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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bill Maher's American Dream

Bill Maher says the American dream is dead since a lifestyle of a home, 1 car, a vacation, and eating out once a week costs $131,000 / year and the average income is only $51,000 / year.

It is amazing how those people in NY and LA don't even know we are here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Capital punishment

I just heard another one of those arguments against capital punishment that goes like this:  "If we are really against killing, then you have to be against capital punishment because it is a kind of killing."

It is fine with me to abolish capital punishment, but this argument is so pitiful.

1.  When we make murder illegal (and punishable at all) we are not opposing all killing, only the kind that qualifies as murder. 

To say all killing is equivalent is as foolish as saying all sex is equivalent.

2.  If X imprisons someone and is sentenced to prison himself, what do those who use the argument above say about that?  Do they say:  "If we are really against imprisonment, then you have to be against sending X to prison, too."

It is ironic that they are inconsistent about applying their consistency argument.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sex vs Gender

The title of this article http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/04/woman-2  is “What is a Woman”?

An attention catching title that suggests the time has passed when biological sex (the shape of the genitals) has a firm tie to social gender.

Actually, I have no problem with an individual identifying with a gender that differs from their biological sex.  According to the article individuals that do so can be fired (discriminated against) in many states.  Something, I think, should be corrected.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide

Two weeks ago a close 90 year old relative had a major stroke.  Efforts to save her were heroic.  Still, she will never be able to take care of herself and her husband of 92 is not able to perform that task.  Hospital bills are in the 100 thousands and growing (covered by medicare and a supplement).  Soon she will be sent home from rehab in an un-rehabilitated state.  It seem that what can be done as far as rehab is concerned coincides with how much Medicare will pay.  Still, the social net is in place and home care will be provided at taxpayer expense for the rest of her life. This includes care for the husband with daily chores such as shopping and cooking.

Money is not the issue in this case, quality of life is!  Her husband has perhaps a few years left to watch his wife mumble (sometimes) incoherently in her wheel chair.  She will endure having some stranger feed her and change her diaper.

Both the husband and wife have expressed a wish to be able to simply lay their heads down together and go to sleep.
What would be so wrong with that?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The eternal questions

For the philosophically minded we have the following from Terry.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Estate taxes

(paraphrase) John Oliver:  "You (anti tax folks) shouldn't be complaining about the estate tax (which you call the death tax) because they are doing exactly what you want:  They are taking your money over your dead body."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Obama’s job approval by religion group

I ran across this Gallup poll results reflecting Obama’s job approval by religious group.

 Muslim                                                             72%
Other non-Christian                                        59%
Jewish                                                                55%
No religion/Atheist                                          54%
Catholic                                                             44%
Protestant/Other non-Christian                   37%
Mormon/Latter-day Saints                           18%

 According to the results of the poll Obama’s relative rank of approval FOR EACH GROUP has remained the same for each year between 2009 and 2014 even though Obama’s job approval has changed for all groups.  

I find it fascinating that the relative ranking by group remains the same even as job approval changes.  I have no idea what it means.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


For an example of how silly the right can get:  

Charles Krauthammer has said that "If fences don't work, then why do we have one around the White House?"

In case it is necessary:

1.   The fence around the WH is short.
2.   It is "closed" - that is it has no ends that one could go around.
3.   It is all in constant public view.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hobby Lobby

If you have not heard the SC just ruled that some companies may be required to provide only 16 of 20 kinds of  birth control in their employee health care.  Obama care cannot be required to provide the other 4 on the grounds that they are too close to happening after conception and therefore contrary to some peoples religious beliefs.  This means that if you want one of the other 4 kinds then you would have to get it from charitable group or pay for it your self.  I think that this is a close call and a hard case.  However, as usual, the rhetoric goes way beyond the reality.

I also heard Rachel Maddow describe this in a way very similar to the following.

"The Supreme Court basically ruled that bosses can tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  They can control our reproductive health care.  This has nothing to do with religious freedom."
Donna Brazille, ABC news, Sunday morning show

The hostess did not caution her that she was over the top.  Someone needs to.

It is time that we start to call this kind distortion what it is.

What she said is not true.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Separation of Powers

As we move on to immigration, the new theory of the separation of powers that is being implemented by Pres. Obama is: 

1.  Give the Congress the opportunity to pass the laws the president wants passed,

2.  If they fail at their job, then the President will do it for them.

I am particularly impressed that "not doing what the President wants"  is referred to - sometimes implicitly but sometimes explicitly - as a "failure".  Apparently the press does not notice this oddity.

SCOTUS has said (by 9-0) that the President is not the agency that decides whether the Senate is in recess or not.  However, this has apparently not slowed him down.  I wonder what would.