Pretending to Help

I call this, "Pretending to Help." I like that title because it's what Romney/Ryan is all about. They conned their way into the place and pretended to help – just like they want to do with the White House.

Phoney Phoney Phoney

Pass it around. This deserves to be viral.

"'Had they asked for permission, it wouldn’t have been granted. … But I certainly wouldn’t have let him wash clean pans, and then take a picture,' Antal said."

http://j.mp/SX4kgp

Closing Loopholes

This is information that I hope will be helpful for people who are sincerely still trying to figure out if a vote for Barack is a vote to miss out on a big payoff from Romney's economic plan. You know the details of loopholes that Barack and Joe are beating Romney about? Remember that Romney and Ryan keep saying that "Six studies" say, "Yes, it works!"

Well, this guy wrote an explanatory essay about the details of the six "studies". Each of them is a combination of potential answers to "How are you going to pay for five trillion in tax cuts for rich people?"

The article is written by Josh Barro, an economics writer at Bloomberg. It summarizes and compares the six "studies" that Romney uses to prove his tax plan. The article gives a lot of information about the trade-offs in the Romney/Ryan tax plan. In the end, he is very clear that nothing like what Romney suggests is going to happen without substantial contribution from regular people.

Says Josh Barro,

"They say they have six independent studies -- six! -- that "have confirmed the soundness of the Governor’s tax plan," and so I should stop whining.  Let's take a tour of those studies and see how they measure up."

"The Romney campaign sent over a list of the studies, but they are perhaps more accurately described as "analyses," since four of them are blog posts or op-eds. I'm not hating -- I blog for a living -- but I don't generally describe my posts as "studies."
He also says,

"But claims about growth induced by tax policy changes are often overstated -- remember, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were also sold on the promise of higher economic growth offsetting much of the revenue loss. It didn't happen." (emphasis mine)

It didn't happen and it won't happen. Romney's main plan cannot work without raising taxes on people that can't afford it.

Read the article HERE

Political Argument

Though I still beg for any conservatives around here to actually engage the conversation, it is fun to run into a tenacious opponent, even if the opposition is expressed entirely in bullet points cribbed from some combination of Fox News and some blog called "Sultan Knish" (which immediately discredits itself by referring to Obama's socialism). 

Anyway, I have re-read this thing several times. I dream of finding a conservative that will read my responses and actually respond to them directly. In my opening counterpoint, I reply with four or five actual claims. Things that look at facts and make conclusions. I would love it if this person had said, "Fracking isn't a problem for the water because..." and made an argument. Instead, it's 'taxes are too high' and it's as if I never wrote a word.

Of course, it also puts me a little beyond sanity to hear another person who is economically free telling the rest of us to just buck up and take advantage of all that freedom out there – because getting a new job is as easy as snapping your fingers, and figuring out what bank isn't screwing you is a matter of just asking the knowledge fairy.

And don't get me started about "freedom of religion". I was kind of happy with the Buddhist comparison though. 

Let me know what I should have done better.

tqii

THE DISCUSSION 

I don't usually comment on politics, but when it is thrown out there....Romney has a history of turning around bungled businesses, olympics and states....and what is Obama's plan and why hasn't he started it? Via Sultan Knish blog: The real issue at stake here is whether the working class will end up being squeezed out by the government class. It's an issue that affects the rich, poor and middle class alike, and the Republicans are coming dangerously close to articulating it in between applause breaks. The Democrats would like to avoid this line of conservation as much as possible, because once the debate is fully underway, Americans will start assessing their individual economic stakes in the fight, instead of assuming that their economic interest is joined at the hip to their racial identity, gender or choice of bed partners.

Counterpoint

But that's not true. You haven't been impeded at all by the government. Neither have I or anyone I know. If you are having trouble in your life right now, it's because a corporation is screwing you. Whether it's fracking your water supply, charging you heinous fees at the bank, foreclosing your mortgage without documentation, or paying too much at the gas station – or ten million other things.

Your interaction with the government? I haven't had one. Not one. Freedoms lost? None (except for being able to get a job without a drug test, credit check or having them examine my Facebook for anti-corporate ranting – more corporate fun).

Romney is a competent guy. However, he's also a pleaser. He went from being emphatically pro-choice and progressive, to claiming to be a "severe conservative", to supporting a personhood platform in his party. 

How did this happen? The Mormons didn't change their policy. His parents didn't change their policy. No, he changed his mind to suit those who could offer him advantage, who could help him get power.

Yes, he has had good accomplishments. But he has no moral core. He will do or say *anything* and is doing so right now. When he gets into office, he will be reliant on the party base for his power. They have already voted for horrible anti-women rape redefinitions, gay-hating laws, and many other awful things. 

Can you imagine that the 'Pleaser' will be able to resist them when he is in office.

And for good measure, everyone that has tried to do the arithmetic on his economic plan has found that it will balloon the deficit.

How about giving almost 50% of our income to the government? That is a bit of an intrusion. And yes, we pay that much on our income. No, corporations are not "screwing me", but providing millions of jobs and investment opportunities to Americans. With capitalism you have the freedom to change banks to those that offer the most competitive pricing, with government you have no freedom of choice but to succumb to what they offer. You don't have to work for a company that insists on drug tests, credit checks and facebook snooping. That is called freedom! I think Romney's moral core is rock solid. And as far as those horrible anti-woman policies....they all have to do with providing federal funding for those issues. I can't imagine forcing a person who religously opposes abortion to fund them! Now, really, talking about ballooning deficits, it would be quit difficult to top what is happening now!

Counterpoint

Never mind, Amy. I guess you're rich. You're on their side. The rest of us don't have all those choices. Most of us have to work for whomever will give us a job and whatever business is within driving distance of our house. 

If you think insurance regulation should be subject to everyone's religious preferences, you have no clue about the meaning of either religious freedom or running a society. 

Of course, like most conservatives, your idea of religious freedom is self-serving. You offer me no opportunity to avoid paying for death penalties or wars that violate my religion.

I just beg you, please don't vote. You're not qualified.

Class envy. Are we tired of it yet? And what side am I on exactly? Success is something to be proud of and what sort of choices do I have that you don't have? Who do you think we work for? Imagine this, we work for someone who has given us a job and within driving distance of our house! Religious freedom is not having government ordering the catholic church to provide a service they find not compatible with their belief. I do understand religious freedom and no, my idea of religious freedom is not self serving because I am not religious! You do not need to fight in wars if it against your religion and you can exercise your freedom to vote to have your voice heard if you do not like an unjust war or the death penalty. You can move to states that do not have the death penalty. There are choices here. Are they easy? No, but they are there for someone who truly wants to exercise them. I do apologize for putting you over the edge, but I am also tired of feeling ashamed for success through a lot of hard work (and we did build our success without Obama's help and we did pay for the roads and society through our very high taxes) I am sick of victimhood, class envy and a sluggish non-recovering economy. For your own benefit, try voting for Mitt to open business opportunities ......then you can get out from under your oppressive employer.

Counterpoint

Mitt wants to blow the deficit out of the water. No one is telling the Catholic Church they have to do anything. They are telling insurance companies have to include contraception in their policies because the science (Is that part of your universe) says that it's essential to a healthy life.

I am *required* to pay for wars. Paying for abortions is no different. In fact, wars kill actual people, not clumps of cells. There's no reason you shouldn't have to join me in paying for things we don't like. That's what society is about - compromise.

Nobody is criticizing your success. I am criticizing your stinginess. If you are paying over fifty percent (and I'm guessing that you are including property tax on a *huge* house to get that far), then you are spending a *lot* more money on yourself that I am and ridiculous amounts more than the average person.

This country has a huge deficit that you think is important. You probably have a couple of nice vacations each year yet you want to raise the taxes on people like me who haven't been on an actual vacation in years. You want Mitt to implement his tax plan that will either explode the deficit or pull $80 billion bucks out of the budget that might have gone for infrastructure, schools or other meaningful support.

You want this so you can afford expensive cars, fancy vacations, and a lush life. While the deficit burns.

Romney is a plutocrat and so are you.

Catholic religion doesn't believe in birth control. Forcing Catholic institutions to provide health insurance that covers birth control sounds like religious repression to me. One of the few constitutional federal powers is to protect our country. Now you may have a difference of opinion as to just what wars we fight to keep our country safe, so I would suggest voting for persons who do not want our country to be the world's cop. And that might just include preventing genocides and getting rid of rogue dictators! And when does a human being become "human". I am glad you know that answer, for the rest of us it is an emotional struggle. How do you know I am stingy? No, I don't live in a huge house. How do you know how much money I spend? Why haven't you been on a vacation in years? That employer of yours is horrendous! Ever think of changing jobs or striking out on your own? Mitts plan wants to grow the economy, which means more tax revenue. You see, simple economics: economic growth is not a zero sum game, the pie can grow, my success did not prevent you from success, we can all become better off. The pizza pie grows....you see? I don't know who you are, but to be honest, you seem rather hateful and jealous. Glad you are not my friend. And on that note, I will no longer respond to you. Have a good day!

Counterpoint

Good, that gives me the last word.

Buddhists don't believe in eating meat. Does that mean the government should stop including meat in government cafeterias? Moslems and Mormons believe alcohol is evil. Should they be forced to grant tax breaks to synagogues that serve wine on Friday nights?

Every religion has moral prejudices. You seem to want them to be enforced over all of us. Dumb.

I'll tell you when a human being becomes human. When its mother says it does. The idea that you think that *you* should decide what kind of surgery a woman has, what sort of probes, tools or other devices she chooses to put into her vagina represents the grim slavery that people who claim to pay 50% in tax usually want to impose on others. It's none of your business when a life becomes a life so stop struggling. Nobody is asking you to have an abortion.

My employer is horrendous and I am one of the lucky ones. There are a lot of uneducated people out there who are barely able to get a job. Those people don't get sick days. They get fired if their child gets sick. They are screwed by corporations left and right while people like you say, "Just get another job." It would be funny to remark at how completely out of touch you are in your privilege if there weren't real people being screwed brutally every day by arrogance.

Mitt's economic plan is both incomplete and a disaster. The Tax Policy Foundation, a non-partisan think-tank often cited by Republicans, says that, even with incredibly favorable assumptions, it will take at least $86 billion from middle class and poor people. This will cause a huge recession. You don't know what you are talking about when you say it will increase revenue.

I'm not hateful or jealous. I revel in the success of decent people, people who understand that, if they are able to feed their family and pay their rent after paying 50% in taxes, that they are lucky people enjoying the best this country has to offer. People who are glad to contribute to our society.

I love people who realize that being rich gives them an institutional advantage that requires them to treat others generously, who realize that paying taxes is a way of supporting our society and helping people.

What I hate is glib people who quote right-wing cliches, who casually talk about the enslavement of women, and accept silly premises because the tax policy would work in their favor. I hate greed and narrow-mindedness. I hate people who don't know facts but still assert opinions.

That's why you see anger in my tone.

And that last word is what really counts.....I concede you are totally right. I am a right winger who clings to my religion and did I mention guns? I hate immigrants, women's reproductive freedom, I am racist, I am selfish, I live in a mansion, spend tons of money, go on extravagant vacations, laugh at the poor, spit at the downtrodden, insist I should pay no taxes, so stupid that I can't fathom your enlightened way, I am lucky to have this income just fall in my lap, I am glib (that is true I admit when dealing with ideologues and name callers-bad habit of mine), I don't understand the all powerful and benevolent big government, I want to enslave women (even though being a "Julia" seems kind of like enslavement to me). Oh, yes, I know no facts, but insert my opinion. To tell you the truth I am kind of beginning to feel sorry for you. There are issues to be discussed, no need to sling mud. I hope you have good friends to sit down with a nice glass of wine and discuss life. I do love life! I am forever grateful to this beautiful country and the wonderful opportunities it has given me and my family. I am thankful for great parents and family who taught hard work, dedication, kindness and forgiveness. Call me an idiot-I don't care!

SUPPORT FREEDOM, SUPPORT WHAT IS RIGHT, SUPPORT JULIAN ASSANGE

Says, my brother, Jeff White, "He faces possible torture, lifelong harsh incarceration, and even possible execution because he stood up for OUR RIGHT to know. "

And remember, this government actually *does* torture people, just ask Bradley Manning who is suffering right now.

Jeff is 100% right.

What Jeff actually said was, 

"I want to speak in support of Julian Assange of Wikileaks, one of the great heroes of freedom and of people's right to know what crazy, evil stuff government is doing, who is currently bearing up under shameful, extreme harassment at the hands of powerful political and law enforcement agents from the US, UK, and Sweden. If you've been persuaded that Assange is potentially a sex criminal merely trying to evade justice, then you have been duped by the very powerful interests who will stop at nothing to ruin this man for the part he played in exposing the horrendous, indefensible behavior of the US government in Iraq and elsewhere. We have a right to know these things, they are not matters of national security, and it is due to the courage of one man, Julian Assange, that we do.

"He faces possible torture, lifelong harsh incarceration, and even possible execution because he stood up for OUR RIGHT to know. The US government will spare no expense and stop at no action to show the world that they have absolute power to keep anyone from saying things that they don't like. Do you really want the US to WIN, to maintain the ability to commit egregious crimes against humanity without any fear of accountability? WE CAN'T LET THEM WIN.

"SUPPORT FREEDOM, SUPPORT WHAT IS RIGHT, SUPPORT JULIAN ASSANGE."

Spread the word!!!

Lighten Up on the Women

As modern civilization adapts to the the realization that women are not slaves, defining the new relationship is not easy. This article provides another chapter in the story: http://j.mp/MOPe5C

It prompts, in me, two thoughts.

First, there is talk about satisfaction and work-life balance and other such goodness. Women want that and it seems that failure to experience these goods is observed as a flaw in the achievement of female equality. I disagree. Being miserable at work in a non-gender specific experience.

Though satisfaction and balance are desirable things, they are not common. As a man, I can tell you that I have rarely had either of these. I have felt abused by work, felt like it was taking up all my time, like the idea of 'job satisfaction' is the cruelest fiction conceived. For a woman to judge her place in society by these criteria is to force a bad self-image based on unrealistic expectations. If you, as a woman, are able to pay your bills reasonably well and don't get blisters on your hands while you're working, you're ahead of the game. The same applies to men.

It turns out, however, that women seem less able to ignore their children and domestic situations than men.  Call me a sexist if you like, but there are a lot of men that can turn their back on their home life. Not so many women. I don't have time to research but I'm fully convinced the anecdotal represents reality.

That said, it seems to me that, contrary to the idea that women should adapt to the workplace, the workplace should adapt to them. It's as if we said that all police officers must be six feet tall. Short people would be excluded.

Allowing employers to say, "All employees must be heartless enough to abandon their children," is a form of bullying. We allow them to make demands on their workers for efficiency but place limits on those demands to make sure that our society works properly. We, for example, don't allow them to force workers to swim in mercury no matter how efficient because we judge that the injuries would screw up society.

In this case, we should be telling employers that they are not allowed to bully women either because they are smaller in stature or because they are unwiling to abandon their children. If that means that they have to revise work rules to avoid discriminating, so be it. If that means that it's less efficient to hire women, tough luck. Discrimination should not be allowed, nor should the bullying that is a consequence of ignoring different attitudes.

So, my take on this matter is two-fold. First, screw job satisfaction. It's an impossible goal for almost everyone. Second, regulate the workplace to make it 100% family friendly and make it against the law to disadvantage people that the regulations protect, ie, men and women who are fully engaged with their domestic life.

In Defense of the Black Panthers Zimmerman Bounty

The remnants of the Black Panthers organization supposedly called for George Zimmerman to be killed and they offered a reward to the person doing it. There was a great hue and cry with claims from all sides that this was an incredibly inappropriate and awful thing to do. 

It occurs to me instead that it's not the wrong thing to do and, more importantly, it's is an inevitable consequence of the Stand Your Ground law. Though the situation is different now that the State of Florida bowed to public pressure and is applying it's 'justice' system to Zimmerman, for a long time, it seemed very clear that he was going to get away, literally, with murder, a murder that he freely admitted to committing. The lessons learned are interesting.

You have to ask, What is the appropriate response of a family or clan to the outright murder of a member? The Martin family knows this kid. They know that it is absolutely impossible that he posed a mortal threat to Zimmerman. They know with the same certainty that most of us would that their child was not into violence or crime and, thus, in he was not in some small way responsible for putting himself in a position to get shot. 

Can you allow a Zimmerman to go happily about his life while you are crushed with grief and your son is dead forever? Can you allow other violent racists to know that they can kill your sons with impunity simply because the majority of your state legislature is ok with it? It seems to me that the answer in all these cases is no.

What I think has happened is that the society has made clear that certain people, Travyon Martin's parents, are beyond the reach of justice. The services of civilization have been withdrawn from them. The Black Panthers, as bad as it sounds, are simply offering to exact the perfectly reasonable penalty that is being withheld by the State of Florida.

If there is a murder and the villain is acquitted, we generally say to the family, the process is imperfect, you must accept your defeat and go on with your life. We say, the virtues of civilization require that we accept the process, including the fact that it's imperfect. Your heartbreak and anger must be swallowed to support the public good. Public peace and safety demand that vigilante behavior be suppressed.

But for the Martin family, there is no public peace and safety. The police in their town and their state legislators are very clear in asserting that no one is safe. Justice is not imperfect because we have decided that the rights of gun owners are beyond the reach of justice. Black kids continue to live in fear. Outrage at a confessed murderer going unpunished corrodes peoples hearts. Confidence in society as the just substitute for our desire for revenge and protection is gone.

I have long thought that this country is heading for a violent period. The right wing has become so extreme in their viewpoints and political tactics that the rest of us are becoming effectively disenfranchised. Small victories notwithstanding, the juggernaut of fear and ignorance – and self-dealing – is neutralizing the good will that allows people of different viewpoints to coexist. And Stand Your Ground laws grant license to the insanely conservative for murder.

The conservatives have firmly established the idea that compromise and cooperation in pursuit of a peaceful and orderly society is not a requirement any more. From Republican intransigence on every issue to Florida (and 21 other states) making clear that one has no obligation to avoid murder if there is a plausible excuse, these people are leaving the rest of us no choice. WInning the Presidency and two houses of Congress leaves us impotent. Being a decent family with a decent kid earns you no justice. Truth is turned on its head every day and those who want to cooperate, discuss and conduct a reasonable society are simply taken for suckers by the right-wing.

Eventually, someone is going to focus on the fact that the the Supreme Court is filled with pragmatic, young judges acting on vicious conservative ideologiy and realize that there is no hope for justice. Others will focus on the Senate which, having a majority of representatives that agree with reasonable people, are prevented from working their will by the perfectly uncooperative minority. As night follows day, someone will realize that our society has given up on being reasonable. Someone will think,  John Roberts, Sam Alito, Tony Scalia (or, John Boehner, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, etc) present a real threat to his well-being and decide that it's time to Stand His Ground.

Where Are You?

Ladies, you know you can count on my support. I will donate, vote, march, hell, I'll break windows and set things on fire if it will make a difference.

But I'm also thinking, where the hell are you? Do you realize that this is not a joke? These people are actually passing laws to restrict your freedom and the freedom of your daughters?

The forces of tyranny are relentless these days. They dogged...ly seek new ways to restrict and humiliate you - and your daughters. And they seem to be doing it with no repercussions. In state after state, anti-women laws are being passed without riots, without violence in the streets, without any meaningful pushback.

Most of my friends hate me because I am so strident in pushing my political viewpoint. I have a daughter and so, I am very active, at least in the world of ideas. When election season comes around, I will be there, too.

But women, where the hell are you? This is your fight, your freedom. Though I have no sympathy if you sat back while the topic was only abortion, I am astonished at the silence as they try to pass laws requiring proof that you are not using drugs for contraception. Try to make it more difficult to get contraception. To torment women that choose to abort.

And eliminate child care, and subsidies for female sports and the elimination of women's power and self-determination in a death by a thousand cuts.

Have you become so entitled, so complacent that you can't be bothered? This is not my fight. I'm a man. The tyrants' goal is to make my life free and yours subordinated. Why am I the only one that gets in trouble arguing at parties.

Where the hell are you?

http://j.mp/GGyIDE

Rand Paul's Viewpoints Provide a Teachable Movement

I am deeply frustrated by the public response to Rand Paul's explanation that the 'only' part of the Civil Rights Act is the part where the government makes it illegal to refuse service to people because of their race, sex or religion. He explains that market forces will bring about the right result which, he hopes, may reduce discrimination.

The public conversation focuses on two canards. Whether or not he's a racist and, whether or not he would have compromised and voted for it. Toss in a little, "The media is mean to me," and you have a complete distraction.

These are fun topics for discussion but if you really think about the situation, you have to realize that the big deal is that he finally articulated the fundamental tea party question, when is the government allowed to assert control over the populace? Leaving aside the fact that their anarchic viewpoints tend to attract a lot of lunatics (the nazi picture carriers, etc), there really is an emerging theme in the tea party focused on the idea that much of what the government does to people is illegitimate.

Hitherto, this has only been said general terms. Sure, they like to decry health care reform, but this broad picture gives no view of where they see the boundary. Rand Paul has done us a favor by 1) getting himeself elected by a lot of tea partiers so he really can be said to be a representative sample of the species. And, 2) giving us a couple of really specific, real world examples of where he wants to draw the boundary separating the acceptable from the illegitimate..

I wish the interviewers would forget about the Civil Rights Act. Rand Paul is right, it's history. Further, it allows him to distract us by telling us he doesn't favor repeal. Nobody thinks he does. It's truly a non-issue. He uses all the juicy subtopics of civil rights to get people arguing about that, not focusing on this learning opportunity.

What I want to hear are questions about the Americans With Disabilities Act. I want to hear what he thinks about meat inspection and prohibitions on selling alcohol to minors. He has said that it's illegitimate to use government power to coerce behavior by BP in the Gulf. He brought up the coal mining industry in a context that implies that the intention to regulate them more carefully is inappropriate and meanspirited. He pretty clearly, it seemed to me, said that it's ok for the company to base safety measures on their cost-effectiveness. Sometimes there are accidents he says, and you can't make it all perfect.

I want to know what he thinks those of us that want to act together as a nation should do. I want everyone to be able to forget their ethnic heritage except when they are enjoying it. Along with a lot of people, I want no racial discrimination. What should we do to accomplish that?

He seems to think that the only action we can take is to refuse to buy their goods. What if that doesn't work? Do we have no legitimate recourse? Doesn't that really mean that our ultimate recourse is violence?

What about environmental regulation? I would like to know if he thinks that occupational and consumer safety regulations are overreaching? What about labeling and weights and measures. Should a company be able to actively misrepresent the contents of a package in the grocery store? I guess he see this as infringement on free speech.

I wanted Rachael Maddow to follow this line when she interviewed him. She has the brains to actually follow through, "Ok Mr Paul, what exactly is the 'principle' here?  All of these are fundamentally the same problem of the government imposing contraints on behaviors that are deemed undesireable by the legislators. Rand Paul seems to think any constraint is bad. That those of us in the rest of the society have no authority to say, We don't want to see racism any more!, and the only thing we can do is hope it changes if we only purchase things from people who are not racists.

We have an actual moment now, thanks to Rand Paul, where we could be focused on understanding the idea of limits of power. We also have a moment where this movement has shown it's real colors. I do not believe that the common voter would be pleased with a strong message of his sincerely held beliefs, at least if framed by focusing on the billion actual ways that life would be awful without and much better with, an appropriate amount government coercion. 

Javascript Drag and Drop

I got an error:

$(this).data("draggable") is null

When I went to redraw my web page after the user dragged a revision. After a lot of irritating screwing around, I found that you need to make it undraggable before display and then draggable again after, ie,

$(dragSelector).draggable().remove();
goodiesGroup.displayPages();
$(dragSelector).draggable();

FYI