Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama-Nation is an Abominition...

It's not like no one else has noticed (thank god!) but for those of you still think Jerome Corsi has something meaningful to say - get a life, grow up, and stop forfeiting your intelligence to fringe elements. If fact checking were a requirement in modern literature, Obama-Nation wouldn't be a book, and Jerome Corsi wouldn't be considered an author. Despite what any of you may feel about John Kerry, the swiftboat debacle was a reprehensible act in any light and Obama-Nation is another attempt at the same. The only recognition needed here is that Simon & Schuster, the otherwise quality publishers of books, has wanted to figure out a way to collect some of the vast sums of money burning holes in the pockets of the unwashed heathen and that is regularly collected by tel-evangelists and the National Enquirer (you know, "Expiring minds want to know!"). Well they've done it, by owning a small side publisher, where editorial control is accomplished by someone with the scruples of the average dump rat, the literary selectivity of a goat, and as greedy as the S&S CFO. Congratulations S&S, you can now get rich the same way the "robber-barons" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century did, by exploiting this country's ignorant, misguided poor to your own personal benefit. Has anyone stopped and taken a close look at our internationally vaunted market economy lately to see how much of it rests on exactly that premise??

For some other relevant thoughts on this subject see:
Obama Nation an Abominition

Thanks for reading - have a great day!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Chain Political Emails Are Bogus...

I have extracted part of a posting from, a group dedicated to fact checking everything that comes out on either side in a political campaign. This piece is TOO good, TOO accurate not to recognize here - mainly because I get SO MUCH CRAP chain email forwarded by people who think that because we are part of a common community (veterans), they think they are doing me a favor by keeping me "informed" .

That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is (Likely) Bogus. Seriously.
by Lori Robertson

I’ve noticed that chain e-mails, particularly those about politics, have a lot of things in common: urgent and frightening messages; spelling errors; a tendency to blame mainstream media for not telling the real story; and false, misleading, utterly bogus, and completely off-base claims.

If there was ever a case where readers should apply a guilty-until-proven-innocent standard, this is it. We at ask the public to be skeptical about politicians’ claims. With these e-mails, outright cynicism is justified. Assume all such messages are wrong, and you'll be right most of the time.

Yes, there are a few chain e-mails floating around the Web that are actually true – but not many. And when it comes to messages about the top presidential contenders, truth in e-mail is an elusive quality. In our Ask FactCheck feature, launched late last year, we've looked into several e-mails our readers have sent to us. We're just getting started, but overwhelmingly they have turned out to be false. has been investigating e-mail and other urban legends since 1995, and the site's founders, Barbara and David Mikkelson, have written articles about 31 e-mails about Barack Obama and Hillary (and Bill) Clinton. Only two e-mails were completely accurate. While a handful had elements of truth in them or couldn’t be verified, the vast majority were flat-out false.

Another writer who debunks rumor and lore is David Emery, author of's Urban Legends page. He lists seven e-mails about Hillary Clinton and five about Barack Obama. His verdict: 12 false and misleading, 0 true.

We have yet to see e-mails about John McCain, and Emery notes a decidedly anti-Democrat tilt to the bulk of the e-mail chatter. But there's still plenty of time before the election. In 2004, a left-leaning e-mail claimed the Bush administration was quietly pushing legislation to reinstate the military draft. The claim was bogus, but the e-mail prompted such paranoia that a GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly voted down a bill to reinstate the draft just to show that it rejected the measure. Snopes has chronicled two claims about McCain – both were true, and one was a positive story...

Often, the message itself includes major red flags that should alert readers that the author is not to be trusted. Here are just a few of what we’ll call Key Characteristics of Bogusness:
  • The author is anonymous. Practically all e-mails we see fall into this category, and anytime an author is unnamed, the public should be skeptical. If the story were true, why would the author not put his or her name on it?

  • The author is supposedly a famous person. Of course, e-mails that are attributed to legitimate people turn out to be false as well. Those popular messages about a Jay Leno essay and Andy Rooney’s political views are both baloney. And we found that some oft-quoted words attributed to Abraham Lincoln were not his words at all.

  • There’s a reference to a legitimate source that completely contradicts the information in the e-mail. Some e-mails will implore readers to check out the claims, even providing a link to a respected source. We're not sure why some people don't click on the link, but we implore you to do so. Go ahead, take the challenge. See if the information you find actually backs up the e-mail. We've examined three such e-mails in which the back-up material clearly debunks the e-mail itself. One message provided a link to the Tax Foundation, but anyone who followed it would have found an article saying the e-mail's figures were all wrong. Another boasted that had verified the e-mail, but Snopes actually said it was false.

  • The message is riddled with spelling errors. Ask yourself, why should you trust an author who is not only anonymous but partially illiterate?

  • The author just loves using exclamation points. If the author had a truthful point to make, he or she wouldn’t need to put two, three, even five exclamation points after every other sentence. In fact, we're developing another theory here: The more exclamation points used in an e-mail, the less true it actually is. (Ditto for excessive use of capital letters.)

  • The message argues that it is NOT false. This tip comes from Emery, who advises skepticism for any message that says, "This is NOT a hoax!"

  • There’s math involved. Check it. One message that falsely claimed more soldiers died during Bill Clinton’s term than during George W. Bush’s urged, "You do the Math!" We did. It’s wrong.
To read the entire article click on

This raises the serious question of whether or not, in fact, the basis for popularity of these emails is a problem related to the same folks that managed to squeak George Bush into office twice - being the last gasp and bastion of a massive collection of largely bigoted, hugely ignorant, fundamentally misinformed, nearly misanthropic white anglo-saxon protestants, who's deviant manifestations in the Clu Clux Clan and neo-nazi thinking hold sway in various enclaves around the country but who may have greater sympathy in the populace than any thinking American wants to admit... for the most part because of their collective insecurity and their deep seated, gut level understanding that there is not real future for them the way the world is headed. More significantly, in my case, there is a direct correlation between the number of people who pass me this junk, the amount of it they pass, and their branch of service. Unfortunately the correlation lends creedence to the fact that Army recruits rank at the low end off the intellectual scale, Marine Corps and Navy somewhere in the middle and, Air Force is at the top.

(while we're at it - Want to know how misanthropic you are? Click Here)

Well it's something to consider - but in the meantime, an ounce of skepticism is worth a pound of idiocy.

Have a great day!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

You're so pretty, and witty, and ... gay?

On the anniversary of a daughter's long ago declaration of her "gayness" I reviewed a response I made to her then. The world hasn't gotten any better in the intervening years and, as the blog is the staunch defender of the functional middle ground, I am very clear on the fact that the world isn't and shouldn't be made up of nothing but gay rights activists or gay bashers. With a view toward "declared" gays understanding a rational viewpoint on the subject, and people in the middle finding SOMETHING to identify with in print (there is VERY little that is not arch extremist from either perspective) I offer the following response to my daughter from that time some ten years ago -

" If you want to exist within a given social structure - if you want the benefits and functions of that social system - you have to be willing to pay the price, make the sacrifices in relation to pure personal autonomy that go with co-existence. This is true for everything from marriages to neighborhoods to communities and societies in whatever form they may take. This is an immutable law that exists in every instance of human society or civilization that exists. My discussion with them ended at this point. For you I will take it a step further.

The function of "being gay" has understandable roots in a recognized biological anomaly. As such, it IS NOT the "normal" biological direction intended for the species and therefore constitutes a deviation from "normal". Reproduction does not occur in gay pairing and reproduction, not recreation, is the fundamental reason for sexual function in humans. Whether we like it or not we are ALL "pawns" in a huge numbers game played by a very numbers oriented function called "survival of the species". That's WHY it feels so good - the pleasure center can create some of the strongest drives in humans to repeat certain behaviors (witness the problems associated with drug addiction). We're wired to survive - or not, in the case of those who are legitimately, biologically gay. Some so-called straight people are more at ease with tolerating broad variations on the human theme, others are not. In turn, some gay people are more effective at living life first as humans, and then in the context of their sexual orientation.

This is where paragraph two ties in - there is a fundamental misconception among those who constitute the (validly) gay community that by simply declaring their existence openly (coming out of the closet as they say) they can make a legitimate claim to special treatment and/or rights. I don't agree with or believe in supporting this misconception, as you know. The overall values and morals of any given civilization or community of whatever size are going to fundamentally revolve around what is collectively seen as best for that community, which in turn is going to trace it's roots to survival of the community. Survival of any community is inherently linked to it's capacity were reproduction/procreation are concerned. This puts the gay element on the fringe if not outside the pale in all instances - legitimate biological gay IS NOT a genetic path of survival and, like mules, dies out in one generation. The denegrating use of the term "breeders" by gays to signify straight people as much as acknowledges this point.

Advances of modern medicine have obviated much of the process of natural selection in humans thus allowing (if not promoting) vastly more survival of non-viable genetic material. That not withstanding, fundamental alignment toward "natural selection" and "survival of the species" are the underlying basis for societal resistance to and hostility toward the "gay" community. Ancient Sparta practiced the policy of infanticide for any infant not deemed genetically superior. No matter how "broken" the institutions of our society may be or seem, there is still the sense that any tolerance of something as "dead ended" as gay lifestyle is completely against the most elementary "best interests" or values of a community and society. Forget the fact that many myths about gay people exist because of exceedingly poor behavioral choices and value judgments made by earlier gays. Forget that the record of gay relationships throughout history is replete with sexually predatory behavior. Forget the alleged condemnations of gay lifestyle purported to be in the bible. All of that is emotional froth fraught with misinformation and knee-jerk reaction.

This problem is further exacerbated right now in history because of the emergence of a detailed view, and corresponding knowledge, of the myriad skeleton's that have been hidden in many closets for decades if not centuries, almost all of which involve some form of sexually predatory behavior. Sexual abuse of children, spousal abuse, male on male rape, male on female rape, incest, etc. The predatory record of homosexuality tends to get lumped into that sphere.

The bottom line: I am, on the level just outlined, part of THIS social system or community and I AM willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be a contributing part of the process. One of those could be seen as the sacrifices of individual liberty required to have and raise children, rather than hedonistic pursuit of our own earthly pleasures. These children will grow up to contribute to and perpetuate that social process. While it is not horrifying or particularly offensive to contemplate one of our children being gay, there is nothing particularly appealing about it either. I am not avoiding or rejecting communications on this subject as a matter of disrespect or dislike. I simply don't accept gayness as being a valid function of normal community survival or prosperity and don't find anything of happiness about declarations in that respect.

On some level the greater community good is the fundamental driver of all civilization. The natural derivative of that in the individual is commitment to a life that embodies and empowers a value system bigger than one's self. Early Greek and Roman thinkers spent a good deal of time on this subject. Some of the early arguments, pro and con, regarding the good of the individual, democratic thinking, and the notion of a republic all centered around different views of the “greater good”. Not much has changed in three millennia. While most people are, at one point or another, selfish, or may do things that are manifestly self-centered, if the overall balance of society or a civilization operates on an essentially self-centered scheme, devoid of a greater philosophy than personal materialism, it will ultimately fail. Witness the decline of the western Roman Empire, etc.

On a rational or intellectual level, I can accept that a gay couple can be every bit as loving, caring, and concerned for each other, as a straight couple BUT in the final word, all of that serves only the benefit of the couple, if it doesn't yield an incremental increase to the life span or survival of the community and it doesn’t convey the aggregated values of what DOES perpetuate the social process forward. By its very nature, a successful biological coupling brings a broad array of things to the process of forward social and psychological movement, as well as community survival that are either competely absent or severely challenged in an adoption situation, so adoption isn't the "easy" answer either.

Ultimately the works of the gay community over time have contributed and will continue to contribute in substantial and meaningful ways to the QUALITY of human life and civilization, but do not directly contribute in the most fundamental way to the CONTINUANCE of that community, and that will always be the critical focus and point of rejection, at the bottom line. "

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Obama Related Compost Turns Out To Be... Compost!!

The fun never stops under the big top... another dedicated McCain enthusiast and veteran (who apparently isn't familiar with McCain's voting record on veteran's issues!) by the nickname of Corky sent me another piece of electoral compost the other day that went along these lines:

Subject: This ought to wake us all up!


Spread the word.....

This is something you should be aware of so you don't get blind-sided. This is really going to catch a lot of families off guard. It should make you worry. Proposed changes in taxes after 2008 General election:

0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home (couples) McCain does not propose any change in existing home sales income tax.

28% on profit from ALL home sales

How does this affect you?
If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes.

If you are heading toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.


MCCAIN 15% (no change)

OBAMA 39.6%

How will this affect you? If you have any money invested in stock
market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, retirement
accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned on taxes if Obama become president.

The experts predict that 'higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market yet do absolutely nothing to cut the deficit.


MCCAIN (no changes)
Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $31,250

(reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts)
Single making 30K - tax $8,400
Single making 50K - tax $14,000
Single making 75K - tax $23,250
Married making 60K - tax $16,800
Married making 75K - tax $21,000
Married making 125K - tax $38,750

Under Obama your taxes will more than double! How does this affect you? No explanation needed. This is pretty straight forward.


MCCAIN 0% (No change, Bush repealed this tax)

OBAMA Restore the inheritance tax

How does this affect you? Many families have lost businesses,
farms and ranches, and homes that have been in their families for generations because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will not only lose them to
these taxes.

* New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet
* New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren't high enough already)
* New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity)
* New taxes on retirement accounts

and last but not least....
* New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can receive the same level of medical care as other third-world countries!!!


The GOOD NEWS? There's somebody beside me doing the homework on this junk (Hats off to Brooks Jackson!!) and Corky's nephew, who was aware of his work, sent the following response:


"Call me Alan Colmes (you know, a token independent that only seems liberal because of the company he keeps), but I had to reply to my uncle forwarding this one. A guy named Brooks Jackson thought the e-mail sounded as skewed as I did, and he did a little leg work
researching the "wake-up call."

"Alert readers may already have noted that this chain e-mail does not provide links to any of Obama's actual proposals or cite any sources for the claims it makes. That is because they are made up. This widely distributed message is so full of misinformation that we find it impossible to believe that it is the result of simple ignorance or carelessness on the part of the writer. Almost nothing it says about Obama's tax proposals is true. We conclude that this deception is deliberate.

Our own sources for the following are Obama's own Web site and other statements, interviews with Obama's policy advisers, and a comprehensive analysis of both the McCain and Obama tax plans produced by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, plus additional sources to
which we have provided links. (Sender's note: links at bottom)

Home Sales: The claim that Obama would impose a 28 percent tax on the profit from "all home sales" is false. Both Obama and McCain would continue to exempt the first $250,000 of gain from the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) which
results in zero tax on all but a very few home sales.

Capital Gains Rate: It's untrue that Obama is proposing a 28 percent capital gains tax rate. He said in an interview on CNBC that he favors raising the top rate on capital gains from its present 15 percent to 20 percent or more, but no higher than 28 percent. And as for a 28 percent rate, he added, "my guess would be it would be significantly lower than that." Furthermore, he has said only couples making $250,000 or more (or, his policy advisers tell us, singles making more than $200,000) would pay the higher capital gains rate. That means the large majority of persons who pay capital gains taxes would see no increase at all.

Tax on Dividends: Another false claim is that Obama proposes to raise the tax rate on dividends to 39.6 percent. Dividends currently are taxed at a top rate of 15 percent, and Obama would raise that to the same rate as he would tax capital gains, somewhere between 20 percent
and 28 percent but likely "significantly" lower than 28 percent. This higher tax also would fall only on couples making $250,000 or more or singles making more than $200,000.

Taxing IRAs and 529s: Contrary to the claim in this e-mail, raising tax rates on capital gains or dividends would not result in higher taxes on any investments held in Individual Retirement Accounts or in popular, tax-deferred "college funds" under section 529 of the Internal Revenue
Code. The whole point of such tax-deferred plans is that dividends and capital gains are allowed to accumulate and compound tax-free, and neither Obama nor McCain proposes to change that. And as previously mentioned, any capital gains or dividend income from stocks, bonds or
mutual funds owned outside of tax-deferred accounts would continue to be taxed at current rates except for couples making over $250,000, or singles making more than $200,000.

Doubled Taxes? The claim that "Under Obama your taxes will more than double!" is also false. The comparative rate tables this e-mail provides for McCain and Obama are entirely wrong, as we explained in an earlier article March 13 about another false e-mail from which these tables are copied. It is supposedly a comparison of tax rates before and after the Bush tax cuts, but it grossly overstates the effect of the Bush cuts. Furthermore, Obama proposes to retain the Bush cuts for every single income level shown in this bogus table.

Estate Tax. The claim that Obama proposes to "restore the inheritance tax" is also false, as are the claims that McCain would impose zero tax and that Bush "repealed" it. McCain and Obama both would retain a reduced version of the estate tax, as it is correctly called, though McCain would reduce it by more.

The tax now falls only on estates valued at more than $2 million (effectively $4 million for couples able to set up the required legal and financial arrangements). It reaches a maximum rate of 45 percent on amounts more than that. It was not repealed, but it is set to expire
temporarily in 2010, then return in 2011, when it would apply to estates valued at more than $1 million ($2 million for couples), with the maximum rate rising to 55 percent.

Obama has proposed to apply the tax only to estates valued at more than $3.5 million ($7 million for couples), holding the maximum rate at 45 percent. McCain would apply it to estates worth more than $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a maximum rate of 15 percent.

"New Tax" Falsehoods: The e-mail continues with a string of made-up taxes that it falsely claims Obama has proposed. He has not proposed a tax on new homes with more than 2,400 square feet, or a new gasoline tax or a tax on retirement accounts. The most laughably false claim is that Obama would tax "water." Two claims in this message, while not completely false, are still grossly misleading.

The claim that Obama would impose "new taxes on natural resources" may refer to his support for a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions, which indeed would impose large costs on industries burning coal, gas or oil and, indirectly, on their consumers. But McCain also
supports cap-and-trade legislation, and even co-authored an early version of a bill that reached the Senate floor this year. Obama's plan would give the federal government more of the revenue from auctioning pollution permits than McCain's plan. Whether cap-and-trade amounts to a "tax" is a matter of interpretation. The fact is neither McCain nor Obama call it that.

There is also some truth to the claim that Obama would impose "new taxes" to finance his health care plan, depending on your interpretation of "new." He has said he would pay for much of his plan "by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for people making more than $250,000 per year, as they are scheduled to do." That would certainly be a tax increase for those high-income persons, compared with what they are paying now. But whether that's imposing a new tax, or just letting an old one come back, depends on your point of view. It may well be that Obama will eventually propose tax increases to finance some of his plan. We've noted before that the "cost savings" that he says will finance much of his plan are inflated and probably won't materialize, according to independent experts we consulted. But it's wrong to say that he's proposing such taxes now.

“Background Questions and Answers on Health Care Plan.” Barack Obama’s Web site, accessed 10 July 2008.

“Energy and Environment. “Barack Obama’s Web site, accessed 10 July 2008.

News Release: “CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo Speaks with Senator Barack Obama
>on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” 27 March 2008. CNBC Web site.

“Plan to Strengthen the Economy.” Barack Obama’s Web site, accessed 10 July 2008.

Tax Policy Center: Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. “A Preliminary Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans,” 20 June 2008.

Thank you to everyone who doesn't just auto-magically "buy in" to the bullshit much less waste everyone else's time and disk space to spread it! God save me from zealots who refuse to place honor and truth above their personal cause and will lie if necessary to save their hegemony.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Joy of Cooking... Bureaucrats!!

So... I was trying to get my business expense report submitted and it wasn't good enough that the online system we have in place at the company I work for (which shall remain un-named!) is a convoluted mess and harder than a rubic's cube to use. I submit the report and get it tossed back for not itemizing the rental car section and making the GPS a personal expense. We send of an email to ask why the GPS isn't reasonable and get the following response:

"GPS is an add-on to the rental car and is considered a personal expense. If your program would like to reimburse it, it would be considered unallowable and would require your Business Group Director’s approval. As for the reasonable consideration…the only thing I can say is that this is only the 2nd time since January that I was made aware of an employee seeking reimbursement for GPS navigation. It is not part of what we would consider a standard travel expense.


Now that was just too friendly and helpful for words - not to mention being irrational when it comes to any practical exposure to the word "reasonable" so I wrote a response:


If your new to an area and you need to get around efficiently with no wasted time or effort it makes a hell of a lot more sense than juggling a map book or Google mapping it while you're driving. A car provides the means to get where you need to go - directions provide you with the knowledge to get there - especially when meeting venues are being changed on the fly. That's reality. If it's a personal expense then so be it - but that's policy, which, in my experience, is formulated and then rarely reviewed to keep it in touch with "on the ground" reality. When that policy was formulated there probably wasn't GPS available. That would make the policy, and thus the "standard" travel expense, at least 3 years out of touch with the new reality.

When all the OTHER add on expenses associated with operating the vehicle are refused because I'm covered by my own car insurance (that I pay for) or they are un-necessary fluff, it seems slightly ludicrous to make an issue out of a GPS charge that helps me do my job better AND and be a more compelling representative of ########## in the competitive marketplace we call defense industry.

Just so we keep things in perspective -
1) I bought my own laptop for business travel needs

2) I buy my own car insurance WITH coverage for rental cars for business travel needs

3) I pay for any other incidental expenses during business travel

4) I (now) will be paying for my use of a directional device for business travel needs

But as my business travel and responsibilities increase, there is NO indexing of my compensation
Oh, that's right! - that's because I'm supposed to be able to get reimbursed for reasonable expenses.

As for your response to the word "reasonable" - I can't account for what you have or have not been informed of, what you have or have not remembered, or any other aspect of the historical period you mention, but the points noted above do present the basis for "reasonableness", using the reasonable person theory (


Then it occurred to me - why send this back to her when I can send it to the world! She wouldn't get it because she's a bureaucrat and bureaucrats don't connect with reality. They hide in verse and phrase because they couldn't do their jobs if they didn't - but there are lots of other folks who will get it so here it is for general public consumption. Till next time! :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Panem et circensus

In the March/April 1995 edition of Log Homes Illustrated, the editor, John H. Leeper, wrote:
" It is the nature of mass news media - and particularly television - to concentrate it's coverage on the spectacular, the unusual, the sinister, and the absurd. After all, circus side shows have drawn crowds for centuries, while reasonable debates of substantive issueslack mass appeal. of course, the problem with the "side show" approach to issues is that the barker with the loudest voice or the most garish slogans usually get's the lion's share of the attention. Voices of reason are left to beg in the streets. Therefore, it should be no wonder to any of us that when decisions are made on the federal level, they often turn out to be the wrong decisions. Elected officials listen to the cries of their constituents and their financial backers who, in turn, listen to the carnival barkers loudly shouting their propaganda slogans. In other words, I am a firm believer in the statement of the late cartoonist Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo: "We have met the enemy - and he is us!" I also like a quote from rock musician Jerry Garcia: "Constantly choosing the lesser of two eveils is still choosing evil."

The only way to resolve complex problems in a society is first to realize they are complex and there are no simple answers. Next, we have to tune out the barkers and start looking for the opinions of men and women inclined to thoughtful consideration rather than hysteria or myopia... Perhaps it is time to turn down the volume and start listening to the "still, small voices" of reason who are all around us, but are simply ignored."

To which I simply add "No truer words were ever spoken!" Depending upon your choice of circus, you can hear Glenn Beck, or Lou Dobbs, or Rush Limbaugh, or any number of others trying to get you to pay attention to their personal freak show. Let's calm down and listen to the voices of reason. Think about it - you KNOW it's a freak show, and you know it's fun to watch but would you choose who's going to lead your community based on what you saw at the circus?

Remember, "Panem et circensus" - It was Juvenal that coined this system, a mechanism of influential power over the Roman mass. "Panem et Circensus", literally "bread and circuses", was the formula for the well-being of the population, and thus a political strategy. This formula offered a variety of pleasures such as: the distribution of food, public baths, gladiators, exotic animals, chariot races, sports competition, and theater representation. It was an efficient instrument in the hands of the Emperors to keep the population peaceful, and at the same time giving them the opportunity to voice themselves in these places of performance.

Makes you think, doesn't it? "If all they need to do to keep power is provide food and circuses... so much for the informed electorate!" The more times change the more things stay the same.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On the Spreading of Verbal Compost

When another disabled Vietnam Vet friend sent around a much echoed email entitled "Who is Barack Obama??" full of fairly thoroughly discredited dezinformatsia (Russian for disinformation - they were the masters of this) I felt the need to respond - to the whole group he mailed it to. Given that I was in the To: line, I take that as an open opportunity to respond to all.

I wrote:

Aside from the fact that some of this is previously discredited nonsense of suspicious motivation and origin, what's the point? When we already know that the Internet has every bit as much disinformation and misinformation as real information and that for most people, it is virtually impossible to validate sources, what does spreading this compost contribute to making intelligent choices at the ballot booth? What am I missing?

How many times has our organization been taken in by self-titled "veterans" who have, in the final result, turned out to be frauds? These people have been standing right in front of us, subject to our own willingness and ability to validate them, and yet they have snuck one by us. Why would I ever buy into completely unverifiable allegations about someone, who's general performance and track record indicate nothing remotely aligned with the allegations, especially coming over the internet?



To which one Rob Amiot responded -

What are you saying - in so many words, get to the point - who doing what to whom? Tell me!



Now mind you this is a guy I don't know and haven't even met - not likely to either! Suffice it to say that I had been asked for my point so I tried again to provide it -

OK, Rob

Gee, you know I think I DID get to the point but here's another angle -

1. Spreading known lies, that have been independently verified as lies, about ANYONE via ANY MEDIUM serves no purpose. It is NOT leaving "the place" better than we found it.

2. Spreading lies about someone who has an impeccable record of public service are more than just a disservice, not just a bad idea, but profoundly negative and fundamentally destructive - something that I don't like seeing friends do and have been the target of myself in my lifetime. They don't discredit the subject, they discredit the spreader.

3. When we have so (acknowledgedly) little capacity to verify or validate the Internet rumor mill it is incumbent upon us to exercise every means at our disposal TO verify and validate before we unwittingly do #1 & #2... and there ARE means.

4. If you don't like a candidate it's fine to not like them - just say so - and be ready to back up why intelligently. That is the basis for reasoned, honest debate. There is no value to spreading rumor and inuendo and it's inflammatory.

5. If we want to bring credit to Vietnam veterans by our actions then it won't happen by re-enacting the reprehensible behavior of the so-called (and to me personally repulsive) "Swiftboat veterans" of previous campaigns.

That's what we have to understand, no matter where we go, no matter what we do, we are judged in exactly that frame of reference - Vietnam Vets. After what we collectively went through the moral high ground is ours to lose. Let's not lose it.



Now, apparently this wasn't good enough, because he came back AGAIN!!

Rob Amiot wrote:

Evidently you are a Democrat and are for Obama!

I am not so dull as to accepting stories floating around his being a Muslim and other crap like that. I have not issue with Barrack, but he is not qualifed.

I am indeed one of those who was very pleased by the stopping of Kerry - Swiftboat Veterans or not - he was a weakling, as he showed once again when he tottered up to Obama, in lieu of showing a little bit of loyalty toward Ewards...Kerry is a zero!

Your ambiguity, to me at least, is like a dance around the rosy - what are you really saying? Are you just about telling the truth? If so - you have me on your side - are you soft peddling Obama? This is were we separate. I would rather have Hillary attempting a run at the White House than this empty drum with a smooth exterior, who hasn't a clue about running the nation - can't even put a damper on his mal-attituded wife.


So... my closing position was this -


So much for jumping to conclusions – I am a registered independent and I vote for whomever I think is the best candidate put forward by the bulk of the electorate at election time. If that boils down to Barack Obama then I have no quarrel with it. I don’t share you opinion of his qualifications but, this being America, you are absolutely entitled to those opinions. I really don’t care one way or the other about Kerry – he’s history and he did not reach a position of greater authority so why waste any further energy on him?

What you interpret as “ambiguity” and a “dance around the rosy” others see differently. My points in both emails apply. You may be unable or unwilling to understand what I said but that doesn’t really give you the authority, or put you in a position, to diminish, trivialize, or belittle it. Not that it matters – your opinion, like mine, is 1/6.7 billionth of the world’s opinion on the subject. I’m certainly not going to go to war with you over it. Just remember that one man’s “ambiguity” may be another man’s attempt to convey a message without using blunt force trauma to accomplish it. Simplicity, while sometimes appealing to the broader ‘sound bite” audience, may not be very kind or conciliatory.

Back to the point at hand – [My friend] is a friend, but he also can do some fairly ridiculous “rumor mongering” based on stuff he accepts in good faith (without apparent good cause) from the internet. I don’t think this serves him well and I really think we need more function and less dysfunction during times of political choice. Just my opinion. One thing I DO like about Barack Obama is his commitment and willingness to bring people together to achieve “win-win” rather than being perpetually “I win, you lose” divisive.

So... I was genuinely trying to make the point that spreading verbal compost is an unseemly way to pursue the debate and I felt that the point was worth making to the original audience of the compost, you included, without bashing anyone’s head in about it. If it is more appealing to you that I say “I am about truth” well that’s accurate – but truth is in the eye of the beholder. It is, perhaps, the single most subjective issue on earth. This I can guarantee you – your truth bears no resemblance to mine. But that’s not what I was trying to say originally. I WAS trying to say I’m about validity and accuracy and fairness, which are also subjective to some degree but for which there are more commonly agreed standards.

I hope that helps.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Who Dat Say "Who Dat?" When I Say Who Dat?

On 3/18/08 8:17, "Thomas Bell" wrote:

John's thoughts echo several positions that good people have taken. I agree with much that he says, with a couple of add-ins.

A key to the problem we have now is the willingness of people to employ illegal immigrants in the face of current laws. We here in the southwest deal with illegal immigration in multiple ways daily. The Governor of Arizona signed into effect a law that prohibits employers from employing illegal immigrants and its effect has been interesting. There's an exodus of illegals in advance of the imposition of penalties, and we've heard some kickback from officials in Mexico about being unprepared to deal with the influx of these people, and how shameful our actions were that we'd send all these people south - where they came from in most cases. Unintended consequences? Not from our point of view. Has the local economy collapsed because of the dearth of cheap labor? No.

A 'guest worker' program would work well assuming John's points about control. Part of our problem now is the extension of US citizen benefits to non-citizens, and another categorization of those non-citizens would assist us in our efforts to manage the benefits problem.

Immigration reform is often overlooked in the debate, and can be considered a separate topic. We place limits on granting green cards and citizenship based on country of origin. The hispanic segment doesn't recognize this as an obstacle or even a requirement. They don't want to get in line. The guest worker program could assist in managing this problem by letting those willing to work here - AND PAY TAXES HERE (especially Social Security taxes) - but not desiring citizenship to have a 'legitimate' way to do that without overtaxing the quota system for immigration. However, we do need to reform the quota system to assure that those who can contribute and want to do so on the path to becoming citizens have that opportunity. A personal note: one of the people on the team that cloned a sheep in England applied to emigrate here from his native South Africa. He's on a sixteen year waiting list - even though he has a sponsor and a job waiting here. He's married to one of my wife's sisters who is a US citizen.

I think we could come up with a good plan that's not cluttered with political points of reference. The problem is that we're up against some pretty powerful politicians who would and have twisted the solutions to fit their perspectives instead of addressing the needs and the solutions.

To which I responded -

" Good points – nothing that I find at terrible or irreconcilable difference with what I said :-)

1. I agree with the point about hiring illegal aliens – from anywhere.
It’s just like the drug problem – if you dry up the market then the problem goes away.

2. I don’t really see the two as different issues – if we had a legal and functional immigration process we would have the guest worker program and we wouldn’t have the “necessity” of going underground.

3. I’m not willing to accept the notion that all is fine with those employers who DID hire illegals. Has the local economy collapsed – no – but I guarantee you there are parts of it that are in dire straights. (See the next Post for an example!)

4. Ever try getting a job with the government? Their sense of urgency is, to put it kindly, deeply mentally impaired. In business, people don’t lack that sense of urgency. Their crops are going to rot or their trucks are going to break down, or whatever – but in any profit generating environment there is no lack of the sense of urgency. Businesses don’t need a guest worker program two years from now. They needed one 12 years ago! When there’s no work and you’re desperate there’s even more sense of urgency. This isn’t subject to debate – I’ve been there and I know.

5. I disagree with the notion that “the hispanic segment doesn’t... want to get in line” I think if there were a rational guest worker program they’d be happy to get in line – because the line wouldn’t be 5 or 8 or 16 years long!! Hell, if you had to wait a month to check out of a Wal-mart store you’d pitch a serious bitch ... Or you’d find an alternative way to accomplish what you wanted... Like maybe Joe in the stockroom would let you out the backdoor with your stuff for $100. Now let’s say that what you wanted to buy was critical to the survival of your wife and kids.

In short, I think the most dumb-ass thing we can do is make everybody involved a criminal and start throwing them in jail, fining them out of business, or throwing them back over the border as the nature of the situation calls for. What kind of stupid nonsense is that when we could be creating a win-win that drains far fewer of our resources and contributes much more to our entire hemisphere? Let’s see should we do the smart thing or should we be profoundly stupid? I know!!! We’ll be stupid!!!

Your right – if we could get the politicians out of the middle of this we could sort it out and implement solutions in less time than it takes to argue about it... But they won’t ... So how are we going to fix this?


Friday, March 21, 2008

So... Suppose I Broke Into Your House...

One of my friends in the retired military community forwarded me an email from some wanna be conservative that put forth the notion that the Mexican/Latin American illegal immigration problem was roughly equivalent to somebody breaking into my house, doing all the chores I don't like to do, and then claiming residential and family privileges - which is patent nonsense, so I responded with -

"Aren’t we forgetting that this country’s entire history is wave after wave of legal, and illegal, immigration (aka breaking into someone else’s house – if we are to stick with this analogy), the first of which was white European people breaking into the Native American house and then occupying every room of it over a period of 200 years, while killing off 90% of the original occupants in the process ? At every step of the way, one of the most significant driving forces has been cheap immigrant labor. Was slavery “legal immigration”? Was the virtual slavery of imported chinese labor on the western railroads and mines and along the west coast “legal immigration”? Was the profound exploitation of the Irish immigrants, many of whom were “illegals”, legal?

I agree with the notion that what’s going on right now isn’t right, but it’s profoundly disturbing to hear thinking people adopt “sound bite” positions that reflect little or no rational thought regarding our country, it’s needs, and their own personal origins. It’s simply not that simple. So here’s what I think -

1. Huge barriers on the border are manifestly and demonstrably unworkable. The thought that they are, or can be made to be, is sheer folly on a gargantuan scale. Beyond that, pursuing that solution reflects poorly on any true fiscal conservative because it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money. What we CAN, and should do, is stop trying to declare everything we don’t like, but has some basis in reality, illegal (so that we can engage in “enforcement” - which is an endless drain on resources that cannot be sustained), and make the process functionally legal (emphasis on FUNCTIONAL) so that it can be managed properly.

As an example, I am working on a Defense Department system for tracking defense contractors who are working in the battlespace with our troops. This was needed because of huge amounts of fraud, waste, and abuse that could not be effectively eliminated or managed because of the fact that we had no effective mechanism for tracking contractor activity and thus no way to refute bogus charges. Going forward we have not made defense contracting illegal but are instead developing a system for allowing them the full range of the required workspace but they will be identifiable, trackable, and the benefits to which they are entitled by their contract will be identifiable via their registered identification documents.

We need a legal and functional guest worker program that includes issuance of something roughly equivalent to a government CAC card that a guest laborer must have on them at all times. This would establish their legitimate right to work for any employer or a specific employer, with quick validation by computer, and stop putting the onus on the small business owner that just needs the labor offered. It would also, equally quickly, provide anyone who needs to know what benefits they are, or are not, entitled to while here, as well as their legitimacy in being here (based on things like is their employer paying taxes for them or are they paying taxes), and allow for tracking their movement and location within the country.

2. We need to reform the whole notion of National Defense. The Army should get real about their reserve needs and stop using the National Guard as the backup for their ridiculously undermanned and dysfunctional approach to Army Reserves. Staff the Army Reserve up to be the fully functional, properly trained, military component that is the Army’s (fancy that!) reserve force. Convert anyone who joined the National Guard but has Army oriented goals and desires to the Army Reserve. Everyone else, that never had the notion that they were joining the Army - with massively reduced benefits - by joining the National Guard, stays National Guard. Convert everyone in the Border Patrol to National Guard and make the National Guard a true homeland defense force, that is run militarily, and that protects our borders under the broader banner of defending the home territory of the United States – a job for which the US Army is patently unprepared – and manages the entry and exit of alien guest workers. Create a National Guard Reserve that is, you guessed it, the reserve force for the National Guard. These guys would be the ones who handle state level functions such emergency preparedness and disaster response, while being trained militarily to back up the active National Guard.

3. We need an intelligent policy for the illegal workers who are in our country NOW and who HAVE BEEN contributing to the country’s well being and sustainability by paying taxes (and potentially other functions) which MANY ARE DOING! We need to recognize that THEY HAVE CONTRIBUTED and provide a legal and disciplined path to citizenship for them. If they can prove their contributions to the system, they should have the benefits of that system but should assisted in their effort to do it right in a timely and functional fashion – a process that takes days and weeks NOT months and years. For those who have NOT been provably contributing they can shift over to the guest worker program and apply through a reformed immigration process that takes weeks and months, not years, to get the job done, and come in legally - or go home.

4. We need immigration reform – with a top priority focus on the effectiveness and timeliness of the process. The reformed process should provide for the guest worker program with varying durations based on skill set and occupation. The basic document of proof of right to work and benefits allowed would a federally controlled ID card process (see notes above). The H-1 status and various other unclear “guest worker provisions' that we already have that are not well managed, do not connect up with each other, and are not very effective would be rolled into an expanded, contiguous, and progressive function of immigration management, up to and including the process of applying for and being granted citizenship. An overhauled and reformed Immigration and Naturalization Service would be responsible for this. As Bill Gates stated the other day, we need to stop giving some of the best minds on the planet exemplary educations and then make it nearly impossible for those minds to get work in our country, thus loosing the potential creativity and opportunity that they offer and realistically sending it elsewhere. We also need to stop making criminals out of non-criminal people who are looking for legitimate opportunities (just like we would if we were faced with dire circumstances) and give them a legitimate and functional path to that work (see Item 1 above). If there is a recognizable social issue regarding something, making it illegal will only drive it underground. It will not stop it. Take a good look at the Prohibition period in this country.

5. For those who are here illegally, and are found to have a criminal background in their own country, immediate deportation to the country of origin and turn over to that country’s authorities.

6. For those who are here illegally, and who break our laws in the locality they are in, immediate deportation to the country of origin and turn over to that country’s authorities.

7. For anyone else here illegally, that doesn’t want to shift to the guest worker program, immediate deportation back to their country of origin.

Obviously there are a number of working details for the card system I propose or any of the other process reforms that I am promoting here that I am not providing the technical details for, and equally obviously, to a thinking man, this is NOT a problem the solution for which can be summed up in a sound bite. I have thought this through, I do have the details nailed down in what I believe are very workable and effective ways, and I will engage that discussion with anyone who’s honestly interested and doesn’t just want to hear their own self-destructive rhetoric on the wind.

Entirely too much of what is being said in the name of conservatism is actually just the insecure, jingoistic, parochial, and self-righteous thinking of a few being echoed on a national stage by many who want to be seen as part of SOME movement when the sources of conservative leadership in our country seem to have, at best, lost their vision or, at worst, sold out real conservatism.

That’s my two cents. 1/6.7 billionth of the world’s position on the subject. You heard it here first.