Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm so happy to be wrong, and to live in a violent nation...

....Because all the peaceful ones kill you if you step out of line.  Yes, in all probability, we let a killer go free today, but I'm going to be a corny American and see the good side of that.  We're actually practicing the presumption of innocence.  Maybe we are still American.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Michelle Bachman is a very simple person, and that's not a good thing....

Today, Michell Bachman declared her cantidacy for the Republican nomination for President.  Interestingly though, according to Wikipedia, Bachman was originally an activist for the Democrats and only decided to become a Republican due to an incredibly simply process of elimination. Having concluded that the Dem's were dissing the founding fathers, she seems to have assumed that her only other option on Earth was to become a Republican.  This is roughly the same as a German of a previous generation "realizing" that, as he could not be a Nazi, he would have to be a communist, and such simplified thinking may be a large part of our country's general incompetance in government.
     First of all, could we just stop kidding ourselves that the Republicans and the Democrats actually have standing philosophic viewpoints?  I'm old enough to remember when Republicans favored big government for the sake of defense and described a government deficit as something normal for any large economic organization while southern Democrats opposed any sort of equal rights legislation and the party as a whole pleaded for tax breaks.  Ms. Bachman, however, is apparently not well informed enough to see either party's hodege-podge of claims as a hodge-podge.
     Bachman does believe some things I myself find odd.  Quite frankly though, that is no reason not to nominate or even elect her.  Hell, I believe some odd things myself, and so in all probability do you.  If you, I or Ms. Bachman didn't, it would mean that we haven't been thinking enough about the current failures in our government, economy and defense or trying to find original solutions to them.  I'm a little worried, though, that Ms. Bachman may not overcome her oddness and may keep to it, jut like Barak Obama.
     Where's Ross Perot when you need him?  Or, did Ms. Bachman even notice his front-runner status of this founder of the Reform Party for much of the 1992 election, and so, would she even bother to learn from him?  He often claimed nothing more than a willingness to try to figure out what would work rather than to assume a set of answers to be correct.  Maybe we could use a leader like that....
     Just a thought.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Iraq and Afghanistan Aren't Going to Get Any More "Won"

As you can see from these maps, Allied forces now hold every part of both Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have no part of either of them left to conquer, not since Hamid Karsai rose to power and Saddam Hussein dropped out of office.  Still, with rebels sabotaging their own country's oil facilities, gas at four dollars a gallon and the Taliban having tea with the Afghani President, this doesn't feel much like victory.  Still, could it?
     Now I live for a while in Chicago, and ever so often I have to compare our victories in the middle east with the the Chi-Town police department's "victory" over the the street gangs.  Yes, on one hand, nobody actually puts "gangstuh" on his resume.  On the other hand though, the people in the city's west side are either too scared or too supportive of the Kings, the Bloods and the Crips to call the police, and so they go on selling criminal goods and services with almost no fear of a legal consequence.
     The countries of the Middle East may just be like the west side.  Basically, in both cases the people living there see the supposed forces of order as at least something of an occupying force and, even in clear evidence of the benefits of the presence of such enforcers, they prefer to avoid or possibly even subvert them.  Oh, we do have a few advantages in Chicago.  The population speaks the same language as the cops, and they usually have roughly the same ideas about God and democracy.  Still,we do seem to be losing that war simply because of our overall unpopularity with the general populace, and we probably shouldn't think we're going to do any better in a more complex place like Arabia.
     A side thought: we probably should've had a rotation policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Then our soldiers there would've had the same chance as Chicago cops to tell us when a policy was working and when it wasn't.
     Hell, maybe we just should've given Iraq to Kuwait.  Hell, in some ways they wanted to be together.
     Just a few thoughts....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why No One Is Ever Going to Make a Good Jurror

Casey Anthony actually seems to have a pretty good defense. She's found experts willing to claim that the chemicals and insects found in her car trunk are not in fact reliable evidence of anyone having kept a body there, and for better or worse, under the presumption of innocence, that should, in the absence of a corpse, be sufficient cause for a jury to release her. Unfortunately though, she or her lawyer has decided to make a "positive defense," meaning one that does not simply refute the claims of the prosecution, but asserts its own claim, in this case one dealing with coyotes.  She probably should've seen that Meryl Street flick about the Australian chick who blamed the dingoes.  That didn't work out too well for her, either.
     Unfortunately though, simply refuting a case is probably not enough to get a verdict of innocence.  It didn't work for Jesus, after all, and he actually knew the guilty parties.  Unfortunately though, very few people sitting in that despotism called a jury seem to want to find anyone innocent anymore, and can we blame them?
     People on a jury are taking time out of their normal lives to perform a civic duty.  At best, they spend long hours waiting for some clerk to list them as a candidate for something, and if selected they have to face a lot of very presumptive questions about themselves from lawyers trying to weed out jerks.  Lastly, during the trial itself, they have to sit for hours at a time and listen to a disorganized presentation of claims and guess truth from lies while hoping not to look stupid by missing or misunderstanding anything.  Compare it to the most boring class you ever faced in high school but remember that you can't leave after forty-five minutes, that you can't tell anyone what happened to you at "school,"  and that failing this class will cause a hardship for someone and probably piss off Thomas Jefferson and Henry Fonda's character in 12 Angry Men.  In the face of all this pressure then, the average jury is going to want all that bother to serve a purpose, and for that reason they're going to want to do something big, like hanging somebody or exonorating them forever.
     Unfortunately though, having been through all  the aforementioned bullshit, they aren't as likely to save anyone as crucify them
     Just a few thoughts....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A few thoughts on the tea party....

Virginia Tea Party Patriots leader Jamie Radtke went after the Republican establishment Thursday during an address to the Senate Tea Party caucus.

During her address to the caucus, National Journal reports Radtke said, "The Tea Party movement would not exist today if the Republicans had not failed under the Bush years."

Radtke was among a number of speakers at the first caucus meeting. She was joined by Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe.

Radtke was the first Republican to enter the Virginia Senate race, and will be competing against former senator George Allen (R) for the opportunity to face Sen. Jim Webb (D). Radtke has already established that she will be running to Allen's right, calling Allen a member of the "Washington establishment." Radtke worked for Allen briefly after college.

Radtke has said that, if elected, she would join the Senate tea party caucus formed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and that she would support a bill proposed by Paul to cut $500 billion in federal spending.

So The Tea Party is rejecting Bush's policies? Which Bush? The one of the First Gulf War or the one who started the second two?

This is probably a bad sign for both the GOP and the Tea Party, though. If the Tea Party is going to expect people to read their lips on "no new taxes," at least in some cases, they're going to disappoint. It's happened before. Worse, their also going to face the demand of blue-collar people and small business owners for welfare, unemployment benefits and government loans and entitlements to pay for their children's college or to keep their business' afloat.

The issue may not be about government expenditure though. The issue may be the resentment of people in "the fly-over states" for paying to a government without benefits. In a sense, they may really just resent getting flown over.

To solve the problems of either Bush administration, or any other one, the government would just have to put an ear back to the ground. When it doesn't, side groups of the far right, the far left, or the narrow center, can simply exploit a few large issues to ride into office.

Just a few thoughts....

Monday, January 31, 2011

A few athoughts on MassChallenge Startup Challenge (Spelling is correct)

If we're challenging people to start new businesses, I'll simply assume that we're doing so for people with some realistic reason to assume that a market exists for their service or product. I would like a little confirmation on that, though.

What I'm worried about more, though, is if we once again aren't getting ourselves into another subprime market. Banks, after all, look for things to invest in. and at any given time they have at least some undedicated funds that they would rather be generating revenue with. A push to foster new businesses would, therefore, have to support ones previously unsupported just to avoid being a sham, and so the banks would be granting loans to enterprises previously considered nonviable.

Kind'a scary....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A few thoughts on abortion as an issue

Back in college days, a few of my fellow psych' students and I decided to do some research into, in our words, "the attitudes, personality and knowledge" of protesters and counter-protesters at an Operation Rescue rally at an abortion clinic near our university. The research data was a little boring; basically, pro-lifers turned out to answer more questions on fetal development correctly than pro-choice types. The behavior of the two groups at the rally, however, may have proven something more....

The pro-life Operation Rescue people were on the opposite side of the street from the clinic, and the counter-protesters were on the same side opposite to them. Even approaching these twin demonstrations, we could hear taunts and insults from the pro-choice side. Outside of a little rhetoric, all the words from near the clinic were attempts to ridicule or judge the people on the other side of the street.

We decided to split into two groups, one for each side of the street, in order to avoid accidentally handing out our questionnaires to anyone twice, and feeling at least a slight aversion to the jeering of the clinic's supporters, I opted for the pro-life side. As a researcher, after all, I had to at least try to prevent myself from displaying any emotional reaction liable to influence the interviewees in any way, and that job just might be a little easier with the less fractious set.

I did not start any conversations with my interviewees. I simply handed out questionnaires. I politely refused to respond to any inquiries as to my own feelings on abortion. More than one person did tell me their reasons for being there, however, and contrary to the pro-choicers estimations, many of them did admit the need for abortion to save an at-risk mother's life or in other, less defined situations. They were terrified, however, of the possible use of abortion-on-demand as a contraceptive for dummies. Basically, they wanted some kind of restraint, and (again contrary to the stated views of them from across the street) they were willing to negotiate to get them.

At some point after the standing protest, the head organizer of the pro-life side of this event spoke, and his words did not seem in any way to represent the stated opinions of the protesters on his side. He certainly did want to outlaw abortion, lock, stock and scalpel.

Listening to his words, I had to wonder about a few things. Had the pro-choice movement possible pushed these people into this man's political arms? Did the pro-choice side have possible motive's for doing so? Pro-choice literature often portrays the need for abortion as something of a medical emergency, and any emergency will rivet the willing and a good number of the semi-willing to action. Were the pro-choicers using that to make a louder and therefore more politically intimidating following?

After our research, my fellow students and I met at a Burger King to hand our data in, but after that we began talking about what we had seen from a more personal perspective. The head of our project was decidedly pro-choice, but even she admitted anger at the confrontational style of "her" side of the debate. I shared my political perceptions, and the others admitted the possibilities.

At the end of things, we all went home of course, but the perceptions of that day have stayed with me. In this "No Labels" time I submit them for your consideration. At least one side of the abortion debate just might be shooting itself in the foot and giving its opponents the means to shoot back.

Just a few thoughts....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A few thoughts on just possibly being wrong about Egypt and Tunisia.

I'm very happy over that possibility!

The "revolution" in Egypt just might have something to uphold. According to London's The Daily Telegraph, American diplomats have been fostering this result for the past three years....

Now this is Machiavellianism at its moral best. At least at first glance, we seem to have found a People's Revolution and supported it. Yes, in a sense we did depose the leader of a foreign land, but for once we just might have done so to enact the will of the people rather than simply the ambitions of that leader's rivals. Theoretically then, a setback in one life may have resulted in real relief for several million.

If Obama took this opportunity, we will at last be able to negotiate from a position of strength in the middle east, and to quell the source of our power, middle eastern leaders will at have to heed the will of their citizens. This sort of thing was the supposed reason for our invasions of Iraq and the now supposedly "nice" (previously unacceptable) Taliban previously ruling Afghanistan, and this time, given success, we just might not leave ground forces behind.

In this case, not actually a thought, but a hope....

PS: Of course--and this just came in--the news now claims The Muslim Brotherhood to be the cause of the Egyptian uprising. I don't know much about them, but the simple fact of their having an agenda other than that of service to the people of Egypt does not bode well. Oh well, I'll still hope for the best for Egypt, but then, I did that before

A Few Thought on The Uprising in Egypt

Well, inspired by the Tunisian example, the Egyptians are trying to riot their leader out of power. As with the Tunisians, I wish them absolute success, but I cannot state my optimism for this affair either.

To put it plainly, a revolution that simply throws someone out of power creates only a power vacuum, and in the face of such anarchy, even people of strong will and good intention are likely to accept the most stable government possible, even that of a dictator. Successful revolutionaries, such as those in my country, or in eighteenth century France, or twentieth century Russia, had or put some form of government in place to fight for. Cromwell's revolt and assorted civil wars in the third world lacked this structure, and they resulted only in dictatorships.

In some ways, establishing a shadow government or swearing loyalty to a Continental Congress, is simply the least test of a people's desire for change. Without genuinely organizing something to oppose oppression, they prove their lack of resolve to fight an oppressor able to inflict pain--and are there any other kinds? Furthermore, without anything to put in power at the end of the fight, the Egyptians and the Tunisians may find themselves with nothing but another single ruler, perhaps promising not to be a tyrant, but only perhaps.

Just a few thoughts....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A few thoughts on Social Security

Economics has rarely been the straightforward exchange of goods for money from the textbooks. A few abstractions, perhaps even white lies, come into play, and strangely,they actually tend to improve the economy and therefore social security.

Now, for the worth of a given company's stock to rise or fall without the introduction of a new service, product or procedure (i.e., without a change in the worth of the company), investors either have to judge those stocks exchange by some standard other than the worth of the issuing company or find some cheaper way to finance or process their purchase; and all of these things do seem to occur. Traders have bought on Credit, pre-sold crashing stocks and cyber-traded entirely worthless ones. Each of these actions has helped to raise the overall price of stocks, and each has drawn criticism for its believed role in a serious downturn. Even in the face of stern efforts to prevent such creative finance however, someone will invent some new system of something and bring the economy to new highs while risking very sudden lows, and, as the economy often follows the market for some reason, Gross American income will rise, taking the tax base and social security with it. Certainly given the twenty-five years till the expected S.S. blowout it will.

Of course, we'll still have the stock market to worry about, but that may be an unavoidable and perhaps ultimately desirable constant.

Just a few thoughts.