Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, July 31, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Colorado shantytowns

On a recent trip to Colorado, I ran across this opinion piece by the Editor, Dave Perry, of the Aurora Sentinel.  It seems that Houston isn't the only place that has lots of homeless people, as if I needed any confirmation of that.  More confirmation is below.  

This problem is pervasive all across America, and we really need to do something about it. One place to start would be to raise the minimum wage from its paltry $7.35/hour to at least $12/hr, preferably up to $15/hr.  

It is shameful how we treat lower-income people in this country.  And it's getting worse.

PERRYBLOG: Preventing a Colorado minimum-wage hike funds Denver-metro shanty towns

If you think a hike in the minimum wage is just about a bunch of shiftless whiners who don’t deserve $12 an hour to clean toilets, feed old people in nursing homes or ring up your groceries, modern-day Hoovervilles is what that kind of thinking buys your fellow humans in and around Aurora

Nothing is more relaxing and therapeutic than a night spent sleeping under the Colorado stars — unless you’re camping among drug addicts and mentally ill vagrants along local creeks and rivers or under metro area bridges.
Every summer, I live to bike all over the metro area, always before sunrise and sometimes hours before then. Avoiding surprised skunks and plagues of mosquitoes, I haunt trails in the dark along the South Platte River, Clear Creek, Cherry Creek, Sand Creek and others.
For years, I’d meet a very few fellow dark-riders and runners, the occasional glassy-eyed reveler and a handful of restless vagrants.
It’s been a whole different world that past couple of years, and especially the past couple of months. I have never seen so many homeless campers on the Platte as I did last weekend. Dozens and dozens of them. Despite what you think, most of them are not the trembling alcoholics that hover around Jesus Saves.
Last Saturday it was an underground city of mostly couples and even families with kids. A story we did last year made it clear that the river-camp plight is a growing problem along the Platte, into Aurora and pretty much all over the metro area. Despite the clich├ęd beggars you have in mind, a lot of these river people are the real working poor with minimum wage and temp jobs.
So this is what minimum wage gets you in metro Denver as an adult.
If you think a hike in the minimum wage is just about a bunch of shiftless whiners who don’t deserve $12 an hour to clean toilets, feed old people in nursing homes or ring up your groceries, modern-day Hoovervilles is what that kind of thinking buys your fellow humans in and around Aurora.
The problem is so persistent that Denver has made special efforts to shoo away the river people, but it doesn’t work. Aurora regularly confiscates the worldly possessions left behind at camps under bridges and viaducts by people who stash their stuff  and go to school and work. Two years ago, a special Census revealed there were more than 12,000 homeless people in the metro area. Far more. More than a third had jobs. Two-thirds “live” with children.
What’s sadder than families trying to eke out a life on the river is the vehement push-back from opponents of raising the minimum wage to at least $10 or $12 and hour. It’ll bankrupt endless businesses, many say. It’s not needed because $8 an hour in Colorado is all the market can bear.
That’s all crap.
Sure, adding labor cost to any business has a net economic affect. But the myth from corporate America is that higher wages must all come from the pockets of consumers. The offset should come from profits and relative overpayment to top-level management. It’s not wrong or impossible. Wealthy, happy, successful economies like those in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands and many others have proven that you can have free-market economies, pay people a practical and realistic wage for their time worked and still make big profits for stockholders. If you haven’t noticed, Germany and Scandinavia rule the world right now. They don’t have problems with hard-working, poor people living under bridges. Smaller American companies should be able to offset higher labor costs through tax credits, which in turn are offset by employee taxes on higher earnings paid to workers.
It really works.  But to just shrug our shoulders and say, “Hey, don’t like it? Get a job somewhere else or start your own business,” is like telling an amputee to suck it up and grow legs. It’s unrealistic. More important, it creates a system that forces people into what is, at best, government-sanctioned indentured servitude, and at worst, modern slavery.
Another myth is that these are all illegal Latin American immigrants sleeping along the river. Sure, some are. But they’re also U.S. military vets. They’re elderly Americans who worked their whole lives and lost what little they had to greedy banks and mortgage companies. They’re young couples who have no money for college, and middle-aged Americans with families whose marginal-salary jobs were sent oversees to insufferable child and female labor camps in China, Malaysia and India. They’re our friends, neighbors, families. They’re people.
They’re Americans, and they live on the banks of the Platte River in Denver, walking miles each day to minimum-wage gigs that cap their hours to prevent having to pay overtime or offer insurance, forcing these people to work two or three minimum-wage jobs just to make enough to sleep in a tent among wandering drug addicts and mentally ill alcoholics.
No kidding, it looks like a Steinbeck novel just steps away from million-dollar condos and comfortable suburban homes. It’s grotesque. And it’s wrong. A business and its profit margins pegged on paying people a wage that results in suffering, brings on two things: unionization and, ultimately, revolt. “Can you hear the people sing…?” I can.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

the Iran deal

Recently I saw a clip of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning that Iran was less than a year away from building a nuclear bomb.  The clip was from about a year ago. Recently I saw another much more recent clip of Netanyahu warning that (after this new deal expired in 10 years) Iran would be 10 years away from building a nuclear bomb.

One would think that 10 years away is much better, and safer, than less than one year away. No matter, Netanyahu condemns the deal in the strongest of terms.

The Republicans in the US Congress, still bent out of shape over that nasty black man in the White House, are opposing the deal with apocalyptic language.  And I'm afraid that what we have here is a case of "Chicken Little."  The GOP has complained and opposed every single thing that Obama has proposed that it is now very hard to take any criticism of the Iran deal seriously.

You just cannot tell any longer if GOP opposition is principled or knee-jerk.  I lean towards knee-jerk.

And here is an ad in favor of the Iran deal that I did not expect. Don't let the incessant Chicken Little GOP sway you. This deal is in everyone's best interest, even Israel's. 


Monday, July 27, 2015

WWYD

What Would You Do?

You have probably seen some of this ABC TV series, where they stage an event in public and see how bystanders will react.  It's sometimes good, but this episode is ridiculous and inflammatory.

Atheists are already one of the most reviled groups in America, and we do not need a major television network fanning the flames of intolerance, hatred, and misinformation like this.  

No atheist would act in this way.  I know plenty of atheists, and none would ever act in this way.  If I see a family praying in public, I may feel pity, but I certainly would not interrupt them to get them to stop.  We are not the rude ones, knocking on doors to check on the non-religiosity of people and trying to convert them to atheism.

In Jaclyn's comment section on YouTube, there is a link to ABC if you would like to complain to them about it.  I did.

Some of you might have seen my previous post, where I was rather insulting to apocalyptic Christians.  That is quite different.  It's on my blog.  It's not public.  I'm not humiliating anyone in person.  If you cannot see the difference, you may be a Christian.



Sunday, July 26, 2015

psychotic Christians

Ever since recorded time began, people have been predicting the end of the world, the second coming, and apocalypse.

The advancement of time and science has done nothing to dissuade the end-of-the-worlders.  

The latest prediction (that will prove to be wrong), is that Satan will take over the world on September 23, 2015!

You better get right with God!!!  And send me your money!  Because you're not going to need it!

Check it out, typos and all.  Why is it that these blubbering Christians are so challenged at spelling?


ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 SATAN WILL RECEIVE FULL REIGN OVER THE WORLD!

I received confirmation that on September 23rd, 2015 Satan is going to get his full, unrestrained reign over the whole world that’s spoken of in the Book of Revelation!
THINGS HAVE BEEN ACCELLERATING, BUT YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET, PEOPLE! TIME IS SHORT! GET RIGHT WITH GOD. Jesus is the only way anyone is going to get through what’s coming on the whole earth.
For decades, movies, television, music, and even some politicians, have cryptically been hinting at the dates on or around September 23, 2015.
Part of the irony of these references is that this year, September 23, 2015 is the Jewish Day of Atonement. Moreover, the blood moon tetrad has been happening on all the Jewish feasts the last 3 moons, and will fall again on 9/28/15.
The implication is that it is possible God’s wrath will be poured out on the entire earth, starting on the 23rd of September by allowing Satan to have full, unrestrained rule upon the eart (see Revelation 12:12 below) upon those who have not received Jesus as the atonement for their sins. In essence, those who reject Jesus will have to pay the atonement fee themselves, and that means wrath.
Unlike the well-known 9/11 date disclosed on the ID of Neo in The Matrix, this September 23rd references date back decades, and we seemingly keep finding more.
Those poor, poor, deluded "believers".  You'd think that hundreds of predictions, all wrong, might make them stop to think. HAhahaaaahahahaha!  No way.

This guy (this piece is "unsigned") has links to all sorts of videos and movie clips that are ALL JUST SLAPPING YOU IN THE FACE!  If you want to see the absurd, tenuous connections, click here.

Oh, and we can add this to the ever-growing List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events

Saturday, July 25, 2015

another injustice

This is just one injustice piled on another. Absurdity infinitum.

Kansas Man Facing Felony Murder Charge for Telling an Acquaintance Where He Could Find Marijuana

This is one part of what's the matter with Kansas.

Wichita, KS — Kyler Carriker is a good person. He is a loving husband and a father whose life could be ruined because of the ridiculous nature of the state’s war on drugs.
According to Carriker’s family, on April 17th, 2013, Kyler and a friend had finished work and were headed out to go fishing. They were stopped by a train where they ran into Carriker’s former classmate. Carriker was asked if he could find any “smoke,” meaning marijuana. Carriker said he could try, so they exchanged telephone numbers.
What Carriker didn’t know was that his old classmate from school had since become an active gang member. This former classmate planned to rob Carriker and whomever else was involved in the marijuana transaction.
Kyler Carriker agreed to meet his former classmate at his friend Kyle Belts’ home to introduce his former classmate and the marijuana dealer. However, the former classmate arrived with several other gang members, and later testified in court to the fact that the plan was to rob Carriker, Belts, and Ronald Betts, the marijuana dealer and brother of former Kansas state Senator Donald Betts.
Almost immediately upon entering Belts’ home, the gang members began firing. Carriker and Betts were both shot and unfortunately Betts died from his injuries.
According to Carriker’s family, after leaving the home, the shooter bragged to the other gang members, saying that he had “killed them all.”
After the shooting, instead seeking actual justice for this killing, Carriker was charged with the murder of Betts because he acted as a middleman in the marijuana sale.
In a tyrannically absurd move, the state of Kansas added marijuana offenses to the list of inherently dangerous felonies, or crimes where death is likely to occur. The law was amended on July 1, 2013, three months after the incident involving Carriker. However, the state retroactively applied this nonsense to Carriker’s case!
Carriker did absolutely nothing morally wrong; he merely lined up a potential trade deal between two other people. In the process, he and his friend became victims of an armed robbery. For being victimized by gang members, Carriker now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, without the possibility of parole.
He harmed no one!

A child could tell you that the death of Betts was a result of the robbery and not a marijuana deal, as deals do not involve one party killing the other. However, the court has ruled that Carriker’s attorney cannot use this as a defense, despite the ruling of State v. Beach, which dictates that an extraordinary intervening event [the robbery] can be presented as the cause of death, according to the family.
The court has also ruled in favor of prosecutor Trinity Muth’s motion in limine to suppress all information pertaining to the robbers’ gang affiliations. This means that the jury will not be told that Carriker had no ties to gangs and that the robbers were all documented gang members.
By pursuing murder charges in this fashion, the court is essentially saying that marijuana is more dangerous than armed robbery.

On Monday, Carriker’s trial began. Jennifer Winn, Carriker’s mother, and a former gubernatorial candidate has helped to raise awareness for her son’s railroading by the justice system.All of this injustice is facilitated by a flawed legal doctrine called the Felony Murder Rule. While the felony murder rule is most commonly used to defer the liability of police who kill innocent people during the pursuit of a criminal, in this instance, it’s being used to bolster the prosecutor’s conviction rate by charging an innocent man with murder.
Advocates of jury nullification and ending the drug war all showed up to court yesterday to voice their support for Carriker. However, in true tyrannical fashion, the judge ruled that t-shirts showing support for Carriker are now illegal and can not be worn to court.
The irony here is that had the state not outlawed marijuana effectively pushing its sale into dark alleys and criminal elements, Kyler Carriker would be enjoying his children right now, instead of facing the possibility of never seeing them again.
This case is one of the worst travesties of the justice system’s war on marijuana in recent history, and the mainstream media is silent. Please help shine light on this darkness by sharing this article with your friends and family. If you are in the Witchita area, please go to the courthouse and show your support for this father and husband. 
Please help this family seek #JusticeforKyler.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cyd Maurer

Meet Cyd.

Oregon TV anchor fired over positive drug test now a pot activist

Cyd Maurer, a morning weekend anchor at Eugene’s ABC affiliate KEZI-TV, said she was fired in May after getting into a minor accident while on assignment. In a video posted online, Maurer said that after the accident she was forced to take a drug test per company policy and failed it.

Maurer, 25, said she was completely sober at work and had used the marijuana several days before. Studies show marijuana, unlike alcohol, can be detected in some people for days after use — or even weeks, in case of frequent users.

In June, a court in Colorado ruled that a medical marijuana patient who was fired after failing a drug test cannot get his job back. The patient, a quadriplegic, said he didn’t use the drug at work. The company, Dish Network, agreed that he wasn’t high on the job, but it said it has a zero-tolerance drug policy.

The Colorado justices ruled that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, use of the drug couldn’t be considered legal off-duty activity. 

That would be true for states where weed is not legal, but that's illogical in states that have legalized recreational use.  Can I get an appeal?

More to that story here.

Where marijuana is legal, employers have to quit firing people who test positive for it.  We know that traces of the drug remain in your system for days, even weeks, after you have consumed.  Long after you're no longer high, obviously. 

Who here could ever honestly say they were still high in the morning after toking the night before?  It. Does. Not. Happen.

We need better testing to be able to distinguish between those who are actively high and those who may have consumed some after work, last nigh, but show up to work sober.  I'm sure this is possible. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PBS Digital Studios

Hey, got a lot of free time?  Hahahaha

Do you like science?  So does PBS Digital Studios.  They have released a couple of new series online. 


One, Crash Course, Astronomy is designed as an AP-level series with 10- to 12-minute episodes.  It's hosted by Phil Plait, better known as the Bad Astronomer, who formerly hosted Bad Universe on the Discovery Channel.  He currently blogs for Slate.  Here is the first in the series:


The second series, Space Time, is shorter, at six to eight minutes each. Astrophysicist Gabe Perez-Giz tackles serious science topics from a pop-culture angle. Here is a sample: Can You Trust Your Eyes?


Other series at PBS Digital Studios are:

It's OK To Be Smart
Gross Science
First Person
You're Doing It Wrong
Braincraft
PSB Idea Channel
Everything But The News

The gateway to all of these great shows is here.

And did you know that the United Nations has declared 2015 to be the International Year of Light?  In celebration, an exhibit called Light: Beyond the Bulb will be on view at various places in the U.S. The exhibit focuses on how light is used in scientific investigations. Get more information, and a schedule of appearances by clicking here.

Still coming up in America:

Honolulu from August 3-14
Atlanta through August
San Diego through September 
Framingham, MA through October

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A love story


And now a few words from Whoopi.

Whoopi Goldberg: My vape pen and I, a love story (column)

My vape pen and I maintain a mostly private relationship. Sure, I’ll sometimes show my pen to a friend or share her with a close confidant. But mostly it’s just she and I working through my pain. And her ability to help me live comfortably with glaucoma makes her one of the more important figures in my day to day.
When I show her to a friend, the reaction 99 percent of the time is: “Holy shit, where did you get this and how can I get me one?” They’re seriously that blown away by my vape pen. And they should be. She’s that amazing.
As I write my debut column for The Cannabist, talking about this newly legal weed and admiring the states that have had the foresight to legalize medical marijuana, I’m most tempted to extol the virtues of the vape pen. I didn’t anticipate this first column to be such a love story, some sort of semi-romantic comedy. But it works, and it’s true, and so here we go.


The vape pen has changed my life. No, I’m not exaggerating. In fact, her name is Sippy. Yes, she’s a she. And yes, I named her Sippy because I take tiny, little sips — sassy sips, even — from her. And with each sip comes relief — from pressure, pain, stress, discomfort. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Maybe two years ago once I stopped smoking cigarettes, I really tried to smoke a joint. I had to “really try” because I was having a hard time with it. Suddenly I had virginal lungs, and I was feeling quite annoyed about it all.
Cannabist columnist Whoopi Goldberg is a fan of the vape pen, which she says "changed my life. No, I'm not exaggerating." Seen here: A selection of vape pens. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)
A selection of vape pens. (Kathryn Scott Osler, Denver Post file)
“I think I have something you might like,” my daughter said after I told her about my difficulty with the joint. Four days later, she showed up and brought me this giant thing in a box. It had a big tube and a sturdy base and it was fairly large, and as soon as I saw it I knew I couldn’t do whatever it required of me.
“It’s a vaporizer,” my daughter told me. But I knew it was too much. She said, “Here, you can slowly inhale as much as you want. And it’s vapor, not smoke.” When she was with me on the East Coast, I knew I could work that desktop vaporizer. But as soon as she left it was too complicated.
Seven weeks later my daughter was saying it again: “I think I have something you might like.” She was coming back, and I said, “No way.” She said, “Just take a sip.” And that’s what I did.
I took a sip. It was beautiful. And my pen and I have been together ever since.


I love my Sippy, it’s true. And now there are so many different kinds of vape pens — some with coils, some you have to clean out, some you don’t have to clean. I like the simple pens with cartridges of THC oil because, if you’re not a smoker or you can’t inhale deeply, it’s a wonderful way of ingesting cannabis.
What kind of kush is in my vape pen at the moment? The indica-dominant Platinum OG, of course.
These pens are light, compact and portable. The vapor is inoffensive and subtle. And for me a lot of the new pot is too strong — and when I take edibles I rarely come out of the room. With the vape pen, you have more control over how much THC you ingest. If my headache is just starting, I know a short sip will take care of it. If the pressure inside my head is pounding, then two or three sips is a better prescription.
These glaucoma-induced headaches come on like freight trains — like, BOOM, my head starts hurting, my eyes start bugging, my whole body starts to tense up. But then I find her, and it relaxes everything and calms everything. It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It’s wonderful.
The high is different, too. It feels like a gentle, warm breeze at the beach. It’s like someone undoing a vise grip, very slowly. It’s not overpowering — and I’m certainly not looking for that high high. I’m looking for relief.


I used to take Advil by the handful for this very reason, and I don’t take Advil anymore — not for my eye. You’re not supposed to eat Advil every day, and I was eating them every day, these man-made things. But I can do this without hurting myself. It helps that I know when to do it. I have a day job where I need to be clear. But if I need it after the show, she’s there. And if I don’t feel any pain, she stays in my purse.
I take Sippy everywhere I go. And I’m respectful when I’m in a city that may not understand what I have, so I don’t flaunt her. She plugs into my computer to charge. She stays charged for a long time. She’s easy and discreet to use, and for folks like myself who use marijuana medicinally, it’s ideal for a number of reasons. In fact, I’ve recommended her to a lot of folks I know who are going through chemo.
And when those friends try my Sippy for the first time and ask me where they can get one for themselves, I tell them, “It’s not legal here. But if you’re going west, this is what you want.” And some of them do go west where they pick up a Sippy of their own. And for this I couldn’t be happier, because it‘s important for people to know that there are alternatives out there to pain management, and this one is particularly magical.




Monday, July 20, 2015

6 reasons

We hear that the "millennial" generation (those who reached adulthood around the year 2000) is leaving the church, is more and more unreligious and atheistic. Excellent!

But why would that be happening?  The Barna Group, a research institute in California that studies the intersection of faith and culture, did a study recently about that question and found six main reasons why it is happening.

Knowledge to Navigate a Changing World
Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today's teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).
Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).
Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.
Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church's expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”
Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).
Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

You can read more analysis of the study and some responses by churches by going here.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

evolve!

This video is only 2 minutes long, but well worth both of them. 



Freethought of the Day


July 19


Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Saturday, July 18, 2015

go see a shrink!

This is a great idea, and not just for Dinesh D'Souza.  Some of the stuff coming from the right-wingers is just unhinged, irrational opposition (and hatred) of liberals and reason itself.

Judge Orders Dinesh D’Souza To Get Psychological Counseling

Last year, D’Souza pleaded guilty to illegally shelling out $20,000 in contributions in the name of others for Republican Wendy Long’s failed 2012 bid to defeat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
At the time of his sentencing, D’Souza apologized, then later feigned victimization, which seems to confirm the part of the psychologist’s report of D’Souza denying problems of his own.
And now, the New York Post says:
Powerhouse defense attorney Ben Brafman was surprised when Manhattan federal court Judge Richard Berman clarified the sentence he handed down after D’Souza pleaded guilty last year, which means D’Souza will have to do over 1,600 hours more service than he initially thought.
“We’re talking about five years of eight hours a week? … This is a very serious impediment to obtaining full-time employment because you miss one day of work a week,” Brafman said in the conference inside Berman’s robing room, as D’Souza listened in silently via speakerphone.
“In my mind it was never contemplated that the eight hours only applied to the period of home confinement,” Berman said, later reading out a report from a psychologist who saw D’Souza and then ordering him to continue attending weekly sessions.
“The client tends to deny problems and isn’t very introspective,” the psychiatrist wrote. “The client tends to deny problems and is arrogant and intolerant of others’ feelings.”
The client tends to deny problems and is arrogant and intolerant of others' feelings. Gee, kinda sounds like most Republicans I know. Being a right-winger is coming close to having a mental disorder.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Laziness Dogma

Jeb Bush is turning out to be as bad as his big brother, George W. Bush.  Maybe worse.

The Laziness Dogma

by Paul Krugman
Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in just about every other wealthy country; we are known, among those who study such things, as the “no-vacation nation.” According to a 2009 study, full-time U.S. workers put in almost 30 percent more hours over the course of a year than their German counterparts, largely because they had only half as many weeks of paid leave. Not surprisingly, work-life balance is a big problem for many people.

But Jeb Bush — who is still attempting to justify his ludicrous claim that he can double our rate of economic growth — says that Americans “need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families.”

Mr. Bush’s aides have tried to spin away his remark, claiming that he was only referring to workers trying to find full-time jobs who remain stuck in part-time employment. It’s obvious from the context, however, that this wasn’t what he was talking about. The real source of his remark was the “nation of takers” dogma that has taken over conservative circles in recent years — the insistence that a large number of Americans, white as well as black, are choosing not to work, because they can live lives of leisure thanks to government programs.

You see this laziness dogma everywhere on the right. It was the hidden background to Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent remark. It underlay the furious attacks on unemployment benefits at a time of mass unemployment and on food stamps when they provided a vital lifeline for tens of millions of Americans. It drives claims that many, if not most, workers receiving disability payments are malingerers — “Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts,” says Senator Rand Paul.

It all adds up to a vision of the world in which the biggest problem facing America is that we’re too nice to fellow citizens facing hardship. And the appeal of this vision to conservatives is obvious: it gives them another reason to do what they want to do anyway, namely slash aid to the less fortunate while cutting taxes on the rich.

Given how attractive the right finds the image of laziness run wild, you wouldn’t expect contrary evidence to make much, if any, dent in the dogma. Federal spending on “income security” — food stamps, unemployment benefits, and pretty much everything else you might call “welfare” except Medicaid — has shown no upward trend as a share of G.D.P.; it surged during the Great Recession and aftermath but quickly dropped back to historical levels. Mr. Paul’s numbers are all wrong, and more broadly disability claims have risen no more than you would expect, given the aging of the population. But no matter, an epidemic of laziness is their story and they’re sticking with it.

Where does Jeb Bush fit into this story? Well before his “longer hours” gaffe, he had professed himself a great admirer of the work of Charles Murray, a conservative social analyst most famous for his 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” which claimed that blacks are genetically inferior to whites. What Mr. Bush seems to admire most, however, is a more recent book, “Coming Apart,” which notes that over the past few decades working-class white families have been changing in much the same way that African-American families changed in the 1950s and 1960s, with declining rates of marriage and labor force participation.

Some of us look at these changes and see them as consequences of an economy that no longer offers good jobs to ordinary workers. This happened to African-Americans first, as blue-collar jobs disappeared from inner cities, but has now become a much wider phenomenon thanks to soaring income inequality. Mr. Murray, however, sees the changes as the consequence of a mysterious decline in traditional values, enabled by government programs which mean that men no longer “need to work to survive.” And Mr. Bush presumably shares that view.

The point is that Mr. Bush’s clumsy call for longer work hours wasn’t a mere verbal stumble. It was, instead, an indication that he stands firmly on the right side of the great divide over what working American families need.

There’s now an effective consensus among Democrats — on display in Hillary Clinton’s planned Monday speech on the economy — that workers need more help, in the form of guaranteed health insurance, higher minimum wages, enhanced bargaining power, and more. Republicans, however, believe that American workers just aren’t trying hard enough to improve their situation, and that the way to change that is to strip away the safety net while cutting taxes on wealthy “job creators.”

And while Jeb Bush may sometimes sound like a moderate, he’s very much in line with the party consensus. If he makes it to the White House, the laziness dogma will rule public policy.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

GOP threatens America

The below is an op-ed that appeared recently in the New Zealand Herald.  Sometimes you have to take a step back to see things a little more clearly, although I and others have been saying these same things for awhile now.

The Republican Party tries anything and everything to stand in the way of progress, and especially if it's coming from that scary black man occupying the White House.  Some of their actions have been downright treasonous, but no Democrats would dare charge them with that.  

Practically all of our "leaders" are too timid to stand up and do the right thing.  They all seem so beholden to special interest money that it stifles their impulses.

Something has to change.  This election cycle is going to see a flood of money like never before.

The greatest threat to America? Republicans

by Paul Thomas
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a 'Celebrate the 2nd Amendment' event. Photo / AP
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called it "the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history". Was he referring to:
 The outbreak of the Civil War.
 The assassination of Abraham Lincoln or John Kennedy or Martin Luther King.
 The 1929 Wall St crash.
 Pearl Harbour.
 9/11.
 The realisation that the immensely costly and destructive Iraq War was launched on the basis of a lie.
None of the above: according to Cruz, America's darkest day was when the Supreme Court decided not to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Thus the extension of health insurance, previously the preserve of the rich, and marriage, previously the preserve of the straight, is worse than war, depression, assassination and mass murder.
And what does fellow Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee believe will "bring death to America":
  • bird flu
  • climate change
  • Isis
  • North Korea nuclear missiles
  • obseity
  • psychopathic gunmen wrapped in the Confederate flag.
Again, none of the above: Huckabee was referring to the just-announced nuclear deal with Iran. He wasn't alone. It appears all 17 Republican presidential hopefuls believe the treaty painstakingly negotiated by the US, Russia, China, Britain and France is not merely not worth the paper it's written on, it's positively catastrophic.

It will - Huckabee again - "wipe Israel off the map". It's worth pointing out that Israel, itself often accused of being a terrorist state, has a nuclear arsenal whereas Iran doesn't and, by virtue of this treaty, won't have for at least a decade.

So apart from bringing death to America and Israel, are there any other flaws? You bet: it will lead to widespread war in the Middle East.
Leaving aside the fact that war in the Middle East is the current and normal state of affairs, this assertion begs the question of how the critics would deal with Iran and its nuclear programme. Well, by making war in the Middle East even more widespread or, as the 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain put it, singing along to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran".
Fittingly, given that the Republicans are now essentially a party of religious fundamentalism, their candidates are partly taking their lead from Zionist Israel and Wahhabist Saudi Arabia who are terrified - hopefully with good reason - that the Iran deal foreshadows a seismic realignment which reduces their malign influence on US Middle East policy.
But their kneejerk denunciations also signal a frightening abandonment of diplomacy as a means of defusing tension, avoiding conflict and managing international affairs. The mindset seems to be that diplomacy should be reserved for friendly nations with whom you have interests in common. That they remain disposed towards armed intervention which has accelerated rather than suppressed Islamic militancy shouldn't come as a surprise since persisting with policies that achieve the exact opposite of what was intended is something of an American speciality.
The takeover of American conservatism by evangelical Christianity, Fox News and a handful of shadowy billionaires has transformed the Republicans into the party of wilful ignorance: doctrinal purity is more valued than intelligence; tolerance has been supplanted by persecutory moralising; paranoia has replaced realism.
This process may be reaching its logical conclusion with the emergence of property billionaire Donald Trump as the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination.
Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excelsis.
You might expect a tycoon/buffoon cross to be a political player in some Latin American failed state or backward former Soviet republic, places with no democratic tradition or public institutions that have stood the test of time and no such thing as "the people" in the sense of an educated, civic-minded citizenry.
The fact that so many Republicans are comfortable with the thought of this monumentally unqualified individual in the Oval Office shows how warped the party has become. To borrow the rhetoric of their candidates, the party is now an existential threat to America's leadership of the global community.