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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Zeke Emanuel hopes to die at 75

Here is an article called "Why I Hope to Die at 75" by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and used to work in the Obama administration.

I have some real reservations about what he writes - he couches nearly the entire piece in terms of how we "contribute to work, society, the world" asking whether or not after 75 we are "worth our contribution" and he dismisses as trivial such pleasant activities as "bird watching, bicycle riding, pottery, and the like." I ask, what about being in love? Being a "productive" member of society seems to me a sad way to measure life.

Still, the article was interesting, I think, worth reading.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism


I strongly recommend:  How the  Poor Can Save Capitalism a book by John Hope Bryant. The nature of the book means that he could have said:  and vice-versa.  At 150 pages it is a quick read and very interesting.

I believe that the disparity of incomes is a serious and growing problem.  It is inextricably bound up with race, but not entirely a problem of race.  I like what he does in that Bryant accepts both of these aspects of the problem.  As many have noted before, there are more poor whites than blacks in America.  A main theme is that if the only role models you have are sports stars, movie stars and drug dealers, then your prospects are not very good.

He rejects both:  the mantra that the poor just need to change their culture
and 
the theme that the poor only need for the rich to give them more money.

He notes that the poor do not know how to deal with finance and how that drags them down from the outset.

He says that the poor need self-confidence, role models, and opportunity. He proposes private and public initiatives to deal with this - hitting first on financial literacy as a root cause of the problem.  For more on this see: operation hope

With the support of a number of bankers for his capitalistic approach (which gives him credibility on the right) and Bill Clinton and Andrew Young (who give him credibility on the left) he represents an attempt to solve a problem by reaching across the great divide.

Even the effort is refreshing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Will we ever learn? Rand Paul


SEN. RAND PAUL: There is no debate more significant for a legislator than the decision to engage in war. We must hold our leaders accountable. If we do not, there will be no end to war. The ridiculous and the absurd must be laid to rest. You've all heard it before. Toppling Ghaddafi led to a jihadist wonderland in Libya, toppling Hussein led to the chaos that is Iraq, toppling Assad will lead to a new chaos and greater danger from the jihadists.

The moss covered too-long-in-Washington crowd cannot help themselves. War, war, what we need is more, more war. Their policies and the combination of feckless disinterest, fraudulent red lines, and selective combativeness of this administration have led us to this point. Yes, we must now confront ISIS, in part for penance for the President's role in their rise. But while we do so to protect our interests here, what we need is someone to shout: War, war, what are we fighting for?

Amidst the interventionist's disjointed and frankly incoherent rhetoric, amidst the gathering gloom that sees enemies behind every friend, and friends behind every enemy, the only consistent theme is war. These barnacled enablers have never met a war they didn't like. They beat their chests in rhythmic ode to failed policies. Their drums beat to policies that display their outrage but fail to find a cure. Unintended consequences drown and smother the possibility of good intentions.

Must we act to check and destroy ISIS? Yes, and again yes, because of the foolishness of the interventionists. But let's not mistake what we must do. We shouldn't give a pass to forever intervene in the civil wars of the Middle East. Intervention created the chaos. Intervention aided and abetted the rise of radical Islam and intervention made us less safe in Libya and Syria and Iraq.

To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere: Remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and "heroes" in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq...unaware that so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers, killers or both. Are the so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria friends or foes? Do we know who they really are? All debatable questions at best.

As the interventionists clamor for boots on the ground, we should remember that they were wrong about Iraq. They were wrong about Libya. They were trying to intervene last year on the wrong side of the Syrian war. When will we quit listening to the advocates of perpetual war? When does a track record of being consistently wrong stop you from being a so-called expert when the next crisis arises?

We should remember that they were wrong, that there were no WMD's, that Hussein, Khaddifi, and Assad were no threat to us. We should remember that radical Islam now roams about in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. We should remember that those who believe that war is the answer for every problem, were wrong. We should remember that war against Hussein, that war against Khaddafi, that war against Assad led to chaos.

That intervention enhanced the rise of radical Islam, and ultimately led to more danger for Americans. Before we arm the so-called moderate Muslims of Syria, remember what I said a year ago: "The irony you will not be able to overcome is that these arms will someday be used against America."

That prediction is now true. We will fight ISIS, a war I accept as necessary, largely because our own arms and the arms of our allies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have enabled our new enemy ISIS. Will we ever learn?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is ISIS Islamic?


I was pleased when Bush 43 said that the 911 terrorists did not represent Islam.

I was pleased when Obama and Cameron said similar things.

We don't want to be at war with Islam (or sometimes "1.6 billion Muslims").  It was appropriate for us to give a great religion the benefit of the doubt.

But I think that that has been said enough - by us.  If we keep saying it, then it relieves the folks in Tehran, Cairo, Saudi Arabia and such places from having to make that argument. It lets the leaders of Islam off the hook that their particular crazies have put them on.

I understand some muslim leaders in the US have issued a fatwa condemning the ISIS movement.  That is their job - to guide their flocks and tell the world that they are not all terrorists.

So I'm ready for Obama to quit saying things like:    ISIL (sic) is not "Islamic." 

(Which is a step beyond the previous statements above.)

How does he know that they are not Islamic?
They say they are Islamic.
How did Obama get to be the arbiter of who is and who is not Islamic?
If ISIS is not Islamic, why doesn't the much talked about "1.6 billion Muslims" step up and smash the 32,000 imposters who are ruining their good name?



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Congressional authorization

Count me among those who are confused about when exactly the President is supposed to get congressional authorization for military endeavors.

Here are some things I think I know:

President Bush got congressional authorization to go into Iraq.
President Obama did not get congressional authorization to go into Libya.
President Obama sought but did not get congressional authorization to go into Syria, so he didn't go.

Now President Obama says he doesn't need congressional authorization to go to Iraq/Syria.

Do I have my facts straight? If I do, I'm thoroughly confused.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shafted employees


I have heard of this anecdotally, but more recently saw a credible documentary about the way many businesses are treating their employees.

This is Walmart, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.

You are paid minimum wage or close to it.

Your work time must be less than 40 hours/wk to avoid benefits. (another example of liberals and the stasis fallacy)

So you will have to have another one of these jobs to make ends meet.

All this is bad enough, but it gets worse:

You are frequently not told that you are not working that day until you arrive.

In order to work those 35, or 28, or 23 hours a week you have to be "on call" and ready to go to work for up to 80 hours a week!!

I generally think business folks take too much heat for normal operations.

But they ought to take a hellish amount of heat for this kind of thing.

Friday, September 5, 2014

entrepreneur


Definition:
entrepreneur - a person who is willing to work 14 hours a day in order to not look for a job.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Movies and television

I'm often struck by how much violence is allowed to be shown on TV and in the movies. I have a real problem with the way that certain things are considered OK and others not.

How in the world could someone defend giving a movie a PG13 rating in spite of the fact that it shows shootings, stabbings, or other violence, while a scene with a female breast or male member exposed warrants an R rating when there is no little or no other objectionable material?

It seems backwards to me that images of murder are largely OK but scenes of a consensual sexual nature are not.

Poor doesn’t exist


I ran across this article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/opinion/what-makes-people-poor.html?_r=0 titled “What Makes People Poor” that discusses, at length, what the author thinks makes people “poor”.  I did not find any startling reveleations in the article, but I was VERY struck by the title and the mindset.

While people can be poor, poor is not really a “thing” any more than cold or dark are things.  Poor is the absence of prosperity so the proper question is what makes people prosper.  The distinction is not trivial; it is the difference between planning to succeed vs. planning not to be “poor”.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

War of words


To date the White House has carefully avoided referring to the military actions in Iraq as acts of WAR against ISIS (or ISIL).  The problem is that the term WAR is a universally recognized fig leaf that gives humans moral cover to kill other humans.

If we are not killing ISIS members as an act of WAR what is our moral cover?