I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Friday, March 30, 2012

Are you Serious?

The title was the answer that Nancy Pelosi gave when someone asked her which of the delegated powers of Congress was the one on which Obamacare was based. She apparently couldn't believe that Congress was required to be concerned about their authority granted by the Constitution.

You can see a conservative view of what it means at:Constitutional Contempt and a liberal view atA Moment of Silence for Obamacare.

Just on the side: "Does the Federal Government have a right under the Constitution to pass a law that will bankrupt the country?"

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The healthcare mandate silliness.

This is a working example of how dishonest our nation has become.

The central question is: "Can the Federal Government force a person to buy a particular product? In this case health insurance."

We already know the answer to a similar question: "Can the Federal Government force a person to pay taxes to the Federal Govt in order for the govt to provide a particular product? In that case Medicare." The answer is yes.

So what is the problem? Why didn't they just call it a tax?

Because the entitlement programs (that were advertised by their advocates as costing much less than they do) are sliding our country into bankruptcy and the people have started to figure that out. (The response of many of them, not too clever in my mind, is to put an absolute veto on taxes.) So to get the bill passed its advocates were obligated to make all sorts of magical claims. Thirty million newly covered (no extra cost!), 500 billion taken from medicare (no loss of coverage!), finally that small extra cost would be covered by the health car tax uh mandate. Because of Obama's campaign promise and all the politicians fear of the electorate, they couldn't raise taxes!

So they just walked us into Wonderland and here we are.

Disclaimer: This is written by someone who supports national health insurance and is disgusted with our politicians.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are in the news again.

I remember when George Bush got into trouble with the Hate Crimes people after that lynching in Texas while he was Governor. He was raked across the coals because he was opposed to Hate Crimes Legislation.

He pointed out that he had just signed death warrants for two of the perps and a life in Prison for the third. This of course was not enough for the folks who want to identify some people as special, and crimes against that group is, in some sense, more bad than against the rest of the population.

Do they want the guilty to get more than death? Do they want the extra sentence carried out before the execution or after? What is with these folks?

By the way:
Are you in favor the right of free speech?
Are you in favor of hate speech?
Do you think hate speech is included in free speech?

How did his friend describe Voltaire's views on freedom of speech: "I disagree with everything you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it!" - unless of course it is hate speech.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Sorry to have been away. I have a bad combo of busy and sick.

Hope to be back shortly.

Please carry on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Perhaps the democrats are going to abandon their mythology that they can get all of the money that "their" programs require by a little tap on the rich.

Don't fear T word.

If they do then perhaps some republicans will appear on the scene claiming that not all problems can be solved by cutting tax rates.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi day

So it is pi day!!

Is it a day when math departments around the world offer visitors a cornucopia of bacchanalian delights?

No, but it is a day to celebrate pi!

What is pi?

I'm glad you asked that. I used to ask that question to my students in college math classes.
It never bothered me that they would usually say 3.14 or add on some more decimals.
They were taught to focus first on the numerical value of things, not their meaning. Therefore, one shouldn't fault them for having their first reaction be to offer a value for, rather than a definition of, pi.

So I would clarify my question. No, not the decimal approximation of the value of pi, I am asking you for the definition of pi. What does it mean?

Some knew, some didn't, and some could figure it out.

But some did not believe that something like pi needed a definition.
In their mind it had always been there, sitting on the left hand of God.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The field of dreams is becoming a nightmare.

In California's Greek Tragedy by MICHAEL J. BOSKIN and JOHN F. COGAN the authors seem to be saying that when it comes to the welfare state it really is true that "If you build it, they will come."

...California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.

California's economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America's population, California has one third of the nation's welfare recipients.

Monday, March 12, 2012

a bit more on the fragility of democracy

A thought experiment from Biting my Tongue in support of The fragility of democracy which appeared here Feb. 28.

According to the most recent data from the Congressional Budget Office, the bottom 50% of all income earners pay just 3.4% of the taxes collected! Conversely, the top 20% of income earners pay a whopping 85% of the taxes collected. In other words, 80% of income earners contribute a miserable 15% of the taxes collected! When you consider that this lower income bracket is totally dominated by politicians that overwhelmingly favor wealth redistribution, Americans are now able to “vote themselves money.” One is left to wonder if we have already begun to “herald the end of the republic.”

... Years ago, I came across a great analogy to our system of taxes. The story has been printed and e-mailed many times in different formats, but the basic concept remains unchanged. Although the origins of the story are unknown, everyone agrees that the good ole federal government clearly provided the inspiration.

Here it is:

Every evening, the same 10 friends eat dinner together, family style, at the same restaurant. The bill for all 10 comes to $100. They always pay it the way we pay taxes:
• The first four are poor and pay nothing.
• The fifth pays $1.
• The sixth pays $3.
• The seventh, $7
• The eighth, $12.
• The ninth, $18.
• The 10th, (the most well-to-do) pays $59.

One night the restaurant owner announces that because they're such good customers, he's dropping their group dinner bill to $80. Let's call that a tax cut. They want to continue paying their bill as we pay taxes. So the four poorest men still eat free. But if the other six split the $20 tax cut evenly, each would save $3.33. That means the fifth and sixth men would end up being paid to eat. The restaurant owner works out a plan: The fifth man eats free; the sixth pays $2; the seventh, $5; the eighth, $9; the ninth, $12; and the 10th guy pays $52. All six are better off than before, and the four poor guys still eat for nothing. The trouble starts when they leave the restaurant and begin to compare what they reaped from the $20 cut. "I only got a dollar of it," says the sixth man, "but he (pointing at No. 10) got $7." The fifth guy, who also saved a dollar by getting his meal free, agrees that it's not fair for the richest to get seven times the savings as he. No. 7, grousing that the wealthy get all the breaks, points out that he only got two bucks. "Wait a minute," the first four poor guys yell in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

PS I support graduated income taxes - I even support an increase in taxes, but I am offended when tax cuts are described the way they are by Democratic Politicians. They are either intellectually dishonest or stupid. (That is a mathematical 'or'.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Tenure Biennium review

There is a review of the book My Tenure Biennium in the March 9th issue of The Murray State News.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


A friend sent me an exchange between two people from the right and left. I include a bit from each side to give you the flavor of it, and then include my thoughts.

The righty wrote: "It's easy to dismiss individual programs that benefit non-citizens until they're put together and this picture emerges. Someone did a lot of research to put together all of this data. Often these programs are buried within other programs making them difficult to find." .... there then followed a lot of data about how immigrants were destroying the country under the title: WHY is the USA BANKRUPT? It looked like one of those rabid things that you sometimes get in an email and drop in the trash.

The lefty responded with an erudite quote from Dietrich Bornhoeffer (sic) and then went on her own rant about globalization. It included:

"One major flaw in the message is the statement that illegal people 'suppress' wages for Americans. Very typical, hot-rhetoric distortion. The true 'suppression' of American living-wage comes from globalizaton; from corporate greed; from 'hoarding' profits for the few, instead of turning portion of profit back into the community. Outsourcing is the cause of failing wages, that is fact. The reality of immigrant labor is a minor piece of a very large and toxic puzzle. And, let us not forget that we are all 'immigrants.' Our people came from somewhere else, not all that long ago. And my people faced amazing animosity. It took generations of hard work and determination to come out of that, somewhat. The difference? There was work to be had. It had not been hauled off to Indonesia or China or India or wherever the few could grab the benefit provided by the many."

A little side point: If you are going to answer an irrational rant it does not help your argument (except with those who already agree with you) to make blatantly false statements. In point of fact, we are not all immigrants. To put single quotes around it may make it satisfy some esoteric sense of validity, but it is still silliness. I was born in this country and that makes me a native. I'm no more of an immigrant here than are the descendants of those Mexican families who stayed on this side of the border and became Americans when the land changed hands almost two hundred years ago. End of the side point.

Her message is that she cares for the many not the few. Yet globalization does not just help the few who are managing it. It helps - literally - billions of people around the world. Does anyone doubt that the Asians are living better today than they did 30 years ago. Why are liberals only concerned about the foreigners who are in our country? If the left is true to itself shouldn't they care about all of those other people who are being helped by globalization?

I don't think that globalization is a "choice". I think it is a fact of history. Since we can't build a fence around the country to keep people out, does anyone really think that we can build one that will keep all of that capital in? We cannot be separate from the world. I understand how frustrating it is to feel that the results of all of those battles that were fought in this country (and elsewhere) to get the worker a living share of the products of industry seem to be slipping away. But, as Margaret Thatcher said, "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” I think that we have to recognize that labor's gains are going to have to be fought for again and this time on a world scale.

In my mind the big question for the left is which way will you choose: Are you going to seek your goals by empowering labor to force employers to pay a living wage or are you going to try to get the government to just take the money from the rich and redistribute it among the people?

Success by the former method will create a proud self reliant population.
Success by the latter method will produce a culture of dependency.
I'll bet you can guess which one I prefer.

BTW What did all of those folks (on both sides) think was going to happen when the rest of the world figured out how the West got that rich?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Murray students compete in the State Team Chess Tournament

The Murray Middle and Elementary School students who qualified in the recent regional tournament, traveled to Louisville to compete in the State Championships. They were accompanied by Sponsor Martin Son and Coach Wayne Bell and a host of parents.

The middle school team of Sam Lewis, Aaron Sikkel, Talon Cole and Charlie Gannon were missing some of their strong players, but still made a good showing. Team Captain Sam Lewis scored 2.5 – 1.5 on board one and Talon Cole had a very strong 3 – 1 score on board 3.

The primary team of Nikolas Holcomb, Andrew Orr, Kevin Xu, Caleb Cauley, and Jack Gannon was brand new and none of them had ever played in competition with other schools before Jan 21 of this year. Team Captain Nikolas Holcomb played on board one, which is the toughest place to be on a 4 board team. Andrew Orr played on board two, the second hottest spot. The team was strong and deep, on board four Caleb Cauley got his best score yet with 2.5 – 1.5 and on board three Kevin Xu had another outstanding 3 – 1. The team exceeded all of the expectations of Bell and their sponsor, Jaqueline Robinson, and scored 2 team points out of a possible 4. Bell predicts that next year they will be competitive to get the other 2 points.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Historical - Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Some things are worth repeating and this is one of them.
It is also a useful reference for anyone who wants to do one of the following:
a) Refute the claim that the civil war was not about slavery.
b) Refute the claim that the American government has never had a place for religion in it.
c) Read good literature and/or history.

Lincoln'sSecond Inaugural Address

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I have listened to and read with interest the thinking of the Republicans as they go about the business of choosing their Presidential nominee.  It seems to me that there will be much nose holding in the coming months as they  (I say they because I readily admit that I no longer consider myself to be a Republican) coalesce around a single candidate.  As I understand it, the single most important issue will be "who can beat Obama"?  Well that's not too surprising.  Both parties want to win.  But what I sense is that they are torn between wanting to nominate someone who represents their world view, and someone who can beat Obama...and those two people will not be the same person. 

So, does that tell us anything about the Republican Party?  Does it say that they are not confident enough in their beliefs and viewpoints to run on them?

Let's see...we have Ron Paul who is really not a Republican at all and seems to have become Romney's wingman (at least that's the accusation from Santorum).  He is the only career politician I have ever seen who could run as a Beltway outsider and actually would qualify as one.  He's done very little of note in his 22 years in congress except repeatedly and unsuccessfully run for President while consistenly warning that the sky is falling.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day, so since this is the right time of day for him to be right he has rallied more support this time around than usual.  But if he is a Washington outsider, he is definitely a Republican outsider.  The leadership knows they could never control him in any way.  So, no amount of nose holding is going to get this guy nominated.

There's Newt.  I heard someone say once that Newt Gingrich is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like.  He has several problems not least of which is that no one who ever worked with him would ever vote for him.  He seems to have found the Lord just in time to run for President and I wish him well with that.  But he will not be nominated.

There is Rick Santorum, everybody's favorite fundamentalist Catholic.  I sense that an awful lot of Republicans would like to see him win the Presidency.  He represents a fear, anxiety and anger in the Republican Party that the country is, as Hank Hill once said, "huggin' its way down the crapper".  That the 1950s, as we all imagined them to be, when men were men and women knew their place, are slipping away forever.  A time when censorship was the family friend, when there were only 3 TV channels and then that other weird channel, and everybody watched the same shows and had the same cultural points of reference.  And everybody listened to the same music but not very much (mostly as life's background music), when the teacher could spank your children and then the parents spanked them when they got home.  When people got married and stayed married no matter how much they despised each other because that was the right thing to do.  When an American could freely mock peoples of other nationalities and customs with absolutely no hesitation whatsoever secure in the knowledge that just being an American made them superior.  I remember as a small child growing up in the 50s learning that Jesus was not born in America.  I  had to go through the grieving steps beginning with denial to get through that one.  Why would Jesus choose to be born anywhere but America?  It was a mystery to me.  And yet it says something about that time.  Americans DID have a swagger that said "I'm an American, and everything that ever happened worth knowing happened in America."  Everything around us validated that.  The movies, the television shows, the music, everything in our culture said America is the greatest and most deserving nation on Earth because it's full of Americans.  But the Republican leadership knows that most Americans today understand that the world is over that time, and they're ready to move on so Rick's not going to draw the rational person's vote.  He can't get them to the Whitehouse. 

So, barring a surprise entrant, it will be Mitt Romney vs. Barrack Obama.  Not a good American name between them.  Oh well.  Whomever wins they had better put their big boy pants on because we have got some big boy problems and need big boy solutions.