Archive for the ‘BIO’ Category

A People’s History of the United States

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

This book by Howard Zinn is packed with fascinating information. If you want to know what really happened — blemishes and all — this book offers an unabridged no-holds-barred history of our country, starting in 1492.

The only reason I even know about the book is because of a column by neocon spewbag Dennis Prager. He was ranting and foaming at the mouth about it in this column which appeared in our local paper. Anyone who reads this evil book will be “manipulated into believing that America is a bad country, certainly no better than others.” He describes the book as “essentially a proctologist’s view of American history.”

I assume the website doesn’t contain the entire book, but there are some huge excerpts here. Columbus’ first encounter with Native Americans (it wasn’t pretty); a chilling description of the first slave ship unloading its cargo at Jamestown in 1619; the “other civil war” in the early 1800s; new insights into our Vietnam invasion. There are 24 chapters in all.

If you don’t purchase the book, bookmarking the website is the next best thing.

I already knew a lot of this information from reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. This is an excellent world history book. It’s probably less detailed about American history than the Howard Zinn book since it’s more of a world overview. Both books are excellent antidotes to the whitewashed sanitized “history” we’ve all been taught.

I’ve never understood why it’s supposed to be “negative” or “anti-American” to teach history the way it really happened, warts and all. Every country — including this one — has a history of violence, war and unimaginable cruelty. What’s the purpose of suppressing this information? It seems pointless to take a vibrant living multi-layered history and condense it into a squeaky-clean feelgood Leave It To Beaver episode.

These two books are a big 180 from the condensed simplified “America to the rescue!” tripe we all studied in school. And we have the same contrast with today’s current news coverage. Listen to a scripted sanitized story on the evening news. Then check out the same story on one of the “alternative” news websites, or a foreign news source. Even in Canada and Europe, their coverage of American issues is much more complete and objective than anything you’ll get from our own mainstream “media.”

Generations from now when historians are writing about this era, what will they write? The bland sterile news we’re getting today from the mainstream media is probably what future generations will read in their “official” history textbooks. Hopefully there will also be a few authors like Howard Zinn and James Loewen who will tell what really happened.

No Basis For Comparison

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Found out this about Barack Obama’s mother:

Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

Makes me wonder what George W. Bush’s mother has done to advance the world. I’m sure there’s no basis for comparison, but it looks to me that Barak Obama is coming from a solid rather the entirely privileged lineage like some Presidents we know.

George Bush (Brillant Master Of The Obvious) Says, “In The Long Run, Our Economy Is Going To Be Fine”

Monday, March 17th, 2008

No one ever claimed that George Bush has a powerful intellect. Certainly, you can’t expect more from the man who claimed a while back that we should “not misunderestimate” him. I cannot help but hearken back to that wonderful scene in the classic movie Animal House - where with the hoards roaring at him, the ROTC cadet yelling “all is well, remain calm” while getting flattened by the onrushing mob.

George Bush is so insignificant to the economy except for the inexcusable abuse of his administrations authority to get our country into this situation. His recent one minute speechifying is proof that he is irrelevant at this point in time:

9:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming by today to talk about the economic situation — we’ll be meeting later on this afternoon with the President’s Task Force on Financial Markets.

First of all, the Secretary has given me an update. One thing is for certain — we’re in challenging times. But another thing is for certain — that we’ve taken strong and decisive action. The Federal Reserve has moved quickly to bring order to the financial markets. Secretary Paulson has been — is supportive of that action, as am I. And I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for working over the weekend. You’ve shown the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation.

Secondly, you’ve reaffirmed the fact that our financial institutions are strong and that our capital markets are functioning efficiently and effectively. We obviously will continue to monitor the situation and when need be, will act decisively, in a way that continues to bring order to the financial markets.

In the long run, our economy is going to be fine. Right now we’re dealing with a difficult situation and, Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you very much for your steady and strong and consistent leadership.

Thank you very much.

END 9:41 A.M. EDT

So, in the one minute it took George Bush to deliver his comments, has he been able to restore your faith in his leadership to deliver us from the mess he helped cultivate? Right, of course our economy will be fine in the long run. We recovered from the Depression right? It’s what’s happening right now that hurts.

Pretty soon, they are going to foreclose on the undelivered FEMA trailers and then what? Too bad George can’t think past saving his pals in big business. If he was so keen to screw the little guy by routing the Chapter 11 laws, why wouldn’t they have let Bear Sterns sink in it’s own sauce?

When it gets right down to it, we see the President and his staff doing the time honored W, Rove and Co thing, saving their friends asses, screwing the little guy, and then blaming some one else for the economy they delivered.

Q For people who are losing their homes, or losing their jobs, and then they see the government helping engineer this $30 billion line of credit for Bear Stearns, and help for other financial investment firms on Wall Street, how do you reconcile the two?

MS. PERINO: Well, the way I would answer that question is in two parts. One, this isn’t about bailing anyone out. These actions are intended, as I said earlier today, to minimize financial market disruptions. And investors in Bear Stearns are taking large and significant losses in this transaction. And that’s not what happens in a bail-out. They bought into a company, they took a financial risk — and it had paid off quite well for them a while ago, but today they’re looking at a stock that’s only worth $2. And the Fed, what they did last night, is try to provide liquidity to the markets so it would stabilize, and we could have orderliness in the system.

But I would also say that a major market disruption would have very damaging consequences and be very painful for everybody, from the small business owner to the homeowner, for everybody all the way up and down the economic food chain. And the goal here is to prevent a major disruption in financial markets. And the Fed is taking decisive action when necessary, and that is what they saw last night.

In addition to that, homeowners and small business owners and everyone across America needs to know that we’ve acted on multiple fronts, starting back in August — that was when the President recognized that we might be heading into some headwinds in the economy, with several different aspects of it. And if you look back consistently over those past several months, he has said that we needed to take some action. And over time, we proposed legislation, dealing with the housing market. We also worked with the private sector to help homeowners, through HOPE NOW, and then Project Lifeline. We supported legislation that would not penalize people for writing down mortgage debt when they did a refinancing. And that finally became law.

We haven’t had Congress act on one of the most important things they could do, which is Federal Housing Administration — changes in reforms that we’ve asked for. It’s been about seven months since the President first announced that, and Congress is now and again on a two-week recess, and nothing is going to happen.

But at the same time, back in January, the President said, when we worked on the stimulus package, that the reason that we’re doing that is because we could see in the future there could be a potential downturn in the economy. And so if things were to get worse, we would have a stimulus package in effect. We called that, remember, an insurance policy, a booster shot, that we said would take effect and have impact later in the summer. And the President and Congress were right to work together on that bipartisan package, because those tax rebates will be going out to people all across the country, including the homeowners that you talk about.

Q But, Dana, how does this square with sort of traditional conservative economic principles of limited government involvement in terms of, sort of, maybe culling the herd a little bit, letting the firms that are going to fail, fail, and thus more can sort of live on the back end?

MS. PERINO: Well, I would point out again that, remember, investors — Bear Stearns basically went from a company that was doing quite well to failure, and at $2 a share, I should think that those investors are seeing — feeling today the consequences of that risk in a marketplace. But I would remind you that what’s right for the markets and stability for the financial system had to be taken into consideration. And that’s what the Fed decided to do, is to act quickly, to act decisively, to make sure that we could provide what’s needed right now, which is stability and liquidity and orderliness.

And the Treasury Department is able to answer lots more of detailed questions, and the Fed certainly on historical questions in this matter.

Q But people who are facing, say, foreclosure, the individuals, the little guys who are facing a foreclosure are looking at the big guys getting government, if not brokered, certainly they’re overseeing deals that are engineered to sort of keep the big picture financial community afloat, and they’re saying, well, where’s my boost of liquidity?

MS. PERINO: They’re going to get that boost of liquidity in the form of a stimulus package and a tax rebate that’s coming to them the second week of May.

Q But that’s not going to save their houses.

MS. PERINO: The other way to help work on the housing issues is to take advantage of some of the programs that we have in place, to talk with HOPE NOW or Project Lifeline, for those who are in more serious dire straits, and also to work — for us to continue from the administration to call on Congress to finally take action on Federal Housing Administration reforms, which we think are necessary to help homeowners across-the-board.

But I would remind you, and remind consumers all across America, that the decisive action taken by the Fed yesterday was precisely to prevent long-term economic harm to everybody in the United States, including, as you said, the little guy.

Right, so they are suggesting the 300 or 800 so dollars you and I get are the equivalent of the multi-billion dollar bail out of the investment industry? Right. When was the last time Reagan applied strategy of “trickle down economics” actually worked to help leverage the little guy up out of an economic hole she or he didn’t create?

Uh Oh!

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Sure fire way to get the market to tank even further? Add President Bush’s sharp intellect to solving the fiscal woes of our country:

President George W. Bush plans to meet on Monday with top U.S. financial policymakers, the White House said, at a time of increased strains in credit markets and fears of a recession.

What’s that sucking sound? That’s the market drowning in corporate bail outs (read: corporate welfare) for the already rich (Bear Sterns ring a bell any one). Any one taking bets on if Bush will be able to fix this situation like he’s fixed Iraq?

Say Hello to MSYahoo

Friday, March 14th, 2008

When it comes to corporations strong arming their way through any competition Microsoft is King. Once more Microsoft will obliterate yet one more great internet tool for all of us to use and insert themselves as the new messiah of the Internet. All the news about Microsoft buying Yahoo are officially over with the meeting of all the executives to find some common ground to get the deal done.Pass out the billion dollar paychecks to all the Yahoo executives and wait for your Yahoo email account to suddenly become a Hot Mail account. Latest news from the New York Times on Yahoo being bought out by Microsoft…

Microsoft, Yahoo Execs Finally Meet

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 14, 2008
Filed at 5:42 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft Corp. met with Yahoo Inc. to discuss the software maker’s unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that could be the first step toward a friendly deal between the two rivals.The meeting occurred Monday near Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke Friday on the condition of not being identified because the preliminary talks haven’t been formally disclosed.

No investments bankers attended Monday’s meeting, nor was there any discussion about whether Microsoft is willing to raise its offer, initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 per share. Yahoo’s board already has rejected that bid, arguing the company’s Internet franchise is worth more.

Although it’s unclear whether Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and his Yahoo counterpart, Jerry Yang, attended Monday’s meeting, senior management from both companies were on hand. - New York Times

I’m doing my best to help out Bill Gates with his latest email tracking software but this situation calls for my full attention and yours as well. Bill sent me a personal email from his old Netscape email account and asked my thoughts on the new name for the former Yahoo. I’ve been scratching my head over it but this is what I have so far.

Yarightthebastid’sofferedusmoremoneythanGodcouldcountwaaahoooo!.com

Msminefuhrerhoo.com

Mswemadethemadealtheycouldnotrefuseboohoo.com

Yawesquashedthemhoo.com

Msborgyouwillbeassimilatedyahoo.com

Micascrewyooo.com

MicroYoowillonlyseewhatwewantyoutoseesoft.com

Yawewillownalloftheinternethoo.com

Let me know if you come up with some other names for the new Microsoft division soon to be formerly known as Yahoo. I’m under a hot deadline because Bill wants to come out with five versions and new releases that will lock up and close you out within the next year.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk
Feel free to link to this post…

GWB: The Cash In The Cradle & The Silver Spoon - I’m Gonna Be Like Him

Friday, March 14th, 2008

I try to avoid making unequivocal assertions…but if my instincts are correct, I’m not taking much of a risk in predicting that the calamity that will define this Bush presidency will not be the Iraq war. As with his father’s presidency, it will be the economy. Yes, the Iraq war will be factored into the equation that facilitated one of the worst recessions in modern times, but numerous other missteps will receive far more attention.

With the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 80’s as my point of comparison, I expect the magnitude of this recession to be much deeper and far more complex. Frankly, the fact that we survived events like the S & L scandal and the tech bubble have only contributed to the lackadaisical policies that have fostered an air of invincibility. This false confidence has resulted in a deadly conflation of economic poisons that will place a strain on our financial fortitude that hasn’t been witnessed since the Great Depression.

For months, the Bush administration has sought to convince the American public that the economy is sound. Unfortunately, the hollowness of those assurances expands exponentially with each new report. Today’s news is awash with further warnings of economic uncertainty. The President’s remarks, in response to the growing storm clouds, simply highlight the mindset that has typified his inclination to ignore information that doesn’t comport with his rose colored rhetoric.

Unfortunately, I fear this president suffers the misconception that he can tackle this systemic economic malaise in the same manner he addressed the many miscalculations that have plagued the prosecution of the Iraq war. Sadly, brute force has little relevance when it comes to the economy. As with the troop surge, the attempts by the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the economy in order to prop up flailing financial institutions fails to address the dire dynamics that underly the debacle.

Let’s pause to review the observations of others.

From The Wall Street Journal:

It is a very logical progression. Peloton, Carlyle, Focus — hedge funds and other non-deposit-taking financial institutions (NDFIs) are now being hit by the credit crunch, which had so far been mainly confined to mortgage lenders and the banks.

The Federal Reserve has reacted. Its Term Securities Lending Facility aims to encourage investment banks and prime brokers to lend to NDFIs and so relieve those parts of the credit market it cannot reach with its rate cuts and loans to banks.

So far its liquidity injections have got no further than the banks. Now it hopes to reach higher. Unfortunately, it won’t work.

The Fed is like King Canute with a difference — it is trying to halt an ebbing tide rather than a rising one. Its liquidity injection seems huge at $200 billion (with perhaps more to follow), but it is still only equivalent to one-third of the expected losses in the NDFI sector.

Moreover, the Fed’s readiness to accept almost any asset at just below face value as collateral will prevent price discovery. That means the U.S. financial system will remain burdened with uncleansed balance sheets that penalize future lending and economic growth.

Creating a lot of liquidity does not resolve an issue of solvency, which is now the driver of credit contraction. All the Fed will achieve is a dollar that will be further debased and inflation that will be higher. It cannot stop the process of deleveraging and asset price decline.

The credit crisis is unfolding as we expected, but more slowly than anticipated, because of the actions taken by central banks (mainly the Fed) and the U.S. government to allay its effects. The wholesale socialization of credit has meant that government and central bank measures account for 70% of new credit since last summer.

But these policy measures will not prevent asset-price deflation or credit contraction, which are functions of risk appetite and general readiness to maintain current levels of gearing throughout the economy. The non-bank sector has the potential to inflict more damage on the system than banks, because it has a much smaller capital cushion for a much more volatile and risky balance sheet.

Credit contraction translates through the financial system into a reduction in available credit for the non-financial corporate sector, and thus into reduced investment and growth in the real economy. The size of that contraction can be estimated from the leverage ratios of the financial sector and their impact on real GDP growth.

We estimate that nonfinancial corporate debt ultimately will have to shrink by 11%-12%. This will generate a decline of five percentage points of real U.S. GDP growth and push the U.S. into recession. Europe’s real GDP growth will contract by two percentage points.

Essentially, the point being made by the author is that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower interest rates is inadequate to address the fundamental problem - the value of the assets that underly much of the existing debt is in a period of contraction…largely as a result of the collapsing housing industry.

As such, the ability of lenders to lend is limited. They lack the capital needed to make loans; let alone the capital required to support declining equity positions and the increasing default risks that are associated with these loans. Hence, the Fed’s efforts to infuse the economy with the capital needed to spur growth isn’t going to be sufficient. Even worse, should this contraction lead to lender insolvency, the likelihood of the need for a huge government bail out advances. If this happens, I believe it will be far larger than the one witnessed during the S & L scandal.

From The New York Times:

The Fed’s economic power rests on the fact that it’s the only institution with the right to add to the “monetary base”: pieces of green paper bearing portraits of dead presidents, plus deposits that private banks hold at the Fed and can convert into green paper at will.

When the Fed is worried about the state of the economy, it basically responds by printing more of that green paper, and using it to buy bonds from banks. The banks then use the green paper to make more loans, which causes businesses and households to spend more, and the economy expands.

This process can be almost magical in its effects: a committee in Washington gives some technical instructions to a trading desk in New York, and just like that, the economy creates millions of jobs.

But sometimes the magic doesn’t work. And this is one of those times.

Instead of following its usual practice of buying only safe U.S. government debt, the Fed announced this week that it would put $400 billion — almost half its available funds — into other stuff, including bonds backed by, yes, home mortgages. The hope is that this will stabilize markets and end the panic.

Officially, the Fed won’t be buying mortgage-backed securities outright: it’s only accepting them as collateral in return for loans. But it’s definitely taking on some mortgage risk. Is this, to some extent, a bailout for banks? Yes.

Still, that’s not what has me worried. I’m more concerned that despite the extraordinary scale of Mr. Bernanke’s action — to my knowledge, no advanced-country’s central bank has ever exposed itself to this much market risk — the Fed still won’t manage to get a grip on the economy. You see, $400 billion sounds like a lot, but it’s still small compared with the problem.

Krugman offers a look into the risks being taken by the Federal Reserve to avert the looming collapse of financial institutions. The fact that the government is taking unprecedented risk signals the seriousness of the situation. The fact that the government has committed half of its available funds to this risk intensive effort suggests that the ultimate solution will require the government to appropriate additional funds…hence the bailout begins. The price tag of the S & L scandal would likely pale in comparison.

The impact to the overall economy could be mind-boggling since it would be apt to affect consumer spending. Falling home values would strip millions of Americans of the bulk of their accumulated wealth which would no doubt restrict their ability and willingness to spend money. The direct correlation of this intertwined cause and effect spiral could have disastrous consequences.

We haven’t even factored in the disproportionate numbers of baby boomers moving towards retirement. A worst case scenario could place the financial stability of many of these individuals in jeopardy at a time when the safety net of Social Security is also approaching insolvency.

From CNBC:

The United States has entered a recession that could be “substantially more severe” than recent ones, former National Bureau of Economic Research President Martin Feldstein said Friday.

“The situation is very bad, the situation is getting worse, and the risks are that it could get very bad,” Feldstein said in a speech at the Futures Industry Association meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.

“There isn’t much traction in monetary policy these days, I’m afraid, because of a lack of liquidity in the credit markets,” he said.

The Fed’s new credit facility, announced on Tuesday, “can help in a rather small way … but the underlying risks will remain with the institutions that borrow from the Fed, and this does nothing to change their capital,” Feldstein noted.

I simply don’t see the mechanism by which this strained liquidity can be alleviated in the near term. Pumping more cash into the system could have short term benefits but the risk to the already tenuous value of the dollar would likely outweigh them. Relying upon the standard bearers…the consumer…to spend us out of this mess seems unlikely. Rarely have prior recessionary periods been accompanied by such significant declines in home values.

Were we to see the emergence of sustained inflation, the picture becomes even more disconcerting. Many of the measures designed to address the liquidity crunch have the potential to do just that. Toss in our trade imbalance, the amount of debt held by the Chinese, and an international shift away from the dollar as the preferred reserve currency and one begins to see the growing alignment of negatives.

The fact that the American image has been tarnished during the current administration makes it difficult to imagine the kind of international cooperation we might have otherwise received during such a slowdown. In fact, don’t be surprised if a number of nations stand idly by as the perceived bully endures its comeuppance.

Returning to the Bush legacy, I recall the deteriorating situation faced by his father prior to the 1992 election. When the senior Bush expressed his amazement with the scanning technology found in grocery stores, his appeal and his connection to the average American is thought to have suffered. When the Clinton campaign added, “It’s the economy, stupid”, the stain became permanent.

The fact that the current president expressed surprise when a member of the press mentioned the prospects of $4.00 per gallon gas seems eerily similar to the last days of his father’s presidency…and it may also assist in cementing the economy as his legacy’s leading albatross.

George W. Bush’s seeming shortage of empathy for the plight of the average American shone through in his mishandling of Katrina, his passage of tax cuts for the wealthiest, his inept energy policy, and his willingness to sink trillions of dollars into the execution of a virtual vendetta in Iraq. These events will forever be tethered to his tenure and his successors are apt to spend years trying to repair the damage done.

They say the writing of one’s legacy is rarely finished since the past undoubtedly shapes the future. In the case of George Bush, I suspect he’d be best to hope that his influence on the future be less indelible than his unabashed attempts to color the present.

Gertrude Stein stated that a “rose is a rose is a rose”. Ernest Hemmingway responded with “a rose is a rose is an onion”. In thinking of the Bush legacy, I’m inclined to argue that a silver spoon may beget rose colored rhetoric…but a silver spoon full of rose petals rarely helps us swallow the thorns. When the bow breaks, the Bush legacy will fall.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

The House That Wouldn’t Bend Over

Friday, March 14th, 2008

You Go Democrats! For the next two weeks at least, America’s telecom executives will be just as accountable to the law as the other 300 million of us. What a concept! Why should a few VIPs have a law that specifically prevents them from ever being sued? I don’t know anybody who has that kind of permanent protective cocoon wrapped around them. Do you? We’re a nation of laws; well, for two more weeks anyway.

It didn’t exactly take an act of blind courage for Congress to stand up to a cerebrally-challenged alcoholic president with single-digit approval ratings. But still, with all the bending and gyrating this Congress has been doing, it’s a huge relief that, for one fleeting moment, they actually stood up and said “No!”

Savor the moment. There’s no doubt, our petulant child king will be bringing this subject back for another vote, and another vote, again and again and again until he gets his way. You can’t say “No” to a scion of the Bush Crime Family. It’s just not done.

I forget where I read this, but somebody was making an excellent point: there’s something huge going on behind the scenes that’s making these Conservatards keep pushing and pushing and pushing and grandstanding and pleading and shouting for retroactive telecom immunity. Our bribery system doesn’t usually work like this. Generally, a congressperson gets a bribe from a certain industry, and he/she is instructed to vote accordingly. And that’s all.

Getting bribed isn’t supposed to require months and months of pleading and threatening and foaming at the mouth every time a TV camera appears. WTF is going on here? Probably a lot more than we’ll ever know.

This other story is sort of along those same lines — government secrecy, things we’re not supposed to know, etc. The Pentagon has completed a study which shows there was no connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Uh, that was one of our main reasons for invading Iraq five years ago (along with those non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction). For a full year before the invasion we heard nothing but “Saddam al Qaeda Hussein bin Laden 9/11 Iraq Saddam bin Laden Iraq al Qaeda…”

And now that there’s a Pentagon report showing that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the Reichstag Fire September 11th attacks, we the lowly peons — whose tax dollars paid for this invasion — are not entitled to know about it. The Pentagon has been instructed not to release this report, and the report is not available online.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

An Urgent New Drug Problem!

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

For those of us whose purpose in life is to guard America’s morals — our work is never done. We already have our hands full fighting off the Homosexual Agenda and the Devil’s Music. And now there’s a dangerous new drug from Mexico, just waiting to seduce our youth and sap their moral fiber.

Salvia Divinorum is a hallucinogenic plant that grows in Mexico. And now Americans are starting to use it. Don’t you understand what this means???

A Mexican drug coming into the United States — symbolically, this represents gangs of swarthy Meskins invading our decent Godfearing nation. These lazy hopheads will destroy everything America stands for.

Most of our politicians are unaware of this serious problem. They’re too busy whining about the war in Iraq and our crumbling economy. But fortunately, a Florida state representative is coming to our rescue. Mary Brandenburg has introduced a bill to make possession of Salvia a felony — five years for any dope fiend caught with this drug.

But this isn’t enough. Prison sentences need to be longer than that. And the American people need to be made aware of the hideous effects of this drug. This new menace will destroy anybody who uses it. An ordinary decent American who uses this drug will turn into a pervert; a monster!

We need to spread the word. Perhaps we could make a documentary: Salvia: Assassin of Youth.

Dear President Bush, Thanks For The STD!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

One of George Bush’s educational mainstays beyond the nutty notion that bringing mediocrity to our schools via No Child Left Behind is good was “abstinence only” education. Of course, what does that get you? Apparently, uneducated kids with large amounts of STDs.

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

How much did it cost us to learn that abstinence education really is a flop (not unlike energy deregulation)?

“The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

I suggest all teens with STDs who were forced into abstinence only courses send a nice post card to the Whitehouse and to George Bush saying “Thanks for the STD, Mr. Bush.”

The Expert

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I have a teenager who knows everything. You can ask her yourself, and she will tell you straight out that she knows everything. She gets A’s in all of her classes, and this reinforces her strong belief that she knows everything. She can tell you with great certainty everything that you need to know. Of course, there are those things that she has never heard of before, but they really aren’t that important - they are way too boring. So, for the most part she knows everything that she needs to know.

At first glance one might suggest that we have it made. We don’t need to worry about her doing poorly in school, because she knows everything. We don’t need to tell her what she should be doing, because she knows everything. When we tell her about the dangers of having unprotected sex she replies, “Duh!.” When we tell her about the dangers of drinking alcohol or taking drugs she will give us the same reply. What else can I say, she knows everything.

Imagine for a moment my brilliant daughter and her sister sitting in front of the computer one evening. As her sister begins a new game my brilliant daughter responds, “Don’t do that you idiot! Use this key and do this instead. You are so stupid, how are you going to even get out of level one like this?” Of course, my response to this is to tell my daughter that she is being nasty and she shouldn’t belittle her sister like that. And, she quickly retorts, “Well, she deserves it. She is being so stupid. Come here and watch what a moron she is being.”

Obviously the previous scene is a slight exaggeration of reality. However, I am exaggerating to make a point. My brilliant daughter knows quite a bit, and even in her mind she believes that she knows everything. The truth is that she is lacking in one important aspect of life, and that pertains to social skills. She can tell you how you ought to do a number of things, and she will if she sees you doing something wrong. After all, with thirteen years of experience she is currently and expert at life. But, when it comes to dealing with her sister she uses poor judgement. She was completely correct in the fact that she knew how to play the computer game that her sister was just learning. But she did little in the way of teaching her how she should play.

My point here is that being an expert isn’t everything. Many people have become experts by that fact that they perform the same job every day. They certainly have an expertise in that area. But, we all know people who are experts, but they don’t know how they should exercise their expertise. In fact, expertise is a very important attribute that we should strive for, but there are at least two additional attributes that are also important. Judgement and creativity are also quite important.

In recent years it has become fashionable to judge our politicians based on the issues. In most cases however it becomes impossible to choose a politicians that matches squarely with your own personal political agenda. As candidates get weeded out through a series of campaigns the resulting candidates are less likely to match our own personal political agenda. And, we are left with a choice to vote for a candidate that we don’t completely agree with, or not to vote at all.

If we choose to vote, then we must invent new criteria in order to judge the candidates that we don’t completely agree with. One popular method was to pick the candidate that we disliked the least. Each candidate commonly contributed to this by issuing advertising telling us how horrid the other guy was. This type of campaign results in negative attack advertising that wearies the public and pushing the majority into hating politicians in general. A second method to pick between two similar candidates is to base your choice on personality. Of course the personality put forward by the politicians is likely to be created and marketed by people who sell soda pop and potato chips by implying that they are good for you.

The final way to choose a candidate is to look at their personal history and determine whether they exercised good judgement had expertise and used creative ways to solve problems in the past. And this method is most likely the most reliable way to choose a candidate. Of course this is the most difficult and time-consuming way to select a candidate. And, even when you go through all this trouble it is likely that those who choose to use the first two methods will overwhelm your vote. However, in a close election your informed vote just might be the difference needed to put that one guy over the top.
Just think, if people in 2000 had used this method to choose between Al Gore and George W Bush we would have had a completely different history over the last seven years. Al Gore’s “cardboard” personality lost to George W Bush’s “guy you’d like to have a beer with” personality. And we ended up with a guy with no expertise in any function of government. We ended up with a guy who exercised poor judgement in picking his cabinet and advisors. He then continued to exercise poor judgement continually there after. Finally, we ended up with a guy who had absolutely no creative thought in his head. He opted to choose between the ideas submitted by his poorly chosen staff without a thought to modify them in any way. Al Gore may have lacked the personality, but he exercised terrific judgement in his activity to rally people around environmental issues even after he lost the presidential election. Could anyone even imagine George W Bush doing anything after he leaves the White House?

Now I need to go ask my daughter who she thinks is going to be President next year, because she knows everything.

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Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Reflection


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