Monday, December 31, 2012

The Tranquility Calendar

As I type this, it has now just become the year 2013 in Hong Kong two hours ago, has just become 2013 in New Zealand, and is about to become 2013 in India one hour from now. It will become 2013 in Riadh, Saudi Arabia in three hours.

Actually, it could be considered the year 4710 in China, becoming 4711 on January 23, and the year of Nandana in the Hindu calendar, not becoming the year of Vijaya until February 18. And in the Islamic calendar the year is now 1434, with the new year having already arrived back in November of 2012. Of course, the Mayan calendar ended back on December 21, with no ill effects to any of us.

My point in citing these cultural differences in calendar measurement is not to belittle the Gregorian calendar, which we use. In fact, all the nations cited above have adopted the Western calendar as the worldwide standard, mostly because their traditional calendars are subdivided into many other dozens of sub-variants which are a headache to reconcile. China calls their traditional agrarian calendar Yin, while calling the Gregorian calendar Yang. India uses the Western calendar almost exclusively, and the Arab world uses the Gregorian calendar alongside their Islamic one, relying on the Islamic version for the proper times to celebrate things like Ramadan or conduct the Haj around the city of Mecca. But there are different ways of reckoning our calendar systems, and I'd like to outline a few.

Introducing the Tranquility calendar, so named because it marks New Year's Day, Year One, as the day humans first set foot upon an extra-terrestrial world, our moon. That would be July 20, 1969. It's a calendar which makes a tremendous amount of sense, both mathematically and culturally. Here's how it works:

There are thirteen months of four weeks each, providing for exactly 364 days, plus one extra day which is New Year's Day. (Think of it as a second Sunday.) It was proposed by a man named Jeff Siggins, and published as a proposal in Omni magazine, July 1989. It has a leap year, where one extra day is added to New Year's Day, (a third Sunday), after which the weeks begin normally again.

There are some key advantages to such a calendar. First, it marks the most significant event in human history as the starting point. That makes this year - right now, that is - year 44, A.T. (after-Tranquility). This makes far more sense than marking the starting point at the birth of a man who 1.) turned out not to be the Son of God after all 2.) might not even have existed 3.) whose birthday we don't know anyway 4.) whose New Testament descriptions as to the time and date of his birth are contradictory 5.) whose birth is marked by a celestial star whose existence has never been definitively proven 6.) whose likeliest birth date is actually 4 B.C.E. instead of year zero, 7.) who can't have been born in year zero anyway, because year zero does not exist, 8.) who represents a waning and dying religion, etc. etc. Nearly all businesses use a 13 period system of 13 weeks per quarter to keep track of their financial reporting already, so it makes for a seamless transition in that sense. Every several years or so, the final quarter has 14 weeks, as the annual day lost catches up to the accounting system, but otherwise, it works fairly seamlessly. Were our culture to adopt such a structure, we would no longer have certain months that were longer than others, nor would we have calendars which vary year by year. Each calendar would be identical to the previous year's calendar, and we would no longer have to give up our favorite pin-up art come the year's end.

On the other hand, the publishing industry would lose out on its calendar printing business. Nor is that the only problem. The system proposed by Siggins uses different calendar names from the ones we are used to. So, for example, December is, more or less, the month of Faraday. January is the month of Galileo. February is the month of Hippocrates, and so forth. That would take some getting used to. Also, adding one extra day before resuming the seven-day traditional week throws off all cultural and religious calendars by one day every year, and two every four. That means that their religious celebrations would either have to adjust, or else be in conflict for alternating periods of six and fourteen years, which can be a problem for employees who want to worship on their Sunday when their workplace calendar dictates that it's actually Tuesday and they're supposed to be clocked in. Also, thirteen months is not something we're generally used to. Some people are superstitious about the number 13, and besides, there's a tendency to want to keep the New Year's celebration right where it feels natural, which is near the Winter solstice. July 20 makes for an excellent summer solstice celebration, but people just aren't used to having a big celebration at that time, other than the fourth of July celebration. And how would the new calendar affect such celebrations? If we retained such landmark dates for July 4th, or Labor Day, or Christmas, we would largely have no problems, except for Halloween since All Hallows' Eve falls on October 31, and the new calendar would not have any dates greater than the number 28. That's a problem. Finally, with the entire world using the Gregorian calendar system, and asking everyone to suddenly adapt a new system would be highly disruptive.

Yet not having a calendar which marks year one seems criminal! Especially now, with China, India and Europe on the verge of landing men on the moon themselves, and with major breakthroughs having been made in 2012, including stem cell regression, the discovery of the Higgs boson, advancements in nano-technology, micro-surgery... the list goes on and on. How can we insist upon keeping a calendar system which revolves around a slowly suffocating creed and points to a non-existent event, assuming the man in question even lived?

As such, I propose a slightly revised Tranquility calendar. We keep all the traditional names for our months, but add a new month after what would be the old July 20th. That month will be called Selene, the most ancient name for Luna, our moon. We then only have to get used to one funky new month instead of thirteen. What used to be July 20th under the old calendar will be Selene the first, and under the new calendar, July 19th will end up being July 28th anyway. January will be the only month to have 29 days, as will February on leap years. We will have a slightly different calendar each year in terms of what day of the week each new year begins on, but we have that problem anyway, and that won't be much of an adjustment.

To make the adjustment perfectly seamless, there are two methods: One, wait until a year comes along in which December 31st would happen to fall on a Sunday, thus making January 1st of the new year a seamless transition. Ideal years for that would be 2011, which is an opportunity lost, or (how about this) the year 2016. That, or we could have the year be one in which July 20th falls on exactly the same day, Sunday, as it did back in 1969, and make it a seamless transition from there. That would be July 20th, 2014. Either way, there are two great opportunities coming up in the future. I argue, let's do it!

In the meantime, Happy New Year! It is, as of midnight tonight, the year 2013 Gregorian, the Year of the Dragon, 4710, in China, the Year Nandana in India, the Year 1434, Hijri...

...and the year 44, Post-Tranquility!



Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Predict 2013/14

Okay, it's time to face facts. It's now Saturday, December 22nd, and the world has NOT ended according to the Mayan Calendar. On behalf of all rational people, TOLD YOU SO!

But we might still gaze into our crystal balls (currently looking between my legs) to see what the future might hold for us. Two years ago, I did this very thing, on this very blog, and got exactly nothing right. But it was still fun. As such, here are my predictions for 2013 and 2014. Read them at your own risk.

1.) As John Kerry assumes his role as the new Secretary of State, the special election held to decide who will take over his vacated Senate seat will be won by one of Massachusetts’ newest residents – Ambassador Susan Rice!  Scott Brown will again be the loser.

2.) Hillary Rodham Clinton decides that she will run for president in 2016. Her pick for vice president? Sandra Fluke! Rush Limbaugh calls them both sluts.

3.) Obama’s next big reform bill will again go before the Supreme Court, who will again uphold the law with a 5 to 4 vote. The press will initially report it overturned.

4.) Mitt Romney, his political career now over, decides, “What the hell?” and marries his second wife – without divorcing Ann first.

5.) Someone in the Republican Party will remember that Sarah Palin exists.

6.) Grover Norquist makes all Republicans in congress sign a pledge to hold their breath until they turn blue in the face so they can get whatever they want.

7.) John McCain reveals himself to be a vampire that sparkles in sunlight. Senate majority leader Harry Reid is a werewolf.

8.) A large band of U.S. ambassadors storms an Al-Quaeda training compound in the Middle East, killing four terrorists.

9.) Clint Eastwood wins the Oscar for best director. His award is presented to an empty chair.

10.) A gunman armed to the teeth enters the national headquarters of the NRA and shoots 50 people.  (Well, we can hope, can’t we?)



Friday, December 21, 2012

Tanks! No, Really, Tanks!

The M1 A3 Abrams tank is one of the best tanks in the world, and is the workhorse of the U.S. Army. It is comparable to the European Leopard 2 and the South Korean Black Panther. It’s armor is capable of shrugging off multiple rocket-propelled grenades and most high-powered shells.  It’s barrel can pinpoint and destroy a target 3.5 miles away. It’s targeting system can detect an incoming missile and shoot it out of the sky before it even reaches the tank itself. It can also fire white-hot burning phosphorous to destroy infantry at close range, multiple plechette rounds to take out huge swaths of personnel at a moderate distance, and high-explosive rounds which can easily take out very large or heavily armored targets. It has three, sometimes four, machine guns: a .50 caliber, and two 7.62 mm guns with an optional 12.7 mm just above the main cannon. Any one of these can reduce a charging infantryman to hamburger within seconds. An Abrams tank is one scary machine!

And here’s my point to all this: People who say, "assault rifles are needed to defend oneself against an oppressive government" are essentially saying the equivalent of, "slingshots are needed to defend oneself against a charging M1 Abrams tank!"

Seriously, we’re talking about defending oneself against a government that not only has Abrams tanks, but also elite special forces with night vision, aircraft carriers with harrier jets and their surrounding flotillas of ships and submarines, cruise missiles, super-surveillance with dime-sized cameras which could be anywhere, satellites which could tell you what brand of hat you’re wearing, napalm, agent orange, nuclear weapons and any number of other unknown chemical, biological or radiological weapons… well, you get my point.

If you really think your puny, little assault rifle is going to make any difference against all that, you’re nuts. NUTS, I say! And you’re free to pelt that Abrams tank with your slingshot all you like, but don’t expect me to think that’s either intelligent or something the founding fathers intended.

All a ban on assault weapons does is say that if you’re crazy enough to assault an Abrams tank with a slingshot, you'll get a slightly smaller slingshot. That’s it. Not much difference, is there? All the bitching, whining, moaning and shit-kicking is over nothing more than that.

So what do we do about the potential of an oppressive government? How can we defend ourselves from Uncle Sam when even having assault rifles is like fighting gladiators with cardboard swords? The answer is, VOTE! And get involved in your government! If you want to prevent oppression, you have to do it from within! Our military technology has already taken us past the point of no return to do anything else.

Remember “Tank Man?” He’s the lone man who stood up to a charging line of Chinese tanks during the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square back in 1989. Armed only with a shopping bag, he stood right in front of those tanks, and they stopped! They tried to go around him, but he kept blocking their way! He shouted, “Why are you attacking us?! Why are you attacking us?!” And the befuddled soldiers didn't know what to do about him. No one ever learned who he was. He had every expectation that he would die. Perhaps the Chinese government killed him later. But he proved one thing: It IS possible to be unarmed and yet stand up to an oppressive government! Soldiers, you see, don't want to kill civilians, they want to kill other soldiers! China will almost certainly become a democracy someday, and when it does, it will be, in part, due to the legacy of this unnamed hero who once stood up to a column of tanks without fear.

So do the right thing! Ban assault weapons! And if the time ever comes when the need arises, stand up to oppression like Tank Man!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Miss Universe

I recently wrote to the newly crowned Miss Universe. My letter to her is reprinted below, as I thought you all might find it interesting.

Dear Olivia Culpo,
    Congratulations on winning the Miss Universe Pageant. I must say that I find no fault with the judges decision, and I'm quite sure that I speak for a large majority of men out there.
    Since you are from Rhode Island, you have a unique opportunity to speak up regarding the recent tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School in a way no one else can. I'm a resident of the Milwaukee, WI area, and the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek happened right near my cousins' house, so the issue is very close to me. I think that it goes without saying that defensive, rather than offensive, weapons could prevent or greatly reduce such tragedies. I am speaking of Tasers, of course.
    Did you know that Rhode Island is the only state in the union where one can purchase an assault rifle and not a Taser? I find this to be a remarkable injustice in a nation where, presumably, we have the right to bear arms. When I think of how many more little angels there would be on earth rather than in heaven if just one security guard or teacher had a Taser, it makes my heart sink. Unfortunately, in Connecticut, Tasers are legal only in one's private home.
    The cliche among those in your particular profession is that you all want "world peace." Isn't advocating weapons which stun, but don't kill, an excellent place to start? I hope you'll consider my humble suggestion. Thank you.

Eric J. Hildeman
Milwaukee, WI

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I Have A Solution!

With all the talk in the nation that’s been going around regarding the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and how to prevent it, it would seem remarkably arrogant of me to step up and imply that I know better than all of them by saying that I have a solution to the problem.

Well, I have a solution to the problem.

In my earlier not-so-serious blog post, I pointed out that more people having non-lethal defensive weapons would prevent any shooter from getting very far before being stopped. Yes, such defensive weapons may be abused, but so might any other weapon. Well, on a more serious note, I do believe I may have been on to something. The Taser may just be the workable solution.

Tasers are sensibly legal in 44 out of our 50 states. But in a few, more backward members of our union (at least in this regard) such defensive weapons are actually prohibited.

Connecticut is one of those states!

Yes, in the state of Connecticut, a Taser may only be kept in the home. Schools such as Sandy Hook cannot even have a security guard which is armed with one.

Okay, cue the Dragnet theme song as you sing this next line:

Dumb…… Dumb, Dumb…Dumb…… DUMMMMMMB!

The other states which prohibit Tasers are Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii. Tasers are permitted only with a firearm registration in the District of Columbia, and only certain kinds of Tasers are legal in the state of Florida. But in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, it is possible to buy a GUN, but NOT (*head slap!*) a Taser!

Dumb…… Dumb, Dumb…Dumb…… DUMMMMMMB!

And in the state of Rhode Island, it is possible to buy an assault rifle, but not a Taser!

Dumb…… Dumb, Dumb…Dumb……  No, wait, stop the music! That’s just holy FUCK bat-shit stupid insanity!

At least in Hawaii, Tasers can be carried by cops, and guns are banned.

Imagine a world where every school security guard has a Taser. Imagine teachers having a coded lock box underneath each desk with a Taser inside. If some insane kid enters a school and starts shooting, any teacher can go under the desk, type in the code, and have some means of defending his or her students. Yes, this would be a weak defense, but it is much, much, MUCH better than nothing, and will work splendidly at slowing down any assailant to a crawl, allowing law enforcement enough time to speed their way to the school and send in the S.W.A.T. team!

If even one teacher or security guard at Sandy Hooke had this, there would be a lot fewer little angels in heaven, and more here on earth.

By the way, where is the National Taser Association? There isn't one, unfortunately. The National Rifle Association - excuse me, I mean the National Assault Rifle Association, because that's closer to the truth - simply does not defend a citizen's right to defense with a non-deadly weapon. No, they would rather people kill other people. I suppose that might come from an inward desire to see people who hold up businesses or commit muggings killed on sight, but if defense is the whole point (and they say that it is), isn't defending the Taser the highest priority? Is there ANY excuse for prohibiting a Taser anywhere? I strongly argue no! The National Rifle Association is an utterly pointless organization, unless it defends Tasers first!

To this, I need to add one more thing: My friend Angie Olson, an amazingly intelligent woman whom I increasingly admire, recently posted to Facebook about the importance of emphasizing mental health efforts if we are to avoid such future tragedies as the one in Sandy Hook. Boy, did she hit the nail right on the head! If we have a lot fewer crazy people out there, then by extension we're going to have a lot fewer crazy people shooting off guns! And, I might add, if we focus this attention upon young males, we're putting the effort right where it's needed the most. The one constant with mass shootings is that the shooter is always young and male. There's nothing wrong with people being young and male per se, but we can no longer allow young males to be perpetually pissed off at the world. From now on, excessive teenage male anger must be classified as a mental illness.

So there it is. Tasers, along with gun licensing, the banning of semi-automatic assault rifles, the outlawing of certain kinds of ultra-deadly ammunition, prohibiting large-capacity bullet clips, and a HUGE emphasis on the mental health of our young people, especially teenage males, is my overall solution. Agree with it or disagree with it, I challenge anyone to test it in debate. I think I can defend it without having to resort to firing on anybody.

In the meantime, I plan on someday buying a Taser for home defense. And they can have it when they take it from my cold, dead hands!



Monday, December 17, 2012

Domestic vs. International Terror

On "Meet The Press" this past Sunday, David Gregory cited one post he'd seen on Twitter which pointed out how, when one shoe-bomber fails on board one plane, we all must remove our footwear forever, but when gunmen repeatedly open fire in crowded places, nothing happens in response.

How very interesting! I can see why that particular post caught Gregory's eye. But I'd like to take this a step further by highlighting not only how there's a disconnect between our attitudes toward organized vs. random acts of terror, but also the disconnect between domestic vs. international terrorism.

When a government tries to take away a citizens' assault rifle, it is argued that the rifle is needed to defend himself against a government becoming overly oppressive. Yet when the DHS wire-taps that same person just because it's Tuesday and they feel like the next Al Quaeda cell happens to have a phone number ending in "7," no argument about overly oppressive government is made. When sales are made at gun shows, it is argued that criminal background checks are unnecessary, yet if one wants to board an airplane, not only do our backgrounds get checked but all our luggage is x-rayed and some total stranger gets to see what we look like in our skivvies. When someone suggests a database be kept of gun-owners, as well as people who should not own a gun, privacy rights are argued, yet nobody whines about the NSA's no-fly list, nor did many of the same people object to Joseph McCarthy or J. Edgar Hoover compiling lists of suspected communists two generations ago. When gun registration and licensing is argued, gun-rights advocates scream "Big Brother," yet keep totally silent about things like criminal databases, driver license databases, the social security system which reduces each of us down to a number, or even social media outlets like Facebook, where nobody seems to care if Big Brother is watching or not.

Why the fuck is there this disconnect?

I think the ultimate answer to this can be discerned with the question of who is directly threatened. A domestic crackpot who enters a mall and starts firing a gun, that's one thing. But a terrorist who flies a plane into the Pentagon? That's not tolerable! People toting guns can get as far into the seat of the government as the White House fence, but will be shot on sight if seen trying to hop that fence, whether armed or not. So the gun-toters end up nowhere near government, and everywhere among the general populace. Unless, that is, that crazy person boards a plane and is able to fly it into a government building! Then, suddenly, the government gets a taste of what inner city black people have to put up with every day! And so, every airplane passenger is carefully screened, prodded, poked, and processed, just to make certain that the government doesn't ever get threatened.

There's also a religious bias, here. When domestic terrorists struck, nobody talked of throwing away our rights so that the government could "protect us." When Timothy McVeigh blew up a truck full of explosives in front of a federal building, people didn't seriously talk about having federal agents creating a massive database to hunt such people down in advance. When David Koresh led a religious movement into stockpiling weapons for an outright war against the United States itself, few people had their calls for stricter gun laws taken seriously. Yet when some Muslims flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, people suddenly were willing to sacrifice freedom for security. Part of that is due to the mass carnage of 9/11, but part of it is also the fact that we, as a nation, are simply more comfortable with a Christian terrorist over a Muslim one. Maybe he's a bat-shit crazy asshole, but he's OUR bat-shit crazy asshole!

I'm not arguing that we need security checks in every walk of life, nor am I arguing that citizens shouldn't be armed or have their privacy rights protected. I'm certainly not saying that I have all the answers. But if we're willing to accept the occasional mass shooting as the kind of collateral damage necessary to maintain our individual liberties when it comes to owning firearms...

...shouldn't we at least be able to finally do away with having to remove our shoes before boarding the airplane?



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Phasers On Stun

I am on record as clearly promoting two major ideas when it comes to guns: 1.) that we, the people have an absolute right to own and carry defensive weapons, and 2.) that it is beyond obvious that we need a system of registration and licensing for firearms. The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School certainly underscores the dire need which we have for a greater effort at keeping guns out of the hands of bat-shit crazy people, that much is certain. But the guns used in that tragedy were legally bought by the perpetrator's mother, and none of them were military-caliber offensive assault rifles. So I'm forced, reluctantly, to admit that the drums I've been beating for so long about gun ownership and control would simply not have prevented this tragedy. So, as the subject of this blog, I'm going to tackle the question of just what would have prevented this, and I'll simply dump everything out there in a stream of unfiltered consciousness. Please understand, this is all sheer brainstorming, and I do not necessarily espouse anything below as a certain solution.

First, I have to say this: We could stop all of this nonsense if only we could just keep guns out of the hands of any males between the age of 16 and 25. If there's one predicting factor which is consistent in every mass-shooting tragedy over the past several years, it's simply that only young men pop off and shoot people. I have yet to see any young woman grab a gun and open fire in a school, theater, or other crowded place. So, here's a thought: How about we arm all the women and disarm all the men? At least this would be an off-setting factor for the biological fact that men are physically stronger. But, of course, a strong man can wrestle the gun out of the hands of most women. So how about this (and this is a completely sci-fi geek nonsense thought): Every woman could have a gun built into the bone structure of her left arm, which will pop out and shoot muggers and rapists a la Wolverine's claws. Maybe not practical, but it would make the world a more peaceful place, and more men would take their cunnilingus seriously.

Or how about this: Isn't it interesting that all these mass-shooters usually kill themselves at the end? I wonder if it's possible to implant a hypnotic suggestion, maybe using subliminal techniques embedded in the very same heavy metal music and violent video games which purportedly encourage this behavior in the first place, to simply kill themselves first? It would save a lot of innocent lives if that could be pulled off.

But really what we need is a very effective, readily available defensive weapon which stuns but does not kill. We have some such things already, such as tasers, but these are bulky, tricky to aim, and do not always stop an assailant, particularly one hyped up on methamphetamine.  Other weapons, such as plastic bullet rifles and  glue-balls, are simply too bulky and act too slowly. The ideal weapon should be small, easily concealable, and be able to drop an assailant cold in an instant without killing him. Then we use them to arm every school teacher, movie theater employee, and mall cashier. Such a device hasn't been invented yet, but if it were, it would be the phaser.

That's right, phasers on stun! The small, pocket-sized device is easy to aim, easy to use, and can stop a Klingon dead in his tracks! With stunning phasers everywhere, the handgun almost becomes obsolete. True, such defensive weapons would inevitably be misused by the very muggers and rapists we're trying to stop, but at least the victim wouldn't be dead afterward, and there's more than a sporting chance that the perp would be the one shot first. With computerized and automated systems, a phaser defense grid could be set up as part of the surveillance system of any public location where large numbers of people gather. Any gun-toting freak would be lucky to get off one shot before the sound of gunfire would cause the automated system to home in on the source and stun that crazy fucker down before he manages to kill anybody!

Okay, maybe that's all just facetious crap on my part. But in all seriousness, shouldn't we finally have cheap, defensive ray-guns by now? It's 2012 for Pete's sake! We've been to the moon, put cool robots on Mars, and landed probes on Titan! How the hell can we not have a lightsabre or a cool Buck Rogers style blaster yet?

On the other hand, maybe I'm just talking crazy talk.

I guess they'd better not let me have a gun.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Higher Taxes, Lower Unemployment?

I recently received a letter from my congressman, Mr. Jim Sensenbrenner. It was a response to the e-mail I sent him, begging him to cooperate with Our Trophy President and let tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% expire. His reply cited a very interesting paper. He writes:

“The independent firm Ernst & Young has stated that allowing tax rates to expire for the top two income brackets will cost our economy 700,000 jobs.”

He then goes on to argue that closing loopholes is the better approach. But just how is closing loopholes not raising taxes on the rich using a different method? That question has been bugging me all during this past election. But the more pressing point he’d made was in regard to this Ernst & Young study. I was intrigued.

So I downloaded a copy and read it.

It’s not a very comprehensive report. It leaves off the exact formulae used in the calculation. This is perhaps understandable, as they don’t want their proprietary model stolen by competing interests. But even then, it is not very quantitative in any respect. In other words, they just don’t give any solid, damned numbers! Here’s the key paragraph from the actual report:

"This report finds that the increase in the top tax rates would reduce long-run output by 1.3% when the resulting revenue is used to finance additional government spending. Employment is found to fall by 0.5%. In today’s economy, these results would translate into a reduction of gross domestic product (GDP) of $200 billion and employment by 710,000 jobs. Investment and the capital stock (net worth) would fall in the long-run by 2.4% and 1.4%, respectively. Real (non-inflationary) after-tax wages would fall by 1.8%, indicative of the decline in living standards relative to what would have occurred otherwise.”

Sounds dire. But how did they get these numbers? Ernst & Young gives us one, and only one, piece of information. They used the “Ernst & Young General Equilibrium Model of the US Economy.” Just what is that, exactly?

Well, General Equilibrium economic models have been around since the late 70’s. They have been quite cumbersome at times, but advancements in computer technology have made them much easier to use. As such, many Chicago-school and neo-conservative economists love using them, because they think that the fancy mathematical formulae makes them irrefutable.

That having been said, they have a history of failure.

Not only Ernst & Young’s General Equilibrium model, but everybody else’s as well, failed to predict and respond to the housing bubble which led to the crisis in 2008. In fact, part of the very reason that professional economists failed to sound the alarm was because their General Equilibrium models kept indicating that there was no problem! You see, such models have to assume that businesses and consumers will behave perfectly rationally – or else their behavior would be impossible to compute with accurate numbers. Fine in theory, but in practice, people do not behave rationally with money! Hence, General Equilibrium models do not work, and their record proves it.

These General Equilibrium models have such a spotty track record that neo-Keynsian economists find them laughable. I’m forced to agree. When such economic models failed us so spectacularly in 2008, should we really give them any credence in 2012, four years later? Even if they say they’ve worked out all the bugs, would you trust their product?

Let’s face it: General Equilibrium models might work someday. But for now, they are the Yugo of economics, and the Sylvia Browne of economic prediction.

The report repeatedly states that the impact is “long term.” But just what is meant by that? Five years? Ten years? Fifteen? The report fails to say, and that’s so unforgivably sloppy that it should tell any critical reader how jokingly unreliable the conclusion must be.  After all, $710,000 jobs over 20 years is about 2,960 jobs each month. Since job growth has been taking place at an average of 140,000 jobs each month over the last three years, that means that this “dire consequence” would be a mere 137,000 additional jobs each month. Big deal! If the model predicted a loss of 710,000 jobs out of four million potential jobs added, that’s a 3.29 million job gain. It would therefore be irresponsible to report the 710,000 “job loss” number by itself. A slight decrease in future job growth is not a loss! Is that what this report did? Again, they failed to specify. I wonder why that is?

A criticism of this report by the White House and the Huffington Post points out that it assumes that the additional tax revenue would be used for additional spending. Not so, says the Obama administration, because that money instead will be used to pay down the deficit, lower interest rates, and create economic growth over the long run that way. Fine, but conservative economists do not take this gripe seriously, and neither do I. The neocons argue that the additional spending will be there because it all goes into the same federal reserve where there is no specific account labeled “deficit reduction.” I, on the other hand, argue that the additional spending could be on bullet trains, roads and infrastructure, thus providing more than enough jobs to offset the proposed job losses. It’s all a matter of where that money gets spent.  The Post also criticizes those who paid to develop their report, arguing vested interest. This is rightly rejected as an ad hominem argument, but I also add that such an argument is not even necessary.

The Ernst & Young report fails on its own lack of merit.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Defense of Susan Rice

Some of you gen-X’ers out there might be too young to know about this, but the Colgate Co. once had an ad campaign back in the 1970’s which told TV viewers that Dawn dish-washing soap got dishes “so clean, they squeak.” To emphasize the point, the middle aged actress who was pitching the product would, with sincerity radiating from her smiling eyes, hold her freshly-washed plate in her hands and run her wet finger across the surface.  It would make a squeaking noise as the plate, now completely grease-free, would make the kind of noise based on the same principle that resonates a glass harmonica. Several other Dawn dish-soap commercials talked about dishes being “squeaky clean” and “passing the squeak-test,” and the phrases entered the popular lexicon, leaving most 20-somethings to be potentially confused as to the meaning 35 years later.

So when I make the following statement, I want there to be no confusion as to my exact meaning.

Susan Rice is so clean she squeaks.

I mean, seriously! There is nothing about this woman that is not five-star, grade-A, 4.0 excellence! Valedictorian, Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, flawless ambassadorship in the U.N., a solid 9.5 on the attractiveness scale and probably even looks perfect in a bikini.  Is there anything about this woman that isn't over-qualified for the job of Secretary of State?

Why, oh why then, are Republicans so up in arms over this woman?

Um, guys? You’re persecuting the wrong babe. The one who slept with David Petraeus is over there.

I used to think that this all might be a peremptory strike against the possibility that this woman might become a political candidate someday. After Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice is probably the next likely female to be able to win the presidency someday, followed closely by Condoleeza Rice and Elizabeth Warren.  But the opposition is simply too uniform and coordinated for something like that. There must be something else going on, here.

There is. Should John Kerry be named Secretary of State instead of Susan Rice, a special election would have to be held in Massachusetts to fill Kerry’s vacated seat, and that would give Republicans an excellent chance to get their beloved Scott Brown back into the Senate. After all, Scott Brown is a potential future presidential or vice-presidential candidate as well, and they have no intention of allowing their best golden-boy to be yanked off the stage! So, the game for Republicans is, force Obama to name John Kerry, and then their potential Messiah gets back into the spotlight. To accomplish this, they must sling mud at Susan Rice.

One problem: They’re fresh out of mud! Dirt too! So, to get by, they’re pointing at her spotless jerkin, insisting they see a stain there.

Let’s analyze this alleged stain.

It basically comes in two parts: First, that Susan Rice is too abrasive and/or blunt. Second, that she mislead the public regarding the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Regarding part one, that she’s too abrasive, what they mean to say is that she’s too abrasive for a woman. If she were male, she would be regarded as forceful, confident, bold, and possibly even a natural leader. But because she’s a woman, all these are considered negative traits. Really? Bullshit, I say!

So much for that.

And part two, that she misled the public regarding a matter of public interest, let’s take a good look at the track record of Susan’s critics.

The entire Republican party has mislead people about deregulation aiding the economy. Some part of it might have stopped inflation in the 80’s under Reagan, but other than that, everything else they've sold us about absolutism being applied to free markets has amounted to getting ill on too much of a good thing. Shadow banking was deregulated, and we got a Savings and Loan crisis. Credit lending was deregulated, and we got a credit-card crisis. Housing loans were deregulated, and we got a housing-bubble crisis, and its hideous aftermath. We’re learning the hard way that those banking and lending regulations are in place for damned good reasons, and removing them does not stimulate economic growth – or if it does, that the growth is short-lived, and collapses into recession. And this is just one economic area where Republicans have mislead the American public for 40 straight years.

On the talk radio circuit, whether it be Rush Limbaugh calling Sarah Fluke a “slut,” Glenn Beck calling Obama the Antichrist, or any number of other whoppers, the over-paid propagandists have been out there misleading everyone on everything from taxation to foreign trade. As long as they defend the rich executives who ultimately pay them, they’ll go on spin-doctoring things to mislead voters into voting for fat-cats who pretend at piety.

In short, even if the allegations against Susan Rice are true (which they are not), they are accusing her of doing just once what they, themselves have been doing consistently for an entire lifetime!

This isn't just the pot calling the kettle black, it's the entire cookware set! Every clown in the circus is daring to call her silly!

Well, so much for that, too! Susan Rice should be immediately confirmed as Secretary of State. If the Republicans who criticize her are successful in getting her removed from consideration, then they should all also be removed from consideration for re-election by the same standard. In a perfect world, that would happen.

If so, Scott Brown might be the only elected Republican left.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Founding Father Mythos

The battle for the future is sometimes strangely fought in the past.  Like time-traveling soldiers vs. terminator robots, our culture warriors seem to travel back in time to the dawn of our nation in order to do battle with each other, each one trying to stake claim to America’s foundation as its territory.  The notion seems to be that if our nation was intended as either Christian or secular by the Founding Fathers, that this means that’s the way the nation should be today.

Of course, the whole notion is daft.  It's as absurd as saying that if the original rule book was intended a certain way, then that’s the way the rule book should remain now.  Let the NFL do away with instant replay while Major League Baseball segregates a separate league for black people, and you get an application of this same, silly principle.  But this doesn't keep the religious Right from trying the tactic anyway.  If the Founding Fathers were Christian, it is preached, then we should be Christian too, because that means it’s the American Way.  It is somehow absurdly believed that the authors of the Constitution were somehow Constitutional themselves, and that therefore their personal beliefs, or even foibles, are somehow applicable to policy making today.

Let's have a reality check: The founding fathers were, for all their virtues, for all their vices, merely human beings.  They made brilliant decisions along with some colossal blunders.  They achieved great things under the cloud of unforgivable failure, and blazed an important trail while leaving a hideous mess in its wake.  In the end, we must see them as the belching, farting, shitting, slave-fucking and halitosis-ridden homo sapiens that they truly were.  And we should no more follow their example than a modern-day physician should return to bloodletting.

The bottom line behind the founding principles of our nation is simply this: they were a good start.  Not perfect, but a good start.  And ever since then it has been up to succeeding generations to keep improving upon the idea, eliminating the mistakes in the original version where they are found, revising the outdated areas when technology and cultural progress dictate that they need to be, and adding new ones as novel situations dictate.  Sometimes we might get it right, as with public education and investing in the infrastructures of transportation, power and water.  Other times, we might get it wrong, as we did during prohibition.  But always, hopefully, we gradually ratchet things forward to an improvement upon what we inherited when we were younger.  As such, looking back upon the starting point, and those who helped start it, as some sort of "ideal," is nothing more than flipping the middle-finger at our modern-day world, and advocating a return to the "good old days" when life was nasty, brutish and short. What rubbish!

It is our turn to improve upon the original. We may make mistakes, but if we do things right, we will produce more progress than setback. So how about, instead of looking backward for guidance, we look forward?

I’m sure the founding fathers would have wanted it that way, in any case.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Save Santa!

As if Hurricane Sandy wasn't bad enough, now the planet's changing, climate-change-induced weather patterns are threatening Christmas! Yes, Santa's workshop, long known to be located at the North Pole, has collapsed beneath the ice!

This latest consequence of global warming is nothing short of disastrous!  Almost nothing can be salvaged from Santa's shop, and what little can be recovered is virtually impossible to see. Due to the tilt of the Earth's axis, the North Pole is in perpetual darkness, and will remain so until just before the Spring Equinox. Salvage teams and rescue parties with high-powered search lights have been able to find nothing so far.

A small hint of this potential disaster was experienced two years ago when Comet's reindeer paddock collapsed through the ice. Comet, a conservative who has long opposed the idea of global warming, still maintains that event was due to a freak warm water current.

More might have been done to prevent this disaster had preventative measures been put into place. The Elvish Engineering Corp (EEC) had strongly recommended putting flotation devices beneath the entire compound to keep it afloat in the event of an ice collapse. Unfortunately, Santa's workshop has simply been too overwhelmed by recent scandals and financial woes to be able to afford this kind of pre-planning. Last year, as many may recall, Rudolph's career was destroyed due to the scandalous discovery that he was doping and using RGH (reindeer growth hormone, see last year's blog post). His seven Tempyte de Noel trophies have been retroactively stripped from him. Numerous other reindeer scandals, including Vixen's highly-publicized sexual affair with Reindeer-General David Parbrayus, have further given the Santa administration fits. Over the last several years, the Kringle financial holdings in Zurich, Switzerland, have had to commit vast resources to the defense of the Elvish Workers Union against labor-breaking incursions by Wal-Mart and other retail giants. As such, the resources needed to transform Santa's North Pole Base into a floating city simply weren't there.

To help deal with the disaster, a number of international groups have come to the rescue. Newly re-elected President Barack Obama has asked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to fill the role of Santa during peak times, and he has accepted. The Red Cross, International Monetary Fund and other organizations are committed to help. Donations and volunteers are badly needed.

Save Santa!



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Is A "Mandate?"

Eight years ago, when left-leaning centrists like myself were still smarting over John Kerry having been swift-boated, I said repeatedly to anyone who would listen that I didn't think that 51% constituted a "mandate." In fact, I was quite adamant about that, and anytime Dick Cheney uttered the word, I wanted to knock that smug, stoic block of his right off its mortar. Now, the shoe is on the other foot, and I must submit myself to the same standard which I set back then. 51%, by itself, does not comprise a "mandate." Not for Bush, and not for Obama.

Yet Our Trophy President (X2!) is claiming that he has a mandate on raising taxes on the wealthiest upper 2%, and I'm quite certain that conservatives must feel about that much the same as I felt back in 2008. In a word, furious! Am I about to say that Obama does not have a mandate on the tax issue?

Nice try, but no. You see, in 2008, 60% of Americans disapproved of the war in Iraq. Hence, a 51% election victory did not constitute a mandate on said war, something which I felt was beyond obvious back in 2008. But Bush said he did anyway. That was wrong.

And now?

Now, polls show that 60% of Americans approve of raising taxes on the wealthiest upper 2%. Obama's 51% came largely from those same people. There you go. Now that's a mandate!

Wealthy interests, combined with superpacs, out-raised and out-spent an incumbent president by nearly double, unprecedented in history, shattering all previous records by nearly triple any previous dollar amount, all to convince citizens that holding their ground on the tax rate for the very wealthiest was a necessary thing. It still failed. Now that's a mandate!

An entire media empire brought its full force to bear on the message of "taxing the rich bad... taxing the rich bad... taxing the rich bad..." and it still lost. Now that's a mandate!

And finally, the president stumped, and stumped, and stumped on the issue of asking the rich to pay a little bit more so that we can balance our budget. His opponent was not forthcoming, at all, about how he would balance the budget by "closing loopholes," or which loopholes would be cut. In other words, the blunt truth won bluntly. Now that's a mandate!

There's all kinds of other stuff that one can say that Barack Obama's 51% does not give him a mandate on: Social Security, Medicare, foreign policy, "family values," etc. But taxes? That's the one area where public opinion is simply too crystal clear to claim anything other than a mandate.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Is Socialism?

What is socialism?

Oh, we all know the answer to that one. Socialism is whatever Barack Obama is doing to America, right?

Well, no. The real definition of socialism is quite different.

Wikipedia says:
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, and a political philosophy advocating such a system. says:
1.) a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. 2.) procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

And Merriam-Webster says:
1.) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

So the definition is fairly straight-forward. Socialism is what you call it when the government owns and runs the farm, factory or store. Simple. It might also be a smaller collective management system of some sort, such as a cooperative company (a “co-op,” such as Woodman’s Groceries) or a religious movement where its members forfeit all their earthly possessions to be managed by religious leaders (such as pre-Constantine Christianity. Yep. Jesus-Freaks were the first socialists! Read the book of Acts).

But let’s concern ourselves only with socialism as applied by government. Sometimes, a government is socialist outright, controlling the means of production centrally. We’ll call that classic socialism. Other times, government might act a little socialistic in controlling certain things in a limited way, but leaves the overall capitalistic structure alone. We see this more in Europe than in the U.S., but since all capitalism has done this to some degree or another, we’ll call that classic capitalism. Finally, we’ll compare this with government letting needed services die, or outright giving the store away to wealthy interests. We’ll call this crony capitalism.

We can all agree, classic capitalism is a good thing. Those semi-socialistic elements are what gives us roads and bridges. They're what built Hoover Dam and the Tennessee Valley Authority. They gave us U.S. highways. They created the Alaska pipeline. (By the way, if you're wealthy, "you didn't build that!") They're what provides us with military protection. (Say what you will about the military, but it is totally government controlled, no matter what else you may call it.) So classic capitalism = good. Classic socialism and crony capitalism = bad. With me?

So, according to these definitions:

Only one business exists, which is the government: Classic Socialism.
Many businesses, small and large, exist, with the largest paying higher tax rates: Classic Capitalism.
Government defines “small business” as having employees with high six-figure salaries but under 500 employees in the entity, thus allowing them to duck a higher tax rate: Crony Capitalism.

All revenues are government revenues: Classic Socialism.
Government taxes those who aren't poor a little bit, and taxes progressively more as people get wealthier: Classic Capitalism.
Government taxes the middle class at a higher percentage rate than the extremely rich: Crony Capitalism.

Government owns and runs all hospitals, compensating all doctors with pre-set allotments: Classic Socialism.
Government centrally pays for healthcare, with doctors, hospitals and other medical services existing as free enterprises: Classic Capitalism. (Technically, this is referred to as a monopsony, the opposite of a monopoly.)
Government requires citizens to buy insurance or else pay a penalty fee: Crony Capitalism. (Unbelievably so!)

Government takes over a major industry: Classic Socialism.
Government rescues a major industry, like General Motors, buy buying up a major interest and then selling that ownership interest off later when the industry has gotten back on its feet: Classic Capitalism.
Government lets a major industry die so that vultures can swoop in and sell it off in pieces: Crony Capitalism.

All business profits go to the government bank: Classic Socialism.
Taxing the rich at a higher rate is applied as a reasonable counterbalance to the luck and privilege which got them there, allowing greater equality of opportunity and a more sustainable economy: Classic Capitalism.
Taxing the rich at a higher rate is decried as “punishing the successful”: Crony Capitalism.

Catch my drift? Something can be socialistic without necessarily being socialism outright, and capitalism is still capitalism, even if it has a few socialistic elements, provided that the bulk of the economy, particularly wages and prices, remains free-market.

But socialism applied as a nation’s overall government structure (that is, Communism) is all but dead, and has been since 1991. That experiment was tried, and it failed. Want to hear a fact that will make you feel really old? The babies that were born after the Berlin Wall came down are now over 21 years of age! The only communist hold-outs that are left are China, North Korea, Cuba, and a couple of insignificant nuisances, such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma). China is not a true socialist country because it tolerates capitalism within it as a primary economic structure. So does Cuba. Baby Boomers and all who came after were taught to demonize communism and all its variants from a very young age, despite not really being taught what it is (because that would be subversive), and besides that, it’s now nearly extinct on top of it all. So socialism is something virtually unknown to two, and now almost three, whole generations!

I guess that explains why so many people have no clue as to what it is.

Giveaways to corporate insurance interests are called “socialist.” Low-interest loans to green-energy start-up businesses are called “socialist.” Even things like gay marriage and abortion are called “socialist!”

No wonder people are confused.

One great example of how people have so thoroughly forgotten the definition of socialism is Thomas Peterffy. You might remember him. He’s the billionaire who spent a huge chunk of his fortune on campaign ads during this most recent election decrying how America is becoming socialist.

“I was born in a socialist country,” he says in the ad. And then proceeds to describe how awful it was, and how he sees America becoming more like it. “Yes, the rich will be poorer, but the poor will also be poorer,” he laments, then effectively pleads with people to please vote Republican.

Well, no. Peterffy is right about socialism making everyone poorer – if applied as a nationwide economic system. But he’s dead wrong when he says that he sees that sort of thing happening in America.

You see, Peterffy hails from Hungary. Fair enough. But America is simply not becoming more like bygone Hungary. It’s becoming more like modern France! Or Germany. Or Holland. Or England, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, or any other non-socialist, died-in-the-wool capitalistic European nation which was never part of the Soviet Bloc and has been smart enough to pay for its citizens’ healthcare! They also have a fairer tax system, which is really all Peterffy is truly complaining about!

Wrong nation, Peterffy. Wrong goddamned nation.

He came over from Hungary as a young man and eventually made himself a fortune as he became an old man. Good for him! But he’s just plain mistaken, and all his money doesn't make him any less confused. Tax breaks for the wealthy means that a great many other young, ambitious men won't be able to pursue the same path to wealth that he did, because they'll have to pay a higher rate which weighs them down. Talk about kicking down the ladder after you've reached the top!

What this guy, and all his friends, are really pissed about is (gasp!) their capital gains tax rates will go up to the same percentage that the rest of us pay on our meager paychecks! Oh horror, the fairness of it all! But look at how much money that Peterffy and his ilk have paid, funding their own TV ads and contributing pre-bundled millions to the Romney campaign.

Do the math: Add up all the money the rich have paid trying to defeat Obama’s plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire on them. Subtract from this the extra money they would have paid in taxes. The difference is the billions they could have saved, if only they hadn't made such a big stink about it!

It was far, far cheaper just to shut up and deal with it.

Well, they’ll know better next time. So will we. Now that we finally know the definition of socialism, that is.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Wherefore Goeth Republicans From Here?

Now that it’s official that the conservative movement is forever in the minority, the party of said movement, the G.O.P., must now restructure itself so that it can win future elections. It simply has no other choice. That means that one of the planks in its platform has got to go. But which one?

Taxes? Forget it. Oh, they’ll have no choice regarding letting the Bush tax cuts for the 2% expire. If they do nothing, they expire anyway, so they simply don’t have the leverage. But you can bet they’ll go right back to being pit-bulls on this one. It’s their most defining characteristic.

Free trade? Not a chance. There's nothing wrong with free trade, it's the backbone of our economy. But extremism of deregulation is simply too ingrained in the Republican psyche. Besides, the rich donate generously to the Republican cause primarily because they hope to become robber-barons once again. If this one shifts, there go the campaign donations, and Hollywood simply won’t be willing to fill the void.

How about shunning the Christian Right? Certainly, embracing religious loony-tunes has cost the G.O.P. time and time again, but Christianity is still the primary religion of the U.S. Secularists, by contrast, are 20% of the nation. That means that the non-religious, while too big to have its rights pissed on anymore, are not yet big enough to be openly courted – even by Democrats. (Yet the Jewish vote, comprising only 1.5% of the population, does get courted. Go figure!)

Family values? Well, let’s be blunt, here. By “family values,” what’s really meant is opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Certainly, Republicans got cremated on this one, and always will so long as women keep the right to vote. But they've certainly seen the numbers shift on the gay rights issue, and so might choose to quietly let that one drop, much like they dropped the issue of divorce (as well as let the secret collusion with southern Democrats on enforcing segregation quietly die). But abortion? Well, as I've been pointing out on this blog for some time now, fetal brain development defines the true onset of a being. But while I’m busily beating on that drum, I recognize that I’m only one tom-tom in a very large and raucous drum orchestra. It will be some time before anyone begins marching to my beat. Still, if they do, Republicans might find their ticket to winning back the female vote. Highly unlikely, however.

What about the drug war? Ah, here’s one that might just work! A collaboration with the Libertarian party on this one would win back the youth vote, big time! We may even see a Libertarian/Republican alliance! But old dogs hate new tricks, and the G.O.P. has some very old dogs. This one could happen, and if it did some – including me – might be willing to vote Republican again. But I would be highly surprised if it were to happen.

That leaves only one issue left: Immigration. The Hispanic vote is kicking Republican ass, and the projected population numbers indicate that it will only get worse for them. Eventually, most Americans will be Hispanic, and if conservatives don’t make inroads there, they will be shut out of the decision making process forever. So, this is where I predict they will make their big change. They will abandon their xenophobia, buy a wide-brimmed sombrero, raise their piñata, and throw a fiesta! Republicans will now advocate tearing down the wall between Mexico and the U.S. They will begin advocating easier paths to citizenship. Don’t be surprised if many of the stations owned by Clearchannel suddenly flip to a Spanish-language format. Watch how existing Spanish-language channels get bought out by wealthy corporate interests. It’s happening already, as Mundo Fox is no accident! Conservative Latinos who are willing to go on the radio will suddenly find that they have a lucrative career. Look out! Here come the Hispanic versions of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity! And then they will try to blast the Spanish-speaking A.M. airwaves with right-wing rhetoric the way they’ve done with the English-speaking sports networks. Who knows? It might even work! Eventually.

But they burned that bridge long ago, and rebuilding it will take a massive engineering effort, as the river that must be traversed has grown quite wide. It will take decades before they undo all their damage, and they risk alienating the very white voters who comprise their base in the process. The Tea Party will likely turn to the Libertarian party in disgust! If they do, the Libertarians might actually get some people elected. That is, if the Tea-Partiers are willing to embrace homos and Mary Jane. Then again, maybe not. The Constitution Party might suddenly get a lot bigger, yet remain ineffectual.

But who knows? Maybe I’m wrong, and Republicans will begin rockin’ their gonge!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

*Ahem!* Liberals, We Suck!

Okay, my fellow centrists, left-of-center centrists, progressives and liberals, the time for gloating and celebrating the victory is over. We suck.

Yes, we do. We got lucky, nothing more. We dodged a bullet, but only because our assailant can't aim.

We let the Tea Party form up and rally, unchallenged. Maybe we were too busy mimicking ostriches with our heads buried in the sands of disbelief, but we should have spanked those spoiled crybabies the moment they started wailing over their lost candy. But, apparently, we don't believe in spanking.

We failed to rally behind a second stimulus after the health care reform law passed. Maybe we thought (as I did) that the new reforms would act as a new stimulus. The truth is, in some areas of the economy, it did, but not universally. A second stimulus was needed, and we flubbed it.

We forgot about Gitmo. We could have created hundreds of jobs in Missouri and Oklahoma by bringing detainees to the U.S., revitalizing unused prisons, and showing the world that even suspected terrorists (let me emphasize that: suspected terrorists!) are innocent until proven guilty. But no, we had to insist that the same death penalty we handed out to Timothy McVeigh wasn't good enough for towel-heads. We would rather fuck the due process of law. We would rather not have to face the potential embarrassment of having punished the few innocents whom we thew in among the guilty herd.

In the short time our representatives actually held a super-majority, after Al Franken was finally sworn in and before Ted Kennedy died six weeks later, we got a bunch of things done. But outside of that, we let super-minority Republicans kick us around for nearly two solid years! All they had to do was whisper the word, "filibuster" and everyone in the Senate would dive for cover like mice hearing a hooting owl! We should have stood up to them! We should have let them filibuster, and fail! We could have strong-armed at least a few Republicans in the House to act cooperatively afterward, but we let them act like brats instead. All we needed was a little bit of a spine to get anything done, anything at all, but between 59 Senators and 255 Congressmen, they hadn't a single vertebrae. And us? Their constituents? We let them act less like legislators and more like inattentive babysitters! Oh, yes, they were jellyfish, but we were asleep at the wheel!

Our president was, and is, a man of high nobility, a bridge-builder rather than a warrior, a tactician rather than a combatant. He wanted to unite a divided playing field rather than deal with the reality of an irreconcilably partisan one. Nothing wrong with that. He values his integrity - a quality most men don't have if they even want to be president in the first place. But that's why those under him had to accept two-party reality. Had Nanci Pelosi been more willing to twist arms, or Harry Reid more willing to stand up to bullies... but no. Everybody had to be so congenial towards the unforgivably vicious.

We caved on letting tax cuts for the upper 2% expire. Of all the budget-saving, deficit-cutting, economy-rescuing things we missed out on, this one was the biggest. It's a drop in the bucket for the wealthy, it never effected "small business" (as defined as your local mom & pop shop), but we let it slip away. We let the sandwich get snatched away from the starving man!

And then, the biggest mistake of all. We let the midterm elections of 2010 slide on by, never going to the polls, never getting up off our asses, thus throwing away our hard-won majority in Congress to a highly pissed-off minority of Tea-Party assholes, convinced that they should protect the rich in the vain hope that they'll get there someday, determined to scorch the earth rather than let their last chance at overturning Roe v. Wade slip away.

Just like that, the four years we had to rebuild was cut down to two. And it was our own, goddamned fault!

If that weren't bad enough, for two solid years the Republicans made their highest priority the destruction of our economy so that Obama could be defeated. And no one called them out on it! (Except, perhaps, Bill Maher and myself.) Not while it was happening, and not during the 2012 presidential election campaign! What the fuck!

Fortunately, the Tea Party and conservative talk radio was its own worst enemy. We lucked out.

Romney was perfectly designed to fail. The darling of the conservative media, he was the originator of the very same healthcare reform at the state level, a one-victory politician who flubbed the tough questions, and a member of the very same vulture capitalism that everyone demonized after the collapse of 2008. But he'd already locked in the big donors. By the time Republicans realized their mistake, the nomination process had already gotten to states which allowed Democrats to cross over their vote to prevent Rick Santorum from winning. They were stuck with the worst possible candidate.

Then, we lucked out in the other candidates. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Linda McMahon, Tom Smith, John Koster... again and again they stuck their feet right into their mouths with inane comments about women and rape, denial of contraception, or outright abortion. How many times do politicians have to get spanked on this issue?

We lucked out with Bill Clinton. Who knows where this nation would be if he hadn't stepped up to the microphone and reminded us that the Democrats have the right economic idea after all?

We lucked out with having someone on the inside willing to put his (or her) ass on the line by videotaping Mitt at one of his high-priced fundraisers, where he let his guard down and let people know what he really thought of the American electorate. That was beyond merely lucky!

And finally, we lucked out when FEMA became a central campaign issue. No, I'm not going to take the absurd position that Hurricane Sandy was a good thing. Nor am I going to say that the storm somehow won Obama the election. Obama was leading polls in swing states before Sandy, and he was leading them in swing states after Sandy. The hurricane was not the factor. No, the real factor was the fact that Mitt just had to open up his big, fat mouth and advocate the cutting of funding to FEMA. All the hurricane did was highlight that fact. Had Mitt not shot off his mouth that way, the storm would have had little or no impact one way or the other. Oh, it reminded us about global warming, but most on the East Coast already accept that. (It's primarily the Midwest jet-stream states that harbor the climate-change deniers.) So the perfect storm was not Hurricane Sandy, it was Hurricane Romney.

I'm like that assistant coach who, after the big championship victory, sits down with the team, goes over the video, and points out how the game really should have been lost. Yeah, you guys will sit on the bench and smirk at my doom-and-gloom attitude about how the victory was achieved, knowing that the trophy still sits on the shelf for all time. But I'm serious, damn it! We should have lost this one! And while it's good the other side was too crazy to win this time, we simply cannot count on the other side's incompetence to safeguard our nation for tomorrow! Sooner or later, they'll wise up, and use tactics that actually work!

Let's bring our "A-game" next time!



A Salute To Conservatism

To all members of the conservative movement in America, I salute you.

Yes, all you demeaning ditto-heads, supply-side sophomores and tea-party terpsichores, I pay you due homage, and give you a well-earned tip of my feathered cap.

You fought well.

In fact, you fought surprisingly well, given that your clothes had no emperor to fight for. With an anti-traditional, non-Christian figurehead, you nevertheless drove your forces all the way to the very gates of government in the name of the very traditions and Christianity your Mormon leader secretly opposed, and insistently beat upon the gates with your battering ram for six solid months. Your siege was a fierce one. Perhaps the fiercest possible outside of outright violence. At times, the gates looked as though they might crack, but they held firm. And now, your leader has sounded the retreat. Bruised and battered, you limp home to lick your wounds and massage your pride.

You have nothing to be ashamed of. You left it all on the field of battle. You spent every drop of blood you had to give, and every dollar you had to spend.

You bought a monopoly of nearly all A.M. radio stations and used it to preach only one political side to blue-collar workers and daily commuters for more than twenty solid years. You have won two out of the last four presidential elections. You have constructed a 24-hour political commentary channel, and pitched it as straight news for much of that same time. You have rallied, marched, screamed yourself hoarse, come out in droves to vote, and given every last penny you had to give in your ceaseless campaign.

And what has it all gotten you? 49%.

Yes, 49%. In spite of passionate turnout on your part, lackluster enthusiasm on your opponents’ part, and efforts to block their right to vote at every turn, you still only achieved 49%. That is all your effort, shouting, never-ending hatred and trillions upon trillions of dollars have bought you.

And you will never, EVER be this strong again.

A.M. radio is giving way to the iPod and the cellphone. Daily commuters no longer have to lazily settle for the radio station that just happened to be on their dial while the sporting event was being broadcast. DVR technology continues to strip political ads of all their power. Podcasts and satellite radio continue to gain popularity, even as they become cheaper to access. The mask of Fox News has been removed. MSNBC counterweights its every move. Your monopoly is broken.

You thought you could win by breaking unions. But they're not dead, yet! And like a hydra, the Latino vote grew in to replace its strength. And this will allow the union head you chopped off to grow back, better, stronger, and with a decent brain this time.

Before this presidential term is out, three Supreme Court justices will be in their nineties. They will almost certainly be replaced with slightly left-leaning moderates, and so will put any hope of taking over the highest court in the land out of reach for at least two generations. Roe v. Wade is out of reach, forever. Citizens’ United is doomed.

You cannot buy your way to power, anymore.

Nor can you pray your way to power. Evangelicals are now only 49% of the population, and the trend line continues downward. Secular atheists and agnostics are now 20% of the population, and the trend line continues upward.

49%. That was your high-watermark, both in your vote, and in your overall influence. Thus, this election has been your Waterloo, your Pickett’s Charge, your last advance of the Light Brigade. You already feel the pull of your weakening influence. Your Christian heroes have fallen. All the champions to your cause were either philanderers or lunatics. So devoid of leadership have you been that you settled upon a Mormon, who couldn’t have been better designed for defeat had Democrats drawn him up on a blackboard, all because he was the only monogamous person left with any money.

And who is left now that he's gone? Dubya’s weakling kid brother, a crass, fat loudmouth from Jersey, a loser whose very name is synonymous with homosexual anal ooze, and maybe the beefcake ex-senator whose clock got cleaned by Elizabeth Warren. What a rag-tag group of misanthropic malcontents! Add to this the fact that the Alaskan Malamute is toothless, and the one-time veep candidate from Wisconsin is a malfunctioning robot with a bad Micky-Mouse haircut, and you have nobody left. The raft they cling to has no rudder, and no captain.

Oh, you may think that you will regroup, and "take back the nation" (as if you'd ever lost it), but this WAS your regroup. THIS was your counter-offensive. This was your last chance. And you blew it!

The holes in Milton Friedman’s supply-side economics have been exposed. Deregulation of banking is universally rejected, even on Fox News. The new free-market capitalism – not socialism, damn it, free market capitalism! – is a modern synthesis of only those economic ideas which have been proven to work. Elements of the New Deal, Clinton-esque fiscal responsibility, yes, even Reaganomics, are all part of Obama's plan. With a nucleus of free trade, banks will be fully regulated, and the lucky rich will have to part with a little bit more of their winnings from the rigged-roulette-wheel of life.

What's that, you say? Fiscal cliff? Relax, it will never happen. Boehner has to cave, and you all know it.

Oh, you conservatives will still be passionate, filled with vitriol and hate, but all it will ever get you from now on is, perhaps, a mid-term election or two. The presidency is lost to you for at least twelve years. Barack today, Hillary tomorrow, and you can bet that they both will groom a new candidate who will win easily for two terms after that.

You are mostly old. The Liberals are mostly young. And unlike your own naïve, hippie-youthful liberalism, which was based on little more than sex, pot, and opposition to the war in Vietnam, theirs is based on logic, compassion, and reason. You cannot brow-beat them the way you allowed your elders to brow-beat you. And their legacy will be much more meaningful than merely Viagra, Minoxodil and Androgel 1.62%.

If a given segment votes with a certain party three presidential races in a row, it is effectively set for life. The Millennium Generation has now voted for Kerry, and Obama twice. It's lost, forever. And the Latino vote has now voted the same way. So has the black vote. They are gone, permanently, and with them goes any chance you will ever get your majority status back. The "angry white male" has fallen!

Colorado and Washington have now joined the ranks of marijuana-legal states! You can bet that more will soon follow, as neighboring states will have no choice if they want to protect their interstate commerce. With that change will come even more hippie, granola-crunching liberalism.

It's so over. The Tea Party is done. We dumped your tea into the Boston Harbor. The culture war is finally at an end. We win!

Say hello to the New America! It is a land where freedom truly reigns. It is a land where you cannot dictate to homosexuals how they are to live their lives anymore, but it is also a land where your traditional heterosexual marriage is equally protected. It is a land where you cannot hijack the government to preach your religion anymore, but it is also a land where you may practice your Christian beliefs in peace and safety without hindrance. Say hello again to true religious freedom as the bricks of the wall separating Church and State are solidly replaced, for good this time! It is a land where marijuana will be completely legalized and assault weapons severely regulated, but it is also a land of sobriety where citizens can defend themselves with private firearms. And, of course, it is a land where the development of the fetal brain defines the onset of a being, not conception. As a direct result, stem cells will make life better, healthier, more youthful for all. No longer will we insist on funding tanks with nothing to roll over, planes with nothing to fly over, and missiles with nothing to aim at. Inner city schools will no longer need to be funded with bake-sales.

This is an America that both you and I can be proud to call home! Truly, completely, the Land of the Free! You conservatives nearly, stupidly, threw it all away. But you failed!

In your ineptitude, you accidentally saved us all! Conservatives, I salute you!



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rules For Voting - Revisited

Sometime during 2008, I posted a message to Facebook about certain rules for undecided voters.  That Facebook posting has since been relegated to the digital round-file in the sky, but I felt that it was a good idea to resurrect my posting, and give it a little bit of a modern-times flavoring.  I'm quite certain that there are almost no undecided voters left out there, but one or two might still be holed up in a commercial-free bunker somewhere completely off the grid. (Which means they'll never read this blog post. Ah, well.)  Here they are (as best as I can remember, since I'm doing this solely from memory).

Rule #1: All things being equal, vote against the incumbent. [Note: I, of course, argue that, in the case of 2012, all things are not equal, and that the case against Rubberman Romney is a slam-dunk. But, this is rule #1, and I must report it faithfully.]

Rule #2: All things being equal, vote for the female. If there is no female running, go back to rule #1. If the female happens to be an incumbent, proceed to Rule #3.

Rule #3: When still in doubt, find the biggest moron you know and ask who he's voting for. Then vote the other way. [Note: All the biggest morons I know are voting for Romney. These include, but are not limited to, Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson and Donald Trump. Even Homer Simpson voted for Romney.]

Rule #4: Conversely, if you're still undecided after all that, find the smartest person you know and ask who she's voting for. Then vote the same way.

Rule #5: If, after all that, you're still not sure, stay home. You're too much of a moron yourself to vote.

Rule #6: Vote third party if you happen to live in a non-swing state. If you live in a clearly decided state, such as New York, Texas or California, voting for a third party lays the groundwork for a less divided and more cooperative legislature in future elections. However, if you do live in a swing state, don't even THINK of voting third party. That way your vote always matters the most no matter what. [Note: This one is new, but it's a good one.]

Those are the voting rules! I welcome feedback on these!



P.S. New rule that I just thought of: Always vote against the candidate who is too chicken to appear on late night talk shows! (Three guesses who that might be!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Short and Sweet

This one's a quickie. Check this out.

I'll bet you've heard this one:
"This is the worst economic recovery since the great depression!"

Here are some similar sayings:
* That's the worst playoff win in the history of football!
* What a disappointing home run!
* It's the lowest Powerball jackpot ever paid out.
* She's the ugliest Miss America yet!
* That was the worst orgasm I ever gave a woman.
* (From a post '82 Superbowl-watching Packer fan) "Yeah, well, the Bears STILL suck!"
* (From a post 2010 Superbowl-watching Bears fan) "Yeah, well, the Packers STILL suck!"

Catch my drift?



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Religion of Obama-Hatred

Hating President Barack Obama is a religion. We know it is a religion because it is a position based, not on reasoned evidence, but upon blind faith. There is nothing rational about hating our president.

If you doubt this, you have only to look at the reaction to Obama being one of the two giants swooping in for the post-hurricane-Sandy relief effort (the other being Governor Chris Christie). Even now, with his bipartisan bona fides finally confirmed (after four solid years of bridge building to the Republican side - and why the hell did it take a disaster of this magnitude to finally accomplish this?) there are still many who will hate Obama no matter what. He is the killer of Osama Bin Laden, the slayer of Somali pirates, the man who helped Libya get out from under the boot of Momar Khaddafi, the man who stopped the Bush recession cold and brought about solid economic growth for two and a half years. But none of that matters in the religion of Obama-hatred. He is the Antichrist, and that's that.

The basis of the religion of Obama-hatred lies in the doctrines of some other religions which have preceded it, and given direct rise to it. (Proof positive that, if nothing else evolves, religion does.) For example, the religion of Personhood, which believes, totally on nothing more than faith alone, that conception defines the start of a being. Never mind that the development of the fetal brain - which science clearly teaches us is the true measure of this point, and that this point happens quite a long time after conception - is the real issue. This religion has some offshoot denominations, the two most prominent being the Slanted Justice denomination, which wants to put biased Supreme Court justices on the bench (personally, I don't want ANY slant on the Supreme Court, damn it all!) solely to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the Big Government Inside Women's Uteruses (B.G.I.W.U.) denomination, which believes that Marxist-Leninist Socialism should control the female reproductive system. These religious sects essentially drive the Obama-hatred religion, which explains why a healthcare system which every Republican would have loved, and which Mitt Romney was counting on to win him the White House, is now decried as pure evil. The difference between Romneycare and Obamacare isn't the system, it's that one person wants to uphold Roe v. Wade, and the other wants to overturn it (if he doesn't flip-flop on that issue yet again). Were the healthcare reform law to have been proposed and enacted by a Republican, the Tea Party would have had no problem with it whatsoever.

Another religion which has contributed to the formation of the Obama-hatred faith is the God Hates Fags cult. Unlike other religious movements, this one is a direct offshoot of certain Christian scriptures which unambiguously declare homosexuality to be, at the very least, contrary to nature. This starkly differs from the Personhood religion in that Personhood has no support from the Bible or from any form of Divine Revelation. It is solely based on an assumption, made by flawed human beings, all of them male priests. But the God Hates Fags movement actually has some scriptures to quote, making them more Bible-bashing than most perversions of Christianity. Obama clearly believes that it isn't the governments business to tell homosexuals how they are supposed to live their lives, but this isn't satisfactory to the G.H.F. Rather, the G.H.F. thinks that Big Government should direct the minutiae of people's sex lives, which again is a Marxist-Leninist level of Communism not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Obama opposes this form of communistic control, and for that, he himself is labeled a communist. (!) Hence, the religion of Obama-hatred must condemn him.

Finally, there is the religion of Anti-Science (or A.S.), which opposes Obama. This religion is unusual in that it has people from both the Right and the Left comprising it. Those on the Right are well known for their opposition to evolution and climate change, and were notorious in years past for insisting that cigarettes didn't necessarily cause cancer, or that chloro-fluorocarbons weren't eroding the ozone layer. But those on the Left are less conspicuous. They are typically the ones who oppose vaccination for children, or insist that genetically modified organisms are evil "Frankenfoods," rather than the essential means to increase food production in harsher climates so that we can provide good nutrition to an increasingly growing world population. President Obama is decidedly pro-science (except, oddly, when it comes to funding NASA), and so the anti-science crowd condemns him for teaching evolution in the classroom or pushing for their kids to get protected from diseases which could kill them. Women who oppose Obama despite being in favor of defending their reproductive rights often fall into this camp.

These religions have all morphed into the religion of Obama-Hate, which will last for another four years at bare minimum (because Obama WILL win). After that time, it will dissipate into its separate religions again, unless it morphs into yet another religion, such as Hillary-Hatred.

What does all this mean for you, the reader? Simply this: That you can never talk a person out of Obama-Hatred using rational means. Faith simply doesn't work that way. It doesn't work when talking science with a creationist, talking medicine with an anti-vaccination nut, or talking economics with a deregulation dittohead. You just can't talk people like that out of their belief system.

It's almost as impossible as the futility of talking someone out of giving money to their pedophile-supporting Catholic priesthood.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Let's say there's a really shit-lousy NFL team out there. They went 3 and 13 last season. The new owner hires a new General Manager, who fires the coach and brings in a whole new staff. The first season under these new coaches produced better results, but the club only went 7-9. The following year was much better, and they went 10-6, but just missed the playoffs. Two years after that, the club went 9-7 and 9-7 respectively. The team is good, and potentially primed for greatness, but has stalled, and the coach's contract is expiring.

If you're the GM, do you fire the head coach, or give him a contract extension?

Likewise, let's say a company's Board of Directors names a new CEO. The company has been in dire straits lately, but the new CEO knows how to get things done. In spite of vicious opposition from other corporate executives, he manages to bring the company up from the verge of bankruptcy into solvency. But the company is still highly leveraged (meaning it still has a lot of debt) and profit margins, while consistent, are not as high as everyone would like.

If you're on the Board of Directors, do you fire the CEO and name someone else, or let him stay on for a while longer?

Or how about this one? A new principal is named to a failing inner-city school. He gets rid of a lot of bad teachers, the school board is really upset with him. But in spite of the opposition, in only two years, he manages to drastically cut the drop-out rate, brings test scores up dramatically, and sends more kids off to college than the school has in 50 years. But test scores still lag behind the national average.

If you're on the School Board, do you keep this principal on? Or do you fire him for someone even better?

In each of these three scenarios, I'm sure you'd probably keep the coach/CEO/principal for another term rather than take a chance with someone else. After all, you've got a good thing going, even though it's not quite as good as you would have hoped. Besides, the initial turnaround was dramatic enough to believe that even better things are coming, if only the person in charge gets a little more time.

Obviously, I'm drawing parallels with the current presidential election.

Trend-lines! That's what makes this election important. Sure, if you look at the economic numbers, they aren't significantly better than the ones four years ago (although they are better). The important difference is that back then, the trend line was DOWN. In fact, it was STRAIGHT down! And today, THE TREND LINE IS UP! Maybe not as highly inclined as we would hope, but it has been UP, and has consistently been so for 2 and a half straight years!

In the words of Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham, "Never fuck with a winning streak."

I suppose you might think that replacing your lead guy is okay if the replacement is good. Let's say, replacing your head coach with a Mike Holmgren or a Joe Torre type. But is Mitt Romney that type of guy? Well, he's led a company, but that's a far cry from leading a government. He's led a state as a governor, but just look at the polling numbers in Massachusetts! Clearly, the citizens who knew him during those years think that Obama is way better, and they would know! Also, the only way we have to evaluate Mitt's business experience is through his tax returns. Ah, but he won't let us see those!

That's like getting one applicant for the new head coach or CEO position, but he has no references, and he tells you not call his former employer!

All that would be true if the guy weren't trashed by his own political party for two solid years before that party watched in horror as he became the nominee. (Then they had to all eat crow and pretend that he was the best thing since sliced bread. Romnesia is contagious!) All that would be true even if he weren't a Mormon missionary in disguise. All that would be true if he didn't have a solid track-record of going back on his word time and time again. And if Mitt were still somehow shed of all these negatives, he would still be Wally Cleaver with a Stepford wife who wants us all to get into his DeLorean and travel back to 1955.

It would be like replacing Bill Parcels with Jerry Glanville!

Time to vote! Make yours a good one!



Monday, October 29, 2012

Early Voting Is Easy!

I voted early today for the first time in my life. Not because I needed to, but because I wanted the experience of it (partly so that I could blog about it here afterward). It really wasn't at all difficult. All I had to do was show up at my local city hall, get in line, fill out a ballot form with my information and signature, and then I was issued a ballot which is identical to the one I have always been issued in the past. The only difference was that it was accordion-folded so that I could fit it into the early voting envelope after I was done.

Presto! It took me all of ten minutes! The hardest part of the entire process was walking in the front door, since the City of Greenfield insists on placing its entrance doors at 90-degree angles away from the face of city hall, and besides that places them in areas which are hell and gone away from the main parking area. But if walking around the ornamental shrubbery was my most difficult task during the process, that's pretty doggone easy!

This is a discovery which the entire nation is making en masse. It is partially in response to the fact that most Americans simply aren't going to change our minds prior to November 6th anyway, and so choose to vote now before suffering from a heart attack or getting hit by a bus. But also it's in response to the stupid, stubborn efforts at voter suppression, done in the disguise of voter I.D. Minorities are voting now, while they still have time to deal with any needless road blocks or have hoops they need to jump through.

And it's a powerful social trend! When I asked the city clerk if they'd been busy with early voting this year, she told me, "You know, it's been election day for six solid days so far!"

There are three things I have to say in response to this rather encouraging phenomenon:

First, I predicted months ago that voter I.D. would backfire. This is one important reason why. Not only are young people and minorities pissed, but they've now been given a tool with which they can fight back, at their own leisure, and on their own timetable. The only problems may come on election day itself when all the procrastinators decide they'd better vote at the last minute. Then there may be some problems. But they won't nearly be as bad as they might have been had early voting not been in place. In fact, its safe to say that if efforts to block the vote with I.D. requirements would succeed in letting Mitt Romney steal Pennsylvania and Ohio, we'd be looking at a national race riot! So all you dittoheads can sleep safely in your beds on November 6th, knowing that your racism failed, and therefore blackey isn't coming to your driveway to smash your windshield in.

Second, I'd previously come out in favor of voter I.D., not only because it is always a good idea to ensure against voter fraud, but because it might not affect polls in a pro-Republican way. I have since been forced to revise my opinion. Voter I.D. could have been a good thing. A voter shows up, has no I.D., so then is redirected to another table, where that person is asked to provide some information, sign their name, provide a thumb-print, have his/her photo taken, and then gets issued a new voter I.D. card and can then go vote. That's the way it should be done, anyway. But, no! Instead, guardians opposed to "fraud" want instead the ability to say to certain voters, "No I.D., then get the fuck out!" What bullshit! Where everybody votes, everybody wins, I say.

Lastly, this means that the polling numbers are skewed. I know, I know, you've heard Republicans saying that the poll numbers which used to so clearly favor Obama were skewed, and now you're hearing something similar from a liberal, so what else is new, right? But actually, I mean that the poll numbers we see today usually evaluate something called "likely voters." In other words, people that are likely to go and vote. With the new trend towards early voting, that demographic has shifted, and I'm not entirely certain that all pollsters have caught on to this fact. With more early voting going on, more minorities and young people are now "likely" to vote. And with those voices added to the polling numbers, the numbers have suddenly shifted!

That makes far more sense than saying, as Karl Rove did three weeks ago, that the polls were "counting too many Democrats."

Plus there are other polling number problems. Failure to include cell phones is a major concern with accuracy, because young people, blacks and Hispanics all predominantly use cell phones exclusively of land lines. Yet Rasmussen and (I believe) Gallup have failed to call such numbers when polling. Toss their numbers out, and Obama suddenly has a two-point lead. Then there is the fact that State polls are more accurate than national polls. Why? Well, for starters, if you get a call at 6:30 P.M., and it's a local number, you are far more likely to answer than if the number has an area code you are not familiar with. (Caller I.D. is yet another new technology which tampers with the poll numbers!) If one just tallies the state polls together, one finds that Obama again has a more than two-point advantage. This is why statistician extraordinaire, Nate Silver, on his blog,, makes his weighted average of the polls as this:

Obama: 48.3
Romney: 46

A 2.3% advantage going into the final week. And that's before we even figure in the early voting paradigm shift, as well as Hurricane Sandy.

Oh, yes! I predict Hurricane Sandy will have a positive effect for Obama. Say what you will about the man, but Obama is cooler under fire than Romney, and that plays in his favor.

So, that about does it for this rant. Obama, I predict, will win.

And I am going to dance, dance, dance all over the right-wing trash-talker graves when he does!