17 Aug 2009 @ 6:52 PM 

As of this school year, Texas public schools will be required to teach the Bible. In public schools. After our illustrious Governor appointed the second creationist loon in a row to head the state Board of Education.

Why does the GOP want other people to laugh at Texas?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 17 Aug 2009 @ 06:55 PM

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 10 Aug 2009 @ 2:45 PM 

Once again, a Democrat finds a new and entertaining way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. For want of a signature…

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2009 @ 02:46 PM

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 31 Jul 2009 @ 9:07 AM 

The other day, I was watching the news when a clip from Fred Thompson’s radio show was played. The person talking to Thompson was Betsy McCaughey, a constitutional scholar and former Lt. Governor for New York, claimed that the health care plan being promoted in the House would mandate that all elderly people get counseling on how to end their lives sooner. This meme has been promulgated far and wide, and a video was next on the news, with the President being asked by an audience member at a town hall meeting whether the rumors were true that his hoped-for health care public option would encourage the elderly to die.

My son, all of nine years old, was able to see how ridiculous this was, and said there’s no way that anyone in the government would try to kill off their own citizens. He didn’t have any sophisticated analysis of this, of course, but even he has enough of a BS detector at his age to wonder why anyone would believe such ridiculous statements.

It’s a sad state of affairs when seemindly sane adult human beings can actually believe that their government wants to kill them (hard to get votes that way) and that the President is a foreigner (Snopes, people!). Evidence be damned, we will continue to believe ludicrous things because they reinforce what we want to believe. And the pundits who encourage this behavior? Yay for the First Amendment, you can say and believe any fool thing you want, but this is just shameful behavior. Fanning flames of anger and fear (always fear – talk to any winger and you’ll hear the words afraid or scared frequently) just to get ratings or get political points…disgusting.

Run any statement any politician or pundit says past a nine year-old; if he says it’s ludicrous, assume it is.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 31 Jul 2009 @ 09:09 AM

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 22 Jul 2009 @ 9:09 AM 

Way back in 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked at the available data regarding phone usage while driving. Their recommendations would have included a total ban on phones being used by drivers while in motion, whether with or without hands-free devices. I say “would have” because they never released the report. They were afraid of angering Congress. Get that? Public safety took a back seat to political expediency. The only reason we’re hearing about it now is because of Freedom of Information Act requests/lawsuits by two consumer advocacy groups.

Shouldn’t the NHTSA be a consumer advocacy group? Interestingly, cell phone usage has increased greatly since 2002, the year they gathered data. About half of Americans had cell phones then, and nearly 90% do today.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Jul 2009 @ 09:09 AM

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 06 Jul 2009 @ 3:45 PM 

According to scuttlebutt, the leading candidate to replace crazy creationist dentist Don McLeroy on the Texas Board of Education is a woman who believes public education is unconstitutional, tyrannical and should be abolished.

This is why it’s so hard to understand conservatives. They insist on being in charge of organizations that they claim should not exist at all, then point to their own poor performance as proof that such organizations don’t work well.  Of course they don’t work when they’re run by people who hate them and want them abolished. Duh?

Would it be too much to ask that the state board of education include people who actually understand education and science and the arts? And if they happen to think that the board of education (or public schools) has a right to exist, that would be good too.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 06 Jul 2009 @ 03:45 PM

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 24 Jun 2009 @ 8:22 PM 

Former Senator and former Presidential candidate (i.e., private citizen) admits affair. Pilloried by right-wing pundits as a horribly evil human being. Demoncrat!

President has affair with intern. Harassed and impeached (high crimes? really?) but acquitted. Demoncrat!

Congressman divorces wife, another woman found dead in his office. He resigns, but gets a gig as a television commentator. It’s ok, he’s Republican.

Governor of prominent state has multiple affairs, including an accusation of assault. Winked at by the media. It’s ok, he’s Republican.

Author of the ludicrously-named “Defense of Marriage Act” and major proponent of Clinton impeachment has affair while married, divorces wife and marries mistress. It’s ok, he’s Republican.

Congressman calls Clinton a scumbag for his affair, admits to an out-of-wedlock child from his own affair. It’s ok, he’s Republican.

Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee has an affair, steps down from his chairmanship but won’t quit the Senate. It’s ok, he’s Republican.

Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association has an affair (trips to Argentina paid for by taxpayers), steps down from his chairmanship but won’t resign his governorship. It’s ok, he’s Republican.


Please stop preaching “family values” to us, GOP. KTHXBYE.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Jun 2009 @ 08:22 PM

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 04 Jun 2009 @ 11:28 AM 

From Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, 1787:

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

From the United States Congress, July 2008:

Companies such as AT&T were granted immunity under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FISAAA). The law gave companies immunity from lawsuits if the U.S. government provided proof to a court that the surveillance was authorized by the president, was legal or did not occur. It applied to surveillance that happened between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 17, 2007.

From U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, June 2009:

Screw you, citizens! Ex post facto is a great idea!

I’m astounded that the judge could find in this way. Immunizing organizations or people for breaking laws that were in effect at the time the crime was committed sets a horrible precedent. The lawsuits were filed in 2006, and the law was passed two years later to make the cases moot. That’s an amazing piece of legislative interference in judicial matters. Silly separation of powers. Silly constitution.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 Jun 2009 @ 11:51 AM

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 29 May 2009 @ 8:30 AM 

You just have to wonder about the priorities of the Catholic Church.

  1. Male priest has romantic relationship with a woman.  Reaction from the Catholic church:
  2. Father Cutie’s actions have caused grave scandal within the Catholic Church, harmed the Archdiocese of Miami — especially our priests — and led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large.

  3. Over 800 priests abuse thousands of children for decades, with the aid and collusion of the Irish government. Church reaction: silence.
  4. Priests sexually abuse thousands of children in the United States. Church reaction: move priests around and threaten anyone who speaks out with expulsion.
Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 29 May 2009 @ 08:30 AM

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 04 May 2009 @ 11:29 AM 

The GIs in the office I’m currently working from all have an abiding love of Fox News, leaving the television stuck on that channel all day long, and (regulations be damned) speak against President Obama quite freely.  One of the officers asked if I’d seen some headline on Drudge Report (after having a discussion about my Skeptic magazine). As if that’s not bad enough, they just decided to turn off the television (too much Obama made them ill) and turned on some music. First request, not with any sense of irony or mockery: Got any Nickelback? 

Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about fitting in, as I’m expecting to move to a different office in a month.  Nickelback and Faux News, yay.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 May 2009 @ 11:29 AM

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 30 Mar 2009 @ 3:47 PM 

How many times is a variation on this story going to come out before someone finally realizes the absurdity of “no knock” warrants and the entire facade of the War on (Some) Drugs? Police shoot, kill two dogs during raid. They were looking for someone, nameless, and hydrocodone. Um, isn’t that the drug Rush Limbaugh uses? How is it legal to have a warrant for an address, with no name on it?

Another recent dog killing, in Tampa Bay.  This one, the dog’s owner wasn’t being interrogated or searched, she was voluntarily answering a query from a cop when the cop just plugged her pup in the skull and then walked away.

A state Senate hearing on the increasing militarization of our humble protectors, who are allowed to break into people’s homes without warrants in some cases, and don’t need to identify themselves or even have to apologize later for fucking it all up.

A pit bull who looks far too much like Leo, gunned down by cops looking for a DUI suspect by randomly running through people’s yards and shooting their pets.

Previous post on same subject.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Mar 2009 @ 04:02 PM

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 03 Feb 2009 @ 7:41 AM 

You know how the right-wing pundits have been crying about the stimulus package including too much money for poor people? Compassionate conservative my…

Anyway, those same pundits have been crying about the President’s budget proposal containing a 10% reduction in the defense budget. The proposal is for 527 billion dollars, which is actually the exact same number that former President Bush had projected for 2010. If you look at the numbers, this represents an increase in the military budget from 2009 of over 30 billion dollars. Somehow, the wingers didn’t notice the actual real-life decrease in defense spending from 2006 through 2008, yet they have invented a decrease for 2010 that doesn’t exist in any logical way. Oh, and by the way, we still spend almost as much on our military as the entire rest of the planet combined. I doubt anyone will think we’ve become weak and vulnerable any time soon.

As I may have said before, think for yourself and never believe pundits without research.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 03 Feb 2009 @ 07:42 AM

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 02 Feb 2009 @ 10:46 AM 

Michael Phelps, fastest swimmer on record, smoked pot. Well, that proves it then – doing drugs leads to nothing but failure. Some other pot-smokers I know of, just off the top of my head: President Obama, former President Bush, former President Clinton… Yep, a road to ruin there.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Feb 2009 @ 10:46 AM

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 30 Jan 2009 @ 8:04 AM 

The CBO analysis of the stimulus is available online. If you really want to know what the impact of the stimulus may be, read it for yourself. Don’t believe whatever talking heads say. Especially don’t believe what they said last week, before the analysis had been released. Lying bastards. It’s true that the CBO says much of the money won’t be spent in federal fiscal year 2009. If you think about it for a few seconds, you’d realize this is blatantly obvious. FY 2009 started in October, so it’ll be about one-third over before the bill becomes law. Then, it still takes time for things to get moving. The “quick” moves won’t be able to add money to the economy until April, half-way into the fiscal year. A multi-year stimulus which has a lower impact in a 6-month “year” than in the following 12-month year?  SHOCKING! A quote from the NY Times seems to be aghast that it may take a few months to a year to get some construction projects moving. Yeah, well…have you seen how long it takes to complete or even plan major construction projects? Boston could tell you.

One thing the CBO won’t tell you, quite explicitly denoted on the front page of their report, is what return on investment we can expect for each provision, or the bill as a whole.  No matter what Marie Cocco says, the CBO doesn’t make those predictions. But, most economists agree that tax cuts (while nice and I’ll take any money the government sees fit to give back to me) are not as effective as you might think.  Turns out, most of us actually save some of that money when we get it, rather than immediately spend every dime.  One typical comment:

“People are going to spend 30, 40 cents on the dollar, so the multiplier is going to be low,” said Adam S. Posen, deputy director of the Peterson Institute of International Economics.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Jan 2009 @ 09:55 AM

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 28 Jan 2009 @ 8:34 PM 

So, according to the vast majority of respected economists, including those with Nobel prizes, the stimulus might work, but it might be too late for anything to make things better in the short term.  Even Christina Romer (President Obama’s economic adviser) thinks the stimulus will only slow the growth rate of the unemployment rate in the near term, bringing it back down in two years. But, they all agree that to do nothing is definitely not going to do anything of value.

romer_stim

“We have very few good examples to guide us,” said William G. Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the liberal-leaning research organization. “I don’t know of any convincing evidence that what has been proposed is going to be enough.”

Christina Romer, whom Mr. Obama has designated to be his chief economist, concluded in research she helped write in 1994 that interest-rate policy is the most powerful force in economic recoveries and that fiscal stimulus generally acts too slowly to be of much help in pulling the economy out of recessions, though associates said she now supports a big stimulus package if policy makers roll it out early enough in the recession.

Adam Posen, the deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said Mr. Obama’s plan could provide just the right boost — if it was carried out properly.

Alan J. Auerbach, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the overall scale of the program looked “reasonable” at $800 billion over two years.

“It’s much bigger than anything that’s been tried in my lifetime, but this is scarier than anything we’ve seen in my lifetime,” Professor Auerbach said.

For those who point out that Romer once said that throwing money at a recession doesn’t work – no.  You’re wrong, that’s not what she said.  She said that monetary policy is better to use than fiscal policy. Unfortunately, the interest rates are at zero now, so there is no more room for monetary policy. Fiscal policy is what we have available, so that’s what we’re stuck with.

For those who think that tax cuts or tax rebates are better than paying for infrastructure buildouts – no.  You’re wrong, and almost no economist agrees with you.

Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, a forecasting firm, told a forum of House Democrats this week that the “bang for the buck” — the additional economic activity generated by each dollar of fiscal stimulus — was highest for increases in food and unemployment benefits. Each dollar of additional money for food stamps yields $1.73 in additional economic activity, Mr. Zandi estimated, and each extra dollar in unemployment benefits yields about $1.63.

By contrast, Mr. Zandi estimated, most tax cuts produce less than a dollar for each dollar of stimulus, especially if the tax cuts are temporary, because people save at least some of their extra money.

Joel Slemrod, a professor of tax policy at the University of Michigan, said, “The research I’ve done on the 2001 and 2008 tax rebates suggests that the proportion of the rebates that went to spending was rather small, about one-third.”

I look forward to more random people throwing up logical fallacies. How about, “argument from personal incredulity?” That’s always a good one. After all, if something doesn’t make sense to you, I’m sure that highly trained economists have spent no time at all on it and it’s all just a guess to them too. Over 140 economists, including 5 Nobel Prize winners, support the stimulus package.  If you want to convince me of your point of view, bring more expert opinion than that.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 28 Jan 2009 @ 09:17 PM

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 24 Dec 2008 @ 10:07 AM 

It seems the vast majority of military active duty and veterans I have ever met are vehemently opposed to socialized medicine for the country.  If you’re using socialized medicine, why do you want to deny it to others?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Dec 2008 @ 10:07 AM

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 22 Dec 2008 @ 9:07 AM 

Mike Connell, the man who set up and maintained the invisible email system that the current administration used to avoid the Presidential Records Act, has died in a plane crash. A couple journalists are claiming that Connell was about to roll over and tell all he knew about various shady dealings. Obviously, the same people who believe that President Clinton whacked Vince Foster must also believe that President Bush whacked Mike Connell, right? Don’t be ridiculous.

There is a group that is calling for a full federal investigation of Connell’s crash. They even have a website devoted to what they are calling RoveCyberGate. Personally, I assume that Connell lost control of his small plane and crashed, but it’s always entertaining to see people try to impose a more interesting narrative on reality than is truly warranted.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Dec 2008 @ 09:07 AM

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 04 Dec 2008 @ 6:04 PM 

President-elect Barack Obama is still under attack by the fringe far-right World Net Daily (no, I won’t link to that insane asylum), for not being born in Hawaii as he claims.  Their evidence?  Well, there’s this scanned copy of Obama’s birth certificate which looks funny.  As my coworker Tom says, his Hawaii birth certificate from the same year is pretty funny-looking too. Apparently, that’s the Hawaiian way.

The claim that the birth certificate is a forgery is backed up by no evidence of any kind, but countered by a mountain of it. For example, there’s the birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser. They must have been part of a conspiracy by Obama’s grandparents, who thought he might be president one day and so planted an announcement in the paper, even though Obama’s mother was then…where, exactly?

Furthermore, the birth certificate would have to have been used as prima facie evidence of citizenship at various times in Obama’s rather well-scrutinized life. The conspirators to assist Obama’s treachery would have included not only Hawaii’s records division and the aforementioned newspaper, but the Cook County Bureau of vital statistics in Illinois, the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois, the US Senate, and many other government organizations that are not all Democratic Party shills.

The latest WorldNutDaily smear involves someone who knew someone who knew Obama, who claims that the “natural-born” requirement in the Constitution is silly and should be removed. First, many people make that same point. Secondly, so fucking what? I know someone who claims that the US Government is ceding power to some shadowy Law of the Sea Treaty cabal, that doesn’t mean I’ve become a John Birch Society loon myself, I hope.

Also, for those who don’t realize, the citizenship of your parents affects your citizenship as well. Since I was born abroad to American citizens, I get to fill out extra forms every time my security clearance is up for renewal. But, I am most assuredly an American citizen. So is John McCain, born in Panama. So is Barack Obama, no matter where he was born, because his mother was a citizen. No, it doesn’t matter how OLD she was, you silly knackers.

So, we have a vast conspiracy that covers five decades and involves government and private organizations in multiple states and the federal government, all trying to get this evildoer into office.  The exact reason why all these organizations would cooperate for someone who was unknown ten years ago is never explained, but there must be a reason. The complete lack of evidence for these claims is further proof of the conspiracy, of course.

Or, the alternate hypothesis, Obama’s birth certificate is legitimate.  Occam’s Razor…hmmm.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 04 Dec 2008 @ 06:11 PM

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 22 Oct 2008 @ 3:17 PM 

Once again, we are shown how easily the McCain/Palin campaign can relate to the average American voter. Yep. Obama is such an elitist, with his one house and paying for his own clothing.

The Republican National Committee spent about $150,000 on clothing, hair styling, makeup and other “campaign accessories” in September for the McCain campaign after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined the ticket as his running mate.

More detail
You’d think this sort of thing would be illegal. Thanks to the campaign finance reform laws backed by Senator McCain over the years, it is illegal for the campaign to spend this sort of money on personal services for a candidate. Fortunately for the campaign, McCain’s bills never included a mention of the National Committee being prohibited from spending that money. Good for them.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 22 Oct 2008 @ 03:20 PM

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 17 Oct 2008 @ 10:10 PM 

What is with the constant repitition of the term “repudiate” this week? It sounds remarkably like the old Nazi/Communist concept of “denouncing” your friends or family in order to prove your ideological purity. What happened to this country?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 17 Oct 2008 @ 10:10 PM

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 03 Oct 2008 @ 2:25 PM 

It’s too bad there’s only one VP debate this year.  I figure a drinking game would be a great addition to any rematch.  Every time Biden quotes a McCain vote that contradicts McCain’s rhetoric, drink.  Every time Palin drops the trailing “g” on any “ing” word, drink.  Every time Palin says “maverick” – shot!  Any time either candidate fully answers the question posed without wandering into completely unrelated territory – everyone drinks!  Fortunately, there’s not much chance of that last one…

Has there been an actual debate, as we would know the event from high school or college debating teams, in the history of televised Presidential debates?  You know, where there are rules that the debaters can violate, such as “not answering the question posed?”  Without procedural rules and the voting from a group of disinterested people, the term “debate” becomes a bit silly.  Both sides can claim to win, and depending on how low we set the bar, we can all agree that both sides “won” a contest that has no score.  *sigh*

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 03 Oct 2008 @ 02:25 PM

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