Category Archives: logic

The Absence of Evidence

Chris Wallace, of Fox News, interviewed Senator Kennedy of Louisiana during his Sunday morning talk show. Wallace was very specific. He pointed out that the entire Intelligence apparatus of the US government concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. And Ukraine did  not.

He pointed out that any Ukrainian interference claims had been debunked. He was clear.

Kennedy responded that he did not know. He said it COULD have been Ukrainians, but no one knows. Could have been.

When Wallace pointed out that there was NO EVIDENCE to support that claim, Kennedy responded (trying to be clever, I think), the the “absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence”. Just because there is no evidence a crime has been committed does  not mean a crime has NOT been committed. Just because there is no evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election does not mean Ukraine did NOT interfere in the 2016 election.

Now, it is hard. No, It take that back. It is IMPOSSIBLE to argue with that line of reasoning. What isn’t there isn’t there but that doesn’t mean it might not  be there.

Senator Kennedy got me thinking. Always a dangerous situation. So, let’s take a look back at other moments in history and revisit them.

The Holocaust. No one, well, there are a few, claims the Holocaust did not occur. But did it? Some people say it didn’t. And even  if it did occur, who was behind it? There is evidence that the Nazis and other Germans were responsible. But could it have been someone else?

In the 1930s there was a tribe in Kenya called the “Kikuyu”. Never did the Kikuyu issue a statement of support for Jews. NEVER. We know that in later years the Kikuyu rose up and fought the British who had colonized Kenya. It was called the “Mau Mau” uprising. Is it possible that the Kikuyu were anti-Semitic? There is no evidence contradicting that idea. So, it is POSSIBLE that the Kikuyu, not the Nazis, were actually responsible for the death camps. They hated whites. Jews are white. The Kikuyu were violent. The camps were violent. The “absence of evidence ” should not stop us from pointing out the obvious: The Kikuyu COULD have run the death camps.

The US Civil War. From 1861-1865 the US was engaged in a great civil war. No one denies that fact. But who was really responsible and why was it fought? There are a few ideas and some that have supporting evidence. Was it to protect the institution of slavery? Evidence for that. Was it to break up the union? Evidence of that. Was it to maintain states rights? Evidence of that.

However, is there something else at play? Perhaps. Keep in mind, I have NO EVIDENCE that the following happened. Nevertheless. Follow me.

Baseball was just becoming popular in the 1860s. A few teams were starting up, playing teams from other towns. But how could baseball grow into a national past time? The baseball team owners needed a war. This would divide the nation and make people more loyal to their own towns, hence their own teams. (Even today, some misguided fools support the Detroit Tigers!)

So, the team owners got together and hired some southerners to attack Fort Sumter.  They hired Jeff Davis, Robert E Lee, Jeb Stuart and others to go to war with the north. It is POSSIBLE that even A. Lincoln was in on the plot. I have NO EVIDENCE but it is said by some that he owned the rights to the Chicago White Sox. WHITE !!! Racism!!!

So, was Abe Lincoln the person who started the Civil War for his own personal profit? I have NO EVIDENCE of this. But Like Senator Kennedy said: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

The DNC Ukraine Connection in 2016. Now we get to the juicy one. What was the connection between the Ukrainian government and the DNC server hack. The US intelligence services have investigated and found NO EVIDENCE. So what?

According to GOP sources, here is what happened. The DNC paid Cloudstrike to hack the DNC computers. So , they paid to have themselves hacked. Now , a reasonable person may ask why they would do that? Easy.

The DNC had their own computers hacked and damaging emails released by Wikileaks because they wanted to undermine the Trump campaign. The DNC wanted Trump to be elected so they could then IMPEACH him ! A clever ploy.

To hide their plot the DNC shipped their server to the Ukraine. And kept it hidden. You may ask why they just didn’t dump it into the Atlantic Ocean. Silly people. If they dumped it there would be NO EVIDENCE that they hacked themselves. By hacking themselves and blaming it on Putin they could then undermine the Trump administration. Simple.  Of course, there is no evidence of this, but recall.

The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Which leads me to my final example. Or fact. Or whatever.

Is Senator Kennedy a child molester? I want to be very clear about this. I am not accusing Senator Kennedy of being a child molester. There is NO EVIDENCE that he is a child molester. No one, to my knowledge has ever accused him of being a child molester.

Kennedy is a male. An old white male. We know that some old white males are child molesters. That is indisputable. Also, Kennedy would undoubtedly DENY he is a child molester. But isn’t that EXACTLY what a child molester would do? Do I have EVIDENCE? No, but then has the FBI ever investigated him for child molestation? I don’t know. Perhaps the entire Fox interview given by Kennedy was designed to throw the FBI off the trail. To hide his crimes. Who knows? Could be.

Remember that Kennedy himself has said: “Absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence“. Right?

 

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No Quid Pro Quo !

trump i want nothing no quid pro quo notes sharpie

Well, that settles it. There was no “Quid pro Quo”. Lucky for us President Trump took notes on his phone call with Sondland. Otherwise we would have thought he was involved in some illegal, nefarious plot to dirty the name of Joe Biden. But the evidence is clear. For all to see.

Now, based on this I did a little research into other famous political leaders. What I found surprised me. We need to rewrite our history textbooks based on my extensive research. Here are just a few of the notes I found, hidden by those “elite intellectuals” in academia. Finally, exposed!

A note in the Berlin archives, handwritten by Adolph Hitler.

” To my generals: Do not invade Poland! Do not put Jews in concentration camps. I want nothing but peace and democracy. Do not invade Poland! This is the final word from your fuhrer.”

A old, yellowed piece if paper tucked away at Angkor Wat in Cambodia (Kampuchea).

“To my followers. This is your god and leader, Pol Pot. Do not murder intellectuals. Do not murder anyone wearing glasses. Do not massacre civilians. Communism is wrong. This is the final word from your god and master”

From the South Carolina archives, an official document signed by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

“To my white brothers and sisters. It is time to free the slaves. They are human beings just like me and you. Given the chance, a black man may someday discover blood plasma and even become president of these United States. So. Put down your arms and rejoin the union. Freedom for all. This is the final word of your president.”

From deep in the museum at Mexico City, a note from Hernan Cortez, conqueror of the Aztecs. (translated from the Spanish).

“To mis amigos. Don’t kill the Aztecs. Don’t destroy their literature, their art. Don’t melt down the gold artwork and send it back to Spain. Don’t burn their priests. That would be wrong. This is the final word from your commanding officer”,

From the dusty archives in the city of Jerusalem.

“To my Jewish friends. I oppose crucifixion as barbaric and wrong. I will never authorize anyone to nail anyone to a cross. Disgusting. Horrible. Not on my watch. You people have gone through enough, already, without me crucifying you. Take care. No crucifixion. No crucifixion. Your BFF (Best friend forever). Pontius the Pilot.”

So, let us rewrite the history books based on “original sources”,  not hearsay . After all, no one living today ever heard Cortez or saw Pontius or met Jeff Davis. Their own words must be accepted as historic fact.

Now, where did I misplace my notes on Jack the Ripper?

 

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Connecting the Dots

The cat is out of the bag. The conspiracy has been exposed. The real TRUTH is finally being told.

I don’t mean the Mueller Report. That report made it clear that the Trump campaign worked with the Russian government to disrupt the 2016 election. Mueller concluded that Russia (which means Putin) worked very hard with fake news to make Donald Trump president. And it worked. It is all laid out in detail.

The Mueller Report also gave us a detailed account of how Donald Trump tried to end the investigation and obstructed justice. Point by point. Very clear and obvious.

That’s not the cat that is out of the bag.

I am referring to the NEW evidence that ties Joe Biden and the Clinton campaign and the dirty tricks of the Ukrainians in attempting to get Trump impeached.

The story is now clear. Rudy Giuliani, one of our true American heroes, has pretty much exposed the “Deep State” and the attempt to initiate a “coup d’etat” against the best president ever.

So, here is is. Now, some of this may seem a bit “far fetched” but any intelligent person can certainly connect the dots.

It starts with the FBI. Now, there are approximately 35,000 FBI employees. Out of these 35,000 employers, 2 were able to completely control the direction of the organization. Peter Strok and Lisa Page did not like Donald Trump. Which is an outrage. So they wrote a few emails about Trump and how dangerous he is to democracy. And how he should be opposed. Connect the dots.

These emails set into motion the most secret conspiracy in the history of the world. Because two FBI agents did not like Trump, the entire organization tried (unsuccessfully) to destroy him.

The FBI is an intelligence agency. But so is the CIA. Notice the connection? BOTH are INTELLIGENCE agencies!!! Connect the dots.

The CIA reported that the Russians were trying to influence the 2016 election. Now we know that was false. Vlad Putin is ON THE RECORD as saying that Russia was not involved in the 2016 election. So Mueller was WRONG. Russia had nothing to do with the election. But no one in the Ukraine has ever made the claim that THEY were not involved. Connect the dots.

It was actually the Ukraine that was interfering with the election. Notice that Russia and the Ukraine have a COMMON BORDER. You can actually cross the border from Russia into Ukraine!!! And, we know that both nations have highways and cars! Connect the dots.

So, why did the Ukraine help Clinton? Because of Joe Biden. Biden has a son. Biden’s son did business in the UKRAINE. Biden=Ukraine!!! Why would the SON of a Democrat be doing business in a foreign country? The reason is obvious. CORRUPTION!! Connect the dots.

So, Biden, who PRETENDED to be Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the 2016 primary campaign was actually working behind the scenes to help Clinton get elected with the help of the Ukraine. At the same time Joe Biden’s son was laying the foundation for the Trump impeachment ! It is obvious ! Connect the dots.

So, how did the Ukraine pull this off? Well, by using COMPUTERS! A lot of people do not know this, but there are COMPUTERS in the Ukraine. And COMPUTERS were used to interfere with the 2016 election. Not just any computers. But computers that are actually connected to the INTERNET!!! Connect the dots.

But, Hillary Clinton’s server was also connected to the internet. So, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton were working together with the Ukrainians. It is obvious. All three , Biden, Clinton and the Ukraine, all had computers. And all were CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!! A coincidence? Connect the dots.

Which brings us to Barack Obama. Obama was president of the USA during the last election. We now know that Obama was also CONNECTED to the INTERNET with computers in the White House. And who else is connected to the White House? The CIA !!! Connect the dots.

Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, the Ukrainians AND Barack Obama all had internet connections. At the same time!! During the 2016 election. And all of them wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected president. Need I say more? Connect the dots.

Which brings us to Rick Perry. Rick Perry is in the Trump cabinet. But it was Rick Perry that FORCED Donald Trump to call the president of the Ukraine and hold up military aid. Trump did not want to do this. But Perry forced him to do it!! Perry is from Texas. Texas is a state that has gone Republican in the last few elections. But Joe Biden wants to be president and so he wants to win Texas. And Perry is the FORMER GOVERNOR of Texas. The plot thickens. Rick Perry also has a computer which (we now know) is CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!!! Connect the dots.

Only a fool cannot see the awful conspiracy by the FBI, CIA, the Ukrainians,  Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rick Perry to destroy the duly elected president of the USA. The best president ever. Connect the dots.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As Rudy Giuliani reports more and more facts, this conspiracy will get bigger and bigger. I have heard that before this is over a number of folks will be implicated. Remember these names: Oprah Winfrey, Ronald McDonald, Mahatma Gandhi, Tom Brady and Tom Cruise! Don’t be a fool. It’s obvious. Connect the dots.

 

 

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Cracked

In Alaska a few days ago there was a swim meet. The winner was a 17 year old girl who  also happened to be the state champion. After the victory, she was disqualified by one of the judges.

What was her egregious rule violation? Did she test positive for drugs? No. Did she leave the starting area too soon and thereby gain an unfair advantage? No. Did she splash water in the face of an opponent? No. Did she reach across her lane and grab the leg of a fellow swimmer, slowing her down? No.

According to the official who nailed her, she was guilty of intergluteal cleft exposure. To be more specific, her butt cheeks were touching each other. AHA.

So, she was wearing an illegal swimsuit which gave here butt cheeks an unfair advantage? Well, no. She was wearing the same swimsuit she had worn before at other meets she had won. One provided by her school. The same one every other girl on the team was wearing.

Before I go on, let me digress.

In 1967 a zoologist name Desmond Morris wrote a book titled “The Naked Ape”. I recall reading it because it had the word “Naked” in the title.  Among other things there was a section about the development of sexual attraction in primates. He hypothesized concerning the evolution of human sexual attraction. Morris could not figure out why males are attracted to highly developed mammary glands. (If Jack is reading this, that means:  Why guys like big boobs).

After all, the function of mammary glands is to  produce milk. Hardly the elixir of love. Hey, baby, can I offer you a grassfed or a 2% low fat?

So, Morris hypothesized (read: imagined) that , like other primates, sexual attraction for men center on the female gluteus maximus (butt). That “rear entry” is the usual form of intercourse for most primates, except those who had been visited by Christian missionaries. So, as Morris further opined the development of large mammaries was an evolutionary adaptation. They mimicked the round ,large gluteal muscles that males find so fascinating. So, women had boobs because they look like butts. OK. Back to our story.

This 17 year old was disqualified for having too much of an intergluteal cleft exposed. There are approximately 7 billion humans on the planet right now, give or take 4 or 5. Every one of them, self included, is endowed with an intergluteal cleft. In my own case I had not seen my intergluteal cleft in years. I forgot it was there. Using mirrors I was able to find it. It was rather disappointing as clefts go.

I am reasonably certain that most 17 year old girls have a better looking cleft than I do. I mean, if I were an Olympic quality swimmer (presuming I could learn to swim) I would have to wear a suit that might show my cleft. Any judge that could keep down his lunch would undoubtedly disqualify me before I hit the pool.

Then again, you have to wonder about a judge (the ONLY judge) who fixates on the intergluteal cleft of a 16 or 17 year old female athlete. Why is the judge obsessed with the derrieres of the competitors? Why is one buttock touching another buttock (of the same person) of such concern as to demand a disqualification? I mean, golf has some crazy rules, but at least how your butt looks does not come into play. Thankfully.

There is a word for a judge who seems obsessed ( see Desmond Morris for details) with a young lady’s butt when he (or she) should be concerned with more important issues. Like rules. The term for such a judge can be found in the obvious place. Look deeply into the intergluteal cleft and you will discover the adequate definition for such a judge. No, look even deeper into the butt crack There is is!

ASSHOLE.

(Addendum: The ruling was overturned. The girl was awarded her victory.)

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2019/09/10/swimsuit-controversy-alaska-teen-disqualified-showing-too-much-skin/2278671001/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Ape

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergluteal_cleft

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Fake Bias

It’s the next thing. The next attempt to confuse, confound and discombobulate the American voter. It is what I call “Fake Bias”.

It goes like this.

All news is biased. Everyone is biased. Everything is biased. So, you cannot believe anything. Anywhere. Ever. It’s all just someone’s opinion. One source is just as good as another source.

Like the wife who is caught in “flagrante delicto ” with the neighbor in bed. Her husband walks  in. The evidence (so to speak)is staring him in the face. He accuses her of infidelity. The neighbor is right there beside her. “There is no one here,” she says. “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?”

When I taught school I noticed that in the last 15 years or so a new attitude had developed about “experts”. During discussions some students often fell back on the attitude that all opinions are equal. All hold equal weight. “It’s just an opinion”.

According to the Oxford dictionary definition: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

So, to some extent the kids were correct. Everyone’s opinion may be based on , well, just nothing at all.

But some opinions are based on more than thin air or preconceived notions. Some opinions are based on evidence, data and experience. The danger occurs when ALL opinions are lumped together as equally valid. They are not.

Over the last 30 years, intensifying recently, is the attitude that there is something negative about “expertise”. Experts are know-it-alls. They think they are smarter than other people. Obama thought he was the smartest guy in the room. (He usually was). Experts are smartypants and should be put in their place. Aha! The so-called experts were wrong.

This is a sea change from when I was growing up. Back in the 1950s and 1960s we were encouraged to go to school. To become educated. To become an expert in some field.That was the road to respect. The idea that you SHOULD be an educated person with a degree of expertise was encouraged. And respected.

When my students would take the position that “all opinions” are equally valid I would give them some examples to think about.

You feel a pain in your side. You ask your grandmother’s opinion. You ask the opinion of the bagboy at the grocery store. You pay for your gas and ask the gas station attendant what he thinks is wrong. You ask your family doctor  They all have opinions.Do you think all those opinions are equally valid? Do you follow the advice of grandma and eat some chicken soup or do you follow the advice of your doctor and get an X-ray?

Some people have opinions based on evidence and facts. Shall we take a survey of passengers on JetBlue and ask the best way to land the plane? Or should we defer to the pilot in this area? And while this pilot may be a genius in how to fly a plane, he may know nothing about growing corn. Expertise is limited. And specific.

Which brings me back to “Fake Bias”.

There is an attempt by the far right wing to destroy the very idea that news can be “unbiased”. That facts exist. It goes beyond claiming that certain networks have editorial policies that are biased. They do. MSNBC has been anti-Trump and Fox News has been pro-Trump. The bias is clear.

But that does not mean that both sides don’t use facts, even if selectively. And it does not change the fact that news can be factual. The idea that all news is biased is the argument of those who do not want honest, evidence based reporting. Because they cannot justify gun violence, for example, they call reporting of gun violence “biased”. They cannot justify putting children in cages, so they claim that other presidents put children in cages. Bias. Fake.

The end game of the attacks on “lugenpresse” (covered in another post linked below) is to deny the existence of objective reality. If everything is biased then nothing can be believed. A most dangerous attitude. Putin must be as happy a pig in doo-doo. He is getting exactly what he paid for. Fake bias.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/lugenpresse-testing-the-waters/

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Understanding Trump

If you are a logical person or a reasonable person Mr Trump may be hard to understand. His decisions, the way he treats people, his lies, his tweets may all seem the rantings of a loon.

After 3 years of campaigning and watching him on the stage I have come to some understanding of why he makes the kinds of decisions he makes. While on the surface they make no sense, if you can put yourself in his mind (and there is plenty of room) you may be able to make sense of him.

I was trained as an anthropologist, which is important. What an anthropologist tries to do is understand people who think in ways that are quite different from what we might consider “normal” in our society.

For example, the Yanomami (or Yanamamo) have a ritual they perform when someone dies. They cremate the body and mix the ashes of the deceased into a “stew”. The family then passes around the stew and everyone takes a drink. On the surface this is pretty disgusting and makes no sense.

However, to the Yanomami this action shows the highest regard for the dead. The dead become part of the living.The dead person becomes one with those who are still alive. It is the ultimate spiritual and physical connection. Odd behavior to us, but completely “normal” under their belief system.

So, when we look at Trump’s decisions we should not assume he holds the same values, beliefs, life experiences, etc. as a normal American. We should instead, an an anthropologist, try to understand his motives and beliefs by his actions. We should assume nothing, but rather look for a pattern of behavior to better understand the motives of that behavior.

For example, Trump is obsessed with destroying the ACA, also called Obamacare. Now, this program provides health insurance to millions of Americans. When the GOP tried to destroy it the outrage was so great that they could not do so. People like it. It guarantees health insurance for the working poor and supports the private insurance industry. Yet, Mr Trump insists he wants it ended, with no plan to help the 20-40,000,000 Americans who would lose insurance if he succeeds.

A logical person might ask: Why? Why try to destroy a popular program that is working? Now, if a better alternative was offered there might be a reasonable discussion. But there is no alternative offered, just the end of Obamacare.

Combine this with his other illogical actions concerning the border wall. His call for an investigation of Smollett, the black guy in Chicago, his history of discrimination against African-Americans in housing, etc. and a clear picture emerges.

He is a racist. Anything Obama did, no matter how helpful to the citizens, he is intent on undoing. While he criticizes black Americans and calls for all kinds of “investigations”, he never criticizes white supremacists or calls for investigations of police who kill blacks.

If you look at Mr Trump’s decisions and take the view that he is a racist, they all make perfect sense. His attacks on the people of Puerto Rico , Mexicans, ripping brown children from their parents, saying he wants more folks from Norway, etc. The overall , inevitable controlling factor, from the point of view of an anthropologist, is that this man makes policy decisions based on skin color.

Another area where Mr Trump’s decisions seem incomprehensible is his relationships with various foreign leaders. While he “loves” Kim Jung Un and respects Putin, he criticizes the leaders of democracies.

Why would an American president humiliate himself before Putin. Why kowtow to the dictator of Saudi Arabia? Why talk about his love relationship with Kim Jung Un? All three of these men are vile dictators who murder their political opponents. They kill newsmen. They destroy all critics. All three have raided the wealth of their own people and live like kings while so many in their countries have nothing.

What is the underlying attraction these men have as far as Trump is concerned? What is it about his value system that makes them attractive to him?

The conclusion I have reached is not that they “have anything on him”, like “compromat”. Rather, he admires brutality and physical strength. He sees the way these men “control” their populations with terror and he admires that. He sees that as a positive value. Leaders who are feared and bowed down to. Above questioning.

Why has he gone through so many cabinet members and advisers? He needs “yes men” around him. People who will tell him he is the greatest thing on Earth. Sycophants. Anyone who would disagree with him is put in his place or fired. No opinions other than that the the supreme leader can be allowed.

So, any decisions he makes must be unquestioned. He values complete loyalty to him and a disregard for any legal or normative structures. He losses the battle for the wall, so he simply says he will violate the law and build it anyway. If his political opponents disagree they should be destroyed. The free press must be destroyed, as well. There can be no exchange of ideas, only capitulation. In his world view that is the way a “great leader” acts.

Now, I am not justifying Mr Trump’s actions. Only trying to make sense of them. He does have guiding principles, even though he is probably not even cognizant of them himself.

He believes in strong man rule and the inherent superiority of light skinned people. If you keep in mind those 2 principles all of his actions, tweets, speeches, violations of the law and norms make sense.

It also helps one understand that so many Americans share that world view. After all, Mr Trump has plenty of support. You will never understand Mr Trump unless you understand that fact as well. He is not alone in his core beliefs. Admiration for authoritarian rule and racism. A lethal combination.

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Lies Liberals Tell, Part 2

Lies Liberals Tell, Part 2 of 7.

Copyright Joseph Urban,  2007,2008,2009

Lie #2: People can be reasoned with.

Liberals have always put a high premium on reason and logic. We believe that when confronted with evidence and facts, people will inevitably accept the sensible solutions. We think that “if only” these folks would seriously think about and analyze the social situation they would come to a reasonable conclusion. Like we do.

The second liberal lie.

Definition of “Reason” : the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.

Let’s take the claim, repeated over and over, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. While liberals and moderates dismissed this as the nonsense that it is, many on the right wing continue, even today, to believe this obvious lie.

Donald Trump, elected president, for 6 years continued to make this claim. It was a claim designed to delegitimize the first black president of the US. Plain and simple. It is a claim that was based on nothing more than someone’s unsubstantiated fantasy.

But, surveys showed that more than half of the GOP electorate continued to believe this claim. A claim made with no reliable evidence.  A claim so obviously unreasonable and false that it hardly needed denying.

Liberals think that people will look at facts and evidence, use their logic and come to reasonable conclusions. So let’s look at the “evidence” of Barack Obama’s birth.

When Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, 2 different newspapers had birth announcements. Two newspapers. Two announcements. A logical person would ask the question: Why would 2 newspapers in Hawaii print a birth announcement of a child born in Kenya by claiming this baby was born in Hawaii? Why would a hospital in Hawaii provide false information to newspapers concerning the birth of a child at the hospital? A reasonable person would ask what could be the possible motivation for a hospital and two newspapers to falsely claim a baby was born in Hawaii?

Now, the “birthers”, including Donald Trump, claim that they have proof that Obama was born in Kenya because a woman claiming to be Obama’s grandmother said she SAW his birth. This was based on an audiotape which purported to be an interview with Barack Obama’s paternal grandmother.

So, a reasonable person would make sure the old lady WAS Obama’s grandmother, listen to the tape, and make a reasonable conclusion. Let us assume the old lady on the audiotape was Obama’s grandmother. So, we listen to the tape. Understand that we do not know what the grandmother says, since she does not speak English. So, we have a translator who is a middle man.

On one part of the tape the translator seems to say that YES, this old lady claims she was at the BIRTH of her famous grandson. And this is where the “birthers” cut off the tape. This is the basis for their claim. An old lady who does not speak English says, according to a translator, that she SAW Barack being born. As the audiotape continues the interviewer asks her to repeat her answer to the question. He wants to get it clearly on tape that Obama was born in Kenya.

But then we see a problem. When the translator continues to talk to the old lady it quickly becomes evident that something was lost in translation. Yes, the grandmother proudly states, Barack Obama IS her grandson. But NO, she did not SEE his birth because he was not born in Kenya. She is clear. The translator is clear. This old lady, whether Obama’s grandmother or not, did NOT see Barack Obama born in Kenya.

But wait.  There is more. What about the birth certificate? Now, Hawaii does provide COPIES of birth certificates. If you need one, you pay for one. I presume it is the same in most states.  I have a COPY of my birth certificate from a hospital in Chicago. I don’t have the ORIGINAL. Why not? Because ORIGINAL documents are not provided. Why not? Because they are ORIGINALS. They are kept in government archives. No one is given an ORIGINAL, not even the President of the United States.. But the “birthers” made a big deal out the fact that Obama did not release his ORIGINAL birth certificate. He could not. He never had it. But Hawaii DID release PHOTOCOPIES of the original. And they even allowed reporters to view the original birth certificate in the Hawaiian archives.

A logical, reasonable person would then look  at these pieces of evidence and conclude that a baby named Barack Hussein Obama was born to a US citizen mother in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. A logical person would have no alternative but to conclude as much.

We can apply the same logic to climate change deniers, voter fraud claims, 9/11 conspiracy theories, Sasquatch sightings, aliens abductions, groundwater contamination by fracking  and a multitude of other claims. Are any of these claims valid? Liberals think we should should look at evidence, use logic and draw reasonable conclusions.

But, as the acceptance of  false ideas demonstrates, millions of Americans reject logic and evidence as a tool for analyzing data. They simply choose to believe what they want to believe and reject evidence to the contrary.

Liberals need to come to grips with the fact that millions of our fellow citizens have no desire or ability to use logic or reason. No inclination to accept evidence. When we argue from facts and evidence, our conclusions fall on deaf ears. The thought processes of many is similar to those who sought to ferret out witches in the Middle Ages.  If the accused floats, she is a witch and must be burned at the stake. If the accused sinks and drowns, well, I guess she was not a witch after all. You simply cannot argue with that “logic”

Liberals need to understand that reason, logic and evidence are irrelevant to many. They simply cannot be reasoned with.

Part 1: https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/lies-liberals-tell-part-1/

 

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Lies Liberals Tell, Part 1

Lies Liberals Tell  (Confessions of a Born-Again Liberal)

Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban

Part 1 of a 7 part series.

The elevation of Donald Trump to the position of most powerful human being on the planet Earth should make all of us re-examine our most basic beliefs about mankind. Of course, Donald Trump did not win the majority of votes. (Latest count shows him losing by almost 3,000,000 votes) So his philosophy and beliefs do not reflect the values of most Americans. Nevertheless, he was able to garner enough votes in enough states to win the electoral college majority. So, while he is a “minority” president, the mere fact that he was even close in the popular vote this election gives us pause and causes us to reconsider where we stand as liberals. Furthermore, the fact that he exercises immense power with little or no regard to the desires of the majority must make us more than a little worried.

As a lifelong liberal I have had a number of core beliefs challenged by this development.  Perhaps liberals have been lying to themselves about America and what it stands for. Perhaps we need to dispose of illusions and lies we have been telling ourselves. In this short 7 part series  I will discuss some of the beliefs, which have turned out to be lies, that liberals have held for years. Things we thought were true. We have been dead wrong.

I am not suggesting that we abandon these ideas and beliefs. But we need to accept the reality that significant minorities of our population do not hold the same core beliefs that we do. We can no longer take for granted that most Americans share these core values and beliefs. In order to go forward in a practical way, we need to accept the reality that we have been, in large part, lying to ourselves about a significant number of  citizens of The United States.

Lies are organized into the following categories.

  1. Society
  2. Reason
  3. Mean Well
  4. Fairness
  5. Responsibility
  6. Inevitability of Progress
  7. It Can’t Happen Here

Lie # 1: We are all in this together in society.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Those are the first words of the US Constitution. “We”. Not “I”. We . We will establish a government that supports society. Remember that after the Revolutionary War the 13 colonies formed a union. The Articles of Confederation knit together the colonies in a loose union based on the interests of individual states. The United States , in the sense that we know it today, was not an easy sell. (See the Federalist Papers for a thorough discussion of the issues).

To form a more perfect union. The founding fathers discovered that a loose union would not last. It would either break apart into sectionalism or completely dissolve as each state demanded sovereignty and independence. The result would be a weakened group of states. Easy prey for European nations seeking dominance.  The weakness would be an invitation to chaos and interference by foreign powers.

The solution was to develop a document that guaranteed some unity among the diverse parts of states along the eastern seaboard. The Preamble to the Constitution establishes the philosophical framework for that unity. An attempt to pull together  the north and south, the rural and urban, the large states and small ones, into a cohesive society. Only by uniting the divergent elements into a new society could unity be secured.

So, we have, at the very beginnings of the United States, the fundamental understanding that “society” was the key to success. And how do we attempt to build this new society? By establishing the purposes of government. Clearly, these purposes were to unite , not divide. The divisions were already there. Clear. The need was to superimpose on those divisions a system that would  lead to national unity.

Establishing justice. A liberal idea, that justice is the key to any acceptance of a new system. People should be treated fairly and justly. For society to function people need to accept that they will be treated fairly. To do otherwise leads to dissolution or revolution. After all, the Revolutionary War was fought because a large segment of the population felt that British tax laws were unjust.

Promote the general welfare. The idea that government should be active, not passive, in developing plans and assistance to benefit society. Government has been established to facilitate what is good for people and society in general.  So we see in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution a laundry list of practical steps Congress should take to promote the general welfare. Among them are such things as coining money and regulating trade. Building roads for the public. Establishing post offices.  Doing whatever is needed to promote science and “useful arts” by securing patent rights. To raise money and pay debts as needed for the military and general welfare.

We see an active national government. One that does not sit back. One that actively pursues, through taxation and other legal remedies, the general welfare of society. A government involved in people’s lives in order to help make those lives better and fuller. A government, by its very nature, designed to benefit its citizens individually and collectively .

This basic concept, that the US Constitution is established, in part, to provide for a just and good society, was at the core of the Constitution. It has also been a core belief of liberalism. Because, the fact is, the designers of the Constitution were extremely liberal for their time. While they were still acting in ways that we would consider reactionary today, but that the overall sense of the document is certainly liberal at its core. A new type of government. Designed to assist the people and develop society, as opposed to the old way of thinking that government should serve the elites at the expense of the peasantry.

Don’t all Americans agree with this fundamental truth? This is the first liberal lie we tell ourselves.

American liberals tend to accept the idea that the proper role of government is to assist and support society. That includes society’s weakest members as well as the most fortunate ones.

However, the emergence of the “new right” under Ronald Reagan and continuing through the Bushes and Trump puts that belief to the test.  John F Kennedy, in his inaugural address said: …”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country…” (society). Ronald Reagan replied in his first inaugural address: “…government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem”.

Reagan and those who  follow his philosophy turn the Preamble to the US Constitution on its head. Government, they believe, is not supposed to “promote the general welfare” Quite the opposite. Government should promote the elites and let society devolve into a dog-eat-dog world. Greed is good. Regulation is evil. Society exists only as a battleground of self-interest and self-promotion, not as a cooperative venture where all of us have a stake and where all people can participate fully. Some must lose big time so others can win big time.

Liberals need to recognize that the seductive “me-first” ideology has taken hold of a very significant portion of people in America. They have been propagandized into accepting the notion, which is at odds with the Preamble, that they should reject idea of the “common good”. That the “common good”  is seen as equivalent to communism or Marxism. This distorted notion of the role of government has taken hold and forms the basis for the “new right”. They incorrectly assume that any “public good” must inevitably lead to some kind of communistic equality. They are blind to the Constitutional mandate to promote the general  welfare.

So, liberals need to recognize that millions of Americans no longer hold to the founding fathers’ core belief. Of course, to liberals the contradiction is glaring.

For example, the states that consistently vote for the “less government”,  new right, largely Republican candidates are the very states that benefit most from the federal treasury. These “welfare states” take much more from the federal government than they send to Washington, DC in taxes. While they condescendingly refer to others as “takers” they themselves have not paid their own way in years, if ever.

Nevertheless, liberals need to deal with the reality. Millions of Americans no longer support a key tenet of the Constitution, that government has a significant role in maintaining a just society and is responsible for promoting a good society.

 

 

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National Emergency 101 Quiz

If the following IS a national emergency answer YEPPER. If not, answer, NOPER.

1. Russia actively interferes with the 2016 election and helps Donald Trump get elected?

2. The Trump administration cuts funding for the FBI task force investigating and trying to prevent Russian election interference in 2020?

3.At the World Trade Center catastrophe of 9/11/2001,  3,000 Americans were killed. Since then, an average of 3,000 Americans each month have been killed by guns . That is a total of over 612,000 Americans killed by guns. National emergency?

4. The hottest, driest years on record due to global climate change have lead to extensive fires and droughts?

5. The US and Russia pulling out of the arms reduction agreements?

6. Over 25,000,000 Americans without quality health insurance due to the recent erosion of the ACA?

7. A record 22 trillion dollar debt, built up largely due to the 2 trillion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1%?

8. Growing and eventual insolvency of Social Security unless action is taken immediately?

9. Selling off of national parks, created long ago by Teddy Roosevelt,  to the fossil fuel industry for the short term economic gain of a dying industry?

10. A family of Guatemalans, including a 5 year old and a 3 year old,  fleeing death in their homeland, are posing a major threat to US safety and security?

If you answered YEPPER to # 10, you are an idiot.

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General Admission Seating

Depending on which story you want to believe, there are somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 men, women and kids from Central America moving northward to seek asylum in the USA. Rather than get into the facts of how this administration has fomented this “crisis”, just look at some numbers.

The US has a population of about 325,000,000. That is 325 million people.

For the sake of argument I will accept the higher number. 7,000 versus 325,000,000.

Pretty scary!

Now, about half or more of these 7,000 are women and children. And, under US law everyone has a right to apply for asylum. That does not mean they will get it, but they can apply. So, we have 7,000 folks fleeing violence and death. Did I mention we have a nation of 325,000,000?

Let us suppose that every single asylum seeker get admitted. That would have the effect of adding 14 people to the city of Detroit, Michigan. About 12 new people to Raleigh, North Carolina. 3 more folks in San Bernadino, California.  Maybe 4 people to Topeka, Kansas.

Another example may better illustrate. We are crazy about football in the US. So what if we offered every member of the caravan a free football ticket. General admission seating, of course.

So, we offer these 7,000 folks tickets to a football game. How would that look?

For example, in the Rose Bowl, these folks would take up 2 of the 28 sections. Well, not exactly. Less than 2 sections, but close enough. In most other stadiums they would take up maybe 3 sections.

Unless you are talking high school, of course. For example, at the Texas Alamo High school stadium these men, women and children would take up just about 33%! Imagine, a high school football game where every third person is an immigrant seeking asylum. One game, one stadium, that’s the entire caravan.

This is why the US sent the most highly trained military in the world to the border? (Admittedly it was the WRONG border. They were sent to Texas; the caravan is heading to California…but I digress). To stop a “caravan” composed mainly of women and children that would not even fill up half of a Texas high school football stadium? SCARY!!!

Next time you see the massive numbers of scary asylum seekers as shown by the news, just imagine how much space they actually take up at a college football game. But don’t buy the asylum seekers expensive  box seats.

Just give them general admission tickets.

 

 

 

 

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The Volunteers

(On October 9,2018 I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.)

Part 1.

Walk Auschwitz.

Words cannot describe. I have seen photos and movies. Schindler’s List. Sophie’s Choice. I have read the accounts and read about the numbers.

Walk Auschwitz.

Jews. Poles. Hungarians. Children. Russians. Gypsies. Women. Englishmen. Priests. Elderly. Rabbis. Intellectuals. Homosexuals. Disabled. Mentally ill.

Walk Auschwitz.

Over 1,300,000 human beings. Gassed. Starved to death. Shot. Suicide by throwing themselves against the high voltage fence. Hanged. Loaned out. Experimented on. 1,300,000 human beings. A number so large it loses meaning.

Walk Birkenau.

Walking the same walk as the victims. Walking the same walk as the guards. Piles of suitcases with names and addresses written in bold. The pots and the pans. Brought by women to their new home. To cook for their families. The prayer shawls, clean and fringed.The hill of shoes. The room full of human hair. The hair. Long and brown. Flowing hair of a young women. Braids. The tight braided hair of a young girl. The hair. So much hair.

Walk Auschwitz.

If you can walk through Auschwitz and Birkenau and not be sickened, there is something wrong with you.

If you can step into the gas chambers and gaze at the ovens and not be disgusted, there is something wrong with you.

If you can view the small starvation cell, the asphyxiation cell, the gallows, the rows and rows and rows of wooden buildings holding the living dead and not be nauseated, there is something missing in you. You are less than human.

Part 2. On another level

Walk Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were the natural endpoint of the Nazi philosophy. The logical conclusion to the concept of the “master race”

Wedded with the philosophy of corporate profit . the marriage of the coercive power of the state and the financial power of corporations. A philosophy unfettered by normal human emotion or empathy.

The human beings housed at Auschwitz and Birkenau contributed to the profits of the German war industry. The chemical industry. The medical establishment. Science.

German corporations paid the NAZI regime for the laborers. Worked to death because more were always on the way. Cheap. Efficient. Labor.

Companies like Bayer (of Bayer aspirin) paid for research subjects. Try new medicines. Cheap subjects for drug trials. Human beings as test subjects for new procedures. Use and dispose. Next, please. Plentiful and cheap.

The Buna-Werke synthetic rubber factory. Labor needed for the war industry. Priority labor from the camps. Eleven hour days. Minimum required by law.

The perfect, logical union of government power, racist philosophy and corporate profits. Auschwitz and Birkenau were death camps, but they were also very efficient money making machines.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were inevitable. The only possible result of the “logic” of the master race. All “others” were less than human. As such they could be used and abused. They SHOULD be used and abused. Tortured. Killed. Terrorized into submission. Worked to death. Experimented on. All for the good of the master race. Logical. Precise. Cold, calculated logic. For the homeland. Vaterland. The Reich.

What about the doctors who experimented? The guards who tortured? The business owners who profited? The Nazi commanders whose wives and little children lived with them just outside the electrified fences? The German soldiers who brutalized and mocked and punished? The men who  dropped the canisters of Zyklon B into the gas chambers? Who watched and waited patiently for the women and children to choke to death?

No one was forced.

All were volunteers.

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“Is it?”… “Dirty”

Being married to the same person for over 40 years one sometimes run out of meaningful conversations.  We rant at the same political nonsense. Repeat the same old jokes. Finish each others sentences. Communication, which used to include paragraphs or complete sentences, is now reduced , at times to a few simple words. Yet, these simple words convey deep understanding of complex topics.

For example. Just yesterday we had the following conversation. It went like this.

Me: “Is it?”

Betsy: “Dirty

Now, you can probably imagine any number of scenarios in which this in depth recitation of ideas may have taken place. Let your imagination run wild. Just remember we are in our 60s. Well, late 60s. That should severely limit the possible scenarios.

These three words conveyed not only a simple question and answer. Below the surface they included an unspoken reiteration of a multitude of previous conversations. These three words are , in reality, an end point. A conclusion of a rich, complex series of  questions, answers, criticisms, apologies and discussions.

Background. When I finish eating I have the habit (which some would suggest is a “bad” habit, as if habits could be bad) of leaving my dishes in the sink. There is a dish washing machine next to the sink. So, I could just put my dirty dishes into the dish washing machine. And I try to remember.

However, sometimes when I do remember to put my dirty dishes in the machine, there are dishes in the machine which are clean. Hence, putting dirty dishes into the machine would be a major faux pas. So one must be careful.

I try to be the one who empties the clean dishes out of the machine. I do this because my reach exceeds that of my bride so it is easier for me to reach the top shelves. But sometimes I don’t.

Needless to say, Betsy and I have had this discussion (is it called a “discussion” when one person talks and another listens quietly saying “yes, dear”?) many times. I am usually considered to be at fault for either (A) not putting the dirty dishes in the machine, or (B) putting the dirty dishes in a machine with clean dishes in it waiting to be put away. On either score, I lose.

Back to the 3 word discussion. In all it’s richness, this is what we really said:

Me: Is it? (Is the dishwasher filled with clean dishes or dirty ones, since I don’t recall if we ran it today and I know I didn’t empty it? If there are dirty dishes in there I will put my dish in with them. If there are clean dishes I will empty the dishwasher now so we can put our dirty dishes in there.)

Betsy: Dirty. (It is filled with dirty dishes. So, take that dish in your hand and put it in the dishwasher where it belongs, not in the sink. I will run the dishwasher tonight and you can empty it in the morning. Although I doubt that you will remember).

Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, I expect we will commence the day with another in depth discussion of our plans for the day.

Betsy: “Are you?”

Me: “Yep.”

You figure it out.

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Everybody Run, Teacher’s Got a Gun

We live in the age of iodiotic ideas followed by even more idiotic ideas. Most of the “solutions” to problems seem to be designed to create even more problems. And they do. Inevitable.

The latest idiotic idea is that we should start arming teachers in our schools. The NRA supports this idea, of course. As the primary gun manufacturing lobby this will mean more sales. More sales means more dollars to legal gun runners. More dollars to legal gun runners means more dollars in the NRA account. So, the idiotic idea at least has an upside for someone.

As I taught school for 33 years I wondered how I would do if I were armed. Nothing big. Just a small sidearm. A six-shooter. At my hip. Ready to go. Bang. Bang. You’re dead.

It would have proven a useful tool in my arsenal of teaching tricks, to be sure. Before I go on you might consider this. A number of studies have placed teaching as the third or fourth most stressful job in industrialized societies. Third or fourth. Behind soldiers. Cops. EMTS/medical folks. Lots of stress. And not so good on the wages for all those professions. So, even more stress.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/be_your_best/page/top-10-stressful-jobs-america-14355387

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/teaching-among-top-three-most-stressed-occupations

Back to my gun.

I can think of some situations in my long career where a gun may have been useful. And remember the old saying: Don’t point a loaded gun at anyone unless you intend to use it. Use it I would.

There was the 7th grader I will call “Billy Bob”. Billy Bob never did his homework. He almost always sauntered into class late. He shot spitballs on a regular basis. Never passed a test or quiz. Sometimes spit on the floor. He was sent to the office so often he earned frequent flyer miles. And he had a smart mouth. “You’re not my father, you can’t make me do nuthin”.  Wonder what I would have done with a loaded gun?

Then there was Akili . The 18 year old in 9th grade. Came to class once in awhile. Never had a book. Never had a pen or pencil. Never would answer a question. I asked the administration what to do with this kid. Why was he even in school? The answer? He had a “right” to an education and it was my job to teach him. Also, he is selling drugs but we can never catch him. So, once in awhile Akili would show up and take up space. Sit and smirk. Eventually Akili disappeared. Word has it he was “offed” by a rival in the drug business. Still, I wonder? If I had a gun would I have beaten his rival to the punch?

Then there is the monthly faculty meeting. Wherein a person who taught for 3 years and then decided he wanted to make real money but had no skills went on to get an “administrative degree”. This degree allowed such a person to be hired as a principal or vice principal of a school. And to supervise people who actually knew something about educating kids.

Now, this person would hold a faculty meeting. Usually the meeting was designed to inform teachers that they were responsible fo passing all the students. Especially those that did no work. I had one administrator tell me I should never give a grade lower than a 60 on any assignment, even if the student did not turn it in. Not hand it in. Give him an automatic 60. Really. That was his policy. Which I ignored, of course.

Also at the faculty meeting the room full of teachers will be told they must attend “teacher workshops”. Now, a teacher workshop is a place where teachers with 20 years experience sit in student desks and listen to a 23 year old who has never been in a classroom explain how to do the job better. How to inspire every student. How to write individual lesson plans . All 150 of them. Every day. Imagine a room full of armed teachers, after correcting 150 essays, most of which were downloaded from the internet, being told how to do their jobs. Locked and loaded. Yes, give me a gun. Please. Let’s get his meeting started.

Of course there is the dreaded  hall duty. Stop a youngster in the hall who seems to be wandering around aimlessly. Might be lost. Might be looking to bust open a locker. Who knows. So, I ask him very politely: Do you have a hall pass? Where do you belong?

He answers: “Who do you think you are? None of your business. Nobody tells me what to do. Cram it asshole”

Yes, give me a loaded gun.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These are isolated cases and I could give you plenty more. They only happen once in awhile. I might be having a great day and then…bam…some kid destroys it. And, like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, ” I’m a very gentle man…

even tempered and good-natured,
whom you never hear complain,
who has the milk of human kindness
by the quart in every vein.
A patient man am I, down to my fingertips,
the sort who never could, ever would,
let an insulting remark escape his lips
Just a very gentle man.”

http://www.metrolyrics.com/im-an-ordinary-man-lyrics-my-fair-lady.html

But some of my colleagues? Nope. They have neither my unending patient nor ability to digest bullshit, from all quarters, above and below.  Arming any of them would put all of us at risk. Every day.

An idiotic idea. Arming teachers. I can see it now. Take Mrs. Nicklebumpkins 9th grade Algebra class. She just can’t take it anymore. And we all understand why.

Shots ring out. Students running down the hall from her class, screaming in terror…

“Everybody run, teacher’s got a gun”

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More Donuts, Please

There is an epidemic of gun violence in America. That is not even debatable. And there have been a multitude of solutions offered over time.

Most recently the President of the United States, the NRA and many members of Congress have offered the latest solution. Arm teachers. More armed guards. More guns. And more guns. And more guns.

A creative and exceptionally innovative solution to the problem of gun violence. More guns. So, I said to myself, why stop there. Maybe we can apply that same “reasoning” and “logic” to the many other problems we face. Let’s try.

Obesity is a major problem in the US. Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy or France or Spain immediately notices that there aren’t so many obese folks walking around. It could be limited to urban areas, perhaps. But, at least in my experience, folks in those countries  as a rule, seem not so chunky as Americans. I , myself, have done my patriotic duty by increasing my body mass significantly over the last 50 years or so. A proud American. A BIG proud American.

What is a reasonable solution to the health issues caused by obesity? Well, former First Lady Michelle Obama started a healthy eating program to encourage kids to develop good eating habits at a young age. She was vilified by the right wing extremists for that. Big government interfering with the proper parental role. Then Sarah Palin showed up at an elementary school with cookies for kids. She passed them out. She didn’t bother to ask parents if they wanted their kids to eat cookies or perhaps had allergy issues. The right wing applauded. More cookies. More cookies. More cookies.

So, a reasonable solution to the obesity problem is more donuts. More junk food. Less fruits and vegetables. The problem of obesity can be solved by increasing the availabilty of junk food. Yepper.

Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans each year. Currently we have DUI laws and put folks in prison for that. Take away licenses for driving drunk. But that has not solved the problem.

What we need is more and better access to booze while on the road. Every gas station should have a liquor license. Every driver should be given a free beer with a fill up. End DWI laws and impose DWS laws (Driving While Sober). Pull over anyone who is not weaving side to side at 50 MPH in a school zone. Fine em. Drink or don’t drive. The obvious solution to drunk driving is more access to alcohol by automobile operators. Yepper.

The opioid epidemic. Killing thousands every year. These opioids, many prescribed legally, have wreaked havoc on families and individuals. They have destroyed families. They are agents of death. So, what is the solution?

Easy. We need complete and total access to opioids . No prescription necessary. Over the counter. At the supermarket. The drug store. In our schools. Free opioids with every order of fries at Mc Donald’s. (Solving two problems at once)  The only way to stop the madness is total access to opioids. The more the better. Every teacher should be armed with opioids in case of an emergency. The emergency being that Billy forgot his opioids today. Yepper.

We could go on and on. But the message is clear.

The best way to solve a problem, according to our current leadership, is to make it even bigger.

Which reminds me, where are those donuts?

 

 

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2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)

First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.

Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.

Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons. 

So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.

So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible?  Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.

  1. A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
  2. A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
  3. A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
  4. Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
  5. A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established,  permanent location.
  6. The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
  7. Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
  8. The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
  9. The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely  and understands the law relating to weapons.
  10. Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
  11. A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
  12. A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
  13. A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.

I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality.  All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.

We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas  used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.

Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.

In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun.  In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.

Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/22/the-enormous-economic-cost-of-gun-violence/?utm_term=.e68d8c3d5463

http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-violence-costs-america-more-than-229-billion-every-year-2015-4

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2nd Amendment and Gun Control, Part 1

There is a very strange argument that is made by politicians, the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and some others concerning the 2nd Amendment and the rights entailed therein. The argument goes like this:

The Second Amendment guarantees any person’s right to own any kind of weapon.

They take the 2nd Amendment and parse it out, emphasizing some of the words and ignoring others. Kind of like when Betsy asks me to take out the garbage. Me? Take out? OK , Let’s order a pizza.

“Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

They kind of skip the first 13 words and then start reading. Speed reading? Skimming for the general idea? Hmmmm.

The obvious intention of the founding fathers was that, in the 18th century, there would be times when the local government would need a call to arms. Maybe the injuns were coming or the Brits had decided to try to retake the village. Or perhaps the Canadians were on the march attempting to impose universal health care on our children and widows.

Hence the first 13 words. A well-regulated militia. Pretty clear. Well…regulated …militia.

Some folks, however, ignore those words. They don’t like them. The 13 words not only imply a strict government control over arms, they specify it. We may need a local militia, so you should keep a gun handy. That does not mean you can have a gun for any other reason.

Of course, if the founding fathers INTENDED that everyone should have access to a gun for any reason they had no need for those 13 words. They could have kept it much simpler, as in the 1st Amendment. Short and sweet.

So the first argument supporting the notion that anyone can have any kind of weapon for any purpose is easily shot down and understood by anyone with a modicum or more of cognitive ability.

Of course, because the Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court, it really does not matter what the founders were thinking. The Supreme Court decides what the words mean, not the founders.

And here we see an interesting phenomena. The conservative justices  who CLAIM to be “strict constructionists” have actually changed the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Now, I don’t mind the Court trying to keep up with modern times. I think the Supreme Court should do so. But I do find the hypocrisy of the conservatives on the Court somewhat amusing.

These same justices who claim to interpret the Constituion based on the “original” document and words of the founders tend to let this one slip by. The “originalists” suddenly found, after more than 200 years , that the founders didn’t realy mean “militia” when they wrote “militia”. The majority opinion in the Heller decision goes through more contortions than a Chinese acrobat trying to justify that one. But, they had the votes. So be it.

The Heller decision, giving all of us the individual right to own a gun  states, in part:

“Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

So, the founders were simply wrong when they wrote “well-regulated militia“. So much for the “strict constructionist” viewpoint.

But that’s ok. Everyone now has an individual right to own a gun. We all agree because the Supreme Court says so.

Which brings us to a second argument made by the NRA gun manufactuting industry and their employees in Congress. It goes like this.

Since I have the right to a gun, that means I have the right to ANY gun. And that means I can carry any gun anywhere I want. Therefore, no state or national government can make any laws restricting my right to own my gun or where I can wander around with it. Any government that does that is trying to take away my gun.

The obvious fallacy of that position is clear. If you want to think about it. It would mean that the only unlimited right granted to citizens by the government is the right to have a gun. All other rights have associated responsibilities and limits, but not my right to a gun. It places the 2nd Amendment in a different category than every other right.

Of course, that argument is easily refuted. Just look at the 1st Amendment. We have the right to free speech. It’s right there, in black and white. But that right is not unlimited. We have libel laws which restrain speech. We have regulations as to what words can be used on non-cable tv stations. We have slander laws. We have laws against threatening to kill others, especially political leaders. Try telling a joke about having a bomb in your backpack when you are boarding a plane and you will see how quickly your “free speech” is dealt with.

The same is true of freedom of  religion. You have the freedom to worship in the church or mosque or synagogue or basement of your choice. You can pray to anything you want to pray to. Some Native American churches are even allowed to void anti-drug laws because they have a longstanding use of peyote in their rituals. But if you are an Aztec and believe in human sacrifice, that is a no-no. A fundamentalist Mormon may believe he can have numerous child wives (and some do) but that is illegal. You can believe it is your right and religious duty as the “father” of the house to beat your kids and wife. But that is not tolerated. Limitations.

So, every right has legitimate, common sense restrictions. Even in the Heller case, the most conservative of the justices, Justice Scalia, pointed out that this right is not unlimited. Specifically stating, in his majority opinion, that schools and government buildings are places where restictions may be logically imposed. Also, certain categories of people, like felons, could be legally restriced from owning guns. Further, he stated that the government has the ability to restrict certain kinds of firearms, like military weapons, as well.

So, the idea that every person has an unlimited right to any type of gun he wants does not pass muster. Even the most conservative member of the Court, Justice Scalia,  recognized that, while you have an individual right to a weapon, that right is not without proper government restrictions.

In essence, the most radical arguments of the NRA gun manufacturing lobby and the extremists goes down the toilet.  The only question that remains is: What are reasonable restrictions?

2nd Amendment and Gun control, Part 2, next time.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZS.html

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/07-290.pdf

 

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, GOP, government, gun control, logic, Neoconservative, NRA, Politics, Supreme Court

Ask the Homecoming Queen

The US is currently involved in deciding to what extent Putin interfered with the last US election. And how to protect the integrity of the voting procedures in the next election.

Background. After the farcical 2000 election there was a flurry of activity to make voting systems easier to use and tabulate. A number of electronic and computer companies lobbied congress and the individual states to sell their “tamper proof” voting systems. I mean, what could go wrong with a computer? Or what could go wrong with an optical scanner?

For example, in Cayuhoga County, with a population of 1.2 million including the heavily Democratic city of Cleveland a problem was reported in 2010. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported that 10 % of the voting machines had FAILED pre-election tests. Upon retesting the machines that had passed originally, even more failed on a second test. These failures included not counting votes and the machines simply freezing. Despite these problems, the state of Ohio recertified this system for use in 2013. (Clinton got 66% of those who had their votes counted).

Here are a few nuggets from the 2016 election. More problems in cities.

“City Clerk Janice Winfrey says some voting machines in Detroit stopped working Tuesday morning and had to be replaced.The delay caused long lines and waits of an hour or more to vote.”

Also in Detroit, a heavily Democratic city:

“The project also reported the only voting machine in Precinct 16 is repeatedly breaking, and that some voters have been waiting outside in the rain before getting into the building, where they are facing a 45-minute wait.

The Detroit Free Press reported that nearly two hours after the polls opened, no one at the Marcus Garvey Academy Precinct 134 in Detroit’s West Village had been able to cast a ballot due to a problem with voting machines. A technician was on the way, the Free Press said, but some voters had to get to work and put their ballots in a box.

Across the city, a voting machine malfunctioned at Detroit’s Precinct 32, located at East English Village Prep. Some voters who registered on the last day it was allowed didn’t show up on voting lists.”

Note: Of the votes that counted in Detroit, Clinton got 95%, Trump 3%. Trump won Michigan by only 11,000 votes. A few more votes from Detroit and Clinton wins the state.

In a heavily Democratic area of Virginia:

“Cortes says several precincts in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County didn’t properly load their electronic poll book data, so some people who likely were registered weren’t showing up. He says those people were given provisional ballots and the elections office will work quickly to process them.” (63% voted for Clinton)

In North Carolina, in heavily Democratic Durham, more voting problems.

“Meanwhile, the Durham County Board of Elections has asked state board to extend voting hours at one precinct, the Bethesda Ruritan Club. It also is gathering information for the state board about whether hours at other locations should be extended. The county board will then determine whether to request extended hours at any other polling location.

The computer problem resulted in at least one precinct running out of authorization-to-vote forms for about 90 minutes. ” 

Note: Clinton won 79% of the vote in Durham, of those that were able to vote.

In Texas, again in the cities.

“Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of the Texas chapter of Common Cause, says some people had to go to three different locations before they could vote.

Other complaints among about 1,400 calls received from Texas on an Election Day hotline set up by nonprofits included scattered reports of voting technology malfunctions and lines longer than an hour in parts of Houston and Dallas.

Gutierrez says many people complained of poll workers being misinformed about changes the state made after a federal court ruled Texas’ voter ID law unconstitutional.”

And on..and on… and on….

  • In Maricopa County, Ariz., Democratic officials asked a judge to keep polls open for two more hours following problems with voting machines and provisional ballots that caused long lines. The request, like that in Colorado, was denied.
  • In Philadelphia, would-be voter Chris Calvert tweeted that both voting machines were broken at his polling place. “No one can vote in our district today. Hundreds of angry voters,” he wrote. Federal law requires election officials to give voters provisional paper ballots in such cases. (Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes; Philadelphia went 85% for Clinton…of those who could vote)
  • Broken ballot-scanning machines and other problems slowed voting at some polling places amid heavy turnout in New York City. Only one of two scanners was functioning at a polling place in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood Tuesday morning, leading to a line of hundreds of people by 8:30 a.m. The same thing happened at Public School 154 in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, where Megan Arend tweeted the situation was causing “complete chaos and discouraging voters.”

Of course, you can’t do much about voter suppression and changing polling places at the last minute. Those are typical tactics for which there may be no remdy. But you can solve the problem of voting machine errors, voting machine malfunctions, etc.

I am not suggesting any plan to deprive Democrats of voting. However, since urban areas are highly Democratic, when voting machines or long lines prevent or discourage voting, the impact is felt much more acutely in areas of high population density. Democratic strongholds. How do we take back a fair and honest voting system?

STOP using voting machines. Period. Just use paper ballots for national elections. It was good enough for the founding fathers. And for high school kids. Every year high schools across the country use paper ballots for their elections. Homecoming queen. Class president. Just make an X next to the name of the candidate. No computers. No ability of Russian hackers or anyone to manipulate the results. No machine malfunctions. Just honest elections.

Then, at the end of the day, you sit down with the poll workers and representatives of all the political parties and count the ballots. Easy. Why don’t we do that?  It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. Why don’t we do that? It would be accurate and fair. Totally transparent. I think I just answered my own question, didn’t I?

It works. It is honest. It is easy. Want to have fair elections?

Ask any homecoming queen.

 

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/04/some_cuyahoga_countys_voting_m.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/live-updates-voting-issues-reported-at-polling-places-on-election-day/

https://patch.com/michigan/detroit/live-2016-election-results-trump-clinton-swing-state-michigan

https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/north-carolina/

http://edition.cnn.com/election/results/states/pennsylvania

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Senator Gillibrand and The Death of Due Process

Roy Moore may or may not be elected to the US Senate tomorrow. He has been accused by multiple women of icky behavior. Of cruising malls looking for girls. Of dating teens. Whether or not this enough reason for the good people of Alabama  to reject him remains to be seen.

Moore’s defenders have, rightly, pointed out that he has never been convicted of violating any woman or girl. I saw an interview (which I personally found disturbing) of Moore supporters in Alabama. A number of them saw nothing wrong with him trying to date a 14 year old girl. One guy pointed out that his grandmother was 13 when she got married and had 2 kids by the time she was 15. Others pointed out that things were different in the past  (they were, but this is the present) and many Alabama moms would have been happy to have their 14 or 16 year old daughter dating an assistant DA. Others were certain that the accusers had been paid by George Soros.  Moore denies all claims and says they are all liars. So be it.

Al Franken posed for a prank picture of him groping a sleeping Leeann Tweeden. When on a USO tour with this sports commentator and former top Hooters girl. The fact that she was a playboy model does not diminish any sexual assault, nor does the fact that she works for FOX. Just sayin’ . Other women have also come out and claimed that Franken touched them inappropriately. His supporters point out that he has not been charged with anything and while he denies many of the complaints he has apologized for others. He has asked for an Ethics Committee hearing. But that was not enough, so Franken, under pressure from Democratic congresswomen  and congressmen, has resigned.

A Republican from Arizona wanted to pay millions to one of his female staff members to be a “surrogate” mother since he and his wife cannot have kids. Doesn’t sound so bad until you learn that his “religion” forbids artificial insemination.  Had to do it the regular way. I see. He resigns.

Old John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, accused by staffers of inappropriate touching, resigns. Like it matters. The guy was old, even for Congress. If he did touch someone he couldn’t remember five minutes later. But that is another topic. He’s gone.

https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/80-is-the-new-36/

Another Congressman owes me $84,000 as far as I am concerned. Farenthold  (Texas Republican) had the Congressional Sex Slush Fund pay $ 84,000 in hush money to a woman he assaulted. I want my money back. Oh, wait, he promises to pay it back. We shall see.  My question: Why is there a Congressional Sex Slush Fund to begin with?

http://time.com/5048265/blake-farenthold-sexual-harassment-settlement/

Which brings me around to one of my New York senators, Gillibrand . Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton by then-Governor Patterson, who had  admitted to numerous extramarital affairs. This did not bother Kirsten at the time. Nor did the money and support funneled to her by the Clintons bother her. Nor does it bother me. She won an election on her own, well, maybe with a little Clinton help. Gillibrand started out as a “Blue Dog” Democrat (conservative) but has “evolved” over the years to become a leading liberal in the Senate. Evolution is a wonderful thing. I confess I voted for her in the last election.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirsten_Gillibrand

Recently Senator Gillibrand was at the forefront of the movement by Democratic congresswomen to oust Al Franken. She called for his resignation and got it. She has also condemned former president Clinton for his dalliances and said he should have resigned from office. For having an affair. (Did I mention she took money and support from the Clintons to help her get elected?)

Now, since Gillibrand is my senator I was concerned with her motives. So, I just called her  Washington DC office and asked a couple questions.

First, I asked why she has not called for President Trump to resign. After all, compared to the allegations against Mr Trump , Al Franken is an altar boy. If Franken’s unproven behavior merited a resignation, why not Trump’s much worse unproven behavior?

The response from her representative  was that Gillibrand has spoken out about Mr Trump. No reason given as to why she has not called for his resignation.

My second question was based on the 2014 claims by Gillibrand that she was sexually harrassed while in the Congress by other Congressmen. She talks about 3 or 4 specific cases, yet refuses to name her harrassers. The answer given to me was that Gillibrand HAS named her harrassers but I can find no evidence of that on any website.  At the time Gillibrand was challenged to name her harrassers but she refused, using this logic:

“So why didn’t she call out the men who wronged her by name? “Because then our conversation would be about the idiocy of any one individual male,” Gillibrand said. “And I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about the broader problems that are far more relevant.” For a woman who’s trying to carve out her position as a leader for women, it’s not a bad conversation to own.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/kirsten-gillibrand-explains-why-she-didnt-name-her-harassers/439767/

So, now Kristen has decided that the “idiocy of any one individual male”, namely Al Franken, is good enough for her. So, the “broader problem” is more important than “due process”? The end justifies the means? We keep silent about sex harrassers for the greater good?

Gillibrand is a lawyer by trade. She is a very smart person. She understands the Constitution. She understands “due process” and what that should mean. She has been in the forefront to deny that “due process” to one man, Al Franken, while protecting the identity of other sexual harrassers. Even though she claims personal knowledge of sexual harrassment in Congress by other Congressmen she refuses to “name names”, thereby aiding and abetting those who would prey on women not as psychologically strong or powerful as she. Silence is what sexual predators thrive on. And Gillibrand has been silent allowing predators to go unpunished.

Why has she been silent about some and why so aggressive at this time towards Franken? My only conclusion is that Gillibrand has seen a bandwagon and has decided to jump onto the driver’s seat. The bandwagon is a dangerous one. It says anyone accused is guilty. Case closed. No hearings. No trial. It also says that we must always believe any woman who makes a claim. Sorry, I just will not accept that.

Kirsten is not done. She wants to climb higher. She has her eyes on the Democratic nomination for president and is using the current scandals, quite selectively I might add, to propel herself into the national spotlight. How is she any different than any Fox-sponsored politician who tries to use selective evidence for political advantage? To throw red meat to a specific audience? She has shown herself to be a typical member of the elite ruling class…. say anything for political gain. I think there is a term for that: opportunistic.

To think I helped put her in office. Sad. Very sad.

https://www.playboy.com/leeann-tweeden

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/does-gillibrand-have-a-responsibility-to-name-her-harassers

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/full-text-al-franken-apologizes-for-allegedly-groping-woman-244978

 

 

 

 

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Sex Harrassment Training

“The Senate unanimously approved legislation late Thursday that institutes mandatory sexual harassment training for senators and aides — a potentially meaningful shift amid calls for overhauling Capitol Hill’s system for handling harassment complaints.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/09/congress-sexual-harassment-training-senators-aides-244762

I was able to acquire an actual audiotape of the first meeting of the sexual harrassment training for Congress. I have changed the names to protect my congressman.

From the audiotape:

Anonymous Congressman: Hey, babe, is this the place for the sex training?

9 year old girl: Hi Mister, yes, this is the place for your training.

AC: So, who is running this show?

9YO: I am . I was asked by my mommy to talk to you all today.

AC: Aren’t you a little young to teach us how to harrass women?

9YO: No, Mister. I am here to help you learn how to be good.

AC: Oh, oops. I misunderstood. The email  said “sexual harrassment training”. I thought someone would teach me how to  harrass my female  employees and not get caught.

9YO: No, Mister. I am supposed to help you understand that sex stuff is wrong.

AC: Ouch. Boy am I embarrassed. So, what do I need to know?

9YO: Well, you should be nice to people.

AC: But what if I really want to touch a woman. You know, I really want to. I can hardly control myself. And I am the boss.

9YO: You should not touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. It’s not nice.

AC: OK. I never knew that ! Wow! So, if I am the boss I should not just like kiss her or grab her by her..uh.. private parts. You know, like President Trump.

9YO: No, that is wrong. That is being a bad man. You should never touch anyone who does not want to be touched.

AC: So, it would be wrong to just grab a woman? Really? I never knew that. What if I say sexy stuff to her? Like Clarence Thomas.

9YO: No. That is bad. You should not say sexy words to someone  in the workplace. You should never say things to make them afraid or sad. That is bad.

AC: Wow. I never knew that. So I should not make commensts to women about having sex with me or force a women to have sex on my desk. Like Matt Lauer.

9YO: NO! That is called rape. That is a bad thing. Do not do that. That is very naughty. Don’t you understand?

AC: What if I “accidently” grab a female on her butt? I mean, what if it is an accident? Like Al Franken?

9YO: NO! You are making me mad ! No. No. No. That is wrong. Don’t touch.

AC: Well, I am trying. But I never knew that was wrong. I am learning so much today that I never knew! Let me see if I understand. I should not touch women or girls  if they don’t want to be touched. I should not say sexy things to women in the workplace. I should not rape women, even if they are working for me?

9YO: Yes. Now you understand. That is called sex harrassment. That is wrong. I learned in Kindergarten that you should not touch others. Didn’t you ever go to Kindergarten? My teacher said to never touch others who do not want to be touched.

AC: OK. I get it. Thank you for this training. I never knew that it was wrong to touch or kiss or rape a woman. This training has really opened my mind.

(The 9 year old leaves the room but the tape is still running.)

AC: (talking to an aide). That girl was really HOT, wasn’t she? I was going to invite her to have dinner with me tonight at Hooters. Think that would be wrong?

End of tape.

Personal aside: The people who we elect to make our laws need to be TRAINED not to sexually harrass other human beings. Please read the previous sentence again. Then try not to cry.

 

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Filed under Congress, Conservatives, crime, GOP, government, logic, Neoconservative, Politics, POTUS, Senate, Society, Trump, United States, violence, workers

Witness Tampering

I don’t follow Hollywood so I really have never heard of this Weinstein character. I wouldn’t recognize him. I wouldn’t want to. Evidently he spent years harassing, attacking, abusing, maybe raping women who were his subordinates. Evidently a lot of people knew about it and colluded in covering up what he was doing. Payoffs were made. Hush money to victims.

We saw the same thing with Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. Over $13,000,000 paid in hush money. Same with Roger Ailes, also at Fox. Donald Trump even bragged about assaulting women. Who knows how much hush money he has paid over the years. Then there is Cosby. And Bill Clinton.

Who knows how many other men in positions of power have abused women and work for companies that paid hush money. These victims sign “confidentiality agreements”, get paid a lot of money (by the stockholders of these companies) and then are required to keep silent about the abuse. All legal. For some reason.

Which confuses me. Didn’t these men commit crimes? Is it legal for wealthy individuals to exempt themselves from criminal prosecution by paying off witnesses? That seems to be the case.

Imagine this.

A man robs a bank and walks off with $1 million. It turns out that someone in the bank recognized him. So, the bank robber goes to guy who recognized him and says: Here is  $100,000. Sign this “confidentiality agreement” that says you will not turn me in. And if you do turn me in my gang and I will make your life miserable.”

Would that be legal?

Can you make a legal agreement NOT to report a crime in exchange for cash? Especially when not reporting a crime may mean even more people will be victimized and paid off in the future?

I don’t know the law, but it seems to me no different than witness tampering. A criminal paying a witness to keep quiet. The guy with the thicker bankroll walks away. To commit more crimes. And make more payoffs.

Maybe there ought to be a law against all “confidentiality agreements” which involve any illegal activity. Don’t you think?

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Who Was That Old Lady, Anyway?

When I was little we had an old lady living with us. We called her “Busia” (boo-shah). She had been born in Poland and came to the USA in 1913 by boat, two small kids in tow. In steerage. She was meeting her husband, who was already in the USA working in the mines.

When I knew her she was already pretty old. She didn’t speak English because she had had a stroke. It also left her right arm partially paralyzed so the time I accidentally slammed the car door on her she didn’t feel a thing. Small favors.

Her husband, who I never met, was long dead. Her only son went to war against the Nazis. He was shot down and killed over Germany. She had a flag. The US government had sent her a flag.

She cheated at cards. And when you tried to call her on it she could not (or pretended she could not) understand what you were saying. Hopeless. But she made the best potato pancakes I ever have had. Been trying to duplicate them for 50 years. Haven’t succeeded.

Who was this old lady? For a long time I thought she was a close family member with a “bone fide” relationship. For a long time I treated as though she was a member of the family.

The other day I found out I was wrong. The USA’s new, improved “travel ban ” from a number of countries has gone into effect. No longer can anyone emigrate to the USA. The only exceptions are people from these countries who are close family members. Who have a “bona fide” relationship to a citizen or legal immigrant. I think that is not such a bad idea.

So, who is included as a “close family member”? Parents, spouses, siblings, fiances and children.

And who is specifically EXCLUDED from the category of “close family member”? Who cannot claim a close family relationship. Who is, for purposes of sponsoring immigration, a “stranger”.

This may surprise some of you whose children have had children. Among those not in the category of “close family member” are  “grandparents”. Grandma and grandpa are not “close family members” Fiances are. But not Gramps.

Which brings me back to Busia. Busia was my mother’s mother. Who lived with us off and on for many years. She was my grandmother. Who , at the time, I THOUGHT was a fairly close relative of mine. Not so. My mother’s mother was something else. What was she?

Who was that old lady, anyway?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-ruling-idUSKBN19S08N

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The Great Health Insurance Lie

The ongoing debate about about health care continues. Is the ACA better than Trumpcare? Is Trumpcare better because it includes more free market choices? Is Obamacare better because it covers 24,000,000 more people? What about the deficit.

And so forth.

But there is one fact, one truth, one absolute “know” that all sides of the debate seem to accept at face value. If you can disabuse yourself of this “truth” the health care issue can be solved.  There is one “given” that no one  from Sanders to Clinton to Trump to Cruz or any of their associates seems to challenge. That given is the following fallacy

Companies provide health insurance to employees. The government supplies health insurance to employees. Health insurance costs “job creators” billions of dollars a year.

False. Absolutely false.

There is not now, never has been and never will be any company or school district or government that provides health insurance to the employee.  Every employee from the highest to the lowest paid. In every industry. In every business. In every time period. Every employee has always paid and will always pay their own health insurance costs. Period.

Health insurance costs are not taken out of profits. They are not taken out of investors’ dividends. They are taken out of the employee’s salary. Every time.

Anyone who has ever been involved in negotiating contracts should understand this. As should anyone who has an understanding of basic economic theory. Every employer , whether public or private, has  an amount  of money that it sets aside for the “cost of labor”. Part of that “cost of labor” is benefits. One of those costly benefits is health insurance.

Does anyone think, really, that health insurance is some “gift” from an employer? Really? Never. The cost of health insurance is simply deducted from the employee’s salary as part of the “cost of labor”. The employee takes a lower salary and pays for his own insurance.

Does anyone really think that a business negotiates  a contract and then, out of the goodness of its heart, just adds on health insurance? Really?

Once you understand that you, as an employee pay for your own insurance you realize how vile the CEOs of companies like Hobby Lobby truly are. Hobby Lobby employees pay for their own insurance, yet the Supreme Court has decreed that the CEO of Hobby Lobby can dictate the kind of coverage the employee has paid for. Ludicrous.

So, next time someone tells you that their employer is “providing health insurance” and so the employer should be able to dictate what coverage they can have. Set them straight. Tell them they pay for their own insurance. And will continue to do so. Even though their boss may dictate what kind of coverage they get.

Your employer “gives” you health insurance. The big fat heath insurance lie. And another reason why we should have a single payer option. After all, the workers are paying for health insurance, shouldn’t they decide what option they want?

 

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Trump’s Moonies

When  I was in college from 1968-72 there was a guy I knew who was incredibly smart. Probably the most intelligent person I ever met, aside, of course, from yours truly. I forgot his name so let’s call  him Rex.

Rex had a scientific, analytical mind. A good sense of humor. An all around swell fellow.  He liked to talk and debate and discuss. Issues. Not the latest American idol.  (Thank god we had no  American idols back then). No,  he liked to discuss politics and history and philosophy.And he was always open to see things in a new way. If you could show him some evidence.

Then, something changed. One day he showed up with his head shaven.  And in robes. He has joined the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. He was a “Moonie”. He walked around and collected money from people. Like most churches. And like most churches,  the bulk of the money collected found a route to the top. No trickle down economics in this group.

But Rex was no longer Rex. He could not articulate any views other than the approved teachings of the Great Reverend, the second coming of Christ.He could spout the exact dogmas and doctrines of his church, but could not defend any of them using logic or evidence.  He never even tried. It was not necessary. He had found a coherent system of beliefs and no external evidence that challenged that system was going to be heard. He never argued.  He never explained. He simply told us the truth. And asked for money.

Which brings me to Trump’s Moonies.

They have a leader who can do no wrong. Even though factchecks show him to be wrong 65% of the time, it matters not.  The Trump Moonies have closed ears and closed minds. If he says there was a terror attack in Sweden, it must be true. If he says  his inauguration attendance was the greatest ever, any photographic evidence to the contrary is ignored. If he says that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey were cheering the downfall of the WTC on 9/11. Then it happened.   If he says the borders are porous, even though under President Obama the USA deported more people than ever before, then the borders are porous. The facts are not important. He is correct. That is all a Moonie needs to know.

The Trump Moonies are blind to any evidence or facts that contradict their leader. They do not argue. They do not demonstrate with evidence. They select a false reality. They create an alternate set of “facts”. They are beyond evidence. Facts are a fungible commodity. Facts do not exist as a thing apart. Facts, in fact, do not exist at all. All news is “fake news”.  Any story that does not fit the religion is a lie. Period. The earth IS flat.

That is why it is a fool’s errand to wait for Trump’s Moonies to “come around”. It is inconceivable that they will abandon their religious dogma in the face of facts or evidence. No matter how badly Trump performs or how he lies or makes a mess of the nation, the Moonies will be blind.

Like my friend Rex they simply will not look. They choose willful ignorance and blind obedience. They have a religion which provides for them a clear vision of the world. Blacks are thugs. Immigrants are rapists. Refugees are terrorists. Welfare is wrong. Abortion is murder. Liberals are evil. Taxes are bad. Climate change is an Al Gore plot. The list goes on. It cannot be debated. It cannot even be considered. There is only one true religion, and they have found it in Trumpism. There is only one savior.

So, don’t expect any changes or compromises. Don’t expect anything other than what you have seen. The magnificent delusion of Trumpism. Now, all join hands and repeat after me, five times a day, on your knees facing Trump Towers: There is no  god but Trump, and Bannon is the messenger of Trump.

 

(I have argued in the past that the Tea Party Republicans are not a political entity, but are in fact a fundamentalist religion. A post from 3 years ago: The Most Holy Church of the Republican Party  ).

 

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Women’s March For Slavery

Today is the 44th annual Women’s March For Slavery as tens of thousands of women and men will descend on Washington, DC.

These marchers, who have Vice President Mike Pence as their keynote speaker, will once again demand the imposition of slavery on every woman of childbearing age. They are demanding that Big Government take control of women’s bodies. They are marching for the ideal that Big Government , not women, should control what a woman can and cannot do with her own body.

Keep on mind that Mike Pence, the main speaker,  was very clear that he opposes the ACA, also called Obamacare. Like most opponents of the ACA he does not want the government getting between a patient and his doctor.He thinks Big Government is bad , especially when it comes to interfering with a man and his doctor. But that does not apply to women.

Women, on the other hand, NEED Big Government to tell them what to do with their bodies. That is one area where Big Government knows best.

Those who march today support this idea. Women should not control their own bodies. Women and doctors should not be making medical decisions for women.  Women must NOT control their own bodies. Women do not have that right.

Which brings us to the March For Slavery.

People who do not control their own bodies are called “slaves”. Slaves do not control whether or not they have babies. The Master does. Slaves do not control whether or not they have access to birth control. Their Master does. Slaves do not control medical  decisions that may or may not lead to negative physical  or psychological consequences. The Master does. If the Master wants you to “breed”, you are a breeder.

Those who march today are holding signs that SHOULD say: We Support Slavery .  But they are too cowardly to do so.  Instead they hide behind the misnomer “Right to Life”.  In fact, it is “Right to Impose My Medieval Ideology” .

So, the anti-Big Government Mike Pence and others are publicly supporting keeping half of our population in virtual  slavery. They support Big Government deciding when and IF a woman  has baby. They support reducing every woman to the category of a brood mare. A slave.

There is no middle ground on this issue. Either half the population controls their own bodies or Big Government does. The March For Slavery mob thinks that Big Government should decide.

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Trump’s Alternative Reality Explained

I saw Kelly Conway, Trump’s spokesperson ,  explain that she has a right to “alternative facts” if the actual facts are not suited to her story. Hey, this is America. When the facts are liberal what other choice does she have?

But as I examine the myriad of demonstrably false claims of her boss I am left wondering if he is, in fact (or, more precisely, in “alternative fact”) correct and honest in his  statements . Can one man deliver so much misinformation? Does he really have the IQ to make up all the stuff he makes up? Or does he really believe it?

Which brings me to Star Trek.

Anyone who has ever watched Star Trek or the many spin offs of Star Trek understands that we are not alone.  Spock (Mr, not Dr), would be the first to tell us that in addition to our own universe there are millions of parallel universes which also exist.  In space. And in time.

For those of you who  are ignorant of the realities of the hard science of fictional characters and preposterous ideas on TV shows, let me try to explain. Perhaps your puny human brains will be able to comprehend.

In the space-time continuum there are many points of overlap. As time and space bend (according to Einstein) there are points at which space and time meet and fold . Kind of like a bean burrito on a hot day in east LA.  It can get messy.

Where these folds occur there are sometimes breaks and openings or fissures in the space-time continuum. Again, according to Einstein (not Albert, but Juan Einstein who runs the taco stand on 112th Street), this is similar to what happens when the soft taco shell leaks. While the entire taco holds together, certain breaks in the tortilla allow beans, salsa, cheese and some other goo to leak through. This is nearly identical to  a fissure in the time-space continuum.

When that happens, in the universe or at a Mexican eatery, things get sloppy. Leakage occurs. Things spill over from one reality to another. It ain’t a pretty sight.

This explains Donald Trump. Every one of Donald Trump’s statements is factually correct and accurate. It is just that he (and many of the folks who followed him through the wormhole) are living in a parallel universe. They have seeped into our reality like the sloppy drippings of a three day old soft shell burrito.

In Universe Trump  the size of a crowd on a photo is inversely proportional to the actual number of people there. For example, in Universe Trump I have over 6 billion followers of my blog, rather than being limited to my wife and the neighbor’s cat. (Well, the cat skips a lot of them).

In Universe Trump millions of people vote illegally whereas in our universe, let’s call it the Real Universe, there is no voter fraud of any consequence. None. Zippo.

In Universe Trump Mexican people are lined up at the 2,000 mile border 8 deep while Obama border agents hand them $1000 bills and pull them over to our side. In the Real Universe, of course, deportations and border security are at an all-time high.

In Universe Trump there is chaos everywhere. Carnage in the streets.  Well, any streets that have not been destroyed by liberal policies.Carnage in our schools where kids learn nothing. Absolutely nothing.  (I guess in Trump’s Universe knowing nothing is a sign of an educated person). Carnage, carnage everywhere. What a mess.In the Real  Universe there are problems, but no bodies piled up by the thousands (except at anti-Trump rallies).

In Universe Trump our military is a bunch of worthless wimps, our factories have all closed and the planet is getting colder by the minute. Of course, in the Real Universe none of this is true.

So, to understand Trump you have to realize that somewhere in the space-time continuum he fell through a hole. (Or maybe pushed by someone on the other side. Barron? Ivanka? Melania?)There is a place in space where our universes meet, the Real one and the Trump one. Somewhere there is that fissure in the burrito.

How do we find it ? It would have be a place devoid of integrity. A place where conmen and the mob feel at home. A place where all hope, dignity and honesty  goes to die. Kind of like New Jersey but not quite as despicable.

So, what do we do? The Trump Universe has taken power in the Real Universe.Can we go  back in time and seal the fissure? Can the Real Universe overcome the Trump Universe and bring back Real Universe sanity. Can we build a time machine, maybe with illegal labor? Or will the Donald return to his own universe voluntarily, perhaps seeking a younger eastern European bride?

The solution is obvious. We need a transporter. (Do I have to explain? You know , it dissolves you and then sets you down someplace else). A transporter beam that we can use to beam back Trump to the universe from which he came. Transport him right through the fissure in the burrito.

Unless it is already too late.  By now those who he left behind may be worried that he will return. I expect they are already building  a wall.

 

 

 

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