Showing posts with label I Don't Like It therefore it must be Wrong/Bad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label I Don't Like It therefore it must be Wrong/Bad. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Frustrating Example

This is how it always goes.

A conservative friend of mine, in this case one of the two evangelical ministers I know, will send me a link like this one. With the headline being "The Pre-Partisan Caucus" one would at least be intrigued, right?

Further reading shows some very agreeable things.

If you are a thinking person interested in

1. Honest ground rules, for

2. Vital political debate, in service to

3. Unalienable rights given by the Creator for all people equally

Good so far. And I honestly don't mind that he calls himself a pro-life libertarian. Pro life people are fighting for what they believe is murder. Since no one knows for sure exactly when life begins, they might be right. They might also be wrong but let's not get off on the wrong foot.

He goes on with this one.

Part of the genius of the Declaration's appeal was that there was no denominational religion in view when making reference to the Creator. In the same wisdom, Article 6 of the Constitution abolished any religious test for political office.

Yep. So far, he has me interested. He then goes on to detail his six pillars of honest politics.
  • The power to give affirms that the unalienable rights given by the Creator belong to all people equally, and leaders in human government should serve such a gift.
  • The power to live in the light means leaders in human government at every level should be as fully transparent as possible.
  • The power of informed choice is rooted in an honest definition of terms in political debate, providing a level playing field for all ideas to be heard equally, apart from which political freedom is not possible.
  • The power to love hard questions is in place when political leaders honor and answer those who pose them the toughest questions.
  • The power to love enemies recognizes that even the harshest of political opponents share a common humanity and are to be treated with respect.
  • The power to forgive recognizes the need to address our individual and societal transgressions against one another, and to work toward justice and reconciliation.
Again, all fantastic. At this point, I'm thinking that this guy's ideas have some real merit. In the interest of being agreeable, I'll forgive his Occam's Razor idiocy and simply move along.

Now, pay close attention to the parts I bolded as we take a look at some of the links in the rest of his site.

Under the "Education and Race" link, we see this:

The “public” schools today are no longer truly public or common, rather they are “government” schools where many educational elitists work out their self-serving theories on our children.

Ah, well, so much for sharing a common humanity and working towards reconciliation. I don't like it therefore it must be wrong/bad. He then goes on to talk about how schools should all be Christian themed and yet still be public. I'm wondering if he has been in a public school recently. Instructors don't have the time to work out self serving theories.

And what exactly are education elitists? Oh, yeah. The commies that have taken over our nation's schools (see: Bircher insanity).

Under the "Marriage and Pansexuality link, we see this:

It is the relentless agenda of a small core of homosexual-rights activists that will outlast the core of politically defined pro-family activists, unless biblical theology gains ascendancy.

Look out! Here comes the gay mafia!

Namely, they elevated same-sex marriage to the status of a “fundamental” or “basic civil right,” indeed, equal to that of an unalienable right. This reality almost never gains comment, but is the deepest substance of the decision, and its greatest threat to civil life.

And so much for unalienable rights given to all people. Can someone please tell me how gay marriage threatens civil life when the divorce rate for heterosexual marriage is over 50 percent?

I offer this site as an example of how I am not the problem. Guys like John C. Rankin are the problem because they pretend to be agreeable but they really aren't. Then, when people like me call them on their bullshit, they paint the people that disagree with them as being the real problem and very cleverly avoid their own mea culpa (see also: responsibility). It reminds me of one of my children saying," It was ____. They made me do it! It's really _____" Tsk, tsk...again with the childish dishonesty and a most excellent example of how frustrating all of this is.

If Rankin is serious about his six pillars of honest politics, that means he's going to have to (gasp!) change. Until people like him and many others on the right admit that their ideas aren't perfect and they are wrong sometimes, there is not going to be any pre-partisanship...unless of course it's defined as "my way or the highway"...which isn't really libertarian when you think about it, right?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Still More Epic Success

Further proof that our government bailing out GM worked beyond expectations was seen in April's sales figures. In fact, all three automakers in Detroit showed faster growth than Toyota and other Japanese brands. High gas prices helped GM which sold more of its hybrid vehicles.

In April, GM sold 18 percent more vehicles than Ford. GM's market share through four months this year is 19.6 percent, up from 18.7 percent last year while Ford's market share has fallen to 16.2 percent from 16.7 percent. Toyota's share is 14.1 percent, from 15.4 percent a year ago.

In addition to all of this good news for GM, the company has begun to hire back thousands of employees that it laid off with plans for expansion on the horizon. Check out this video.

Listen to the stories of the people in this piece. Not only does this demonstrate the remarkable comeback of GM but it shows why we did it in the first place. People's lives would've been ruined in an industry with so many interlocking mechanisms, not to mention that GM (from a PR standpoint) is the United States, that ordinary bankruptcy would've been colossally devastating. Considering that GM's GNI/Revenues rank higher than several countries in the world, bailing them out was a very smart thing to do.

And we see every day that it was an epic success.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Being that it is Earth Day today, I thought I would point out a few interesting pieces I've seen over the last few weeks about climate change. In many ways, Dick Lugar was right.  President Obama's energy message has failed and it's largely due to political reality. The right has been very successful at shifting the message from "It's happening" to "It's a hoax" and they've done it with no facts or science whatsoever. They've succeeded in portraying leading scientists as a doomsday cult of true believers. Attack your opponent with what is, in fact, your greatest weakness...surprise, surprise...

So where are we at on this Earth Day 2011?

1. Glacier National Park once had 125 glaciers. It now has 20.

2. A shipping lane has now opened through the Arctic.

3. 400 coal-fired plants around the United States emit an average of 366,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants per year -- mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. These kill an average of 15,000 people per year.

These three items are absolute facts. If you still are in doubt (and I know some of you are), go ask your local science teacher to show you how a greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) warms the atmosphere. It's actually pretty cool to see first hand.

What's been interesting of late is to see how some energy companies have been changing their tune.

Richard Kelly, CEO of XCel Energy, is now saying that a $20 per ton carbon tax would translate into an extra 5 bucks on a 100 dollar a month bill. He's also saying that Xcel could find a way to conserve more energy and admits they waste quite a bit. This way the extra tax wouldn't be passed on to the customers. He, along with other energy leaders, see the future.

So what is it and why are they saying all of this? Because climate change is a security threat. I've put up articles from the DoD detailing that they are moving forward regardless of what the knee jerk debunkers think. In 2010, the human species burned 6 billion tons of coal. Energy demand is expected to rise by 30 percent by 2030, which means burning roughly 8 billion tons per year. From the article:

If climate change continues unchecked, we will see millions of people displaced globally, countries destabilized and U.S. troops mobilized to address these new threats.

The Defense Department calls climate change a destabilizing influence and “threat multiplier.” There is no better example of climate change as a destabilizing force than what happened in Pakistan last year. More than one-fifth of Pakistan was flooded by torrential rains and insurgents have pounced on the chaos-created opportunity to turn Pakistan into a breeding ground and safe haven for terrorist activity.

This is very, very serious folks.

So, why don't Americans believe in global warming? The Economist nailed it and offered an excellent solution.

A somewhat constructivist approach to building public concern would be to build up the issue-linkage between climate change and the search for renewable-energy sources. This would help mitigate the economic and psychological concerns (the latter because it's easier to accept a problem exists if you have a way of addressing it.) And renewable energy doesn't have the political or epistemological baggage of climate change. As my colleague said yesterday, "The idea that sustainable-resource use and renewable energy is some kind of socialist hippy hobby is incredibly naive and frivolous, and extremely damaging to the American economy.

I completely agree. Let's focus on the renewable energy as a tool to mitigate security concerns and bolster our economy.

Yet, we also need to call out the fact free science crowd and revel them for what they are: bullies.  They don't like to lose and they will do everything in their power to win. As with most of these debates, the only way victory is achieved is through money.

If Americans can see that they stand to lose money as a result of carbon emissions and stand to reap huge rewards for renewable energy, we can wave bye bye to the professional debunking of climate change.

Time to get out the spectacles!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Voice In My Head (on steroids!)

This past weekend, I was at my gym working out as I often am. Up sauntered the merry little band of true believers that hang out with me and BS politics. We have the doctor (Sean), the evangelical pastor (Edward), the retired gym teacher (Katie) and the female body builder (Erica). Erica is married to a one of the chief Tea Partiers in Minnesota and actually used to be super liberal. But she married him and suddenly she was super conservative. I guess it's not surprising. After all, she simply traded one naive idealistic viewpoint for another.

I've talked about these folks for quite some time using different names but the names I listed above (not the real ones, obviously) are going to stay the same from now on. They've said too many "wonderful" things over the years that it's high time I got more organized and used them as demonstrative characters. Granted, they aren't representative of the whole of the conservative movement but they do say things that echo many of the things I hear on here all the time. In essence, they are the perfect true believers. More importantly, they are testimonials to the effect that there are no voices inside my head:)

This last conversation got into spending right away. Edward made his usual comments about Social Security being a Ponzi scheme (he doesn't even say "like" a Ponzi Scheme anymore), Sean was his usual rage filled self hating everything Obama does, and Katie had quite a bit to say about Planned Parenthood (all they do is provide abortions) as well as the "drive by" media. Erica didn't really say much but threw in a comment about libtards before she left.

It was right after this that the following conversation occurred.

Katie: It scares me to death that you teach our children, Mark.
Me: Why?
Katie: Because you are a communist.
Me: I'm not a communist.
Katie: Yes, you are. The things you are a communist.
Me: No, I assure you I'm a capitalist. And it's not my job to share my opinions when I'm in class. I'm more interested in my students' opinions and moving them to a higher level on Bloom's Taxonomy. It's enough work to get them to pay attention, be inspired, and get their work done.
Katie: But you can't help it, though. Your ideas just ooze are a communist...and it frightens me that you teach our children. 

Katie was adamant and there was really no convincing her that I wasn't a commie so I told her to try not to let fear rule her life and think a little more critically about politics. She then started going off about GE paying no taxes and Obama being in their back pocket which I actually took as a sign of progress as well as further proof that their is some  potential for common ground between someone like me and her. But then she went back to personally insulting me and screaming about taking our country back so I went off to do some cardio.

The whole exchange, especially the end where she angrily called for taking our country back, made me think of a scenario which I'm going to throw out to all of you. I'm certainly going to present her with it as well at some point. I started to reflect on her statements and realized that she was directing most of her venom at me (a teacher) and the media. Whenever folks narrow their rage at the those two outlets of information, I can't help but think about how those were items #1 and #2 on the list in Germany circa 1933. So, here's my scenario.

Suppose a candidate comes along named John Smith. He is the living embodiment of a perfect conservative. He is your ideal candidate. Now, I know we have some variation with conservatives here so each of you imagine your perfect guy. This guy has the backing a very large group of people and is accumulating so much support that he has enough power to run the country exactly how you want him to run it. In other words, there are enough like minded people for him to run the country as a single and authoritative body.

Given that he embodies perfectly your ideology, would you support him in this endeavor? Be honest. Remember, he is going to do everything you want him to do. He has "taken the country back" and is carrying your ideology into action. I'll put up what I would do tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who's He Think He Is...Bo Diddley?

Heathers has always been one of my favorite films. I don't know if it's the dark humor or the fact that Winona Ryder is mega fucking hot but I've always loved it. I haul it out every year and proceed to laugh my ass off even after more than 20 viewings.

The characters of Kurt and Ram, classic adolescent bullies, remind me quite a bit of the right  these days. The first scene of the film finds both of them wondering who the new kid (Christian Slater's character, Jason Dean) is and why is staring at Veronica (Winona Ryder). "Who's he think he is...Bo Diddley?" Ram asks Kurt. The question, of course, makes no sense and it's quickly obvious to anyone with a brain that Ram is an idiot but I find myself of late having the same reaction when having a discussion with folks on the right these days. They, much like Kurt and Ram, can be characterized as this:

Idiot bullies saying things that don't make sense sucking me (and all of us, really) into their small mindedness and misery.

They can't stand the fact that someone might actually know more than they do. They don't like it when it's me and they REALLY don't like it when it's President Obama. Who's he think he is, Bo Diddley? At least they got the skin color right with him.

In essence, that was their reaction to President Obama's speech last Wednesday. Most of it made complete sense and, unlike the Ryan plan, was not partisan at all. It contained many spending cuts and restructuring ideas that are anathema to the Democrats. Since it also called for the Bush tax cuts to expire on the wealthy, it was branded with a red T and labeled as destructive. Translation: We also believe in welfare and want to make sure the wealthy hold onto their money since we revel in being piss boys and water carriers. 

I think they mix up the buckets sometimes:)

Let's dispense with a couple of myths once and for all. First, the wealthy are always going to have plenty of money. There weren't any wealthy people in the 1950s when they were taxed at 90 percent? I must have imagined all those lavish homes and diamond wearing women. So, enough with the apocalyptic brown shirt paranoia. Second, without a stable economy, they won't have ANY of their money. This is a point that seems to have been lost on them. They are so trapped in the peasant envy meme that they can't see that they need the middle class to drive this BUY THEIR SHIT. They need the services the government provides just as much as the rest of us.

The simple fact is that consumer spending accounts for two thirds of our economy. Now, I'm not a math genius but if there are less and less consumers spending money than how does that effect our economy? We will not be able to maintain any sort of stable framework with spending by such a small group people. The CitiGroup plutonomy document should be taken as a frightening warning and not as the biased ravings of the left.

Another important myth that needs to be ejected from the capsule is that top earners pay most of the taxes. The people that assert this aren't looking at the big picture. Well, actually, they aren't even entirely accurate. The top one percent paid 2 percent less of a share in 2008 than they did in 2007. The real fault with this notion, though, is lack of width of vision. Very wealthy people don't even pay that much in taxes.

The top income tax rate is 35 percent, so how can people who make so much pay so little in taxes? The nation's tax laws are packed with breaks for people at every income level. There are breaks for having children, paying a mortgage, going to college, and even for paying other taxes. Plus, the top rate on capital gains is only 15 percent.

This article does have some pretty surprising numbers and I say this knowing what kind of reaction I will get from the true believers when they read it but we've been over all of this before. Where we haven't been, however, is here.

Simply put, our economy will not survive with this sort of disparity. If two thirds of our economy is consumer spending and the average income of for the bottom 90 percent has declined this dramatically, how can we have any sort of stability? Combine this with the drop in national income and I'd say we have a whole lot of Marie Antoinettes out there that need to wake up. The bottom 90 percent need to wake up as well and realize that the top earners are making a butt load of money WITHOUT hiring. They don't give a shit about you so giving them tax breaks will absolutely NOT result in more jobs. Clean that plaque out of your head most ricky fucking tick.

So, Kurt and Ram, you guys need to wake up. Put aside your nonsensical bullying and open up your minds. Enough with the paranoia about socialism, fascism, statism, and wealth envy. By ignoring this ever growing flaw, you are actually moving us closer to what you fear. Set aside your true beliefs, need to constantly win an argument and admit that you are wrong. Conservative economic policies have rarely worked even on the micro level. They call it "trickle" down for a reason and our economy simply can't take any more of this abuse.

President Obama is trying to save capitalism and, by extension, your asses. So am I. His plan is the problem solver, not Paul Ryan's plan, because it actually has everything on the table in terms of addressing the debt. Relax. He's not coming to get you. He's not Hitler or Stalin.

And he isn't Bo Diddley either.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Even More "Failure" at GM

General Motors has just posted its first full year profit since 2004.

They posted a 4.7 billion dollar profit for 2010.

"I'm not sure anyone would have predicted a year ago that GM will deliver net income of $4.7 billion," Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said Thursday. The annual profit, fueled by strong sales in China and the U.S. as the global auto market began to recover, gave GM its best year since 1999, when it made $6 billion at the height of the pickup truck and sport utility vehicle boom.

Pretty great considering where they were. So...are we still sticking to the story that "Government Motors" is a failure?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stripping Away The Douche

According to David Cay Johnston, the general public has been done a great disservice in terms of the the reporting of FACTS regarding the situation in Wisconsin.After reading his article, it's clear to me that language of douche (spoken frequently in comments here on the subject of Wisconsin) has hijacked this issue and, with the help of Mr. Johnston, needs a little translating.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Kindly take a moment and ask the nearest friend to clean up your exploded head.

Done? Now let's continue.

How can that be? Because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

So, they take less money in order to get the better benefits. Since I don't speak douche, this seems reasonable to me. But why are they all pissed off about Governor Walker's plan then?

State workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system (or as the argument goes, "pay their fair share" of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin' s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.

Perhaps if Governor Walker hadn't cut taxes or reduced audits the budget might be in a better place right now. The article goes on to detail exactly how every reporter (and some of my commenters) are factually wrong when they say, "the state workers are being asked to contribute more." Johnston makes a great argument and is quite detailed in the rest of the piece as to why this is the case. The state is paying their pensions. THE WORKERS ARE!!

And that brings us to the collective bargaining part of the equation. Why is this so important?

The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact.

Part of their fee for their service is the collective bargaining for all the benefits. Taking this away diminishes their value of their service...which is EXACTLY  the point. The message is clear once you see it. The people that stand against the state workers don't value public employees. It's just that simple.

Witness a fine and shining example of the pathological war on all the things public sector by a group of pissed off and frightened bullies blaming the completely wrong people. It's like I said yesterday...misery loves company. And if you aren't miserable, there's a whole bunch of people that want you right down in the sewage with them.