Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Superstorm Sandy provides graphic demonstration about why all states should move immediately to voting by mail.
Look at the disruptions all through the east coast and stretching into the midwest due to Sandy. Who knows what election day is going to look like in all those locations. I bet many polling places are still going to be without power. And as important as voting is in this country right now, I would bet there will be many families who will have a different set of priorities on Nov. 6, such as making sure everyone has enough to eat and remains warm, or cleaning up from the tree limb that went through their roof. In coastal areas, many people may not have working vehicles anymore.
Dammit, this is a democracy. Or else it is supposed to be. Voting should be easy, not difficult. Washington state and Oregon have shown that voting-by-mail works and works well. Let's use it!
I am wondering how much disruption the storm's aftereffects are going to have on election day. No matter what happens regarding winners and losers, there will no doubt be a number of people crying "foul" because of a breakdown in the voting system. I just hope they are small breakdowns and not something major that no one saw coming. Then the crap really will hit the fan, metaphorically speaking.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
John Cottrell had health problems, but in his heart he believed he was covered. After all, GS Industries, the Kansas City steel company where he had worked for 30 years had guaranteed his health insurance and pensions in the event of a shutdown. John retired in poor health from asbestos-related respiratory problems in 2000, but he and his wife Shirley felt secure knowing that their most critical employee benefits were guaranteed for life.
Then everything changed. Bain Capital, the private equity firm which gained control of GS Industries in 1993, declared bankruptcy for the mill in 2001, and quickly shut down the plant. A few months later, Bain dropped another hammer on the workforce: it was reneging on its promise to cover the lifetime worker benefits. Suddenly, the Cottrells’ future was very much in doubt.
“He thought these things couldn’t be touched,” said Shirley Cottrell in an interview. “He and the other workers trusted the company’s promises.”
These are the personal stories of Cottrell and other GS Industry workers and how their peace of mind and medical safety net were ripped apart. It will portray the suffering on an individual level, and show the damage done when people’s futures are controlled by a company that bases life-changing decisions primarily on financial considerations, regardless of the promises it made and the healthcare repercussions suffered by its workforce.
John Cottrell had been on the job for 23 years when, in 1993, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital assumed control of Worldwide Grinding Systems, the 105-year-old Kansas City steel mill where he worked. In the next seven years, before Cottrell retired in poor health in 2000, the mill went through some tough times, due in part to outdated machinery, the cyclical nature of the steel industry, and emerging international competition.
In response, Bain merged Worldwide with a steel mill in South Carolina, and renamed the new company GS Industries (GSI). In 1997, it endured a nasty 10-week worker strike that was motivated by the union’s skepticism that, if there was a shutdown, GSI had not earmarked sufficient reserves to cover its benefit and pension commitments.
Ultimately, a settlement was reached that increased employee pensions and guaranteed that employees would continue to receive health and life insurance, even if the plant closed down.
Which it did. In 2001, just one year after Cottrell retired with guaranteed lifetime benefits, Bain elected to put GSI into bankruptcy and close down the plant, along with its 750 jobs. The private equity firm then announced it would no longer honor its recent promise to cover employee healthcare and pension benefits if the plant closed.
I find it infuriating that Mitt Romney somehow is able to get away with labeling himself as a "job creator." That is not what Bain Capital did at all. Their task was to go in and extract as much wealth from companies they acquired, usually at great cost to the workers and the companies themselves, who were forced to borrow money to finance the takeover by Bain.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Monday, October 01, 2012
Is he still supportive of his health care plan in Mass. or not? He has made very conflicting statements about that in the last few days. But it all depends upon the audience he thinks he is talking to. Ditto support for his running mate's "economic plan." Does he support that or not? It depends on who he is trying to impress. He takes this to such an extreme that his wife's dressage horse is either a) a hobby that he doesn't pay any attention to so much so that he doesn't even know the Olympic schedule for when the horse is competing, b) therapy for his wife's health issues, or c) a business that he is able to claim $70,000 deductions on from his taxes. What is it? Depends on who is listening.
This is why I think the upcoming presidential debates are going to be so interesting. I am thinking that Mitt is going to have a very difficult time in trying to figure out who he is talking to.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Now, however, it is all very, very clear about what Fox News is. They will spin any sort of news they can to make President Obama and the Democrats look bad, even to the point of fabricating stories or taking individual sentences out of context. They will puff up all sorts of stories that support their cause, like the Tea Party rallies, but totally downplay anything they deem to be "on the other side", such as the Occupy movement. They will support Mitt Romney in the face of the unsupportable, e.g., his outrageous attack on President Obama DURING the attacks on the Libyan embassy and the consulate in Egypt and his ridiculous statements last week captured on a hidden camera video regarding the 47% lazy bums who will never vote for Romney and never take responsibility for themselves.
So, we all now know what Fox is doing and why. But who are they talking to? Their base really doesn't need any more fuel to keep their anger burning brightly. They are already angry. I seriously doubt that many undecided voters would be going to Fox to get their news to help them make up their minds. If someone is going to Fox, I believe that their minds are already made up. So, is it just money? Is it just totally ideology driven, such that they don't really care that much about undecided voters or making money off advertising? Is Roger Ailes so driven by hatred of Democrats, progressives and liberals, not to mention gays and lesbians, blacks, Latinos, etc., that that becomes his primary motivation? Pure, unadulterated spite?
I know this is an overgeneralization. There are probably a number of "reasons" why Fox News does what it does. Maybe not really good reasons, but at least they might be rational ones when examined from their point of view. But when they start having to rely on taking Obama quotes out of context that are 14 years old, what do they really think they are accomplishing?
I am not a psychologist. I can only try to explain what I think are nonsensical human actions by my own point of view and hopefully, logic based thought process. But I think that many people in today's society, and that does include some on the left as well, become so locked in to their own positions that they don't even care that they make sense anymore. No logic is necessary, rationalization of their position is all that matters. If they can come up with something, ANYTHING, that they can say to make their position seem to be the right one, then that is all that is required.
And when that happens to a society, it becomes vapor locked. That is why we have Republican senators and congressmen who will never, ever vote for a bill sponsored by a Democrat. It doesn't make any difference if they helped write it or if the bill represents a position that the Republican mainstream held during the Bush administration. It doesn't matter. All they know is that Obama and Democrats are evil and they can never agree with them. On anything. Ever.
So, where does that leave us as a country? I have no idea, but wherever it is, it isn't good.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
But I was going to note that, since the pro-gun folks' favorite proposal is to let everyone have and carry arms, this means that people will really need to be armed to:
1) Go to the movies.
2) Go to a place of worship, regardless of religion or denomination.
3) Go to class, high school or college, or just be walking by a school.
4) Go out to a bar, even the "artsy" kind that you might find in Seattle.
5) Go to a museum, such as the Holocaust Museum.
6) Work in any organization that might be seen as supportive of "liberal" causes.
I got that list from events that have happened or almost happened in the last couple of years, and I didn't even have to think more than about 30 seconds.
I wonder when the pro-gun people might want to rethink their proposed approach. Does anyone really think that would be a credible deterrent when nutjobs with a grudge and a desire to be famous are involved? And how many more innocent people might get shot if, all of a sudden, there was a crossfire in any of these places (like in a dark movie theater filled with smoke and lots of confusion) that leaves people nowhere to flee?
What a crazy country this is. I guess it's a good thing that we really don't care what the rest of the world thinks of us, because the rest of the world thinks we are insane.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Apparently, this is not a new observation. This controversy has been going on for some time, even before the movie version of The Hunger Games. See this story for an example. Of the few that I have read, however, the writers seem to be going out of their way to marginalize those who might suggest that Suzanne Collins took her ideas right out of Battle Royale. OK, sure. There aren't that many original ideas running around anymore, especially when it comes to films. But really... Let's take a bit closer look at this, given that Ms. Collins is saying she had never heard of this film when she was writing The Hunger Games.
The main drama in each comes in when groups of young people are sent out in an isolated area and are required to kill each other to survive. Per the rules, only one can come out alive. (That's the first similarity.) Yep, the two groups came to be in this predicament in totally different ways. But that, as the linked article might suggest, isn't a huge difference in my mind. Each of these contests is government sanctioned. (Second similarity.) Each of these contests creates a media frenzy and is considered to be a huge sporting event. (Third similarity.) Each contestant (for the most part, which I will discuss later) is there against his/her will, being chosen by random lottery. (Fourth similarity.) Each contestant is provided a weapon, all different from each other, with some being much better than others but sometimes, the oddball weapon is of much more use than they might have expected. Bow and arrow or crossbow are highly prized items. (Fifth similarity.) Announcements are made periodically through the contest, mostly to tell everyone who has been killed during the last period. (Sixth similarity.) Smaller alliances within the big group are formed, in order to hunt down the individuals easier. (Seventh similarity.) Survivors of earlier games are included in the current game. (Eighth similarity.) The heroes of the story are a pair, boy and girl, trying to survive together but ultimately know that they may not be able to both survive, given the rules of the game. But they are certainly going to give it a try. (Ninth similarity.)
Now, it is certainly possible that Suzanne Collins had had no exposure to this film before she wrote her books. But boy... That claim certainly seems, to me, to be really stretching at the bounds of credibility. Some of the articles that I noted earlier really played up the differences between the two. Well, sure. If someone was going to copy someone else's idea, you wouldn't do it scene for scene, would you? I mean, The Magnificent Seven is a different movie with different settings and different dynamics, but the idea still came from Kurasawa's classic, The Seven Samurai. And the earlier film was given due credit in the American western version directed by John Sturges. But to have that many, very detailed similarities between the two doesn't seem to be overshadowed by some admittedly different plot aspects (such as why these games are being conducted in the first place).
Like I said, it is possible, but boy. I certainly see why some critics are really howling about how unlikely it is that Ms. Collins really had no idea she was writing something that paralleled so closely a huge hit film in Japan.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
But your prime time coverage is still that same crap that you always do. You want to watch the Olympics? Then you are going to do it on our terms. It's like they think they are showing the Outer Limits. "We control the horizontal. We control the vertical. We control all that you see and hear...." They seem to believe that they Olympics must be presented as a reality show. It's just all a bunch of raw material that they can slice, dice, omit, re-order, etc., however they feel like it. They are going to show you all Americans, all the time, except for some events which they obviously can't do that, like diving. But even then, they have already decided which countries they are going to show and not show. They never, ever show all the competitors in diving. They recently received a bunch of criticism for not showing a very dramatic moment involving Russian gymnasts. They wanted to keep the audience in suspense about whether or not viewers would keep watching, which would keep them watching.
I see the same criticisms, over and over, every single Olympics that NBC broadcasts. Yet then never change. Hey, NBC! Pay attention, dammit! The Olympics are not some reality show that is open to your own interpretation. It contains its own dynamics and drama without you trying to insert your own manufactured drama. You should not be screwing around with the content just because you think you can "maximize eyeballs" on TV sets. And I have news for you. A lot of people I know have to go to be before 11 p.m. (that would be 10 p.m. for me) as they have to go to work in the morning. Would you PLEASE get over yourself! You are not the show here! They Olympics are!
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
There was always outrage when our gymnasts were given really low scores by the Russian or East German judges. I remember how the men's basketball team was literally robbed of a gold medal by the officials by giving them not one "do over" at the very end of a game with a half court heave, but TWO "do overs." I remember the U.S. boycotting the Moscow Olympics because of their involvement in Afghanistan (and boy, in retrospect, do we look stupid now) and the Soviet Union and their allies boycotting the games in LA. I remember every once in while that we actually rooted for one of "their" athletes because they were so good, such as Nadia. And I most certainly remember the U.S. hockey team's "Miracle On Ice" at Lake Placid. I even have a hockey puck somewhere around here with a sticker of the U.S. hockey team on it when I saw them doing their warm ups by playing all the teams in the Central Hockey League way back when.
I am not sure my daughter could really get what I was saying. After all, she has no direct experience with anything like that. The Cold War is just something that happened back in the depths of time that she reads about in her history book.
I am certainly not saying there aren't political tensions in the world. But it is certainly nice that, for the most part, they don't manifest themselves in the Olympics anymore. The Olympic Games are not seen as some "proxy war" for who has the best ideology. And that's really a very positive development. I actually enjoy rooting for the Russians now and then.
Anyway, my apologies for those who bother to drop by and are having problems. I have no idea what to do about this.
Friday, July 27, 2012
If trying to promote outrage by taking President Obama’s quotes out of context is Mitt’s main weapon in this campaign, then he has got absolutely nothing.
As we discussed last week, at this point in the race, Republicans aren't just occasionally taking Obama quotes out of context; they're actually building their entire 2012 campaign strategy around sentiments the president didn't actually say. I've honestly never seen anything like it.Let's start a running count:
1. The Romney campaign took Obama out of context in its very first television ad of the race.
2. When the president told business leaders that U.S. policymakers have been "a little bit lazy" when it comes to attracting businesses to American soil, Republicans took that out of context and launched a series of attacks.
3. When Obama said private-sector job growth is "fine" relative to the public sector, Republicans took that out of context,
4. Obama said public institutions help businesses succeed, and Republicans continue to take that out of context.
And 5. Obama said Clinton's tax policies were better than Bush's, which the RNC is taking out of context.
Remember, in theory, none of this should be necessary. If the president were the radical leftist his attackers make him out to be, Republicans wouldn't have to resort to cheap garbage like this. They'd be able to use real Obama quotes and real Obama policies.Instead, we're left with ridiculous tactics that treat voters like idiots.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
And if he cared, really cared, he would do something from his position as leader of this country to ensure that something like this won't ever happen again. But that isn't going to happen. Some of the first statements made by the President after this shooting made it very plain that he isn't going to do anything substantive.
“Because they represent what's best in us and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come."
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) drew a fairly strict line in the sand on Sunday with respect to the coming debate over gun control, suggesting that there is a constitutional right to buy high-capacity clips and magazines.
"Does something that would limit magazines that could carry 100 rounds, would that infringe on the constitutional right?" host Chris Wallace asked Johnson on "Fox News Sunday."
"I believe so," Johnson replied. "People will talk about unusually lethal weapons, that could be potentially a discussion you could have. But the fact of the matter is there are 30-round magazines that are just common. You simply can't keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm. And when you try to do it, you restrict our freedoms."
UPDATE: Sorry this is difficult to read. I have absolutely no idea why Blogger decided to put this posts text in grey against a black background. I didn't do that and can't figure out how to change it.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
On 9/11, one of the worst days in American history, somewhere around 3000 people were murdered in cold blood by a number of fanatics. Over that event, this country ended up starting two wars (even if Iraq wasn't about 9/11 directly, George Bush certainly used the opportunity to get his war of choice), each of which set a record for the longest war this country had ever participated in. Thousands of American soldiers were killed, and tens of thousands were maimed for life. Over a trillion dollars was spent, and hundreds of thousands of civilians from both Iraq and Afghanistan were killed. That's what this country did in the name of the 3000 people who died on 9/11. "Never forget!"
On the other hand, somewhere between 9000 and 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed by gun violence each and every year, and we do absolutely nothing. Let me repeat that. Between 9000 and 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed by gun violence each and every year, and we do absolutely nothing.
The ability of Americans to rationalize away anything that contradicts with their established beliefs is nothing short of dumbfounding.
UPDATE: Actually, Cognitive Dissonance was the term I was looking for.
UPDATE: Here is actually what looks like to me a non-satirical commentary from The Onion, courtesy of Balloon Juice.
Friday, July 20, 2012
But again, what I am talking about is the fact that these types of events are so damn commonplace. They seem to happen several times a year now. And I will absolutely goddamn guarantee that this event will be all but forgotten within six months, just like the shooting at Virginia Tech was. Just like the horrific shooing of Gabby Giffords at a campaign event outside a shopping mall in Tucson. Those have all but been forgotten, except when someone brings up Giffords every now and then.
Any attempt by anyone to actually DO anything about gun violence in this country will be met with overwhelming opposition, and the attempt will crumble. Any attempt will be labeled as “Political Opportunism” and “Government Overreach.” The country, as a whole (which is different than a majority of the population, because that doesn’t factor in money, the NRA, and political timidity), would rather have these sickening events a couple of times a year where countless innocent people die or come through the event with horrible physical and psychic scars, than actually curtail anyone’s easy access to as many guns as they want. THAT is what is important in this country. Innocent lives are not important in the face of letting crazy people have guns.
Don’t give me that crap about statistics. I can show you just as many statistics about how having guns in someone’s home increases the change, by a large amount, of someone getting shot accidently.
Don’t give me that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” No, guns do kill people. That’s the predominate reason that many guns are manufactured and sold. Sure, there are rifles and shotguns made specifically for hunting of animals (which I think is cruel and absurd, but do recognize it as a legitimate form of “recreation”). But most guns are made to kill people.
I feel so badly, just like I do after every shooting. Nothing will happen. People will wring their hands and say, “how horrible.” And other people will immediately go into their defensive/pre-emptive offensive mode, ready to stomp on any attempt to do anything about curtailing gun violence. And absolutely nothing will happen. This is the norm. People die in car crashes, no one wants to take away people’s cars. (I have actually heard that one as an argument.) Therefore, by extension, why worry about a few nuts with guns which we can’t do anything about anyway? Don’t concern yourself that we haven’t actually TRIED to do anything. We just know that we can’t solve the problem. So, let’s just forget about this, shall we? Good. Too bad about all those kids that were killed and injured because they wanted to see the new Batman movie. That’s just how it goes.
I hate this country.
UPDATE: This is in response to the first comment I received on my post, only about 10 minutes after I hit post. I thought about addressing this "argument" in my original post, but I was so upset and in a hurry that I didn't go there. Not that it would have mattered to those people who think that the best/only solution to gun violence in this country is to arm EVERYONE. Yep, sure can't see any problems with that.... No, I am sure that drunken disputes at 2 a.m. in a bar that currently only results in broken teeth and bloody knuckles would NEVER result in a gun fight. Just like the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida didn't end up with a 17 year old kid dead because some hot shot with a gun and a chip on his shoulder (who wasn't even drunk at the time) decided he was going to instigate something. No, guns certainly don't empower people with feelings of control, machismo and invulnerability. No, and I am sure that when something did come up, no more innocent bystanders would be hurt or killed in the crossfire. 20 people shooting in a dark movie theater with smoke bombs and tear gas going off? No, no chance of anyone else getting hurt.
Goddamn, I cannot understand this country. People have lost sight of all perspective and ideology is REQUIRED to drive all responses anymore. No logic. No understanding of anyone's problems other than their own, either real or imaginary. Only mindless tribalism. "They" are against this, so "we" MUST be for it! And vis versa.
I still maintain that the 2nd Amendment was written to address the issue of the government being able to raise a fighting force (i.e., "militia") very quickly, as there wasn't a standing army back then. To me, that's simple logic. But a huge percentage of the people in this country believe that it means that anyone, even those with a history of domestic violence and mental illness, should be allowed to have as many guns as they want, without any government "interference" at all. It's perfectly fine to have to go through mandatory training and getting a drivers license to drive a car, but guns? Hey, it's all good. No regulations necessary.
And I am just as sure that I will get more crazy comments like that first one. I may end up using my authority as owner of the blog to delete those comments, of course.... You want to advocate arming the entire country? Go get your own damn blog.
UPDATE: I revised the number of dead in the title from 14 to 12. Initial reports on events like these are always confused/confusing and will always be subject to correction after things settle down a bit.
UPDATE: Ah, great. The shooter booby-trapped his apartment. That's just great.... This guy really meant to go out in a blaze of glory, or whatever that amounted to in his sick, twisted mind. I don't care how badly anyone may think that "society" or the government has treated them. There is absolutely no justification for this.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
So at an Obama fundraiser headlined by the First Lady, Robert DeNiro tossed out a moderately funny joke:
“Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” De Niro asked to cheers from the crowd. “Too soon, right?”
Yes, it was a joke, you see, because in 2008, a lot of people asked if America was ready for a black president. We’ve had 43 white presidents, and 42 white first ladies, you see, and we don’t tend to think of them as belonging to any race. It’s a reminder of selective race-consciousness. I’m typing this v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y because some people don’t seem to get it.
Among the non-getters is Newt Gingrich, who has gone nuclear over the joke, and even tried to compare it to Rush Limbaugh’s sliming of Sandra Fluke:
“I do want to say one thing, both on behalf of my wife and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney — I think that Robert DeNiro’s wrong,” Gingrich said. “I think the country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.”
Gingrich went on to demand that President Obama apologize for the comments.
“What DeNiro said last night was inexcusable, and the president should apologize for him,” Gingrich said. “It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country. If people on the left want to talk about talk show hosts, then everybody in the country should hold the president accountable when someone at his event says something that is as utterly and terribly unacceptable as what Robert DeNiro said.”
Inexcusable.... Yep, that certainly is Inexcusable. But Gingrich wants an apology anyway, from the President, who had nothing to do with the joke in the first place.
And here is something that apparently doesn’t bother Conservatives at all.
Just moments before Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, he was on his cellphone talking with a 16-year-old girl. For the first time, the girl is speaking out about the last, horrifying moments of Martin's life.
"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," the girl told ABC News. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run."
According to accounts gleaned from 911 audio recordings made the night of the killing and the teenage girl's statements, Martin eventually did run. But Zimmerman wasn't far behind, and soon the two would be face to face. Zimmerman, the self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch, was armed with a 9mm pistol. Trayvon had little more than a bag of candy in his pocket.
"Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for?' and the man said, 'What are you doing here?' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the headset just fell. I called him again and he didn't answer the phone."
The line went dead, according to the girl's account.
"He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him," Tracey Martin, Trayvon's father, told ABC. "And that's the most disturbing part: He thought he had got away from the guy, and the guy back-tracked for him."
It’s apparently fine for a white guy with a gun and a history of calling the police every time he saw a “scary black person”, essentially stalk, initiate a confrontation, and then shoot a black 17 year old kid who was armed with nothing more than a box of skittles, and then claim “self-defense” and the laws of the state of Florida are perfectly fine with this. But lord, have some liberal make a joke that has some racial component, and everyone has a grand mal seizure. But killing an unarmed kid who was walking home from the local 7-11? That’s apparently fine and dandy.
I am so sick of these fucking assholes. And I feel so sorry for the family of Trayvon Martin….
I just don’t know how these racist cretins can live with themselves.
UPDATE: Read this, from BlackSnob, for an up close and personal perspective on this outright murder of a black kid. And much as this angers me, I could never really understand it from a black person's perspective. This will give you one. Highly recommended read.