they see changes being made.  That is why they are called conservatives I guess. They just don’t like change, especially change that they see negatively impacting themselves.  The mentality of “if I don’t benefit from it then don’t change it” is pervasive in many of their current actions.  Since my GOP friends seem to be afraid of just about everything nowadays there is a lot for them to be against.

But, let’s get back to Obamacare. Too many people in the system will degrade their personal healthcare so the answer is to keep the 30 million currently locked out of healthcare right where they are. Why can’t these folks who are locked into that mentality look at the opportunities instead of the possible personal detriments. We all know that jobs should be the number one priority so why can’t they see that the answer to too many people is to add more doctors and nurses to our system to meet the increased demand? Why must they be against Obamacare instead of seeing the opportunities for more jobs and a better lifestyle for more of our citizens? When you are locked into a perpetual “Anti-” mode it is hard to see anything as an opportunity rather than a threat.

I wish my conservative friends would be a little more “progressive” in their thoughts and actions. It is really a much better place to be than being against everything….

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