Friday, February 12, 2016

President's Day Feb 15, 2016: Celebrates Birth of Geo. Washington and Abe Lincoln

History of the Seal is Very Interesting  

Five Still Living Today
(Geo. H.W. Bush, Barack Obama (current), Geo. W. Bush, 
Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter)

44 Elected to Date
(Grover Cleveland Was Elected for Two Non-consecutive Terms 
(22nd and 24th) - First time in history)

We are once again in a presidential election cycle (every four years as we know), and looking at the history of the office and men who have been president is a powerful study. The history regarding establishment of President's Day is also interesting and described this way in part:

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government.

Traditionally celebrated on February 22 — Washington’s actual day of birth — the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

The history of the office and each man who has served there (only men to date but that could change in this cycle) can be seen here [click on each name to link to their individual bio and historical notes]. This also makes for very interesting reading and a study into our history of the history of men referred to as holding the most-powerful position in the world.

Election Day 2016 is November 8th. Please take the time to get out and vote because your vote is your voice to help keep our democracy strong and viable. 

And, as always, thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Iraq Bad; Afghanistan Bad; Syria a Mess; ME General Disarray: North Korea Worse

North Korea Has Dug Tunnels Under the DMZ

Old Guard Standing Behind Young, Lost, and Total Maniac

Rather long post, but one that needs attention: North Korea always seeks world attention and recognition along side the U.S. on the world stage any way they can, and in the end it’s almost always via threats and violent acts. They seldom try diplomacy until the smoke clears and they want favors (food, recognition, and more attention).

UPDATED (from the BBC – short clip follows): North Korea could soon have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons after restarting one of its reactors, Intelligence Chief James Clapper says. He also said Pyongyang had taken steps towards making an intercontinental ballistic missile system. He then concluded with this statement: “We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor. We further assess that North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.”

This aspect comes days after the North launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology. Last September Pyongyang said its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon had resumed normal operations. The reactor there has been the source of plutonium for its nuclear weapons program.

Other key points since they conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.
  • Experts say when fully operational, Yongbyon could make one nuclear bomb's worth of plutonium per year. About 4kg of plutonium is needed to make a 20 kiloton bomb.  
  • Pyongyang has pledged several times to stop operations at Yongbyon and even destroyed the cooling tower in 2008 as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal.
  • However, in March 2013, following a row with the US and after new UN sanctions over a third nuclear test, it vowed to restart all facilities at Yongbyon.
  • Six-nation talks involving South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia aimed at ending the North's nuclear program have been stalled since 2009.
  • Pyongyang says it has made a device small enough to fit a nuclear warhead on to a missile, which it could launch at its enemies. However, US officials have cast doubt on the claim.
History of the Yongbyon nuclear complex:

  1. North Korea's main nuclear facility, believed to have manufactured material for previous nuclear tests
  2. Reactor shut down in July 2007 as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal
  3. International inspectors banned in April 2009 when North Korea pulled out of disarmament talks
  4. A uranium enrichment facility was revealed in 2010. An American nuclear scientist said centrifuges appeared to be primarily for civilian nuclear power, but could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel
  5. In 2013, North Korea said it would restart the nuclear reactor, the same year it conducted a nuclear test. It is believed to have shut it down for a period in 2014.
  6. Experts believe that reactor could make one bomb's worth of plutonium per year
  7. Nuclear test based on uranium device would be harder to monitor than plutonium
Historical look back:
  • On October 9, 2006, North Korea issued an announcement that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test for the first time.
  • On January 6, 2007, North Korea further confirmed that it had nuclear weapons.
  • In April 2009, North Korea has become a “fully fledged nuclear power” expressed an opinion by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
  • On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test. Although there was no official information about the test location, it is believed that it happened at the site of the first nuclear test at Mantapsan in the north-eastern part of North Korea.
  • By 2016, all indications show that North Korea could have 14 to 48 nuclear weapons or equivalents. (For one uranium-filled weapon, it would require each to contain about 20 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium).
North Korea always follows fiery rhetoric with some sort of military action:

“We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means. The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation.”

April 3, 2013:  PAJU, South Korea (AP) — In past deadly confrontations between North and South Korea, a jointly operated industrial park stayed open, churning out goods.  But in the latest sign that North Korea's warlike stance toward South Korea and the United States is moving from words to action. North Korea started barring South Korean managers and trucks delivering supplies from crossing the border to enter the Kae-song industrial park where thousands of workers are employed (goods that total about $2 billion a year with the North making some $800 million).

It's an announcement that further escalates a torrent of actions that analysts say is aimed at pressuring the U.S. and South Korea to change their policies toward North Korea.  The Kae-song move came a day after the North said it would restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons that North Korea is developing and has threatened to hurl at the U.S., but which experts don't think it will be able to accomplish for years. The South and U.S. hold routine annual training exercises and have for decades while the North continues to call them invasion preparations.

April 12, 2013: North Korea warned Japan that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula. They increased their threats of an attack if their missiles fired towards Japan are shot down, saying that Tokyo's standing orders to destroy any missile heading toward Japan will cause them to attack.

The history of North Korea acts of violence:
(1)  Digging massive number of tunnels under the DMZ,
(2)  Attacking the Blue House in Seoul to assassinate President Park (January 1968),
(3)  Capturing the USS Pueblo (also in January 1968),
(4)  Killed the ROK First Lady (Yuk, Young-soo) while trying to assassinate President Park, Chung-hee (August 15, 1974).
(5) Murder in the DMZ tree cutting incident of two U.S. Army officers (August 1976),
(6)  Bombing in Rangoon in attempt to assassinate President Chun, Doo-whan (October 1983),
(7)  Blowing up KAL flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul killing 115 (November 1987) (bomber Miss Kim, Hyun-Hee now lives in Seoul).
(8)  Sinking of a ROK Navy ship and artillery fire across the DMZ in civilian homes up around the Inchon area on the islands of Y-P-do and P-Y-do.

Here is a short clip from the BBC on this topic:

North Korea poses a huge threat to sustained peace and stability in Korea... with this young, harsh "leader (Kim, Jung-un) trying to make a name for him after following his father and grandfather, that huge doubt looms over the entire region and North Korea's next step - and they have been that way ever since since 1953.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sen. Mitch McConnell Must Be Removed from Office ASAP for Nonfeasance Pledge

McConnell Looks Down in the Mouth Like He Just Ate Raw Duck

Nonfeasance legal def: “The neglect or failure of a person to do some act which he ought to do. The term is not generally used to denote a breach of contract, but rather the failure to perform a duty towards the public.”

This story is astonishing — in part from Vox.com here with this headline:

Mitch McConnell just announced the Senate might not take up any substantive legislation in 2016

Wow, talk about a harsh and provocative statement – I wonder why?

For anyone who thought Congress might accomplish something in 2016, this dose of cold water comes from the Hill's Alexander Bolton, who reports that probably ain't happening this way:

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), seeking to protect his majority in a tough cycle for Republicans, is leaning toward holding back several measures that have bipartisan support but are divisive in his conference.”

So, for example old Mitch says his GOP won’t be voting on (from Bolton’s report):

(1) That bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that looked so promising, the one Republicans and Democrats had worked so hard on to reach a compromise. Yeah, the Senate won't be voting on that. 

(2)  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

(3)  The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) (against ISIS I presume?). 

(4)  Or really not much else. 

Why not? Because why force anybody to take tough votes? 

I conclude that this is the new GOP, or should I say the new GOP “inaction?” 

Okay, so why are they on the public till with a job disapproval of nearly 80 percent? (With 15% approval and some 7% unsurethe latest).

Simple: Who the Hell knows. Just don't ask Mitch McConnell — he comes across as politically savvy; but, in reality he is dumber than owl shït (pardon my French).

That's it for now. Oh, too harsh, you think? Well, maybe, a tad, but it also shows a streak of my anger. Why, aren't you?  

Thanks for stopping by. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Secret Emails: Who Classifies Them, Who Sends Them, Who Gets Them, and Why

GOP Believes This is How HILL Gets and Receives Her "Secret" Emails
(not proven beyond a reasonable doubt but GOP keeps on fishing)

How GOP Seeks to See Hillary at the End of the Day
(yes, tar and feathered and on the proverbial rail)

As the quip goes: “There ain't no there there.” At least not yet. As for me, I tend to believe Mrs. Clinton on this whole (ready for it) Email-gate (yeah, another “gate”). She has testified under oath several times that the emails she received were not classified until after the fact. On that point I do believe her – those who greatly dislike or worse, the Clinton’s, will of course hold the opposite view – refer to the graph above of a rail-riding trip out of town.

Further I do not believe she is silly enough to have gotten secret emails at her home on her email server, let alone Top Secret stuff, at any time. I simply do not believe that. 

Also, it is a bit naive to think that Mrs. Clinton's actions and explanations are lies and something nefarious. I do not believe that for one minute. I may be proven wrong at the end of the day, but with this GOP in this crazy-ass election season it is not likely that they are apt to let that aspect play out legally – not when there is so much to gain politically is on the table, and then we have those who say, “What is wrong with our system?” May I suggest the nearest mirror for a look see?

I now reference this very good rundown on the whole government classification system and process. PSA: I held a government Top Secret (SCI) clearance for years while I was on active duty, my later years in the intelligence field as an Interrogator – so I know a bit of what I am talking about.

The American government's system for classifying things as secret is widely considered a giant mess, by which agencies reflexively over classify things, and the reasons for classifying often make little sense. It is thus extremely easy to imagine that Clinton's emails were classified not because they contained super-sensitive national secrets, and possibly not for any good reason at all, but rather just as a product of America's broken classification system.

This goes back to 1982, when the Reagan administration began a program of such aggressive classification that the unofficial slogan was, “When in doubt, classify.” 

That waned under Bill Clinton but shot back up dramatically under George W. Bush, so much so that by 2004 the mere bureaucracy for classifying documents cost $7 billion per year.

Even John Bolton, a senior Bush official who often championed executive secrecy, once complained, “If there is anyone who fully understands our ‘system’ for protecting classified information, I have yet to meet him.”

The problem was not so much secrecy itself as bureaucratic disarray; something that contains no obviously sensitive information might nonetheless be reflexively classified, or might be classified because the information at some point passed through someone or something that also handles classified information. Or maybe the information is banal but it was later wrapped into a report or document that is itself classified for different reasons.

The problem, in other words, isn't that the rules for classification are too strict. It's that the rules are unclear, messy, or contradictory, to the degree that the rules exist at all, and individual people and agencies have learned to over classify to stay on the safe side.

The problem has grown so severe that it has hampered even the ability of American intelligence officials and policymakers to access the information they need to do their jobs. The head of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste, told Congress in 2005 that “the failure to share information was the single most important reason why the United States government failed to detect and disrupt the 9/11 plot.  Information has to flow more freely. Much more information needs to be declassified. A great deal of information should never be classified at all.”

In 2010, as a result, Congress passed the Reducing Over-Classification Act, which ordered federal agencies to do exactly that.

But no one thinks that over classification has been fixed. Federal agencies still have a habit of heavily classifying things, regardless of whether they need to be.

As an example of how silly this can get, State Department employees are banned from reading WikiLeaks cables or articles that quote them, as the cables include classified information. So the people responsible for guiding American foreign policy are barred from reading foreign policy coverage that you and I may access freely. Virtually no one in the State Department likes this policy, by the way, but it is a product of the government's larger, and largely broken, system of assigning and dealing with classifications.  

I conclude by saying as a people and that includes the GOP, too, we blow a lot of hot air and rant about justice and fairness and due process… except in this case, right Mr. and Mrs. Gee Oh Pee? (that is when it fits our narrow need)... Well I'm done now. 

Thanks for stopping by and as it has been said many times before: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fake Video Weasels Face Prosecution, Trial, and Possible Jail Time

Justice and Due Process - the American Way

Planned Parenthood Fake Video Author
(to face justice and rightly so in a big way hopefully)

Based on what I have read about the PLANNED PARENTHOOD video tapes I concluded this:

Selling aborted fetuses (or parts as bad as that sounds) is illegal and unlawful and all providers, except back alley coat hanger quacks know that.  If PP can be proven to have done that, i.e., sell body parts rather than provide them to medical research facilities for a small prep/transport fee which the tapes lied about, then prosecute them. So, why is that not happening? Now these key points I raised awhile back:

First and most important, PP did nothing wrong or illegal. For all the talk about the process (seen and heard on the fake tapes), it does sound gross and gruesome to the layman, but go talk to your local funeral director and see how they handle body parts that the dead person said, “I want to donate to science.” That is the same science the GOP hates – science is science, right? Again to the layman, it sounds gruesome but not to medical experts. 

From what I know:

(1)  The details sound awful for sure, but not to medical persons. The undercover tapes make them sound worse by the select editing (cite the James O’Keefe ploy).
(2)  If PP is guilty of selling like the fake tapes try to show, then prosecute PP, but that seems unlikely in view of the edited tapes showing a crime that right now is not there; so why not prosecute the film crew for their lies and undercover activities which could be illegal, too.
(3) If PP or any of the hundreds of other Federally-funded places that collect body parts and provide them to medical research are doing it for a profit, rather than for science, then hold them to account, too, but that too is unlikely (at least until another fake video hits the scene).
(4)  Right now there is no there, there. Anti-abortion types like these undercover fake detectives will always see only one what they want to see: Any way to stop abortions even by deceit and crimes and underhanded means that they try to justify: fake videos that do more harm than good in my view, too.  

NOW THIS UPDATE FROM TEXAS: In a very unusual move, a Texas grand jury that was investigating alleged misconduct by officials at Planned Parenthood, instead decided to turn the tables. That grand jury returned an indictment against the two anti-abortion activists who actually made the videos: David Daleiden, director of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) faces felony charges, including tampering with a governmental record, and a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs along with Sandra Merritt another CMP employee.

It's nice to wait and see how these "hot issue/narrow view/red meat stories" play out isn't it? The end in far too many cases is nothing like the lies or rumors GOP/FOX, and others spreader hoping for something that usually ends up 180° in the opposite direction - something this GOP is totally incapable of doing it seems and for a very long time.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review and Analysis of GOP 2016 Strategy Driven by FOX and Piles of Money

Hot Topic that Never Seems to Go Away: Benghazi

Now a Compare and Contrast

Democrats enacted $1.803 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2010, when they still controlled the Senate and House.

After Republicans took control of the House and picked up six Senate seats, Congress reduced the enacted budget to $1.616 billion in fiscal 2011, and to $1.537 billion for fiscal 2012.

The administration requested $1.801 billion for security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2012; House Republicans countered with a proposal to cut spending to $1.425 billion. The House agreed to increase it to $1.537 billion after negotiations with the Senate. 

The administration requested $1.654 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program for fiscal 2012. House Republicans proposed funding the program at $1.557 billion. Congress eventually enacted $1.591 billion after the Senate weighed in.

For fiscal 2013, the administration requested $2.15 billion in funding for the worldwide security protection program, a larger increase from the previous year. The House countered with a proposal to increase the program to $1.934 billion.

See the pattern here – painful isn’t it? So what up, Doc, what’s in play here? Let’s take a look, shall we at some of the tactics this election cycle, which is just starting to heat up – even if that’s possible (more nastiness and heat as is were):

1. Panic Mongering vs Fear Mongering: Panic mongering goes one step beyond simple fear mongering because there is never a break from the fear part. Panic is the idea to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. Like berating Muslims to worry about swine flu to another recession is next door to homosexuals and their wedding cakes to immigrants taking “our” jobs to the rapture itself, the add in Ebola as government plot, and there the belief over at FOX that seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren't activated, you aren't alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain.

In other words, when people are afraid, they don't think rationally. And when they can't think rationally, they'll believe anything. Does the Left indulge in this? Yes it does, but in all honesty not to the extent that the Right does on Talk Radio and via FOX. There is a strong leftwing-leaning media slant on the web and certainly on MSNBC with some of their talkers and yak yakers, but again not as perverse as the rightwingers, or those paid to appear on FOX (as expert consultants – I love that label).

2. Character Assassination Ad Hominem: Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, their sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them.

FOX and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. "liberals, hippies, and now today, progressives.,” et al. This form of argument – if it can be called that – leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.

3. Invoke Only the Christian Version of God: With morality politics, the idea is to declare yourself and your allies as patriots, Christians and “real Americans” (those are inseparable categories in this line of thinking). Anyone who challenges them is not, well at least most of those things. Basically, God loves FOX and Republicans and America, but hates taxes and anyone who doesn't love those other three things and much more.

Because the speaker is a Benedict and therefore appointed by God to speak on behalf of all Americans, any challenge is perceived as immoral. It's a cheap and easy technique used by all totalitarian entities from states to cults.

4.  Populism: This is especially noticeable in an election years. The speaker always identifies themselves as one of “the people just like you who are the targets of the left and their ire as an enemy of our values.”  The opponent is naturally, always “an elitist or a bureaucrat or a government insider or some other category that is not of the people, say like a leftist or worse “the mainstream media (but never FOX).”

The idea is to make the opponent harder to relate to and harder to empathize with. It often goes hand in hand with scapegoating. A common logical fallacy with populism bias when used by the right is that accused "elitists" are almost always liberals – a category of political actors who, by definition, advocate for non-elite groups.

5.  Saturation: There are three components to effective saturation: (1) being repetitive, (2) being ubiquitous, and (3) being consistent and constant.

The message must be repeated over and over, it must be everywhere and it must be shared across commentators: e.g. “Saddam has WMD, bin-Laden is coming, and your Muslim neighbor is a terrorist.” Veracity and hard data have no relationship to the efficacy of saturation. There is a psychological effect of being exposed to the same message over and over, regardless of whether it's true, or if it even makes sense, e.g., “Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States and he is a Muslim.”

It’s is kind of like the notorious “Big Lie” (you know the one and the era I mean). It goes like this: “If something (anything) is said enough times, by enough people, many, or perhaps most, will come to accept it as truth.”

Two examples based on this point:  “FOX: Fair and Balanced” and “FOX is not a GOP Cheerleader.”

How about a simple Ha to end this. The chart above says a lot more than I can write or research about. Now we hear the FOX-led GOP recharged yelling: "Stop HILLARY anyway possible - she will ruin the country ..."!!! 

Whew boy. (End Note: If by chance she loses, FOX, et al will blame Bill Clinton and his past, but they had nothing to do with re-generating that past, right?)  Right. 

Psst: just don't ask Donald J. Trump.  

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Who Stands for Business Growth in America vs. Who Just Says They Do

Very Graphic and Telling to Say the Least
[click to enlarge graph]

In the Real World the GOP Won't Fess Up To

Corporate profits are their highest ever and wage growth is near its lowest in half a century, even since the near total 2008 meltdown. However, businesses still resist higher wages to workers across the board.

U.S. businesses have never had it so good both in dollar term, or as a share of the economy.

The labor market still shows far too many Americans out of jobs which are in short supply here at home. Coincidence between those two things?  Maybe not, but a direct link I believe.

What is the basic issue or root problem, even if that’s possible to ID in this topsy turvy political environment where stalemate to get your way is the operative word for cooperation and compromise?

Companies have not been unable to raise prices much because of the economic recovery has been fragile, even though the unemployment is 5 percent down from 10 percent back in 2008 – remember?   
But they’ve still managed to boost profits beyond anything ever seen before because they’ve got away with employing as few workers as possible at as low a rate as possible and for the lowest wages possible, too. Economic facts hurt, don’t they?

Look back in time at the first three decades after World War II:
  1. America created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. Since then we have made one huge U-turn. 
  2. During those post-war years, the earnings of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. 
  3. By 1960, the income of a single school teacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough that enabled them to buy a home, two cars, and raise a family. 
Now the rest of the story as the late Paul Harvey used to say:

  1. Today, during this recovery (*the one started after the near total economic meltdown in 2008), and like the last five recoveries before that, it masks the longer-term decline of most worker wages – and that translates into a huge decline in and for the American middle class.
  2. Over the last thirty years, by contrast, the size of the economy doubled again but the earnings of the typical American have gone nowhere.  
  3. In that earlier period, more than a third of all workers belonged to a trade union — giving average workers the bargaining power necessary to get a large and growing share of the large and growing economic pie. Now, fewer than 7% of private-sector workers are unionized (this is also by careful design – never forget that – the GOP and their allies hate Unions and Union people, whether teaches (esp. teachers) public service employees, or hell, even health care and law enforcement professionals whom they work hard against – interesting isn’t? That disconnect: claim to help all people, except Union people)... 
  4. Back then. CEOs of America’s largest corporations were paid an average of about 20 times the pay of their typical worker. Now their pay is well over 200 times (and still growing).
  5. In those years, the richest 1% took home 9 to 10% of total income. Today the top 1% gets more than 20%.
  6. Back then, the tax rate on the highest-income Americans never fell below 70%; and under President Dwight Eisenhower (Republican) it was 91%. Today their top tax rate is 39.6% and with so many loopholes and incentives, write-offs, etc., they all mostly pay far less.
Minimum Wage Battle back in 2013: President Obama’s call for a minimum wage increase — like nearly all of his proposals — is again met with immediate opposition from Congressional Republicans.

•  Just a short six years ago (before Mr. Obama took office) many of the same Republicans supported a similar proposal backed by Republican President George W. Bush.
•  A Think Progress analysis finds that at least 67 Republicans who are still in Congress today backed an increase in the minimum wage in some form and that includes Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
•  Political momentum for an increase began in 2004, after President Bush announced his support for a bill by now-Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
•  After Democrats won majorities of the House and Senate in the 2006 elections, a minimum wage increase became one of their first priorities.
•  The Fair Minimum Wage Act — which also included tax cuts for small businesses — passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
•  When the increase was folded into a larger appropriations bill, it again passed with strong bipartisan support and was eventually signed into law by Bush. 26 House Republicans even signed a letter to then-House Majority Leader (later Speaker, then resigned) John Boehner (R-OH), asking for a vote on a minimum wage increase - that took it to $7.25/per hour.

Related (two links) - here and here.

What do we call those GOP roadblocks, - oh, yeah, hypocrisy. Big, big talkers, little tiny walkers I’d have to say…

Why so much resistance when Mr. Obama advocates the same thing, not just the minimum wage, but health care, more relief for that struggling middle class and kids wanting a higher education, but on most other things that Mr. Obama not only introduces, but even thinks about.

If he is far it, the GOP is against it – that is a fact, and it matters not the topic or subject of issue, and worse, the blame game is always centered on him like a bulls eye on a NRA target. A fact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

More Worldwide Economic Turmoil and Disruption on the Horizon in the EU

Front Page Photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (in power since 2005)

We hear it all the time (mostly from American “Conservatives”) along these lines: 
  1. There is too much government red tape...
  2. Corporate taxes are too high… 
  3. There are too many rules and regulations on business...
  4. We have too many “takers” taking from the “givers” (Mitt Romney)…
  5. Government needs to get out the way of business…

Ouch ... what a plateful or BS, or as I prefer to say “what a load of horseshit.” As they guy said in the movie: “Now, how do we get the shit back in the horse?”

What about too much money at the very top with the greedy bastards from our recent past – say like 2008 to be precise?

We bailed out the big banks that have since recouped their losses and then some.

Many of them caused our near total meltdown and the economic turmoil that followed along with the massive disruption along the way all the while they reaped huge off-shore profits, keep billions off-shore in tax havens as they pay Pols to keep the rules in place strictly for them while they provide big money to keep the Pols in office (the you scratch my back, I’ll pad your PAC).

Call that the “greed factor” – for that is precisely what it is.

Now, the latest pitiful economic forecast, and no, not more from China, or even India (although I’m sure India will have theirs in a few years). I mean this latest.

FROM GERMANY – THIS STORY >>> Europe on the brink of financial MELTDOWN as Germany faces economic ruin

The European financial powerhouse (Germany) could be facing a huge financial crisis which would have devastating implications for Britain as a lethal storm of economic problems brews in Germany.

Pretty startling headlines I’d say. So what’s next? Who’s next? Too much government – I don’t think so, but I would say maybe not enough honest, focused, dedicated and public-serving government to head these things off … major cause: big money keeping who they want in office to do their bidding. A fact.

That is why a Bernie Sanders type is laughed off the stage at for his straight talk about drawing down the big banks and others who skate in these messes and come out smelling like the proverbial rose after the rest of us has already stepped in what they dropped behind. Our own GOP loves to live in  the past with the the old sound byte about Trickle-Down Economics (we provide to the top and they will help the rest of us). Actually, here's how I see that working. What about you?

Call it the "Reagan Tree House"

So, ask yourself: How many big bankers and others at that level went to jail after causing 2008? I think we can count them on one hand, right? And, yes, absolute greed does corrupt absolutely. 

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned to this story – it ain’t over yet.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Promises of Advance "Executive Orders" (Cruz, Trump, et al): Yet GOP is Mum

On Day-One He Would Axe Gun-Free Zones
(Psst: both are Federal law)

NRA and Gun Lover Approach
(Nice touch guys -  yeah, right)

The Tradeoff for Rational Thinker
(which are in short supply these days)

This short introduction and update before the jump to the original article that follows: The GOP and others these days are beating Mr. Obama for his proposed Executive Order speech and 3-step plan for guns, yet Trump says he will do the same thing on day one; Cruz says his pen has an eraser for his dastardly deeds, the same for many others who make such rash statements.

Topic: GUN FREE ZONES and latest from Trump on the subject, and the National Journal here.

Background on Gun-Free Zone Law(s) in the U.S. from here in part:

1.  The Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) is a federal United States law that prohibits any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone as defined here and here.  It was introduced in the U.S. Senate in October 1990 by Senator Joseph R. Biden and signed into law in November 1990 by President George H. W. Bush.

2.  That law should not be confused with the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (GFSA). That law was part of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 also amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  In 1994, Congress introduced the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which encouraged each state receiving federal funds for education to follow suit and introduce their own laws, now known as zero tolerance laws. 

President Clinton signed the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 into law on March 31, 1994. The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires each state receiving federal funds to have a state law in effect requiring local educational agencies to expel, for at least one year, any student who is determined to have brought a weapon to school. The one-year expulsion is mandatory, except when a chief administering officer of such local education agency may modify it on a case-by-case basis. In addition, schools are directed to develop policies requiring referral to the criminal justice or juvenile delinquency system for any student who brings a firearm or weapon to school.

Are “gun-free” zones (public or school) common sense or not; and do they work as intended, or not? If not, should they be repealed, or not? Some views both ways follow (full details at the National Journal link and certainly other sites). Like these:

Interpol’s secretary general, Ron Noble, noted there are two ways to protect people from such mass shootings: (1) “To say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that, (2) the other is to say the enclaves should be so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”  Noble sees a real problem: “How do you protect soft targets? That’s really the challenge. You can’t have armed police forces everywhere. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past, with an evolving threat of terrorism?’”

The vast majority of mass shootings in the U.S. have been extensively planned beforehand — often many months or even years in advance, allowing the perpetrators to find unprotected targets and obtain weapons.

Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School (in CT) killer, spent over two years studying everything about previous mass shootings: the weapons used, the number of people killed, and even how much media coverage each shooting received. Police described the 7-by-4-foot spreadsheet as sickeningly thorough, even likening his careful study to a doctoral dissertation.

James Holmes, the Aurora, CO theater killer, was another careful planner. He started buying items two and a half months in advance. He visited neighboring theaters, and bought his ticket almost two weeks before his attack. To help prepare, he photographed the layout of the theater where he’d commit his heinous crimes.

This is surely a compelling topic for debate, but not to be used as a stunt or attention getter for votes like Trump with his radical statement that appears to fit that bill and not based on common sense and rational thinking which he seems to be incapable of doing.

Original post starts from here:

Extracts from Newsweek that I find enlightening, but gun nuts will not.

Justice Scalia clearly stated in Heller that the right to bear arms had boundaries writing in part: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Scalia cited laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or that forbid them in places such as schools and government buildings, or impose conditions on their sale.

He also wrote that his decision did not overrule the holding in the 1939 Miller case ruling that the sorts of weapons protected are those in common use at the time, and that the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons” was still permissible. In other words, even one of the modern era’s most conservative justices says gun enthusiasts are wrong when they claim that any limitation on firearms is unconstitutional. Government can place restrictions on firearms with the intent of protecting society.

Re: Gun accessories:

Nowhere in Supreme Court precedent, or in the words of the founders, or in the Second Amendment (either of them) is there a right to attach stuff to a gun, including the add-ons that serve no purpose other than to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.

Some of these accessories are largely unknown outside of the gun crowd, including such nonsensical devices as magazine drums that allow popular weapons such as the AR-15 rifle to fire up to 100 rounds without reloading. Why would any gun enthusiast need 100 rounds?

Let’s ask James Holmes – he would tell you why.

Until July 20, 2012, Holmes was what the NRA would describe as a responsible gun owner. He legally owned a couple of Glock 22 pistols, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, a Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, 350 shotgun shells and 6,000 rounds of ammunition. Given all those purchases, his local gun club invited him to join.

On a night in July, Holmes walked into an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and started firing. He killed 12 people and injured 70 more. He got off 76 shots — 65 from the semi-automatic rifle with the 100-round drum. He could have shot more if the drum hadn’t jammed. In fact, Holmes told a court psychiatrist that he chose his weaponry in hopes that he would kill all 400 people in the theater.

High-capacity magazines have been the accessory of choice for most mass killers lately:

Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School who killed 20 children and six adults in 2012, used 30-round magazines.
The same accessory was also used in mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado 1999.

Also, in action at the military base clinic at Fort Hood, Texas in 2011.

Let’s take a look at this from a Newsweek article: The NRA has been working for years to make sure lunatics and felons can obtain guns as easily as possible.
After the deadliest shooting in American history took place at Virginia Tech (32 dead), Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. When introduced, the legislation called on states to submit mental-health records to national databases maintained by the FBI.

The NRA declared this violated the Second Amendment and, through intense lobbying, limited the definition of mental illness only to people institutionalized or found by a court to be a danger.

Even if a psychiatrist believed a patient posed a threat, nothing could be done to keep a gun out of that person’s hand.

Related: Interesting synopsis - a bit dated but applicable nevertheless (from 2009 here): Oh, right GOPers don't believe scientific reports, crap – oh well, here it is anyway. Packing heat may backfire. People who carry guns are far likelier to get shot – and killed – than those who are unarmed, a study of shooting victims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found.

It would be impractical – not to say unethical – to randomly assign volunteers to carry a gun or not and see what happens. So 
Charles Branas team at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 677 shootings over two-and-a-half years to discover whether victims were carrying at the time, and compared them to other Philly residents of similar age, sex and ethnicity. The team also accounted for other potentially confounding differences, such as the socioeconomic status of their neighborhoods.

Despite the US having the highest rate of firearms-related homicide in the industrialized world, the relationship between gun culture and violence is poorly understood. A study found that treating violence like an infectious disease led to a dramatic fall in shootings and killings.

Overall, Branas’s study found that people who carried guns were 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to get killed compared with unarmed citizens. When the team looked at shootings in which victims had a chance to defend themselves, their odds of getting shot were even higher. 

While it may be that the type of people who carry firearms are simply more likely to get shot, it may be that guns give a sense of empowerment that causes carriers to overreact in tense situations, or encourages them to visit neighborhoods they probably shouldn’t, Branas speculates saying supporters of the Second Amendment shouldn’t worry that the right to bear arms is under threat, however. “We don’t have an answer as to whether guns are protective or perilous. This study is a beginning.”

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore, Maryland, thinks it is near-sighted to consider only the safety of gun owners and not their communities. “It affects others a heck of a lot more,” he says.

I hope you enjoyed your stay here today. Thanks from coming by. The post is long, but I wanted to make my position perfectly clear on the overall topic of guns.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men: The Senate in the Shadows Apparently

Yeah, These Shadows Know
(how deals are made)

What is “CISA?” (Part of that answer is here from Wired.com.
This part of the omnibus bill (to keep government open) has alarmed the privacy community. Why? It will give companies the ability to share cybersecurity information with federal agencies, including the NSA, “…notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
That means CISA’s information-sharing channel, ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, could also provide a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.  This latest version appended to the omnibus bill seems to exacerbate that basic problem.
Opponents say it creates the ability for the [any] president to set up “portals” for agencies like the FBI and DNI (Director of National Intelligence), so that Internet and other electronic companies hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of to the DHS (Homeland Security). It also changes when information for cybersecurity reasons can be used for law enforcement investigations. The earlier bill had only allowed that backchannel use of the data for law enforcement in cases of “imminent threats,” while this new bill requires just a “specific threat,” potentially allowing the search of the data for any specific terms regardless of timeliness.
The impact as it were in simple terms:
Lumping CISA in with the omnibus bill further reduces any chance for debate over its surveillance-friendly provisions, or a White House veto (that some call dirty underhanded politics – they would be right).
The latest version actually chips away even further at the remaining personal information protections that privacy advocates had fought for in the version of the bill that passed the Senate and according to this: “They took a bad bill, and they made it worse.” (Says Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute).
Even in an earlier version, CISA had drawn opposition from tech firms including Apple, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. In April, a coalition of 55 civil liberties groups and security experts also signed an open letter opposing it. In July, DHS also warned that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value” at the same time as it “sweep[s] away privacy protections.”
Once again “our” government acts, but not on behalf, except with their fancy political rhetoric and paid Ads for reelection impact and they have the gall to call it representative democracy – sadly, in concept but not in reality.
Fear certainly does sell, that is until “we” stop buying it.

Thanks for stopping by.