Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Newsflash: Liberals are smarter, more evolved.

CNN reports on a study verifying what we already knew: Liberals and Atheists have higher IQ's.  What's more the data in the study is explained though evolution.  The conservatives are sure to hate this, huh?  Especially coming on the heels of multiple papers showing how conservatism is like a form of mental illness!

Now let's recap.  According to Conservatives:

ACADEMIA, meaning people that study and learn things, has a liberal bias.

The part of the MEDIA that practices anything even resembling actual JOURNALISM, has a liberal bias.

And SCIENCE (climatology, evolution, stem cell research, etc...) has a liberal bias.

That says, pretty clearly, that RESEARCH, STUDYING, LEARNING, and KNOWLEDGE CREATION all have a liberal bias.  So it really shouldn't come as any surprise that higher intelligence would be liked to Liberalism and Atheism, since, according to CONSERVATIVES, all the things that support intelligence and come from intelligence ALL have a LIBERAL BIAS! 

You wouldn't think they should be so proud of that, but as "Mister Conservative," Glenn Beck himself said: We don't WANT to evolve! 

Well, good on you then Glenn, because: you haven't.

Actually, I still think then-Senator Obama said it best, during a 2008 campaign speech: "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant!"  As eloquent and articulate as President Obama can be, I still believe that statement to be the most relevant, prescient, observant, telling and accurate of his political career.

And lest you think this phenomenon is anything new, consider this exchange between Adlai Stevenson and an admirer of his during the 1952 campaign:

     "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!"

     "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

The Right has learned this lesson all too well and, in the decades following 1980, have devolved from a party of Libertarianism, Progressivism and Center-Right Populism to one of hate, bigotry, fear, paranoia, greed, superstition and madness.  Obama realized the pride they take in their ignorance but thus far he does not seem to have any ideas how to confront the problem.  Nor do I.  When it comes to separating the dumb from the Right, I have no idea where to even begin.  And don't get me wrong: I only want their votes, not their voice.  The Right got their vote by giving these fools actual representation.  That was the ultimate example of putting party and personal interests above those of the country.  Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. But there sure are a LOT of them, aren't there?  And we can't fix anything if we don't WIN ELECTIONS.  So what to do?

For once? I'm stumped.  Good luck, America.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friday Fun (a day early): Does the Right have no shame, or just no self-awareness?

Note: This is a day early, but I couldn’t wait. It’s a bit high-brow, so the conservatives probably won't ‘get it,’ but if any of you liberals miss any of the jokes I recommend Wikipedia. Please let me know what you think, because I had a lot of fun with this, and if you like it, it might become a semi-regular item.


Lately, the more I listen to people like Limbaugh and Beck these days, the more I come to realize that the Right is not only lacking any good ideas or real leadership, but they seem to lack any sense of shame as well. Well... It may not be SHAME they lack, so much as SELF-AWARENESS. It seems every time one of the idiots criticize the Democrats, to me it sound like they're describing themselves.

To speak a little further on the matter, I gathered together a panel of ex-Presidents to see what they might have to say about Obama’s first year or so in office, assuming they had about the same level of self awareness as our present-day conservatives do.

Like Smallpox, George. Like Smallpox.  Just go away, will you?  At least Franklin Pierce had the decency to drink himself to death after his failed Presidency.  What have you done?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bob Marshall - Have you heard this guy?

I wasn't planning on postign twice today, but I had to deal with THIS.

Apparenlty Bob Mashall (-R, what else?), a Virginia State legislator from Manassass, thinks that disabled children are God's punnishment for abortions.  His exact words:

"The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.  In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest."

I see.
So, putting aside that my wife, who happens to be the only woman I've been with in my entire life, has never had an abortion, your explanation for my two autistic sons is... arbortion.
God is punnishing me.  What a laugh.  Considering the love I have for them, I'd say that your God would have to do a lot better than that if he's trying to drive the point home.  (But go figure... What do expect from a diety who's spoken almost exclusively through madmen over the centuries?)  What's more, if your God in fact did intend to punnish me by putting this incredible burden on my children then I say that your God is not a just God.  And your God is, in fact, beneath me.
Finially, it occures to me that our elected officials sevre us.  They are elected to represent us.  If I lived in Virginia, apparently this pious fraud feels that my family, and my children are not part of his constituency.  You know... makred and curesed by God and all.
Take you Old Testament, magical-thinking, superstitious, medieval nonsense and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS.
No God that exsists in the minds of people today (since that's pretty much the only place God exsists anyway) exacts his vengence upon the mother and father by giving them handicapped children.  I thought the last bastion of that kind of cruel, insulting nonsense was currently breathing it's last gasp in fucking INDIA.  Maybe that kind of thinking is acceptable on a remote pacific island, as yet undiscovered by man, or deep in the Amazon amoungst illiterate tribesmen, but this is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and the year is 2010.
And you, sir, are not fit to serve, in any capacity, in the governing of any part of this great nation.
I would hope your next child or grandchild gets cancer, but alas I am a far more just MAN that your GOD is, apparenlty.  As for you?  There is no penalty is too great, no misfortune too severe that may befall you that would earn you my sympathy.  My children are not a curse. And I will never forgive you for calling them such.

Here's an online petition calling for his resignation.  I've signed it, and I encourage everyone to.

WHAT sixty votes?

I’d like to thank the newly minted Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown for supporting the Democratic Senate’s Jobs Bill, breaking ranks along with two of the usual suspects, Maine’s Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and also Missouri’s Kit Bond and Ohio’s George Voinovich, two guys who, since they’re retiring, have nothing to lose and I guess figured that they may as well help actually govern the country a little instead of following the Party strategy of making sure that absolutely nothing good happens, public interest be damned. So to those five: Thank You. To our spineless leader, Harry Reid? Gee, you got four more votes than you actually needed. You think maybe you didn’t have to gut the bill to quite the extent that you did?

There is one thing I want to point out however, in DEFENSE of Reid. A lot has been made of the whole 60-votes thing. And I said awhile back that I didn’t think Brown’s election really changed anything. I’ll stand by that, and here’s why: The Democrats NEVER HAD 60 votes! And by that I don’t mean that the Blue Dogs weren’t on board, or they didn’t have enough party unity, or anything like that. I mean that at no point were there ever actually 60 Democrats in the Senate! Check it out…

Here’s the timeline: In January, 2009, the numbers in the Senate were officially 59 Democrats to 41 Republicans. That's how the 2008 election worked out, if you remember. And don’t forget: The Minnesota Governor refused to seat Al Franken. So really, they started out 58-41, with one open seat, by the official party count. Now… on April 28, 2009, Arlen Specter switched parties. This brought the tally to 59-40 in favor of the Democrats, but Franken still wasn’t seated, so no 60 votes. Finally, on July 7, 2009 Franken was seated. And the tally was 60-40… for 49 days, until Senator Kennedy died on August 25. So… they had “60 Votes” for all of seven weeks, and that’s before you take into account that the ailing Senator Kennedy hadn’t been present for a vote in the Senate since summer of 2008 – a full year before his death. By any practical measure, the numbers in the Senate were never better than 59-40, even with Franken seated and after Specter defected. At no point did the Democrats ever NOT need at least one Republican vote to reach cloture. And now, with Brown’s election? Well, the numbers are 59-41, and they need… ding-ding-ding!: ONE REPUBLICAN VOTE, just as they always have, to achieve cloture.

And they just got FIVE. So I still like our chances, moving forward.


And BTW, I sincerely hope that President Obama does to the obstructing Republicans what President Bush did to US so many times, and just makes recess appointments for every single remaining unmanned post that the Republicans continue to block nominees for. The Right are doing their best to make sure that the Democrats never have a chance to accomplish anything. Well, they had their chance, and it’s high time that Obama leads the Democrats and they show the country what GOOD Government is really capable of.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two big political shifts, both having to do with Race

I am the last President of the United States.” ~James Buchanan, after the secession of South Carolina. (He was wrong, but he’d be the last Democrat for 28 years to win an election!.)

"We have just lost the South for a generation." ~Lyndon Johnson, after signing the Civil Rights act. (Who would have thought he was actually being optimistic?!)

Historians sometimes break our political history down into 5 or 6 major chapters. The ‘first party system’ usually ends with the collapse of the Federalist Party. The ‘second party system’ ends with the collapse of the National-Republicans, and the change of the Democratic - Republican Party to the Democratic Party. The third system usually ends with the collapse of the Whigs. The fourth system is marked by the civil war, and the rise of the Republicans to National Prominence and a period of decline for the Democrats. After that it gets a little blurry. The ‘fifth party system’ usually starts with FDR and the New Deal and the Democrats return to prominence, and if so, the 6th party system started with the passing of Civil Rights, and the geographic shifts that ensued. Some may say that we are entering a 7th party system, I don’t really know, and only history will tell.

Personally I don’t care much about the collapse of the Federalists, National-Republicans or Whigs. I just see those events as one Conservative Party after another being torn apart by some of its members wanting to adapt and become more progressive while the rest insist on party purity and steadfastly cling to the old ways, alienating the progressives and dividing the moderates. Three times now this has led to the dissolution of the conservative party, followed by the eventual abandonment (or redefinition) of “the old ways.” This is inevitable because the world keeps moving on, with our without the Conservative’s consent. And we may finally be seeing History repeat itself yet again, as the Tea-Baggers tear the Republican party asunder like a pack of rabid, starving cannibals. But whatever. I don’t see the cyclic demise of each successive party of luddites to be anything particularly profound. The way I see it, there have been only two real game-changers in American Presidential politics, and the both largely involve RACE: The Civil War and Civil Rights. Here’s my ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of American Presidential History that explains why.

The Federalists (F) started out well enough. George Washington twice ran unopposed and was probably the most popular President in American History. He warned against the formation of actual parties, but perhaps was being too optimistic regarding human nature. His Vice-President, John Adams (F), then carried the flag, but Adams, as great a founding father as he was, was no Washington when it came to the Presidency. He lost his bid for re-election and the Democratic-Republicans (henceforth referred to as just ‘Democrats’ or (D)) came into Prominence. Thomas Jefferson (D) won two terms, James Madison (D) won two terms and James Monroe (D) won two terms. (In the modern vernacular, the Score is now D-6, F-3.) In Monroe’s bid for reelection, he ran unopposed, as the Federalist party had by now utterly collapsed.

From their ashes came the National-Republicans, led by John Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams(NR). Now… technically he LOST the 3-way race for the next Presidency. Andrew Jackson (D) not only had more popular votes, but more ELECTORAL votes as well! But as he didn’t have a majority, so he was not declared the winner. Henry Clay then basically GAVE all of his votes to Adams (NR) in what has become known as the “corrupt bargain” and Adams won. It wouldn’t last however. As a President, Quincy Adams (NR) was not well liked, and he’d be the only National Republican to hold office. Jackson (D) went on to win twice, and his VP, Martin Van Buren (D) also won. Dem’s now lead 9 to 4.

Unfortunately, Van Buren’s Presidency was awful. And from the ashes of the now defunct National-Republican party came the Whigs. William Henry Harrison (W) beat Van Buren (D) but died three weeks after taking office. His term was served out by John Tyler (W). But Tyler was so bad, the Whigs wouldn’t let him run again. So James Polk (D) won a term, then retired and dies himself a month after his term ended. With no one ready to replace him, the Democrats lost to Zachary Taylor (W) who ALSO died in office (what’s with these sickly Whig Presidents?) and had his term finished out by Millard Fillmore. HE was so awful the Whig’s didn’t let HIM run again (What’s with these unpopular Whig VICE Presidents?) but lacking a suitable candidate, they went on to lose twice more, once to Franklin Pierce (D) and then to James Buchanan (D) and fell apart as a party.

At this point the Dem’s lead in election victories by a score of 12 to 6. Not only have there been two Democratic victories for every loss, but they’ve outlasted three separate opposition parties! Unfortunately Pierce (D) and Buchanan (D) were SO BAD that it was under their watchful eyes that the country begin to tear itself apart, and the groundwork was laid for the Civil War. Now… the reason this was such a game-changer was that the Democrats were more prominent in the South, while the newly formed Republicans, lead by Abraham Lincoln (R), and having grown from the ashes of the Federalists, National-Republicans and now Whigs, were more prominent in the North… who, of course, won the war. This was a game changer for our national politics BIG TIME. For the next half century or so the Republicans were all but untouchable: Lincoln (R) won two terms, Ulysses Grant (R) won two term, then Rutherford Hayes (R) followed by James Garfield (R), who was assassinated and had Arthur (R) finish his term. Grover Cleveland (D) managed to finally win a term for the Democrats, then lost to Benjamin Harrison (R), but then won a send term. MicKinley (R) then won two terms followed by Teddy Roosevelt (R) who finished MicKinley’s second term after he was assassinated, and won re-election in his own right. He was followed by his protégé and Vice President, William Taft (R). THAT was the political fallout after the Civil War: After leading 12 to 6 before the war, the Democrats trail 11 to 2 after it!

Woodrow Wilson (D) finally managed to win two consecutive terms, and was the first Democrat since Andrew Jackson to do so! But as I pointed out a couple of posts back, his first election was a bit of a fluke. He was then followed by Warren Harding (R), Calvin Coolidge (R) and Herbert Hoover (R). So for the ~90 years following the Civil War, the Republicans won the Presidency FOURTEEN TIMES to the Democrats’ four.

The great depression, however, broke the Republican’s winning streak: Four victories for Franklin Roosevelt (D), followed by one for Truman (D), two for Dwight Eisenhower (R), then one each for John Kennedy (D) and Lyndon Johnson (D). That’s an 8 to 2 run for the Democrats, but I actually don’t see the Great Depression or even the Second World War as a real game-changer. Some bad luck and one lousy president (Hoover) followed by the successes of Roosevelt and Truman did put the Democrats back on the map, but the main reason I don’t consider this much of a game changer in that from 1876 to 1964, the Republicans still dominated the in the North and the Democrats still Dominate in the south. The regional trends remained largely intact and do not start to shift in earnest until the 1960’s. The shifts actually start in 1960, and were fully visible by 1968, so I’m going to use 1964 as the dividing line. Because since 1964, the regional shift have been pronounced.

First, the Northeast and Southwest have practically flip-flopped. From 1860 to 1960, the Northeast (defined here as: Connecticut, Delaware, The District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) voted Republican 69% of the time. Take out FDR’s four national landslides and that number grows to 77%. Take out the 1912 election, and the split Republican ballot, and it grows to 79% of the time. From 1964 through to today, these same states have voted Republican only 33% of the time. Take out Reagan’s ’84 landslide and Nixon’s ’72 landslide ad that number drops to just 23%. And, to be fair, if you than also then take out Johnson’s ’64 landslide, the number goes back up to 25%. So in elections that were actually competitively contested, the region went from going 79% Republican to 75% Democratic.

The Southeast saw the opposite trend. From 1860 to 1960, the Southeast (defined here as: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North , Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia) went to the (or “a”) Democratic Candidate 81% on the time. Even removing FDR’s four landslides, in which he won EVERY STATE in the region, FOUR YEARS IN A ROW, the Democrat STILL wins 77% of the time. Take out Wilson in ’12 and the States still go Democratic 76% of the time. From 1964 until today however, these states have gone to Democrats only 24% of the time. And other than Obama, who pulled out Flordia, North Carolina and Virginia, the ONLY Democrats to win any of these States in this period were Southerner themselves: Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton! Take out Johnson’s ’64 National Landslide and that number drops to 21%. Take out Reagan’84 and Nixon ’72, (both of whom won every state) and you’re back up to 25%. So a Region that had gone Democratic 69% of the time in competitive elections drops to just 25%. Or from 76% for the Democrats, to 75% against. (I can’t say “Republican” due to Independent Wallace getting some states in ’68, but they still went against the Democrats all the same, and clearly over civil rights when you’ve got George Wallace winning.) It really striking when you look at a state like Alabama: From 1876 to 1960 the only time a Democrat didn’t with was in 1948, when it went to “Dixiecrat” Strom Thurmond. Since 1964 the only Democrat to win was Carter in ’76. Johnson lost it in ’64, despite winning a National Landslide, and despite the Democrats’ near 100 year dominance of the state, and other than ’76 (and ’68 when it was carried by George Wallace) it’s gone Republican every year.

The Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio &Wisconsin) had been a Republican mainstay, going Democratic just 27% of the time from 1860 to 1960, and just 15% if you take out FDR and Wilson’12. Since 1964, it’s been the definitive battleground region, split exactly 50/50. (Although is 54% Democratic if you take out Reagan’84, Nixon’72 and Johnson’64) About the only two states in the region that have had any dominance by either party are Minnesota, which only went Republican with Nixon in ’72, and was the only STATE not carried by Reagan in ’84; and Indiana, which until Obama last year had not been won by a Democrat since Johnson in ’64.

The Mountain States (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah & Wyoming) had always been Republican strongholds, and have largely remained that way or, if anything, have gotten more so: They went 39% Democratic from 1860 to 1960, and just 17% if you take out FDR and Wilson’12. Since 1964, they gone Democratic just 18% of the time, 9% when you ignore Reagan’84, Nixon’72 and Johnson ’64.

The Pacific states underwent a shift, but it was later, and it really excludes Alaska, which votes more like a Mountain state: Republican every year, except for Johnson in ’64. But looking at just California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, they’ve gone to the Democrats 100% since 1992. Prior to that, they went Democrat just 28% of the time from 1964 to 1988, and going back to 1860, these states went Democratic just 30% of the time, 17% if your exclude FDR and Wilson’12. The one thing the may have had keeping them Republican after 1964, despite being more liberal that their Mountain neighbors, may have been the four candidacies by former California Governors Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. It’s also reasonable to assume that they were farther removed from the civil rights issues, and thus in and of itself this was not a factor in their ideological drift.

So there you go: Racial issues flipped the COUNTRY from being predominantly Democratic to predominantly Republican, following the Civil War and shifted or reversed key regional voting patterns following the passing of Civil Right legislation.

To further illustrate the point, the following charts show the political leangings of each region, as I've deifned them.  The % reported on the chart is the % of States in the region that went to the (or 'a') Democratic candidate in the time period defined.  Red for Republican, Blue for Democrat.

Here's what the country looks like, pre-civil war:
Although counted in the Northest, New York and Pensylvania were really battleground states.

Here's the dramatic shift following the Civil War, and through the Civil Rights era:

From 1860 to 1960 the Republican's dominated every region except the Southeast.  Following the Civil Right Era however, it looks like this:

Northeast and Southest flip, Pacific moves to the left, and the Midwest essentially determines the winner.  (Minnesota and Indiana are the only states in the region that consistenlty support one party or the other.)

And if you are completely insane found this interesting, here is a far more detailed animation (not mine!) that shows the margin of victory, by party, by district, from 1856 through 2004.  It's pretty wild to watch the shifting party allegences in the 1960's.  Also, some of the landslides I've excluded will jump right out at you.  Others will look more evenly distributed, but I'm going by Electoral Votes, winner take all, in my analysis.  And there were some ELECTORAL landslides that we a lot closer in the POPULAR vote. 

Anyway, I hope you didn't fall asleep found this interesting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

SILVER STAR AWARDS, February, 2010

Normally these posts are call "Gold Star" Awards, but this month we're on the Hall of Fame election of 1945.  Last month was '42, but I'm skipping the years in which no one was inducted.  And in '45, only the Veterans Committee voted anyone in.  So this month there aren't any Gold Star's going out.  Only Silvers... and 1 Tin! LOL.  So without further ado...

The Roger Bresnahan Silver Star #4: The Dictatorship.com

The site hasn't been updated in awhile, but it's still well worth checking out.  Going waaay beyond just Hilter, Stalin and Mao, they are a concise source of "everything you ever wanted to know about the men who helped make the 20th century the bloodiest on record."  It's gets a Silver because it's far more satirical than political, but still it serves two noble purposes: It reminds us of history, so that maybe we won't be doomed to repeat it; and it shows, definitively, just how absurd all these "fascist," "socialist," "dictator," "nazi" accusations are that the Right Wing Talking assHeads keep leveling at President Obama.

The Dan Brouthers Silver Star #5: Seanbaby's Super Friends Page

Another old favorite of mine that been inactive for several years.  If you're over the age of 35, chances are you spent at least some of your Saturday Mornings growing up watching the Superfriends.  (And if you're like me, you might have been wearing your Batman or Superman Underoos while you did!)  Looking back though, my sense of nostalgia is dimmed somewhat by just how utterly, mindnumbly stupid the show really was!  (And that's coming from a HUGE fan of the classic / Silver Age DC Comics!)  Anyway, Seanbaby does a marvelously hilarious job, writing up profiles on each charecter.  Take a look.  By the time I was done with the site I'd been laughing so hard, I'd felt as if I'd been dong situps the whole time.  (Note: Not entirely safe for the office, if you know what I mean!)

The Fred Clarke Silver Star #6: Item Not as Described

...Where "free" is a four-letter word! LOL.  I'm a  bit disappointed about this.  He decided to quit on it just as he was hitting his stride.  Oh well.  This blog highlights various Craiglist ads where people try to pawn off their most disgusting and/or useless garbage, the only good point of which is usually that it's "free."  I mean, yeah, you'll have to rent a truck and buy some power tools to even MOVE most of this junk, and it's not like any of it is anything anybody would actually want anyway,  but hey: It's FREE!  So give it a read.  It's great stuff.  I laughed so hard at some of the items, I was in pain afterwards!

The Jimmy Collins Silver Star #7: I-am-bored.com

Sites for when your bored!  What could be better than that?  Dozens of new sites added every day.  Videos, Games, Articles, Wierd Stuff, Funny Stuff... GREAT STUFF!  I particularly enjoy the Games section.  The Games themselves are usually pretty lame, but even the worst of them are a fun way to kill some time while you're hold, and about 1 in 10 are pretty addictive.  Anyway, if you're ever bored, it's a great place to visit!

The Ed Delahanty Silver Star #8: Baseball-Reference.com

As I might have mentioned, and as you may have gathered by the somewhat unique format of these monthly "Hall-of-Fame" posts, I have a passion for Baseball that borders on mental illness.  I can quote archaic statistics and baseball history, answering trivia questions with an almost Rain Man-like uncanniness.  And THIS SITE is where I have spent the majority of my wasted time over the past 10-12 years or so.  And every year it seems liek they add a new dimension to the depth of information they possess.  It's incredible.  Useless to non-baseball fans, of course, but even a passive fan will appreciate the level of info available here.  (And the real stat-heads, like me, should be thoroughly satisfied.)

The Hugh Duffy Silver Star #9: Menage a 3

MA3 might just be my favorite webcomic right now.  It's sort of a cross between Three's Company and a Harem Anime.  Although entirely comedic, I should warn you that it's also pretty sexually explicit. But, if you can get past the first issue the rest is more tame.  Sexualized, yes, with a big time-focus on, shall we say... heteroflexible humor, but the focus is far more often on humor through insinuation and misunderstandings than any actual sex.  It also touches on Comic Books, Cosplay, Doujin, Punk, Harem-Anime and other popular sub-cultures.  Overall, it's a riot.  Popcorn?

The Hughie Jennings Silver Star #10: YU&ME: Dream

Another Webcomic, and another one with homosecual themes.  (I don't think this is the start of a trend, howver! LOL)  Beyond having a Lesbian main charecter, YU&ME: Dream shares very little with the previuous entry.  YU&ME is a touching, moving, funny and suspensful tale of girl who spends as much time pursuing true love in dreams as she does in "reality." (But then... what really IS reality?)  It's a fantastic read and sureal journey with varying artistic styles throughout.  (And Rosalarian really is an amazing artist.)  Like all webcomics, I recommend starting it from the beginning.

The King Kelly Silver Star #11: Anime News Network

If I have a passion that comes anywhere close to my interest in Baseball, it would Anime.  (It was actually a toss-up all those months ago whether this blog would be about Anime, Baseball or Liberal Politics.  So, yeah... I'm pretty into it.  In any, I've found ANN to be, by far, the most extensive, definitive source of information about Anime anywhere on the 'net.  I expecially like the 1-through-10 ratings that registered users (I'm "Niceguy," although I haven't been active in ages) can enter in for the ones they've seen. The site tabulated these rating and inlcudes a series of top-10 and top-50 lists for the bests and worsts.  The amount of info on each individula title is a little shallow, but the number of titles tracked in their databse is staggering.  And their forum is pretty active, if your looking for more info.

The Jim O'Rourke Tin Star: Conservapedia

Ah... Good 'ol Coservapedia.  I've bashed them myself a bit over the past few months, and there's no shortage of sites criticiszing, mocking, and outright parodying them from both the left and the right.  It's the encyclopedia specificlly for people who don't want to actually learn aything, but who need a legitimate looking resource to back up their preconcieved notions, magical thinking, prejudices and warped world view.  Put simply, it's brain-candy for conservatives, and even the most ardent right-wingers consume in extreme moderation.  Seriously? It's not taken seriously by anyone other than Andrew Shitfly and his delusional band of facsists editors.  It's SO BAD that I proudly award it this blog's first non-precious metal Star, named in honor of Jim O'Rourke, arguably the greatest home-run hitter of the 1800's... which is about as far as the Shlafly world view has progresssed.

Thanks again for humoring me.  I do hope you check some of these out and let me know what you think.  Since onle the last one is overtly political, I'm really curious to know what y'all think.


For reference, previous inductees include:
Ty Cobb's GOLD STAR #1: Media Matters for America
Babe Ruth's GOLD STAR #2: The Skeptic's Dictionary
Honus Wagner's GOLD STAR #3: Snopes
Walter Johnson GOLD STAR #4: Armchair Subversive
Christy Mathewson GOLD STAR #5: Humanism by Joe
Cy Young's GOLD STAR #6: The American Prospect
Nap Lajoie's GOLD STAR #7: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Tris Speaker's GOLD STAR #8: Rational Wiki
Pete Alexander's GOLD STAR #9: Republican Offenders
George Sisler's GOLD STAR #10: Newshounds
Willie Keeler's GOLD STAR #11: Newscorpse
Eddie Collins' GOLD STAR #12: Wikipedia
Lou Gehrig's GOLD STAR #13: FactCheck.org
Rogers Hornsly's GOLD STAR #14: Election-Projection
- and -
Hoss Radbourne's SILVER STAR #1: FAILBlog
Cap Anson's SILVER STAR #2: Some Grey Bloke
Buck Ewing's SILVER STAR #3: Sore Thumbs

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

National Journal agrees with me! LOL

"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."
                ~Jean-Luc Picard

LOL.  It seems that the National Journal Online agrees with me.  I came accross this article this morning, after having written what I did the other day regarding the self-defeating nature of the Tea Party movement.  Give it a read.  They talk about ten races where the Tea Party "could make a difference." Ten.  And do know what they DON'T describe, even once?  ANY races involving a strong but potentially vulnerable DEMOCRAT that could be unseated by a pationate and fresh face. 

What I DO see, in every example, is a Primary Challenge to the incumbant Republican; or a Primary Challenge to the Republican Party's nominated or endorsed front-runner in the case of open seats; or a potential Third Part Candidate in a Race against a vulnerable Democrat that would otherwise be an easy victory for Republicans, save for the potentially split vote of the Right.  In NONE of those cases did the Journal offer a single example where a Tea Party Candidate or a Tea-Bag Republican will actually HELP their cause.

I love it. 

One lump, or two?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Danger of Ideologues -or - “How stupid is the tea party?”

Politics is the art of compromise. And the building of a successful political party depends on building coalitions, some of which may not always “play nice” together. Hence the expression, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” One example of this, and to their credit, would be the Republicans (since 1980) managing to keep the Libertarians and Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists, two groups with largely mutually exclusive agendas, under the same tent. Of course they did this by appealing to the greed of the libertarians and the stupidity of the Funny-Mentalists: We’ll use gay rights and abortion to get the bible-humpers to vote for us, against their own economic interests, and then you [the rich Libertarians] can keep all the money!

Another example came from a conservative friend of mine. She was a school-teacher, and thus required to join the union. She was horrified to see that some of her union dues were being contributed to various gay and lesbian advocacy groups. She couldn’t understand what the benefit of that would be to her job or the union. So I explained to her: Democrats support unions and the LBGT community supports Democrats. Hence the ‘strange’ alliance. But neither example is at all surprising, since to win the majority vote of over 300 MILLION people, you need more than just one wedge issue or one coalition. The Funny-Mentalists ALONE couldn’t win a pie-eating contect and neither could the Rich Bastards Libertarians. But TOGETHER they’ve managed to become the dominant force fucking up American Politics and subverting the U.S. Constitution for the past 30 years!

And this is why the Tea Party is so stupid: They can only hurt their own cause. They can only help the party that’s LEAST like them, ideologically. And I’ll go out on a limb right now and predict that the more prominent the tea party becomes, the better the Democrats will do in the Mid-Terms and the 2012 election. That’s not to say that they won’t lose any seats. They will. It’s inevitable. But I’ll guarantee you there will several seats (and possibly the Presidency) that the Republicans could have won, but will lose due to the actions of the uber-Right, the RINO-Hunters and the Tea-Baggers.

The most recent example of this was the recent NY-23 race for the House. Democrat Bill Owens won with 73,137 votes. Republican (the incumbent party since the 1850’s) Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the race, but still got 8,582 votes – as a lame duck candidate! “Conservative” Party candidate Doug Hoffman got 69,553. Now… combine the votes for the “Republicans” and the “Conservatives” and you’ve got 78,535 – not only a victory, but a larger margin of victory than Owns had over Hoffman. Now… maybe Scozzafava wouldn’t have gotten EVERY ONE of Hoffman’s votes, but he only would have needed 64,592, about 93% of them, to win. And I don’t think you’d really see much more than 7% of the “Conservative” (meaning ‘clearly to the Right of the Republicans’) vote going to the Democratic candidate!

Another example that hits closer to home with Liberals would be Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election. Ralph Nader (someone generally perceived as more Liberal than Vice President Al Gore) got 97,488 votes in a State that George W. Bush (officially) won by only 537 votes! If Gore gets just 50.3% of the Nader Vote in Florida alone, he wins the state and he’s our 43rd President, Supreme Court be damned.* And considering how few Nader votes would have likely gone to Bush, it’s pretty clear that Gore would have won Florida decisively. And Nader’s political cause was hardly served better by eight years of a George W. Bush presidency!*

But I want to show you one more historic example, just in case you’re still not convinced: The 1912 Presidential Election.

In 1912 the Republican Party was in turmoil, much the way it is now. Although they had a conservative incumbent President in William Howard Taft, the progressive wing, led by former President Theodore Roosevelt was feeling increasingly disenfranchised and broke off, forming the Bull-Moose Party. (Possibly the only Party name stupider than “Tea,” except for maybe the “Know-Nothing” Party - ironically yet another Whig/Republican offshoot! LOL.) As history played out, here’s what the electoral map looked like in 1912:

Democrat Woodrow Wilson won in LANDSLIDE, 435 to 88 to 8.

BUT… Here’s what might have happened, if the Republicans hadn’t imploded that year. Let’s assume they managed to agree on a Taft/Roosevelt or Roosevelt/Taft ticket, and then combine those votes, state by state. Then, just to be fair, and to try and compensate for the fact that not EVERY Roosevelt voter would have been a Taft/Roosevelt voter, we’ll go ahead and give all of Socialist candidate, Eugene Debs’ votes to Woodrow Wilson. Here’s what the map would look like under that scenario:

Woodrow Wilson now LOSES 285 to 246. A close and hard fought campaign, to be sure, but one the Republican clearly had a good shot at winning by any interpretation. But by splitting the vote in so many states, they ended up losing in a landslide. The only state that would have flipped to Wilson was California, which was much less of a factor back then than it is now. Wilson and Roosevelt ran neck and neck, hence the split electoral vote. But Eugene Debs cleaned President Taft’s clock there. So the 174 vote margin (wow!) that Roosevelt won by, becomes a 75,113 vote margin of victory for Wilson, assuming he’s given all of the Debs vote. But that’s the only gain for Wilson. Twenty other states would have move into the Republican’s column, however, and they’d have won.

And, just in case I’ve got you wondering, George H. Bush would have won reelection in 1992 by getting just over 66% of the Perot vote, nationally. In fact, he doesn’t even need that much: Between 52% and 66% of the Perot Vote would have been enough to flip Colorado (59%), Connecticut (65%), Georgia (52%), Iowa (66%), Kentucky (62%), Maine (64%), Montana (55%), Nevada (55%), New Hampshire (53%), New Jersey (58%), Ohio (54%) and Wisconsin (60%) and give George H. Bush a second term, by a margin of 274 to 264 Electoral Votes over Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Perot no doubt took some votes away from Clinton as well, but given the numbers involved above, saying that Perot screwed things up for Bush is definitely fair.

Also, to answer your next question, Bob Dole would have needed about 98% of the Perot vote, nationally, to defeat Clinton in 1996; and that’s much more of a stretch. So, I wouldn’t say Perot was a factor in ’96 the way he was in ‘92. But who knows? Maybe Two-Term Vice President Dan Quayle would have been atop the ticket in ’96, if Perot hadn’t botched it up for him four years earlier!

And also, just in case you’re almost as mentally ill as I am wondering: George W. Bush wins reelection against Democrat John Kerry in 2004, even if you award EVERY opposition party’s - thats Nader’s and everyone else’s - votes to Kerry. And some of those votes were for parties to the RIGHT of Bush. So Kerry has absolutely no one to blame but himself.

About the only time a prominent third-party candidate hasn’t screwed things up for the front runner was 1968. In ’68, former Vice President Richard Nixon soundly defeated incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey, despite a strong showing in the South by Segregationist American Independent candidate George Wallace. And remember: For that to happen, not only did the incumbent (Lyndon Johnson) have to decide on his own not to seek reelection, something that had happened only one other time in U.S. history (James Knox Polk was the only other) but the leading candidate within his party ended up getting assassinated just weeks before the Convention! And I’m pretty sure that’s NEVER happened before or since! So that’s two events, one unprecedented and one that had happened only one before in just under 200 years, that had to happen in order to bring about that electoral situation. And that, combined with the national, ideological shifts that started happening in ’68 (which I’ll probable write about next) makes it pretty much impossible to legitimately debate any “what if’s” about the 1968 election.

In any case (in every case) I think the point is clear: The Teabagger Party, the RINO Hunters and all other manner of loud, angry, dangerous and scary right-wingers can only take votes away from the REPUBLICAN candidate. The Democrats will get whatever votes they would have anyway (*assuming Ralph Nader’s learned his fucking lesson!) and what’s left will either go the Republican or get split 2 or more ways. So REST EASY, Liberals! The Tea-Baggers can only attract those who were going to vote against us anyway! And just remember, should things not work out quite the way the Right plans over the next two years: You heard it here first! LOL


* Just a personal Note: As much as I hate George W. Bush, I truly hate Ralph Nader MORE for delivering the Presidency to him! I hate Ralph Nader so much I can taste in my balls! If I ever meet George Bush on the street, I’ll still probably shake his hand and maybe even ask for an autograph. (After all, as much as I criticize Ronald Reagan, I still have, and cherish, the letter I received from him back when I was seven, in response to the ‘get well’ card I made for him and sent to him after he got shot by John Hinckley.) But if I ever meet Ralph Nader on the street, I’m probably  going to punch him in the face as hard as I can, and as often as any bystanders present will let me! And that’s coming from a guy who’s worked in the field of automotive safety for the past thirteen years! It’s unbelievable how many things got so fucked up just because that uncompromising asshole [Nader] flunked Political Science 101.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Who does better with the economy?

The economy is something the right likes to harp about all the time but, just like everything else, really has no credibility on. I guess the thinking goes that since all the successful CEO’s are Republican (not true, but whatever), and they all know how to run COMPANIES (like, you know… Enron, General Motors and Citibank?) then the Republicans MUST be better at “running the economy.” Couple problems with that… First off all, the vast majority of Republican politicians, like most politicians in general, are LAWYERS, not businessmen. Second, a company is to the economy what today’s weather is to the climate – the two are related, but a thorough understanding of one or the other requires a completely different skill set. (Go figure that they aren’t on the right side of the global warming debate either!)

Now… it should be clear why these "successful" CEO’s "all" vote Republican: Republican generally don’t put as many regulations on industries and prefer the lesse-faire approach. That this approach has ALWAYS ended in disaster is apparently lost on them, but the CEO’s seem to think they’ll make more money under Republicans.

But will the economy do better?  (Will we keep our jobs? Will our investments grow?)

Let's take a look at how the economy has performed under Democrats and Republicans using two of the most common economic indicators: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poores 500 Index. Here’s how the experiment will work. We’ll hypotyhetically put $1000.00 on the market when one party takes the White House, sell it when they’re voted out, and put it all back in when the regain power. We’ll then calculate what you’d have today if you’d done this over the years. The two strategies will be called “Betting on the Dem’s” and “Betting on the Pub’s.”

I was able to find DIJA data going back to 1900. We’ll do the Pub’s first. The idea is that you’ll BUY udner McKinnley, SELL with Wilson, BUY with Harding, SELL with Roosevelt, BUY with Eisenhower, SELL with Kennedy, etc… through to the present day, when you would SELL when Obama took office. And I’m going to show 6 different scenarios, depending on which President you want to start with. Also, it should be noted that I’m using the Jan-1 closing data, rather than the day they actually took office. This is because that’s the only data I have. If I can find some more precise data, date-wise, I’ll re-calculate it. Here is the data I’m using:

Date:_____DJIA: _____Incoming (Incumbant) Presdient:

Using this data, and calculating the number of shares and values you’d have at each stage, if you used the “Bet on the Pub’s” strategy, starting with McKinley, your $1000 would be worth $5311. today. If you started under Harding, your $1000 would be worth $4104 today. If you started under Eisenhower, your $1000 would be worth $5794 today. If you started under Nixon, your $1000 would be worth $2593 today. If you started under Regan, your $1000 would be worth $2568 today. And for the poor saps who thought they’d bet on George W. Bush, their $1000 would be now worth only $735. Now… these returns account ONLY for the growth under Republicans. If you figure out the number of year involved (starting date through 1/1/2009) and calculate the annual rate of return [ (Final value / Initial Value) ^ (1 / number of years) -1 ] you get the following, based on which President you start with:

McKinnley: 1.5%
Harding: 1.6%
Eisenhower: 3.2%
Nixon: 2.4%
Reagan: 3.4 %
Bush: -3.8%

Here’s how “Betting on the Dem’s” performed: Starting with Wilson, your $1000 would be worth $28,089 today. Starting with Roosevelt, your $1000 would be worth $34,341 today. Starting with Kennedy, your $1000 would be worth $6038 today. Starting with Carter, your $1000 would be worth $4140 today. Starting with Clinton, your $1000 would be worth $4171 today, and starting with Obama, your $1000 would be worth $1268 today.

Figuring the yields the same way, (only going through to the TODAY, rather than ending on 1/1/09) you get this for the Dem’s:

Wilson: 3.5%
Roosevelt: 4.7%
Kennedy: 3.7%
Carter: 4.4%
Clinton: 8.7%
Obama: 23.7%

That’s right – the WORST CASE scenario under the “Betting on the Dem’s,” (Wilson, 3.5%) still gives a better return than the BEST CASE scenario under “Betting on the Pub’s,” (Reagan, 3.4%) So according to the DJIA, the economy not only does better under Democrats, it does much, MUCH better!

But who knows… MAYBE the DJIA has a liberal bias or something. So how about the S&P 500? Now, the S&P only goes back to the 1950’s. So we’ll start with Eisenhower. Here’s the raw market-close data:

Date:_____S&P:___Incoming (Incumbant) President:

And here we go again. If you started with Eisenhower, your $1000 would be worth $4822 today. If you’d started with Nixon, your $1000 would be worth $2022 today. IF you’d started with Reagan, your $1000 would be worth $2042 today. And the poor sap who bet on George W. Bush would only have $605 left of his initial $1000 investment. Using the same formula, here are the returns, starting with:

Eisenhower: 2.8%
Nixon: 1.8%
Reagan: 2.6%
Bush: -6.1%

Back to the Dems… If you’d started with Kennedy, your $1000 would be worth $8598 today. If you’d started with Carter, your $1000 would be worth $5176 today. If you’d started with Clinton, your $1000 would be worth $4061 today, And betting only on Obama, your $1000 would be worth $1305 today. So, again, using the same formula, here are the returns, starting with:

Kennedy: 4.5%
Carter: 5.1%
Clinton: 8.5%
Obama: 27.0%

AGAIN, the worst case scenario under the “Dem’s” strategy (Kennedy, 4.5%) is STILL better than the best case scenario under the “Pub’s” strategy (Eisenhower 2.8%).

Now... Obama's market is obviously still in play, and so the final Democratic returns can vary.  But as it stands right now… if you want to be better off financially, you’d better do what you can to help the Democrats WIN!

BTW… there are some flaws with this whole exercise. I’m not going to point them out yet, since I’m not particularly motivated to go help the Right bolster their case here. (Plus I'm just curious to see what any of them come up with.) However, I have been challenged with several pretty clever arguments given to me by Conservatives, pointing some of these out in an attempt to undermine this, and the conclusion still stands. Maybe some conservative who knows what’s what will eventually shoot something my way that will stump me. But I’m not holding my breath!

Also, I’d be happy to explain how I calculated any of the above returns, if anyone does their own number-crunching and comes up with a different number. I’ve tried several different methodologies and they all give the same final answer: Dem’s rock, Pub’s are the suck. This is just the one that I felt was most defensible.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

10 Chicks that are DANGEROUS and 10 Women I admire

"Idiot wind, blowin' every time you move your teeth. You're a idiot, babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe." ~Bob Dylan

Not much more of an intro needed.   I will say this, however: Some of the language I use in the first section is a bit stronger than my typical vernacular when refering to women.  Should any female readers wish to take me to task for that, I will grant you that it's fair, but I will not apologize for it.  The difference between me and some mysoginistic jackass?  What pisses me off the MOST about these ten is not only just how much damage they've not only done to this country in general, but women in particular, and the women's movement and the quest for gender equality.  All the same, I know I'm going to get in trouble for some of what follows.  (Particularly my attitude towards porn and softball.)  In any case I hope that you consider the entirity of the picture I'm painting, as well as appreciate why each woman is HERE, and not get too hung up on the smaller details.  But yes, as always I'm keen to discuss whatever strikes you as worthwhile.

So, without further ado, here are ten chicks that I see as nothing but DANGEROUS:

Sarah Palin: If you don’t know why Palin is dangerous yet, you’re definitely in the wrong place. (Not to mention the wrong PLANET.) (I can see Russia from my house! Tee-hee!) I was struck by the recklessness of her recent speech at the tea-bagger convention, in which she put the administration in the position of either appearing weak on terrorism, or having to release classified intel (thus rendering this crucial intel worthless) in order to refute her. She puts party ahead of country and self ahead of party. This country (not to mention the women’s movement) dies a little more every time Caribou Barbie appears in public.

Michelle Bachman: See above. We don’t need the media giving prominence to politician’s who advocate for investigations into members of congress who are “anti-America." We tried that once and, except from the misguided POV of the genetic defectives on this list, it was one of the darkest periods in this country’s political history. She’s an ovarian cancer on the U.S. political system, and would have been well served to try actually reading the Constituion that she swore to uphold when she took office.

Michelle Malkin: She’s almost too stupid to be dangerous, but anyone of Asian decent who thinks that the U.S. putting foreigners or American’s or foreign (non-white) descent into concentration camps without trial is either an acceptable practice or one that could never punish “innocent citizens” shows an ignorance to history and willingness to believe whatever she’s told to such an extent that, given her prominence in the media and blogosphere, qualifies her as truly dangerous.

Ann Coulter: About as friendly as a Hissing Cobra. Like Malkin, almost too stupid to pose any threat. Yet, somehow, the media and the market keep rewarding her hansomely for doing nothing but spewing bile. I’m not sure what ANYONE sees in this walking justification for violence against women, but she just keeps raking in the money, and she just keeps getting more of a platform to spew her filth from. (And, now that I’ve once again mentioned her in my blog, we’ll probably see some more ads for her book or website appearing here. Google has rules against me saying this (so don’t take it seriously) but if you see any, CLICK THE SHIT OUT OF THEM! I love the idea that that bitch’s money will actually be used to sponsor this site! LOL)

Dana Perino: She covered for George W. Bush. That would basically be enough, but she actually appears to believe everthing she said, after lying with every breath she drew. I’m not sure how else you explain the fact that she’s STILL covering for that Texas Shit-Kicker, even off the payroll, and still advocating for his failed policies. And that what makes her dangerous: As a contemporary Bush apologist, she works against establishing the legacy of George W. Bush as an abject failure. She works to keep his policies alive, and his legacy redeemable.

Megyn Kelly: The Blonde Bimbo on Fox news. Puts a pretty face on Fox’s Republican, Corporatist Propaganda. And for some reason there seems to be a positive correlation between how far right of center you are and how glossy-eyed you become at the site of an attractive female. Not that any of these men actually take here seriously. But as long as she keeps doing what she’s told, and doesn’t worry her pretty little head about anything, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Laura Ingraham: Kind of a toned down version of Malkin. And that makes here even more dangerous. Since her rhetoric is less obnoxious than Malkin’s, it’s easier to mistake her for an objective analyst or moderate commentator. Seeing as how she’s presenting the same flawed rationale for the same failed policies of the Right, I’d say that the more moderate demeanor is like a predator's camouflage: it serves to lull the "undecideds" into a sense of complacency, where they will be more open to these ideas.

Phyllis Schlafly: Old news, and really no longer relevant except that her progeny seeks to redefine what knowledge is, how research should be done, and even seeks to change the “unchanging” word of God. Both by proxy and in person, few women have done as much damage to this country in general and to women in particular, than Phyllis Schlafly.  (I mean, she actually campaigned AGAINST equal rights for women!  How fucked up is that?!)

Michelle Duggar: I don’t care how many kids you have. I really don’t. But if you’re having them because God wants lots of Christian soldiers for the upcoming war, then YOU’RE DANGEROUS. And if you don’t believe me, just Google the Quiverfull Movement, of which her family are perhaps the most prominent subscribers. (And of course, which they completely gloss over on that fertility-fest that passes for a television show.)  If your children are nothing more than arrows in God’s quiver? You shouldn’t have ANY. In fact, you should be on meds.

Jenny McCarthy: By pushing phony fears about vaccines, starting with their fraudulent link to Autism, as evidenced by the now discredited Andrew Wakefield, and moving on to nebulous unfounded fears that aren’t even fully articulated, let alone supported by science, McCarthy is the public face of the anti-vaxxer movement that is responsible for a significant reduction in the number of children getting vaccinated against deadly and contagious diseases. This reduction has caused outbreaks of diseases, such as measles, which had been unheard of for decades.  And these outbreaks have lead to the deaths of children. I would be going WAY out on a limb (bein absurd, actually) to put the blood of dead children on the hands of ANY of these other women, but McCarthy is crimson-red up to her elbows. She’s so dangerous, she’s actually caused children to die. All in a superstitious attempt to protect them. As if a professional bimbo can do that better than DOCTORS.

And to give a fuller understanding of who I really am, here are ten women I truly admire:

Professor Temple Grandin: Truly one of my all-time heroes. You learn a LOT about Professor Grandin when you raise children with Autism, as I do. Temple Grandin not only overcame her childhood autism, to the point of achieving a PhD, but used her unique powers of perception to help revolutionize how cattle processors design their shoots, such that the animals would feel less stress going though. To be slaughtered, yes, but in feeling less stress, and thus resisting less, the need for less humane measures to get them though are needed. Since the animals will go through willingly, not only can they be treated more humanly, but the process is actually more efficient. Imagine that! Being considerate to animal rights actually INCREASES the output of the beef industry! At present her designs are used by about 75% of the cattle processing industry. She didn’t just achieve something impressive “considering her disability.” She actually USED her “disability” to completely revolutionize and industry! 

Rachael Maddow: The witty host of the Rachael Maddow Show, which follows Countdown on MSNBC. The epitome of the way things should be done, Maddow manages to give challenging, pointed interviews without appearing abrasive or demeaning in doing so. Like a mainstream media version of John Stewart, she’s displayed a gift for utterly skewering her opponents, all the while exuding none of the acidic tone and rhetoric that comes from the likes of Coulter or Ingraham.

Sarah Haskins:  The host of the Target:Women section on Infomania.  Arguably the funniest, and most enlightening feminist I've ever seen.  This lady just gets it.  Her main focus is on products, advertising, and media aimed at women that all tend to lag about 20 years behind the times, and have little to offer a woman who wants something more out of life than just taking care of the man that takes care of her.  She's funny as hell, and her feminist message rings both so loud and so true that I don't know whetehr to laugh or cry.  (Well, yeah I do, I can't stop laughing at the way she absolutely skewers the way [so many] members of my gender view the members of hers.

Eri Yoshida: I’m guessing most people don’t know about Yoshida. She’s the first woman to ever play professional baseball in Japan. She throws a sidearm knuckleball with a velocity comparable to Red Sox star Pitcher Tim Wakefield’s.  Now... you have to understand… I HATE Softball. To me Softball is an abomination of a great game. It’s Baseball that’s been dumbed-down so that it wouldn't be too hard for the girls. Now… I’ll grant you: The girls took the “easy game” and MADE it hard! I once dated a girl with an underhand fastball that I had NO CHANCE of connecting with. We never measured, but I’d be willing to bet that her underhand fastball was easily within 5 mph of my overhand fastball, and possibly faster. But that only proves my point, that there is no reason for softball to even exist. GIRLS SHOULD PLAY BASEBALL! And they should play of the same field as the boys. Not AGAINST the boys, necessarily, but if someone like Yosida can make the majors, either in Japan or over here, then maybe more girls might realize that there's no reason to keep playing the bastardized version.

Rumiko Takahashi: Another Japanese name that many of you will not be familiar with. Takahashi is a Mangaka – an author and writer of Manga, or Japanese Comic books. The reason that she’s here, beside the fact that I’m a HUGE Anime fan, is that she’s produced three separate franchises over the years that have reached the 100+ episode mark in their runs as Anime: Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½ and InuYasha. All three are considered classics by amine fans in their respective genres: Romantic Comedy, Martial Arts/Harem Comedy, and Fantasy/Medieval Action. But what is most impressive to me is that she achieved this level of a success as a female, writing for a male dominated market, in a male-dominated industry, in a male-dominated country and culture! Way to show ‘em! You GO girl! Takahashi’s success no doubt also played some role in paving the way for companies like the all-female production house, Clamp, and other successful female mangaka who followed.

Arianna Huffington: Personally, I am not a huge fan of the Huffington Post. Although an important source of political information and opinon, and not afraid to even host an occasional conservative voice or two, IMHO it has far too much celebrity fluff, relative to it's serious content. But one cannot deny the web-presence she’s achieved, nor the overall media presence she’s parleyed that into. Depending on your preferred semantics, Huffington has either redefined blogging or merely brought it into prominence. But she was one of the first to show, in an undeniable way that cannot be ignored or dismissed, that the ‘Net can be be a powerful political tool for more than just muckraking Drudgery.

Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins: Two Republican Senators, both from Maine (probably not coincidently,) who still actually remember what the Republican party once stood for. Both moderates constantly top every Righty’s RINO list, and they may be the last two, that haven’t already defected, that have shown a willingness to engage President Obama and negotiate with the Democrats and participate in the legislative process with them. If the Republican party had more members like Snowe and Collins, this COUNTRY (not to mention the Republican Party) would be in much better shape.

Sasha Gray: Yes, a porn actress. And no, I’m not *ahem* familiar with her work. (Seriously, I’m not! LOL) Now granted... Porn is not something that gets much support from ANY quarter. The conservatives find it an easy “family values” targets, while the liberals go after it for “objectifying women” and (their word’s, not mine) “encouraging sexual violence against women.” Personally? I think Larry Flynt is the greatest defender of free speech that we’ve had since James Madison. And no, I’m not *ahem* familiar with his work either. (Seriously, I’m not! LOL) But recently I read an interview she did with Rolling Stone awhile back (link is not to the full interview, sorry) and I was struck by her ATTITUDE about sex in general and towards her craft in particular. Despite her chosen profession, and to some extent maybe becuase of it, I found it positively enlightened. Now… I’m not saying that every woman should act like a porn actress in the bedroom. (Seriously, I’m not! LOL) But I DO think that every woman should follow her OWN path regarding her sexuality and not let society tell her what’s what, all the while giving the men a free pass to be themselves and largely do as they please. (Go figure: “Society” is a bunch of arbitrary rules, written by men, meant to keep women in line!) More than anyone I can think off, Gray has cast off society's arbitrary baggage when it comes to women's sexuality, and is calling her own shots - even in an industry infamous for being exploitative to the women who work in it. Although very few may admire the choices she’s made, everybody should admire the fact that she’s made her own choices.

Meg Whitman: I don’t know if she’s the first CEO to reach a certain level of success, or where she ranks among female CEO’s all time, blah, blah… I really don’t know. And I don’t feel like looking it up right now. What I DO know is that she was the Vice President of Strategic Planning at Disney during their 1990’s renaissance, and they haven’t produced dick since she left… to take the reigns at eBay and turn it from merely an interesting idea into one of the most successful internet power-houses of all time. We may not all LIKE eBay (although personally I’ve had nothing but good experiences using it), but nobody can deny what it represents for the internet, e-business and entrepreneurs everywhere, not to mention what her undeniable success means for aspiring young women everywhere. She’s living proof that you don’t need stodgy old men to run a company, and in fact that the day of the stodgy old man might in fact be OVER.

So there you go. Ten women that no human being should follow at all, and ten women that I think all people should see as role models.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Revisiting Healthcare

Awhile back I agrued the there was some wisdom in philosophical conservatism.  Of course, I went on to demostrate how most of this wisodm is missing from the modern American Conservative movement... But I also think that there are exceptions to the darwinian idea that wheatever we have now must be good, since it has withstood all competing ideas and mdoels and has emerged though a process of competition and survival of the fittest.  The most glaring example of this, IMHO, is our health care system. 

Rather than something that has competed whole cloth against alternative models, our current health care system is a band-aided-all-to-hell version of a system that was inherently flawed form the start, but which conservatives have not let us meaingfully reform.  So over the years, rather than evolve, our system has instead mutated sprouting arms and legs as needed to fill one more role until, in the end, we're left with an ungangly mess of appendages that NO ONE would have concieved naturally, if they just sat down one day to design a health care system with the laudable goal of providing universal care.

If someone had presented me with the following, as their initial proposal for a system, I'd ask them if they joking, and have them fired on the spot if the said, "No."  This is my interpretation of what that might have looked like, given how our system has ended up looking like:

Just LOOK at this mess!  FYI: The Blue Arrow represents CARE.  My Doctor provides me with care.  Green Arrows represent PAYMENT: I currenltly pay out to (1) my doctor, (2) my insurance comapny, (3) my employer and (4) the government, who is also paid by my employer.  Doctors recieve payments from three different sources: Me, the Insurace Companies and the Governement.  Insurance companies are also paid from three sources: Me, my employer and the Government.  Then you have the Red Arrows.  These represent RED TAPE or DA RULZ.  Governement tells (in far too few cases, I might add) the insurance companies how to operate as well as any doctors, who collect medicare/medicaid payments. (And this is not even considering standards of care, regulating safety, the FDA, etc... I'm only considering the PAYMENT side of things here!)  Insurance companies make the doctors jump through hoops to get paid, and also create all kinds of red tape for their customers, just to justify not paying out or not covering them in the first place.  In addition, because of their involvement, my company gets to dictate all kinds of stuff to me.  A couple of gems that my company madnates:  We have to declare our non-use of any tobacco products or else face a $50.00 insurance surcharge.  And don't think for a minute that the insurance company's are giving us non-smokers a break. (Yeah right!) Even if they were, I'm not sure the $2 a month I'm saving is worth the invasion of privacy.  (And lying on this form is grounds for termination!) What's more, if you have a working spouse that qualifies for benefits under her employer's health care plan, the s/he MUST be insured with them, otherwise you'll pay an additional premium to inusre your spouse under our plan.  Yes, it's already more to insure a spouse, so why the hell should it be EVEN MORE just be she'sotehrwise insurable?!  Insuring a spouse ALREADY costs more! WTF?

Bottom line, you shouldn't have to pay out to (or get paid by) three or more different entities and you shouldn't have red-tape going in every direction.  None of this complexity is necessary or has anything to do with providing health care.  And it doesn't even WORK!  We're the wealthiest nation in the world, with health care RESOURCES to spare, and yet tens thousands die (or declare bankrupcy?!) every year from lack of coverage! And even putting that aside, NO ONE, if tasked to design a health care system form the gound up, would have come up with anything like this monstrosity right form the start. No way. It's like... if you asked someone to design the perfect household pet, chances are they come up with something simple, like a dog or a cat.  There's basicaly no way they'd invision something resembling some sort of land-based octopus with five mouths.

By comparison, here is the same chart, based on what I proposed with my own health care plan:

See how simple this is?  The Gov't creates the policy. A UNIVERSAL health insurance policy with little or ideally no out-of-pocket expense to me. Everyone is covered the same way: Completely. They pay for it with increased taxes (from me and my employer), but the increase in taxes is offset by none of us having to pay insurance premiums or other health care costs out of pocket.  They then contract and pay the insurance companies to manage it, negotiate prices with doctors, etc... Insurance companies pay the doctors and the doctors give me care.  There. Done. Simple.  And if you read my original post, and the few follow-up posts I think you'll see that market forces are harnessed in functional ways that keeps costs low, using good old fashioned competion, in a way that guarentees universal care, rather than promising more profit the more people get refused coverage.

Now... I'm not saying this MUST be the BEST plan EVER, but thus far I have not seen one that's really made me think, "Yeah, that could work too!"  Not even truly single payer.  (The laws of Microeconomic[supply and demand] guarentee that true single payer will always either have shortages or cost more than it needs to.)  Based on what we have as far as resources, THIS is how I'd have it work.  And depending on your POV, it's both more conservtive than single payer, or even medicare/medicaid and yet more radical that anything being proposed by congress.  And it's sustainable.

But it would never pass.  It just make too much sense!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fun... just some stuff...

Nothing much going on today.  I was going through some old comic books, and I found the above panels, from  "Kingdom Come," written by Mark Waid and Painted (yes: Painted) by Alex Ross back in 1996.  I love it not only for the sentiment...

"You heard Big Blue's pitch, now for the Democratic Resposne." Priceless!  Green Arrow's always portrayed as one of the most liberal Superheores that ever lived.  Go figure: He modeled his costume and MO after Robin Hood, who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor." LOL "Big Blue" BTW, in this case, is a reference to SUPERMAN, not the Republicans.  But I can't BEGIN to explain the whole thing.  Suffice to say that it's worth a read, and this is one of my favorite lines in it!

...but also for Alex Ross's ARTWORK which is just masterpiece quality in every panel.  Check out his website for more examples.  IMHO, he's simply the best there is, or ever was.

In any case, I'm keeping the banner until someone tells me to take it down.  :)  It's just way too... apt.

Changing gears...

I learned about a new website today from MMFA:  STOPBECK.COM. Awesome.  Will absolutely be a Gold-Star winner the next time I hand out any.  (There will only be Silver Star awards THIS month, however and THIS SITE warrants a GOLD!)  MMFA's misinformer of the year, 2009 deserves no less!

And seeing it reminded me of another site that was active years ago, back when I first stumbled accross MediaMatters.org and started down the path of enlightenment: SWEET JESUS I HATE BILL O'RIELLY!  Now... that site hasn't been active since 2005, but reading the guy's old posts I could absolutly relate to how he felt back then!  (And with his homage to The Godfather. LOL)  Now... you may or may not know this, but Bill O'Rielly took home the "Misinfomrer of the Year" award back in 2004... 

...So, I find it no suprise that Fox has to have the whole unholy trinity on the air: Does anyone know any good sites grilling 2008 MMFA Misinformer of the Year, Sean Hannity?

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ten Things I would do with the Tax Code, even if it ended up being revenue-neutral

As I mentioned in my previous post, taxation is something that no two people will ever see eye-to-eye on, and about the only thing we all have in common is that nobody wants to pay more. I’d like to put aside for the moment the idea of raising and lowering taxes, and propose several changes to the tax code simply for the sake of principle, simplicity or just what I see as common sense. Right off the bat, many will sound partisan, and the majority are actually out of the conservative’s playbook. But I want to stress right up front that none of these are being proposed as ways to raise or lower taxes. If some other area of the tax code must be altered to keep the overall federal budget revenue-neutral, and to maintain at status quo the tax liability owed by as many people as possible, then so be it. IOW – if you have to adjust the rates or brackets to accomplish some of these things and remain revenue neutral, DO IT.

#1: Every absolute dollar amount called out in the tax code must be automatically and annually adjuster for inflation. This would include the brackets, the limits on deduction, the upper or lower limits that define who qualifies for what, the dependant tax credits… basically anything that not a rate or percentage or that gets adjusted anyway. I realize there would be a lag in this – in 2010 we’ll be working on the 2011 budget and only know have the inflation rate for 2009. So there will be a two-year lag. That’s fine. It’s still better than what we have now, like the situation with the AMT where you have something that was passed 40-some years ago that was meant to hit only the super-rich now affecting 80-some% of America because the $80,000 salary mark where it kicks in was never adjusted for inflation. Which brings me to…

#2: Get rid of the AMT. I’m not a flat-taxer, as my last post clearly demonstrates. But the idea of creating a completely parallel system, just because there are too many issue with the current one just seems absurd to me. If there are people exploiting loopholes in ways that were not intended, then just FIX THEM. And if you have a guy making a Million Dollars a year and not paying any taxes? Well… look at the situation and ask “WHY?” If there are loopholes that can reasonably be closed then close them. If the brackets need adjusting, adjust them. If there is a way you can deal with the perceived problem (the exception) without affecting everyone else, DO IT. Otherwise? Live with it. He beat the system, and he’ll continue to. No sense screwing it up for everyone else.

#3: Get rid of Medical Savings Accounts. This one really pisses me off. There was a time when you could simply deduct all your medical expenses. Now you can only do that if they exceed $10,000. BUT, they’ll let you save UP TO $10,000 in an account tax-free to pay for medical expenses (and ONLY medical expenses) below that amount. WTF?! So now… I have to play some stupid guessing game about what my medical expenses will be for the year. If I guess right, then it’s just like before. If I guess too low, then I miss out on any deduction between what I guessed and $10,000, and if I guess too high then I have money tied up in basically a no-interest account that I can’t spend. (Unless I have some unforeseen medical issues.) This is stupid. Make it simple: go back to just allowing ALL medical expenses to be deductible, with no lower limit.

#4: Lose the estate tax. OK, before the liberals jump down my throat, remember I said that this should be revenue neutral! So go ahead and raise the income tax rate of those really high incomes that generate these estates in the first place.  But for Christ’s sake, once someone has paid income tax on what they’ve earned, capital gains or property taxes on whatever they invested in, not to mention the sales taxes generated by whatever their heirs BUY with the money… IT’S. BEEN. TAXED. ENOUGH. This is nothing more than an overly complicated series of laws designed to do little more than give estate planning lawyers a raison d'être. It’s practically insignificant in terms of actual revenue, and yet it’s grown into a completely unnecessary cottage industry. Get rid of it.

#5: Eliminate the limits on tax-free gifts. Again, this may sound bourgeois on my part, but can anyone explain to me why, when I give my son/nephew/godson/grandchild/best friend/etc… a gift, that the government has the right to tax them on it? Follow me for a minute here, because there is a very good reason that separates gift-income from earned income: A person’s earned income is deducted from someone else's tax liability. If a company takes in $1M in revenue, but pays $900K in salaries, they’re only taxed of the remaining $100K. THAT’S why we all pay income taxes: because this is money that our company does NOT pay taxes on. But in the case of a GIFT, I’ve already PAID the tax on that money! And while you may conjure up some scenario wherein this might be used to cheat the system, I’d love to hear it, because I think your fears are overblown. More people try to cheat the system NOW. #4 and #5 sort of go hand in hand. If you want to GIVE someone some money, out of an income that’s ALREADY BEEN TAXED, just LET PEOPLE DO IT.

#6: Stop taxing dividends. Liberals also always hammer me for this one, but it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of basic accounting. (Or it’s just a bit of class warfare going on. LOL) But taxing dividends is TEXTBOOK double-taxation. Here’s why: If I own my own business, a sole proprietorship, it’s like saying that I own every share of stock in it. There might not be any actual stock, assuming it’s not a publicly traded corporation, but the only difference is one owner versus many. And once I pay the CORPRATE tax, whatever is left is MINE. As I have 100% ownership so I can take as much of the after-tax profit as I want, and I WON’T PAY INCOME TAX ON IT! The way corporations dole out profits to multiple owners in through dividends. The multiple owners own stocks which represent their share of ownership, and thus their share of the profit. The company will first pay the corporate tax rate on it profits and then distribute SOME of this profit to shareholders, in proportion to their ownership. So if you’re going to attack this one, you’ll need to tell my why multiple owners should be taxed when a single owner is not. And again – this isn’t about lowering taxes. If the corporate tax rate, or the income tax rate, or the cap-gains rate, need to be adjusted to make up the difference, then so be it. And one thing you must realize is that dividend payment are not only for the super-rich. Typically the biggest recipients of dividend payments are the various pension funds that support the [already fixed] income of retirees, and the retirees themselves. So giving these funds a break can directly benefit many who really do need the relief.

#7: Eliminate the upper income limit for deduction student loan interest. This one’s just stupid: If you make good on the education your government financed, they WON’T allow you to deduct the student loan interest. OTOH, if you end up doing nothing with the degree, then you can deduct it. I’m not usually one to call progressive taxation “punishing success” but in this case I think it’s apt. (And again, think back to those first years out of school. Even if you were making good money, as me and my wife were, you still had no saving or assets at that points, and you could still have really used the break!)

#8: Eliminate Capital Gains taxes: OK, maybe not completely, and maybe not for everyone, but if you did this then we wouldn’t need IRA’s, Roth’s, 401-K’s, etc… All of these programs are just ways of avoiding the Cap Gains Tax. Well, if you create a tax and then immediately create 17 complicated ways that people can avoid it… WHY THE HELL DO YOU HAVE THE TAX?! Losing these would simplify retirement savings, education savings, estate planning, education savings, etc… Again, more people derive income from helping people avoid these taxes than the government ever gets from collecting them. So I’d eliminate Cap Gains for anyone over 65 (or whatever we call the “retirement age” these days, maybe 55?) and on any Cap Gains that amount to LESS than your earned income. I guess if you’re entire income comes from cap gains, then fine, we’ll call it income. (Or at least that amount that exceeds your earned income.)

And again, to answer the question, “What the difference between earned income and investment income?” Remember: One person’s earned income gets deducted from someone else’s taxable income. Investment income is either already taxed (corporate, dividends) or doesn’t need to be because no one else’s liability is being reduced (cap gains.)

#9: (Shifting gears a little…) Eliminate both the Federal Gasoline Tax AND all Federal Money going to states for transportation. Let the STATES tax their gas, and let THEM keep all the money and make THEM build and fix their own damn roads. Aside from being a states-rights / local control issue, I live in Michigan, where we generate more in federal gas tax, per capita, than any other state but get less federal dollars per capita for transportation than any other state. So our roads SUCK and we have NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Our roads get USED all to hell, but don’t get MAINTAINED. If the STATE kept that money, we’d have the best roads on the planet! Have you ever been to West Virginia, home of world-famous pork-barreler Robert Byrd? It feels like you're driving on clouds! Why? TONS of federal money to build roads in a state that nobody frickin’ LIVES in. So they have these awesome roads that nobody ever uses! States collecting their own Gas tax, and building and fixing their own roads just make more sense to me.

#10: Adopt brackets such as those described in my last post, or something similar, based on multiples of the median income. I’ve already laid out why I think that system is good (in my last post) so all that’s left would just to figure out where to draw all the lines and what rates to charge so that all of these simplifications end up REVENUE NEUTRAL.

And that last bit is important, because none of these are meant to give anyone a tax break, raise taxes, lower taxes or shift the burden from one group to another. These are meant to make the tax code MAKE SENSE. To SIMPLIFY it. I’m an engineer by trade, and I know that unnecessary complexity inevitably leads to inefficiency. And I design (and re-design) things for a living. So when I see an inefficient system, I’m driven to try and fix it. Even if it achieves the same result in the end, doing so efficiently means that the result is achieved with less input (cost, material, man-hours, time, etc…) so you still end up much better off. So before you tell me why these are a bad idea, assume that other adjustments are made so that everyone paying about what they’re paying now, or within +/-5%. (It won’t be to the penny, I realize that.)

But anyway… that's what I’d do.  And I'd do it for simplicity's sake, before we even get INTO whether the government needs more or can do with less.  THAT'S the political side of things.  What I'm talking about here is just bullshit meant to give lawyers more work.