Archive for May 2015

Atheist’s Sunday

Well, I am watching a parade of Republican presidential candidates on Meet the Press and I wonder if anybody in the media sees a problem with them spouting their Republican nonsense (Obama is causing the economic inequality for example (Rick Santorum)) and nobody asking for proof?  Do they understand that saying it enough times, which is exactly how the media is aiding the Republican noise machine, makes it true in a mostly uninformed electorate out there?  And they are uninformed because the media is not challenging these outrageous claims.

So you are asking, what does that have to do with an Atheist’s Sunday?  It has to do with a more fundamental question which I have been wrestling with, is religion and science incompatible.  To the point, does faith-based knowing interfere with our ability to look at things based upon sketicism, fact, and logic.  The answer I am starting to lean toward is absolutely.  Take Rick Santorum’s statement that President Obama is increasing economic inequality.  On the face of it, it is laughable.  

Democrats don’t want to tax the rich more, expand safety nets, raise the minimum wage, or pass legislation for equal pay for equal work, something that would level the playing field and Republicans are against?  Yet Chuck Todd just passed right over it.  Santorum claimed that Democrats want more immigration which drives down wages increasing economic inequality.  So where is the data that supports that?  Where is the question asking for the data to support that? A quick Google search would  dispell this argument, but we don’t even seem to hold people accountable for their ideas, or feel the threat of having nonsense challenged which is why it flourishes in our media.

Have we moved into a zone where like a person’s religious faith, his political beliefs cannot be questioned because they are his opinion and are sacrosanct.   Apparently we must respect them by not questioning them.  Of course I am of the school that one’s religious beliefs are fair game to be questioned if they enter the public realm.  But that is the whole point of the faith thing, they are exempt to skepticism, and doubt.  Faith means you believe whatever it is you believe in the face of doubt.  That is the opposite of scientific thinking.  All facts and assumptions are open to question and you can’t say something is true until the data overwhelming supports that conclusion, without any examples that contradicts it.  See Evolution.  See Global Warming.  Of course there can be alternative explainations, but based upon the world as we observe it, is that alternative more likely than any other?  Lighting could be caused by thermal currents, charged particles, or the God Thor can decide where it should occur.

Most people do not understand scientific thought.  They think it is applying the rules of the method.  It is so much more than that.  It is a way of thinking that makes us discover our hidden biases, destroys any preconceptions, and most important of all, is forever under attack and examined by our peers.  Even more importantly, “… is that for theory or fact to be seen as correct, there must be ways of showing it to be wrong, and those ways must have been tried and have failed.”  That is why god is defined in a way that is impossible to prove or disprove his existence.  Science really about a isciplined way of thinking we seem to be lacking in the public square, that is to know what it means to know something, and to call it a fact.  We have tolerated fuzzy thinking so long, it is becoming the norm, and with that normalization, it grows.  See immunization protests or GMO fears.  Psuedo science run amok.

Think of critical thinking, logic, and reason applied to religion.  It is anathema.  Faith, by its definition, abrogates this approach.  So back to our acceptence of mindless utterances of politicians without critical analysis could quite possibly be part and parcel of trying to segment our thinking into faith-based beliefs and scientifically examined beliefs.  Probably the simplist way to describe this is to say faith-based reasoning may lend to confirmation bias thinking that allows us to shut out facts that don’t agree with our preconceptions.  It’s is a convenient way to hold on to our ideology.

We live in a “religious” society where we take faith-based thinking as normal and acceptable.  We believe in religious tolerance so we don’t question another’s faith.  But in that mental exercise of accepting what does not stand the test of rational logic, we get lazy in our thinking.  By mixing the two, we legitimize faith-based thinking in normal conversation.  We hear outrageous statements that do not stand the test of data or logic and we believe they have a right to their own misconceptions and faulty logic.  But I can’t help wondering if in doing so we are allowing pseudo science and confirmation bias to be the rule instead of the exception.  It certainly is becoming the rule instead of the exception in our media.

Oh, and one last thought.  On CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria, Fareed took note of the decrease in religious affiliation not only in the United States but in Europe (by way of the latest vote in Catholic Ireland to permit gay marriage).  But then he kind of implied not to worry because overall, especially in developing countries religion is growing.  Actually I think that kind of says something which I think Fareed glossed over.  Religion is a great way to understand the world where education and knowledge are limited.  Maybe it is time we jettisoned it.

Gobal Warming and the Economy

Yesterday, I said that if we really did accept the reality of global warming, it would go a long way to helping with our economy.  Now if you understood my blog yesterday, the problem is not just stimulus spending to get demand to increase, creating jobs and businesses, but structural changes in the whole system to incentivize investment that build things and create jobs.  

We now have an economy where rents allow the wealthy to create wealth without investing in our economy, at least the economy that creates jobs and builds things.  This change in our economy was done over the last 45 years where our laws, regulations, tax codes, and trade agreements have been restructured to keep the wealthy wealthy and focus most investments on rents.  And note that rents include things like too big to fail.  Their net worth increases not for increased productivity, but because with the government backing them up, they are seen as less risky better investments.

In order to fix the economy, Joesph Stiglitz and his co-authors laid out a plan which I outlined in More of that Project Management Thing – The Economy.  Along with restructuring financial rules, regulations, and our tax code, there was a call for investing in large-scale infrastructure renovations.  Infrastructure improvements do two things.  First they provide good jobs sorely lacking in today’s economy.  Second they then provide the backbone for an economy to operate that can be competitive with the rest of the world.  It is a win-win all the way around.  Yes it is stimulus in a major way.  But unlike Republican stimulus plans for the wealthy (tax cuts) we actually have something to show for it instead of just more wealth transferred to the wealthy.

Global Warming is the number one threat facing our country.  No it is not the number one political issue, the economy is, but global warming is creeping up there.  What happens when Miami is under a foot of water and California doesn’t have any?  What happens when Texas and Oklahoma get hit with ever more severe storms?  What happens when New York gets hit with hurricanes.  Basically, while I am only looking at this on a national level, there is going to be a world wide shift in weather patterns that are going to disrupt economies across the globe.  And then there are the new conflicts as each political entity maneuvers to secure water and food.  Don’t trust me, look at the planning our military is already doing to anticipate these kind of threats.

So what a grand opportunity to take the assessments of how global warming will impact our nation, and upgrade our infrastructure to be ready for it.  We are helping our economy and we are taking steps to lessen the impact of climate change on our ability to grow food, live on the coast, have adequate water supplies, and of course harden our sewage, electrical, and transportation systems to extreme weather.  And note I am not even addressing the investments we could make in green energy to reduce the impacts of climate change.  Of course we have one party whose litmus test for presidential candidates is that global warming should be ignored and writing laws that prohibit the use of global warming predictions in planning.

So we have this wonderful opportunity to deal with our number one political issue and our number one threat to our security except for Republicans who are the protectors of the status quo and the wealthy.  You know, when you realize how they are damaging our country you really wonder why we don’t round them up and put them in camps to protect them from themselves.  We have a glorious opportunity to really do something important again, and as usual, Republicans stand in the way.

“Democrats Seek Richer Roster to Match GOP”

Republican contenders have already secured hundreds of millions of dollars in commitments from a stable of billionaires, including a Wall Street hedge fund executive, a Las Vegas casino magnate, a Florida auto dealer, a Wyoming investor and, of course, the Kansas-born billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch. But none of the biggest Democratic donors from past elections — for example, the Chicago investor Fred Eychaner, the climate-change activist Tom Steyer and the entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg — have committed to supporting Mrs. Clinton on nearly the same scale. 

Do we think there is something rotten in the State of Demark?  And these are the people who have the ear of the candidates and set the agenda for what is important.  It is how they see the world that our candidates get blasted with every waking moment.  And generally speaking their world is not the one we know.  For those of you that plowed througn my blog yesterday (The Aha Moment) that explained what was wrong with the economy, rents, most of these people are more than happy with the current state of affairs.  It is working fine for them.

So yes it is a class warfare.  What you have been missing is that it has been going on for almost 45 years and it is time we entered the fray.  And you want to know the really funny thing about if we win this battle and wrest the economy out of the hands of the rich to work for all of us?  We will be saving the rich in spite of themselves.  They actually do better in an economy that works for all of us.

The Aha Moment that Could Just Save Us

This is going to be one of those connect the dot blogs, so bear with me, and no it is not about Denny Hastert or Hillary’s emails.  It is about America’s tomorrow.  I have maintained that the number one threat facting America is Global Warming.  However the number one political issue will be the economy.  If we tackled Global Warming we could go a long way to solving the economy, but that is a blog for another day.

You know that old refrain, it is the economy stupid?  Well it is.  But the economy doesn’t seem to be fixable and that is because almost everything we assume we know about the economy is wrong.  Let me start with the obvious.  The country has been on a path that assumed that trickle down worked.  If we made a business friendly climate where the wealthy could keep and reinvest their earnings, the rest of us would enjoy the benefits of this through job creation and a “rising tide.”  Except it did not happen.

What we have is a lackluster economy where wealth is being transfered to the wealthy and the middle class is losing ground. Investment is non-existent.  During the Bush years, George cut taxes on the wealthy, de-regulated to his hearts content, and jobs went nowhere. The Republican Miracle is being played out in Kansas and other red states where cutting taxes just bankrupted the treasury withouth the jobs and revenue.

 And this has not been a partisan thing, both Democrats and Republicans have had a hand in it.  The conventional wisdom was that if Wall Street was doing well, the rest of us will.  You can split hairs and say well Democrats have thrown up some roadblocks in terms of regulations to control pollution and help out the poor with safety nets, but all in all, everyone bought into this theory.  Except our economy doesn’t work like that anymore.

I have been frustrated over the years, because as a Paul Krugman student, I knew he was on to something and was being totally ignored.  When the economy started to fail, he argued this was not about supply, but demand.  Unless we give people the means to earn money, and spend it, the economy was going nowhere.  He was dead right and his predictions about interest rate and inflation have been dead on.  And as I noted he has been totally ignored.  Paul calls the people who have been calling the economic shots VSPs, Very Serious People.  They couched reserve and austerity to give the system back its confidence (supply side thinking) and their bitter medicine fit our need to feel we have done something wrong (the debt), but in our present circumstances it was exactly the wrong advice.  

These people have controlled our policy decisions, sadly our President is one of them, and we have not done the things we need to do to start to heal our economy.  Okay that is my history lesson.  We all know that the economy is lack luster, jobs are a joke (yeah there are jobs, but not good paying ones), and wealth is rushing faster and faster into the hands of the wealthy with no reinvestment.  So what the hell is going on.  Okay, hang on to your hat, here are the breakthroughs.  Let’s start connecting the dots.

To review:  The rich are getting richer, the middle class is losing ground, and wage growth is stymied.  Trickle down doesn’t seem to work.  Enter Mike Konczai with The Proof That Centrism is Dead.  Basically Mike is talking about Krugman’s VSPs.  I suggest you read the entire piece, but I am going to quote freely:

An optical illusion has shielded centrism from critique. Centrists position themselves as anti-ideology, representing a responsible compromise between liberals and conservatives. The word conjures sobriety and restraint, caution and moderation—all of which sound compelling in uncertain economic times. 

But institutionalized centrism is more than that: It’s an elite group of thinkers and writers, popular in Washington, DC, and favorable to business leaders, who told a very specific story about what was happening during the Great Recession. They populate the opinion pages of The Washington Post and think tanks like the Bipartisan Policy Center, and they influenced officials like former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag.

Circa 2010, they argued for a “sensible” response to the Great Recession: reduce the deficit to fix the short-term jobs crisis, privatize Medicare, and focus on the long-term economy—since, they claimed, working Americans would eventually bounce back during the recovery. Democratic candidates took these positions seriously. Yet each element of the centrist story has turned out to be absolutely false.

He then goes on to list how they got it wrong over and over again.  How everything they predicted did not come to pass. Then he points out the obvious:

Yet six years into the recovery, wages are still down for most workers. Since 2000, median family income has dropped by 7 percent. Workers have never been more educated, but the result is just fiercer fighting for jobs. Corporate profits have skyrocketed, and 76 percent of the recovery has gone to the top 1 percent. How can centrists continue to focus on the long term and business confidence when all the fruits go to such a small group?

This failure explains why liberal politicians will sound more confidently liberal in 2016: The dominant ideology pulling them toward business interests has failed. Thus, liberals can analyze the economy within a structural framework that isn’t muddled by a commitment to wrongheaded corporate prerogatives.

Okay dot one, trickle down no longer works and the VSPs/Centralists whom we have all looked to for sensible guidance in our economy have failed us.  All the stuff we thought we should do did not help.  Now comes the big dot.  Maybe the way we think our economy works is not the way it really works.  Note that if we get Republican leadership in 2016 they are going to double down on trickle down.  Cut the safety nets to afford tax cuts to the wealthy and “they will cereate jobs for all of us”.  But if our economy doesn’t work this way, this is the road to disaster.

Now Democrats see the effect of the problem (as oppsed to the cause) in our economy, economic inequality.  Many want to treat that effect with things like equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, taxing the wealthy more, and that certainly would help, but we are treating the symptoms here, not the disease.  What is it in the way we have set up our economy to operate (through laws, regulations, trade policy, and tax policy) that favors the wealthy and leaves the rest of us out in the cold while they are raking in their dough?  That is where some really smart people(Neil Abernathy, Adam Hersh, Susan Holmberg, Mike Konczal) led by Nobel laureate, Joesph Stiglitz comes into the play.

They said, we can’t just move the deck chairs around on the Titanic and tax the wealthy, we have to fix the root problem with a wholestic approach to fixing our economy and they came up with a plan to do just that, called Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy. This plan is a 115 page document that lays out exactly what has to be changed in our economy and the justification of why this will fix the problem.  But the key to this plan is not all the changes they recommend, but the root problem they found in the way we have structured our economy that defeats flowdown. So before you read this report, let’s look at Dylan Mathews’ analysis on Vox that gives you the context in which to understand why these changes are so critical and make sense.

Okay, what is it that makes our economy dysfunctional, wealth is gained but not reinvested in jobs and production? Here is how Dylan frames it:

 Conventional thinking holds that wealth should be invested and, through investment, put to productive use, with those investments creating job opportunities and higher wages.

Alternatively, if few productive investment opportunities are available, the return on invested wealth should start falling. It ought to be a self-correcting cycle in which wealth cannot outpace incomes for long. But the return from capital remains high, and wages are stagnating. Something’s gone wrong.

In You’ve Met Hillarynomics.  Now Meet Left-of-Hillarynomics, Vox’s in resident economics writer lays the root problem for us in his analysis of Stiglitz’s plan.  In a word, rents.  I will try to make this simple.  Through laws, rules, regulations, treaties, and the tax code, we have made an economic system that makes it more profitable to seek rents instead of investing in new production and jobs.  Rent seeking is basically investing in things that return a rent on your investment , but builds or creates nothing.  Here is how Dylan explains the concept:

Stiglitz and his co-authors extend the idea to include a wider and more modern array of rents. A patent or a copyright, for example, can be a valuable financial commodity to own, even without being productive in the way a factory or tractor is. 

To see the distinction, imagine you have $300 million and can either invest it in a startup or use it to buy the rights to the Beatles’ songs. In the former case, you’re providing money that a company can then use to hire people, produce goods, and generally create wealth in the world. In the latter, you’re producing nothing; you’re just grabbing something that someone else produced and claiming the proceeds from it.

“Rent-seeking,” as economists call it, is generally viewed as economically counterproductive. It’s especially counterproductive when it becomes so lucrative as to provide a more attractive outlet for people’s money than real investments.

And that is what has happened. Stiglitz and his co-authors show how we have rigged the whole economy this way, whether it is Wall Street and too big to fail, to copyrights and marginal tax rate for the wealthy.  They all increase rent seeking as a way to growth wealth instead of real production and jobs.  So the key is to remove these rent seeking incentives in our economy and that is where Rewriting the Rules comes in.  They look at all the incentives we have built into the system for the wealthy to primarily use rent seeking as a path to increase wealth, and then recommend how we can restructure our economy to work for all of us.

So here it is in a nutshell:  We have an economy that is not working for anyone but the wealthy.  The conventional wisdom that came from VSP/Centralists that we have all been following, says reduce the debt and make the world business friendly, solve our structural employment problems, and the market place will solve all problems.  This has failed miserably.  Along comes Stiglitz and his co-authors to show how the economy has been gamed over many years to reward rent seeking, making money on money, instead of investment in production and jobs.  That is why there is no flow down.  And then Stiglitz and his co-authors, give us a plan forward.  Anthing less will just be more of the same, moving those proverbial deck chairs around on the Titantic.

Now you start to see the real fight in 2016.  Republicans will want to do more of the same flow down strategies, simply accelerating what we are already seeing.  Hillary and Bill have been big supporters of the centralists.  She may get some of the populist changes, but not a systemic program like Stiglitz proposes that would really fix our economy.  From Dylan Mathews’ analysis:

Hillary Clinton has yet to lay out a detailed economic platform, but knowing the people she listens to on the matter, and judging from her 2008 campaign, it’s not too hard to guess what it’ll be. She’ll call for a bigger safety net for working parents: more child care subsidies, paid leave for new mothers and fathers. She might call for a slight increase in taxes for the rich. But she’s always been a fan of markets. Her agenda — like President Obama’s, like former President Clinton’s — has been defined by a faith that markets are creating wealth reasonably effectively, and that their major flaw is they don’t distribute income as evenly as they should. Let businesses do their thing, redistribute a bit, and you’re basically set.

Enter Bernie Saunders who gets it.  Without Bernie we won’t have the debate we so badly need to see how we must make basic structural changes in our economy to make the market place work of all of us.  He will use Stiglitz plan to propose a real cohesive approach to making the economy work for all of us.  Hilllary, forever triangulating and trying not to look like she is leaning too far left, will come up with deck chair movements which is way better than Republican full speed ahead, but still far short of what we need.  If this debate really happens and the ideas I have written about get into the public mainstream, hell, we might actually fix something for a change.  You know, it is that science and data thing.

There.  Did I connect the dots for you? Did you say, Aha! If you get this, I path forward is really fairly simple and now we are arguing from analysis and logic, not ideology.

Denny Hastert

The fact that Republicans are giant hypocits is not news.  On the other hand a teacher molesting a student is a gross violation of professional ethics, moral ethics, and is a serious crime.  And he became leader of the House?  What does that say about our judge of character?  That is the real crime here.

Hillary’s Achilles’ Heel

In a word, triangulation.  Hillary, in my mind, got beat by Barrack because she was too defensive when she was obviously wrong, and when she got picked off trying to triangulate on issues to find the best position for the voter.  In this election it will be the kiss of death.  The people can smell triangulation a mile away.  Get out the focus group and see what plays best is not the road to the White House.  It tells us you don’t really stand for anything but getting elected.  Hillary seems to be triangulating on off-shore drilling and medical marijuana which will be issues in the next Florida election.  She and Bill triangulated on gay marriage back in the day and got it totally wrong.  

Think about George Bush.  What he stood for was plain and simple and he never wavered.  He was wrong most of the time, but people want a leader they think they can trust.  Triangulation says you are more interested in having the job instead of fixing the country.  Medical marijuana is a no-brainer.  If there are people suffering and this might help, move on.  Instead she is triangulating.  What will play best in Florida in 2016, not what is the right thing to do.  It is the quickest way to lose the base, and if they don’t come out, well Hillary, kiss it goodbye.

Now I have never been a big fan of Bill.  He went conservative, won the job, and started down the path to the greatest economic inequality this nation has seen.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Ronnie had worn  the path in well before Bill, but Bill trundled right down that road. He got on board with financial deregulation and the Great Recession in 2007 was a direct result.  He got tough on crime, and filled our prisons with black men.  He made a colossal  mistake in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Accommodations at the time to keep his job, but he moved the country in the wrong direction.  And of course he couldn’t keep his penis in his pants and torpedoed Al Gore.

I think the big issue for the election will be the economy and economic inequality.  That is why it is so important that Senator Bernie Saunders entered the election.  He gets it.  He gets that our present economy can no longer be tinkered with.  There is something fundamentally wrong with it.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz who lead a team that wrote a new economic plan for America.  Yesterday, Vox’s Dylan Mathews wrote a really interesting piece summarizing Stiglitz’s work and identifying the root cause of why our economy won’t work anymore.  He started it out this way:

Hillary Clinton has yet to lay out a detailed economic platform, but knowing the people she listens to on the matter, and judging from her 2008 campaign, it’s not too hard to guess what it’ll be. She’ll call for a bigger safety net for working parents: more child care subsidies, paid leave for new mothers and fathers. She might call for a slight increase in taxes for the rich. But she’s always been a fan of markets. Her agenda — like President Obama’s, like former President Clinton’s — has been defined by a faith that markets are creating wealth reasonably effectively, and that their major flaw is they don’t distribute income as evenly as they should. Let businesses do their thing, redistribute a bit, and you’re basically set.

But Stiglitz and company’s argument is that the economy no longer works like the Ayn Rand nuts think.  Money doesn’t get invested in things that drive innovation and new jobs, but in rents, basically making money on money while creating nothing new.  The whole economy is now rigged for money to make more money by charging rents* and not productive investments.  The rich get richer and the economy does not create new jobs. So following Hillary’s prescription, might sell well with the middle, but the fundamental flaw in the system is still there and until we address it, the economy stagnates and the wealthy just get fatter.

So Bernie is a critical factor here because he wants to address economic inequality and he gets it.  He will force a national debate on whether tinkering with the system with minimum wage adjustments, fair pay for women, and some tax increases on the wealthy will really fix anything, or do we need to adjust our system to make seeking rents way more expensive than reinvesting in production.  It will the critical debate and that is why Bernie Saunders is so important to this election.  He could just maybe keep Hillary from making a critical mistake that could loose her the election

*Note:  From Dylans piece: “The problem, Stiglitz and his co-authors write, is that the rise in wealth isn’t coming from productive investments. It’s coming from what economists call rents — a metaphorical extension of the 18th-century practice of small farmers paying rent to landlords for the right to use the total inert asset of land.

Stiglitz and his co-authors extend the idea to include a wider and more modern array of rents. A patent or a copyright, for example, can be a valuable financial commodity to own, even without being productive in the way a factory or tractor is. To see the distinction, imagine you have $300 million and can either invest it in a startup or use it to buy the rights to the Beatles’ songs. In the former case, you’re providing money that a company can then use to hire people, produce goods, and generally create wealth in the world.

In the latter, you’re producing nothing; you’re just grabbing something that someone else produced and claiming the proceeds from it. ‘Rent-seeking,’ as economists call it, is generally viewed as economically counterproductive. It’s especially counterproductive when it becomes so lucrative as to provide a more attractive outlet for people’s money than real investments.”

FIFA and Police Reform

Well FIFA just re-elected their President.  While almost everyone he works for got nailed, the leader of the pack got re-elected.  It is a systemic problem and it cannot be fixed by moving a few chairs around.  It is a mind set, a culture of doing business and the only way to fix it is to totally clean house, adopt more transparent process, and develop the proper oversight.  Duh.  Oh, and a prediction.  One of the indicted will flip on Blatter.  With all that money sloshing around, you know he had is little piggy paws in there somewhere.

And that brings me to reforming the police in Fergusan, Cleveland, Baltimore, you name it.  In Cleveland where an officer just got off by puting 43 bullets into a stopped car with two unarmed people inside (black of course):

The head of the Cleveland police department’s patrol union said aspects of the agreement that mandates sweeping reforms to the city’s police department could put officers in danger. … Loomis also rejected the portion of the agreement that discusses bias-free policing, saying Cleveland officers approach their work without bias. He also argued that arrest statistics could be skewed for officers who work in neighborhoods that are predominantly black or Hispanic.

It’s a systemic cultural thing.  It’s us against them, and our safety comes first.  Except it doesn’t.  The public’s safety comes first and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.  That is why it is a dangerous job and when you do it right, you deserve our respect and gratitude.  But the police in these troubled, quick to deadly force departments have turned that around.  When in doubt, blow them away.  Assume the worst and act on it.  It won’t change with new guidelines.  It will only change when those that encouraged this view are removed.  And sadly those recruited and trained in that environment also have to be removed.  

I watched the sad funeral of the police woman in Nebraska who was killed doing that dangerous job the right way.  But what struck me was the statement by a police captain about the brotherhood of police that stand by their slain comrades.  The trouble is that “botherhood” cuts both ways and many police departments have taken that as us against them, and protect your brotherhood no matter what the offense.  

So with FIFA as well as with troubled police departments, nothing will change until attitudes and cultures change. That requires a whole new leadership, and in many cases, a whole new organization.  Police or FIFA managers raised in that culture cannot be left in place.  They were and will be the problem.

Announcement of Candidacy for Republican President of the United States

I am tonight announcing my run for President of the United States of America as a Republican. Please contact my son Andrew to negotiate speaking fees, book advances, and Fox News political consultant fees. I stand for whatever will maximize all of the above listed items. Irreverent and outrageous quotes to follow to attract major media outlets. God bless America

Now I will attempt to answer some questions that are being posed to the Republican candidates to show my individuality and qualifications for the job of President, speaker, book writer, and Fox News analyst consultant, in that order.

Knowing what we know today, was the Iraq war worth it?: 

 Define worth it.  If you mean based upon the fantasy world we created back in those days to be afraid of WMD and Al Qaeda behind every bush (Bush?) of course it was, but that is because we were misled by those intelligence fools into a bad war.  You would think they would have pointed out our skimming of the intelligence to confirm what we already wanted to believe  Besides, my focus group tells me that the answer is no, so now it was not worth it, except we removed Sadam and the world is a better place without him.  Does that clear it up?

Does Global Warming Exist and what will you do to deal with it?:

Did you see all that rain in Texas?  Nobody said anything about hot temperatures.  Oh, and it snowed last winter so how can that be global warming?  Besides, plants like carbon dioxide so how can that be bad.  Shouldn’t we be having a massive plant attack as we are overfeeding them with CO2?  Thank God we are cutting down the rain forests before they overrun us.  God has a plan and if we let government interfere, we would be spiting God.  Clearly the best way to deal with it is to ignore it, except of course those pesky scientists keep publishing stuff about planning for our future so we have a program of outlawing planning using outrageous global warming predictions.  Out of site, out of mind.

How would you deal with the ISIS threat?:

Well of course ISIS is President Obama’s fault because, well, because.  I mean President Bush had totally irradicated Al Qaeda in Iraq, who was not there in the first place, but that is quibbling.  And while President Bush actually negotiated the withdrawal from Iraq, President Obama actually followed those agreements. Go figure. And then there is the Syria thing.  He drew a red line and then the Syrians gave up there their chemical weapons and we did not nuke them anyway.  Who would have thought that was enough?  I mean I would have given everybody weapons.  Worked out splendidly in Afghanistan against the Russians.  For the long run I would form a coalition of Arab nations and let them do the work, and ignore all that sectarian quibbling and back stabbing.  Any other questions?

How would you fix the economy?:

Well President Obama has just wrecked the economy.  I mean yes it has improved, but after all, if you are collapsing in 2009, just about anything looks like improvement.  And it wasn’t Bush’s fault for the collapse.  Clinton agreed to the deregulation back in 1998.  Now Republicans have done the prudient thing to block anything that looks like help to the American people to show the bankruptcy of his ideas and his failure to do anything.  When I get the White House back in 2016 I will just cut taxes to the wealthy and close down regulatory agencies like the EPA and watch the economy taking off. The flowdown will be just amazing just like it was in the Bush years when we ran up that giant deficit and did not create any jobs, which was because Democrats actually let us cut taxes and increase spending.  

Republicans have a real problem with Hispanics.  How will you bring them back into the fold?:

Well we have a real problem with undocumented workers doing all those jobs Americans don’t want to do.  I mean, really, they are taking jobs away from Americans who would show up in droves to pick our fruit and vegtables if those sweaty Mexicans weren’t stealing their jobs.  As for those free loading kids, I can see maybe giving them an earned amnesty if they agree to spend 20 years building the great wall of Mexico to keep the barbarians out, and agree to pay taxes on on the subsidies we give away to oil companies.  There will be no free ride on my watch.  Don’t panic wealthy, you will always get your free ride because of all the jobs you create (in Asia).

There is a great debate about whether the Patriot Act has gone too far.  What is your position on that?

Well we need to quickly renewed the act because we are all at risk and we should be all afraid.  I know that there are tons of examples where collecting everyones telephone and email messages has kept us safe even though there is not one doucmented case.  I mean who needs documentation?  I know what I know. You just know there is good stuff in those messages, pictures too.  

Finally, on the question in which your party seems out of step with America, what is your stand on gay marriages?:

Well, marriage is between a man and a woman until the Supreme Court rules on this and I can pretend it is out of may hands.  I mean, in spite of the evidence that there is no impact on traditional marriages or that they make excellent parents, tradition is tradition, kind of like giving the women the vote will destroy the country or Medicare will turn us into a socialist state and “curtail American freedom”. You just can’t be too safe. Besides, the Bill of Rights is for true Americans, not people bent on destroying the fabric of America by making me wonder if I am gay. My God! Will one of them try to seduce me?  

One last thing.  You end almost everything with God Bless America, but our research staff has uncovered a blog written by you that exposes you as an admitted atheist.  How can you justify this rank pandering?:

Typical gothcha question from the media that ignores the real issues. In my runup to announcing my candidacy and careful research with my focus group, I found God and am born again.  He called me to my candidacy and he has given me faith that there is money in this thing somewhere.  So no matter how you people try to tarnish me, I have faith, this is going to be a big payday.  God Bless America.

Bernie Should Not be Under Estimated

The press is writing Bernie Saunders off as a gadfly.  Democratic strategists worry that if he shows some weakness on Hillaries part, the party will hew left and repeat the failure of Hubert Humphrey against Richard Nixon.  But they are kind of amazed at his fund raising and the fact the people are really listening to him. Duh.

The truth is that what Bernie is talking about we all care about.  I guess you could say he is channeling the base, but that is to totally misunderstand what is really going on.  He is starting a conversation we have all been dying for.  People complain that they vote and nothing ever changes.  That is because the candidates really represent the status quo.  Bernie is saying the way we have been proceeding for the last 40-50 years is all wrong.  And the amazing thing is that at some level we all know that.  America is not working for us anymore and we are looking for a real conversation about change, not campaign slogans. Not policies to offend the least people, but real thoughtout solutions. And Bernie is bringing it.

People say they are tired of the polished politician.  Well Bernie will not be checking the polls to see which way the wind is blowing.  He will not be checking with focus groups to hear what they think he should be saying.  He is going to look you in the eye and tell what he knows you need to hear. What he thinks will work whether you are ready for it or not.  It will be such a refreshing change and it is what most Americans have been waiting for.  I doubt there is a gotcha question for Bernie because he is just that honest.  

The Press will say he is too far left.  I don’t know what that means.  People really don’t care about left and right, they are looking for solutions that might work.  So if you propose paid for public university attendance, and that is paid for by a tax on financial transactions, how is that left?  We know we have a problem in that education is getting out of reach for most of us and we have massive deft from education loans.  Fareed Zakaria tells us it probably won’t work.  It works in Europe. Why wouldn’t it work here? Is it too radical from what we have been doing and failing at?

Bernie tells us economic inequality is the biggest problem we face and we all know it.  Bernie has a plan to fix that and it is not tax cuts for the wealthy so flow down will produce more jobs that has never worked.  It is a relignment of our whole tax code.  It is rethinking valuing labor.  It is a massive investment in our infrastructure, and at some level we all know all this has to be done.  Excuses about how it will hurt businesses fall on deaf ears when they do it elsewhere and it works. It is just not getting done by straddling the failed middle.

So watch out.  Bernie is talking about real solutions that may seem, well, a little radical.  I personally think people are ready for radical if you can back up your talk with a real plan for our future that does not sould like more of the same.  And Bernie can.  This could really be fun.

The Rude Awakening to Global Warming

We are watching truly sad depictions of families who lost everything in Texas, and I am not talking about things, but their loved ones.  They are in shock and are grieving. Chaos is loose in the world.  It always has been, and we have been living through a false lull where we think we or our God controls things.  Nature and the laws of nature control things and we had better wake up soon to that reality, use the science that tells Us these things are going to happen, and prepare for them.

Everyone one is saying they have never seen anything like this.  Welcome to the world of climate change.  This will not be the last of one of these events.  And what is truly tragic is that it takes this kind of mindless loss to wake ourselves up to take control of our lives.  These things are going to happen and they are going to happen more frequently and that is what global warming and the associated climate change models tell us is going to happen. No, you cannot relate this specific storm to climate change, but it is exactly what climate change science tells us will happen

So are we willing to wake up to this reality and run those morons who still deny it off the stage of public disservice.  This is not God’s plan.  This is not some one-off weather event.  This is climate change come home to roost.  So maybe instead of trying to pass legislation to ignore it, we should be proactively preparing for it.  In fact those who actively deny the science and then use the government to make us less prepared should be charged with man slaughter.  Rick Santorum come to mind, or the whole Republican lot.

I am terribly sorry for their loss I know well having lost child.  There is no pain that gets close to that and if I could take it away I would.  But these and future losses are not necessary and I get furious listening to people who will, with their backwards and ignforant ideology, kill people.  Hopefully this will be a wake up call, but I doubt it.