Trump pick for Secretary of State Petraeus 2 years probation

Petraeus sentenced to 2 years probation, fined $100,000

Petraeus sentenced to 2 years probation, fined $100,000© Getty Images

 

Trump pick for Secretary of State Petraeus sentenced to 2 years probation, fined $100,000 Former CIA Chief and Four Star General David Petraeus on President-Elect Trump’s short list for Secretary of State. What the hell everyone deserves a second chance, right? After all Marion Barry got reelected. I’m sure General Petraeus learned his lesson.

Think of this as a prison to job program for fallen high achieving white people. Maybe Trump can appoint Bernie Madoff to head the treasury. He’s good with numbers and deserves a second chance. Maybe Trump can set up a half-way house in Trump Towers and the White House.

Trump plans to use this appointment to highlight his plans to disrupt the business to prison pipeline.

History Strikes Back – Seriously Rich Lowry?

President Barack Obama won’t explicitly say that Donald Trump is on the wrong side of history, but surely it is what he believes. The president basically thinks anyone who gets in his way is transgressing the larger forces of history with a capital H. During the 2008 campaign, he […]

History Strikes BackHistory Strikes Back? Seriously Rich Lowry? Here’s what he says, “The notion that History takes sides ultimately traces back to the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and borrows heavily from the (genuine and very hard-won) moral capital of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement. “

This all by itself illustrates Lowery’s reductive point of view. First of all, it axiomatically devalues Obama’s and the “Left’s” agenda and “moral capital.” Secondly, he takes a literalist approach to a rhetorical device.

Obama and the “Left” are well aware history is not a conscious entity. It does not take sides. The “history will judge” phraseology speaks from educated guesses based on actual knowledge of history and human kind. It supposes how future people will view current times.

When we look back at past events today, there are precious few (if any) times when we we judge injuring or depriving a group’s rights moral or “right” or when we don’t look back with shame when our ancestors for failed to help people in need.

I find it ironic to see a Lowery try to slip into moral relativism to weasel out of a core Conservative principle: actions are either moral or immoral, right or wrong. Perhaps you or he would be kind enough to point out the moral framework in which it’s okay to hurt people because they peacefully live their lives differently from the “dominant” culture.

Then there’s the “spectacular failure of the left” He’s already trying to rewrite history. Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most unlikable candidate in American history, got 2m more votes than Trump. The electoral college, like the Red State/Blue State maps, describe a reality that does not exist.

There is no argument based in fact that supports the assertion of “spectacular failure.” What’s more, Lowery also assumes the “Left” will be inept in holding back the Red tide of retrograde thinking. Look up the word. It is properly used.

Lowery also ignores the absolute truth that Trump did not drain the swamp. This battle was between apex predators over who gets to eat the most prey.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Sadly the people got fooled again. At least under Clinton, the reactionary voters would have gotten lip service and a few crumbs for their votes. With Trump, they have aided and abetted in their own destruction.

Trump Solves Climate Change

minitrue2President-Elect Trump’s transition team announces they’ve solved the Climate Change problem. Mr. Trump directed the prospective EPA chief Myron Ebell to instruct The Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) to excise all references to climate change from our vocabulary and scientific literature.

Climate change will cease to exist upon completion of their work. According to Ebell,”Go outside right now. It’s cold. See!. Science is a liberal conspiracy funded by China and our enemies throughout the world to hobble our economy and take jobs away from hard working Americans.”

Questions: Schedule a meeting at MiniLuv with O’Brien.

Sadly this isn’t exactly a joke. According to Scientific American, Trump plans to appoint climate change denier in chief Myron Ebel to head the EPA.

We are not okay

wearenotokayWe are not okay. For the first time in my life, I am truly embarrassed to be an American. Voters who have nothing in common with me and whose values I do not, nor will I ever, share gave into their baser instincts and embraced fear and loathing. We are not okay because the Democratic National Committee’s cheating forced a losing candidate on America. We are not okay because the corporate media blacked out the one candidate who actually would have helped people. We are not okay because Hillary Clinton put her ambition ahead of the good of the people. We are not okay because the FBI interfered in the election. Evidently more suffering is required. Finally, call me a sore loser but I’m not interested in debate today. This is a moment for compassion. It’s a moment for all you Trump supporters to prove you are not like the devil you just put in office.

America, Imagine a World Without Her

Recently, an old friend, who has become an arch conservative in his middle-age posted a review of Dinesh D’Souza’s film “America, Imagine a World Without Her” on his Facebook timeline. The piece was published on the conservative web site Frontpage Mag and written by Arnold Ahlert.

I don’t know about you, But I can’t imagine a world without America. On the other hand I find myself struggling with imagining an America that isn’t willing to contemplate all of our past. We’ve accumulated a great deal of bad karma. I’m not talking about self-loathing. But I do think it’s important to understand how we got to this place, whom we’ve hurt, what we’ve destroyed to get here, and to endeavor to be better human beings today and in the future.

I also find myself puzzled by my friend’s news sources. He was an intelligent and gentle boy. He married his high school sweetheart. He is a very accomplished musician. I cannot understand how he can take a web site seriously that bears the subtitle, “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Waiting to Get Out.”

“America, Imagine a World Without Her” calls to mind the old silent film Birth of a Nation. Sorry but myopic ultra-nationalist apologia give me the willies. And Ahlert’s review was nothing more than a poorly reasoned screed against liberals. Both are quite beside the point.

The community of people who respond to my friend’s posts are the real point. There are a number of us middle-aged types of varying political persuasions who regularly post on his Facebook links. Aside from being Americans, we are all musicians.

The conversations start off polite. We seldom agree. After a while the words get more pointed. I don’t think we change each others’ minds. I do think we respect one another. I hope we give each other food for thought. I know it has done so for me.

In any event, the conversation meandered away from the D’Souza’s film (no surprise there) and the insults flew.

K***: I could never get tenure because I’m too politically incorrect.

T***: a radical leftist denied tenure at an university because of his politics… someone notify Ward Churchill…BWAHAHAHAHAHA

K***: Well T***, perhaps if you had read my entire comment you’d see that I am not, in fact, a “radical leftist,” since I criticized the radical left in several specific areas. But then reading doesn’t seem to be your strong area.

Bob: Oh boy. Another house of weak arguments, furnished with innuendos and prejudice, built upon on a foundation of wrongheaded assumptions which rest on footings dug into the quicksand of stereotype. Anyone who takes this at face value is a fool.

T***:I love it when radical leftists suddenly claim to be “centrist” when it becomes convenient…

Bob: Please define your terms T. What is a radical leftist? And and who in this discussion qualifies?

T***: I already have, ad nauseum… “

T*** shared a link to Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change and left the question about who among us was a radical leftist unanswered, though I’m pretty sure he meant K*** and  me.

One of the things I like about discussing politics with this group is that we are well read, intelligent and that we agree on little. In as much as their ideas and insults often infuriate me, I cherish the opportunity to ask how they arrive at their ideas. I have read more far right “literature” in the last year than ever before.

I followed T***’s link and downloaded Goldberg’s book. I know I risk sounding like a Kool-Aid slugging liberal, a characterization which I deny, but Goldberg’s arguments torture the point and in the end do nothing more than inflame people’s prejudices rather than provide a useful way to contemplate differences of opinion.

Let’s say for the sake of our discussion Goldberg’s basic premiss, is true. The word fascism encompasses more than turn of the 20th century meaning. That liberals are self-deluded crypto-fascists (and therefore aligned with the worst actors of the 20th century) because early in the 20th century “liberal thinkers” and policy makers were enamored by European fascism and because some of that thought influenced Progressive/Liberal thought.

So what.

Political ideas are like everything else. They come in and out of fashion. People wear the ideas for a season and move on to the next great thing. What’s more, when it counted, the “liberals” stood up against the Nazis and the Italians and came to view fascism as a fundamentally evil political movement.

Goldberg argues that fascist ideas/ideals permeate the liberal DNA and therefore they are the bad guys. In the time honored propaganda trope, he conflates progressives and liberals with the most evil leaders of western civilization: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Napoleon, and Robespierre.

That some of the ideas persisted from one era to another and from one political ideology to another speaks to the reality that our ideas do not exist in a vacuum, that there is nothing new under the sun. Rather we recycle, deconstruct, reassemble, and repackage as oppose to innovate. We can trace the roots of everything in the present to something from the past.

From what I can tell, LIBERAL FASCISM’s true purpose is to say “I’m rubber, you’re glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks on to you,” and in so doing attempts to affix a universally pejorative term, fascism, upon the chest of the so called “left”.

First of all the left/right thing is reductio ad absurdum. Very few people can distill their world views to such find points.

What’s more, I’m still left with lingering questions about the core issues and whether these discussions are anything more than vanilla is better than chocolate. Why? Because I like vanilla better than chocolate. No chocolate is better than vanilla. Why? Because I like chocolate.

Help me understand why anyone has to write a 500 page book calling liberals fascists except as an attempt to demonize them? Help me understand why people have to reduce the world down to such absurdities and then use minute differences to fuel their hatred.

Ann Coulter on Soccer: Part Deux

Ann Coulter on Soccer: Part Deux? C’mon Ann Coulter, Soccer? You really want to waste your valuable print space and attention bandwidth on soccer? Wasn’t la première partie, a/k/a “Part One” one column too many? Right, right, soccer is the front lines in the culture wars between conservatives and liberals. I forgot. What I have not forgotten is that you do not really care about issues. You are polemicist. Your living depends on your ability to instigate fights between “conservatives” and “liberals”.

The sad part is you succeed. Shame on your readers (lovers AND haters) for allowing themselves to be baited and manipulated  by a pundit who is far more interested in self-aggrandizement than the real issues.

Here’s my take on a few of your points from your soccer screed:

  • Who cares if you find soccer “excruciatingly boring.”  So, don’t watch.
  • “Soccer is a game for girls.” Because? Girls are less capable than boys? They are weaker? Less interesting to watch? Self-loathing much?
  • “A guy from the Paraguay team (Uruguay? Who cares?) was caught biting an opponent in a match. Not punching. Not a cross-body block. BITING! How long can it be until we see hair-pulling in soccer? “ Way to stereotype. Does that make Mike Tyson a girl? Is that how you fight?
  • So in a 100-minute game, something happened two times and nothing happened 98 times. “ Apparently you have the attention span of the average NFL fan. How long is the average play? 5 to 15 seconds? There’s a total of about 11 minutes of actual “action” in an NFL game. That leaves plenty of time for commercials, gorging yourself on snacks and beer, and sticking your fingers down your throat to purge yourself from those healthy “football snacks.”
  • “I believe we are witnessing the implementation of that favorite rule of soccer moms: ‘Everybody’s a winner!!!'” Even you. Apparently you have never spent a nanosecond on a soccer pitch in a competitive league.
  • “The reason there are so many fights among spectators at soccer games is to compensate for the tedium.” As opposed to NFL, NHL, or MLB fans, who riot and destroy their hometowns whether their teams win or not.
  • “Being in France does expose me to a way of life that illustrates why foreigners like soccer so much.” It must be nice to afford a trip to France. I take it you only eat at McDonalds and other American-style restaurants. Lord knows you wouldn’t want to let all that socialist food sully your All-American taste buds.
  • “Another crucial role of the refs is to stop the games for a “heat rest.” Tell that to NFL players in New Orleans or Miami, where regular-season games have reached temperatures of over 100 degrees” As opposed to approximately 11 minutes of action over three hours, the extended breaks for TV commercials or the fact that NFL plays last frequently last less than five seconds before the players, reset, catch their breath, suck on oxygen on the sidelines, get replaced by substitutes, and do it again.
  • “Among the least obscenity-laced attacks on my soccer column was one written by two twits who work for the Huffington Post, Nick Wing and Paige Lavender.”  In other words, Nick and Paige, please, please be very offended and respond to this screed in print so people will talk about me.

Sheesh Ann Coulter. Why not use your platform, such as it is, to discuss the actual issues? Perhaps that’s because you do not care? It’s abundantly clear the only things that matter to you are instigating fights and people talking about you. So there you go. You accomplished your goal. I’m talking about you. I hope the bad karma will be worth it.

Everyone hates Nancy Pelosi

Everyone hates Nancy Pelosi says a photoshopped meme from NewsBusters that just appeared on my Facebook page. It proclaims “According to a recent poll, Nancy Pelosi is the MOST unpopular person in Congress. Of course the media won’t touch this story.”

It’s amazing how a few clicks and five minutes can turn a Facebook political meme on its head. Here’s the information trail:

Everyone hates Nancy Pelosi
Everyone hates Nancy Pelosi

Now watch how propaganda gets created. NewsBusters circulates a Photoshop meme on Facebook based on information it got from the Media Research Center’s web site written by NRCC “Rapid Response Coordinator” Matt Gorman, thus imbuing the assertion with an air of legitimacy.

Mr. Gorman does no original reporting but merely cites a blog piece about a recent Gallop Poll measuring the relative popularity of the four Congressional leaders written by Daniel Strauss and published on thehill.org.

Paraphrasing Strauss, Gorman says  “Today, thanks to Gallup, [Nancy Pelosi] can add another title to her long resume: the most unpopular person in Congress.”

The Strauss piece cites the legitimate data and endeavors to present an unbiased story about the Gallup poll results which say “The top Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate are a generally unpopular foursome, with Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi being the most well-known, but also the least well-liked.

See what happened there? NewsBuster misinforms its readers by saying mainstream media won’t cover the story. That’s flat out wrong. It did. Google it. Then they build upon Matt Gorman’s ersatz bone fides to create a fallacious argument.

Mr. Gorman put words in the Gallup poll’s mouth, as it were, when he wrote “Today, thanks to Gallup.” Then he misstated the conclusion by saying Pelosi  was “the most unpopular person in Congress” rather than the least popular congressional leader.

The data does indeed suggest pound-for-pound, Nancy Pelosi is the least liked congressional leader. It also says she is very well know, generally liked by Democrats and likely in the best position to tell the Democrats’ narrative in upcoming elections. More importantly, it also says none of the Congressional leaders are well liked. Nancy Pelosi just happens to be the least liked.

So who are we dealing with?

  • NewsBusters according to its Facebook page is “the official blog of the Media Research Center, [which] works to expose liberal media bias 24/7!
  • The Media Research Center says it “is proud to celebrate 25 years of holding the liberal media accountable for shamelessly advancing a left-wing agenda, distorting the truth, and vilifying the conservative movement.”
  • The NRCC devotes itself “to maintaining and increasing the 232-member Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
  • The Hill. is a legitimate news organization focused on DC politics
  • Gallup. is a legitimate and respected polling organization

Any chance the first three organizations have a VERY specific agenda?

The moral of the story? Climb out of your echo bunkers and do your goddamned homework. Base your opinion on facts, not Facebook memes from your lemming Facebook friends or on ersatz research provided by propagandists like young Mr. Gorman who work for organizations that value political supremacy over the truth.

Employers weigh the impact of providing health insurance: war of the mooches.

 Small Employers Weigh Impact of Providing Health Insurance, a piece appearing in today’s the New York Times weighs the impact of the Affordable Care Act on “small” businesses and provides a great jumping off point to contemplate the impact of providing health insurance and the issue of entitlements.  and interview small-ish business owners and tie the issue to the larger debate going on in the Food and Beverage sector and finally to the entire U.S. economy. The piece talks about the lack of clarity as the ACA comes on line. It also reports about the strategies of avoidance implemented or planned by employers large and small.

As far as I’m concerned, the ACA is a blunt instrument that was more about political victory than actually easing the burden of runaway health care costs. So I view this issue with a healthy dose of skepticism Nevertheless, strategies of avoidance seek to put the burden of solving this problem on others. I’m confused about the unwillingness of business owners to pool resources and come up with effective alternatives to provide affordable health care.

Here’s where I get lost:  Business owners small and large complain about entitlements, they complain about paying taxes. they resist paying for health insurance; Ethically and legally hospitals cannot refuse care on the basis of ability to pay, leaving the hospitals to absorb the cost of the services, only they don’t really because they make up the losses with government money (medicare and tax exemptions) and increased fees which come from billing the insurance companies more money because . . . they are entitled to a profit; the insurance companies pass on those increases to the consumer because . . . . they too are entitled to a profit; health insurance costs rise for those companies providing it as part of their compensation package, which exerts downward pressure on their bottom line, which in turn leads to higher prices and increased employee contributions or the loss of  health insurance benefits by reducing employee hours below the benefits threshold (see above for the effect) because  . . . they too are entitled to a profit; this in turn removes the money from our consumer-based economy, which leads to lower profits and decreased demand for raw materials both of which result in more unemployment and less demand for products; see above for the effects . . . and another ride around the economic merry-go-round because people get sick whether they are employed or not … exhale . . . .

Risks should be rewarded. All companies are entitled to profit from their investments. that’s the American way. But there are many moving parts, including worker’s buying power which is directly related to their health And the amount they pay for health care.

Nevertheless, most businesses view the issue through the narrow lens of their particular company’s self-interest and are more than willing to let others pick up the tab for the deficiencies.

There’s a double standard when it comes to entitlement. (Turn on your irony glasses folks). There’s Mooch One and Mooch Two. Who takes more and who gives less?

Is it Mitt Romney’s allegedly deadbeat 47% on the bottom end of the economic curve who mooch off the wealthy for basic needs or those on the other side who expect everyone but themselves to pay for their success?

FEMA, Sandy, and rainy day funds

What do FEMA, Sandy and rainy day funds have in common? Their nexus creates yet another political battleground in which Cassandras on both sides of the aisle crank up their propaganda machines and lob straw men and red herrings at each other in an attempt to keep their core supporters motivated and cajole undecided voters.

A good friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article entitled Mitt Romney’s Terrifying Plans for FEMA and Disaster Relief.

It’s a cautionary tale that uses Hurricane Sandy to question  statements about FEMA previously made by Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and VP candidate Paul Ryan regarding how the federal government should manage and pay for disaster relief.

The article quotes Mother Jones, to make it’s point that Ryan’s budget, if enacted into law, would affect FEMA’s ability to respond to natural disasters because of the requirement that the budget be balanced and binding

That’s true as far as it goes. A well enforced balanced budget requires choices in the face of unexpected expenses. This does not necessarily mean an eviscerated FEMA or a decimated military budget.

As part of a balanced budget act, Congress could establish a set of agreed upon budget priorities and create a triage plan. That way, if an unexpected expense arises, they’ve already agreed in advance which things will be cut.

Ryan makes copious use of the “household budget” trope in his 2004 speech “Innovative Budgeting Procedures for Congress,” “Look at how we do it with our family budgets. We do not have the ability to just assume more income into our families when we set a budget for our family budget for the year. However, Congress does that.” Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 37 (Tuesday, March 23, 2004)] [House] [Pages H1357-H1363]

Failure to make that list guarantees shortfalls will result in political factions seizing upon the moment to kill the other guys programs while preserving theirs. Who gets screwed? You and me.

Obviously we have no way of knowing from year to year whether a natural disaster will befall one or more regions of the country. So if we fail to set aside enough money, borrowing won’t be an option. Instead the money must come from some other place in the budget, rather like what most households must do.

I completely agree that the Federal Government should not spend more money than it takes in. The problem I see is in the construct of the rules. Without specifying the priorities before hand, this sets up a protracted battle over which programs will be cut.

Ryan has a point. Money from disaster relief comes from somewhere. Either the Federal government has it on hand or it borrows the money. He thinks we shouldn’t borrow the money

Ryan has a point to the extent that money from disaster relief has to come from somewhere. I do not have federal flood insurance. If my home were to get flooded from Sandy, and incurred damage, I’d have to find the money someplace, either from my savings or by borrowing. Creating a system where balancing the budget in an emergency gives Congress the power to hold up the citizenry by cutting money from their pet peeve programs is the real problem. Inevitably, somebody gets screwed.

I have a better idea. Well actually I didn’t make it up. How about we create a rainy day fund? Set aside money for disasters every year in inviolable trusts so when Sandy or Irene or Gloria or Katrina come to town, we’ll have enough money to pay the bill.

 

Romney vs. Obama Debates

The Romney vs. Obama debates have brought out the worst in all of us. Instead of watching the debates to understand each candidate’s positions, we view them to see how our guy does against the other candidate. Romney and Obama bludgeoned each other with their talking points instead of constructing well reasoned arguments.

The candidates did not respect the process and they buffaloed the moderators. Throughout the campaign, the press has abdicated its responsibilities as the fourth estate. They’ve joined the partisan bloggers by voluntarily writing propaganda for their candidates.

What amazes me is how we can all all look at the same facts and arrive at such different conclusions. I was talking with a friend this afternoon and he scored  Romney as the winner while I said Obama won. The weird thing is how we were both citing the same data to support our conclusions.

Most people on both sides of the aisle see what they want to see and work backward from their conclusions. They  cherry pick their facts and reach conclusions based on their emotions. This means we’re in big trouble because the problems we face require objective decision making. They can only be cured by truly understanding the data, agreeing on the problems and proceeding with logic and determination.

Essentially it’s not possible to fix the problems because we cannot agree on what they are.

Apropos of cherry picking data, Pundits from the Romney camp complained that the town hall debate held at Hofstra was biased toward Obama because Long Islanders are liberal. Now, I don’t which Long Islanders they were talking about. I grew up there, visit frequently, and still have family and friends there. Nearly everyone I know from home is very conservative and plans to vote for Romney.

In fact, the Republican Party has run LI as long as I can remember, which is getting to be a long time now. Even I was a registered Republican. I was a Republican Block Captain while I was in college and voted by party until I stopped life guarding for the town.

Parenthetically, I’d still be a Republican if the religious right hadn’t hijacked the party and used it as a tool to impose their draconian social agenda on the rest of the country. Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and Bill Weld or Teddy Roosevelt are more my cup of tea. They had position and money and social consciences but stood for fiscal conservatism, business, law and order, and defense.