Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obama: ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’

 Well...  I know the election is over.  I know that President Obama was elected by a respectable plurality of the popular vote and an overwhelming majority of the electoral votes. 

"So why," you might ask, "am I beating a dead horse?"  (mortuum flagellas - for the other geeks out there)

Really, there is a rationale, I fear important information will submerge in the general background noise unless it's pointed out.

I know that large numbers of republicans are going to become very defensive if exposed to what I'm about to say, but hey, I still love you.  I believe in the concept of a "loyal opposition" comprising the segment (large, still) of the population, the members of which remain loyal citizens of the nation but are unable for reasons they deem sufficient to agree with the course taken by the incumbent government.  That's okay. 

The problem I perceive is the, to my mind, pervasive disregard for truth as evidenced by a huge amount of stuff (for want of a better term, calumnious lies is what first came to mind) circulated by republicans via email, in particular, with tag-lines implying - or flatly stating - that you are a commie pig if you fail to forward the message to everyone you know. 

Being a bit of an out-of-touch a$$ as some consider me, I found it necessary, as well as enlightening, to double check the information that sounded questionable (that was almost all of it) in those emails.  What I found was surprising, even to a cynic. Most of those widely circulated many-times forwarded messages - not 51% most, more like 90% most - consisted of complete fabrications or of - as the one below - things taken out of context in order to misrepresent Obama's or some other democrat's position.

Now, I've been watching politics for a long time, a little exaggeration is traditional in campaigning and we all know that; but I'm not referring to exaggeration, nor even subtle misrepresentation in this post.  I'm talking about disinformation, "the big lie" type of excreta.  If I didn't know better, I might think that the RNC had hired Paul Joseph Goebbels, Ph.D, Heidelberg University 1921, as an adviser and field operative leader.

Dr. Goebbels, as many will recall, was the author of a number of interesting concepts which he was allowed to utilize in his official capacity as propaganda minister.  A couple of the more inclusive, translated from the German by someone else:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” 

So, two points based upon Dr. Goebbels' statements I've quoted: the people who tried to steal this election with a landslide of disinformation and pure lies missed the part about the lies needing government backing - it worked reasonably well when GW Bush was in office, until he collapsed the economy - but not so well four years later; and they tried to tell too many whoppers in too short a time.

This piece below, I stumbled upon while looking for something else, but it still explains quite well what they were doing on many, many points.  The campaign was too large to have been a couple of isolated racists or extremely dishonest libertarians (libertarians rarely lie, they just interpret things differently).

So, here's the piece about Obama saying we're not a Christian nation - which several people sent me different versions of over the summer and fall.

Anti-Obama mail piece: ‘We are no longer a Christian nation’
 October 31st, 2012  06:31 AM ET
13 days ago
Posted by CNN's Peter Hamby   
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – The political arm of Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based social conservative organization founded by evangelical author and radio host James Dobson, is targeting Iowa voters with a mailing that quotes President Barack Obama as saying “we are no longer a Christian nation.”
The fold-out brochure, which landed in Iowa mailboxes last week and was provided to CNN by a Des Moines-area voter, draws a series of contrasts between Obama and Mitt Romney on the issues of abortion, same-sex marriage and insurance coverage for contraception.
See the mailer here and here.
The mailer - paid for by CitizenLink, a political affiliate of Focus on the Family - also includes a striking admission from the president.
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” Obama is quoted as saying.
The mailer does not explicitly endorse Romney, but the quote is clearly aimed at arousing the suspicions of Iowa’s vibrant Christian conservative community, a key voting bloc in the state and one that the Republican nominee will need behind him next Tuesday.
The quote, though, is cherry-picked from a speech Obama delivered in 2006, more than two years before he became president, at the Call to Renewal conference in Washington.
In 2008, during Obama’s first national campaign, the same out-of-context remark was circulated online as sinister evidence that the Democrat intended to curtail religious freedom in America. At the time, the spurious Internet chatter was debunked by FactCheck.org.
Here’s the full quote:
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation - at least not just,” Obama said. “We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers.”
In the same speech, Obama said, “Americans are a religious people,” noting that “90 percent of us believe in God” and cited a statistic that said 38% of Americans call themselves “committed Christians.”
“I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the role of faith in people’s lives, in the lives of the American people,” Obama said. “I think it’s time we joined a debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern pluralistic society.”
UPDATE: A previous version of this story inaccurately quoted Obama as saying a large majority of Americans describe themselves as "committed Christians." The correct figure has been added.   
Filed under: 2012 • Ads • President Obama

I know that the republicans who are reading this, both of you, want to protest - and I'm sure you will, but realize this as you go: The propaganda wasn't really intended to persuade democrats, it was dumped out there to keep rank and file republicans in line and to pick up any undecided, naive voters who might hear it from a republican friend...

Remember, Romney is on record as saying that 47% of the electorate was unreachable and wouldn't be bothered with, "NOTD" (not our type, dear) but that it would be imperative to line up everybody else to link arms and goose-step down to the voting places, to keep the world safe for multimillionaires. Sieg Heil Viktoria: Waffen SS march.

I know you republicans and Brother Romney aren't actually Nazis, but you are the party of mind control and enemies of personal freedoms and civil rights. I know that most of you aren't actually "foaming at the mouth racists" because I'm old enough to have known a lot of them; but, you are - probably unconsciously - even more dangerous than they were in many cases, people who simply won't deal with blacks or hispanics as equals, but won't acknowledge it - might not even be aware of it.

I was talking with a young woman, early 40s, a couple of days ago about the KKK.  I knew some of those guys when I was young, nobody wore sheets in our area, by then, except kids being Casper on halloween; but they were still around.  I told her that it wasn't only the African-Americans they had a grudge against, maybe it has been forgotten - she was surprised - but also Jews and Catholics were on their interdict list.

One old guy I knew, seemed pretty harmless, he was born in 1907 - he's been a long time dead.  He was about 50 at the time I'm thinking of, showed me a dog-eared card, like a business card, that he always carried in his wallet.  It was a courtesy card from some "grand-dragon" or something like that,  Imperial Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, I do remember that part.

The card asked the klansman to whom it was presented to extend brotherly courtesy to the bearer, and then had some, probably pro-forma, rant against Jews, papists and Negroes, which was misspelled.  We didn't have photocopiers back in those days, or I would have copied that, for sure.
That was the summer before I started high-school, 1957, things were changing; Ike was a republican so he didn't need "Dixiecrats" they were somebody else's problem.

The old man said he got the card in Ohio.  Northern Ohio, not down by Kentucky.

I'm wavering on this, it's bad - really bad - probably nobody will ever read this post anyway, so here goes: When I was four, maybe five, I was riding in a car; my Dad was in the front seat with another guy, no idea who. I was in the back seat with three men my Dad worked with.  I know where we were when the anchor event happened, but I don't know why we were there nor where we were going.

The car was an old sedan, it had those hairy seats that always had a harsh smell.  It would have been from the 1930s. It had suicide doors in the back, at least, we went into an underpass and somehow I fell against the door.  It was the passenger side rear door and it opened. The man who was sitting there had been telling me something about Georgia, I remember telling him that when I grew up I was going "out west" to be a cowboy.

He told me that we were as far west as we could go without going into the ocean, the door opened, I was about half way out looking down at the pavement below and he grabbed me and pulled me back in. The driver stopped the car, was already stopping, and they got the door closed and I got a lecture about car doors. 

It was after that, minutes later, the man who caught me was talking with another man about Georgia; he told a story about one of their pass-time things to do, drive down country roads and try to hit black men who would be walking alongside the road with the door of a car as they passed. I can't remember his name and everybody else who was there is dead.  They seemed to think it was pretty amusing, at least no one protested.  Of course, I haven't a clue if that was true or just a story.

I don't know if that story, his story, was true; but all my life I've had an image of walking peacefully along a road, going to the store, or going home and being hit from behind by a car door doing 40 mph and being knocked into a hard fall down the bank and into a muddy ditch. I think it has helped me, helped me realize that things happen to people which aren't their fault, things caused by other people who want to hurt people they don't even know and have no reason to want to hurt.

Post Election Traumatic Brain Injury

After having all their confident assertions of electoral supremacy shown as illusory, the republican party and its legislators inside the beltway have determined that, having been repudiated by the majority of voters as too far right, and truculent in their intransigence* even in the face of causing the government to default on its financial obligations, the obvious solution is to quit being so easy and cooperative with SATAN  Obama and those demons across the aisle.

I'm still waiting for South Carolina to start an artillery bombardment of Fort Sumter National Monument and run up the "Stars and Bars" although they're probably waiting for the Arizona Militia to arrive with a couple of  columbiads,  to get things started on the right note.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Romney Campaign Aides Had Credit Cards Canceled On Election Night

This article appeared on Huffpost and was written as straight news; I'm not that charitable to the folks at the top who failed to foist Romney on us.  The article, well most of it, is reprinted here - the comments enclosed within the angle brackets are mine.

Mitt Romney Campaign Aides Had Credit Cards Canceled Late On Election Night
Posted: 11/09/2012 10:44 am EST Updated: 11/09/2012 12:48 pm

Mitt Romney delayed conceding the 2012 election to President Barack Obama, even with the writing on the wall. Once he admitted defeat, however, his campaign went into shutdown mode, quickly dismantling and [quickly] canceling the credit cards of campaign aides late on election night.

NBC's Garrett Haake described the abrupt transition of the Romney campaign after the GOP nominee gave his brief concession speech:
From the moment [Willard, call me Mitt,] Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech, which [- defeat being unthinkable -] he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself.

Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked. [He might well have done that even had he won, after all; he wouldn't need those peons any more.]

"Fiscally conservative," one Romney campaign staffer told NBC.

Although Romney's staffers' credit cards were canceled, there are still loose ends to tie up.  
Papers need to be filed with federal commissions and bills need to be paid, Forbes' Helaine Olen notes.

That staff also has to deal with the wrath of Romney donors, who allege they were disillusioned by the chances the Republican party had to win.  On Wednesday, Romney had a post-defeat breakfast with some of his wealthiest and most loyal donors.

At the private gathering, the donors allegedly unloaded on Romney staff for its failed "junior varsity operation." [They have become "LOSERS" they lost, and it - it must be - is the fault of the hired help, never the people atop the right's pyramid, they - by definition (their own) are never losers...]

“Everybody feels like they were a bunch of well-meaning folks who were, to use a phrase that Governor Romney coined to describe his opponent, way in over their heads,” one member of the campaign’s national finance committee told the Washington Post's Philip Rucker. “Romney World will fade into the obscurity of a lot of losing campaigns.”

Republican pundits also answered to those donors.

Karl Rove's Crossroads allegedly called the campaign's biggest donors to explain the loss on Thursday, according to Politico. “Obviously, somebody made a mistake and didn’t do things right. There’s no question about that,” Stan Hubbard, a Minnesota media mogul and mega-donor, told Politico's Ken Vogel.  [It might surprise some of those guys, but not everyone who isn't rich, is stupid. Not everyone buys into their BIG LIE, INC. world-view, not everyone accepts that simply being a wealthy psychopath entitles one to the right of dictating what the rest of us will believe and how we will live.]

[Apparently, in addition to the 47% of us who would never, under any conceivable circumstances, vote for Romney or someone of that ilk (because we are lazy losers who refuse to take responsibility for our low-born, meaningless lives), those hired hands failed to connect with the malleable portion of the untermenschen whom they were hired to persuade to betray their class and vote against their own self-interest, YET AGAIN...]

There's a little more here:


Monday, August 13, 2012

You people just don't get it.

8/12/2012 11:33 PM PDT

The solution to our domestic economic problems, unemployment, the budget deficit and the national debt is to get rid of those who are unproductive and don't contribute to the economy or, even worse, are parasitical.

We can make an important step in the right direction by limiting health care for the poor to what they can pay for and eliminating "free" care for the indigent, which isn't really free; if government doesn't pay, then the hospitals and doctors must swallow the costs.  Some of the "do-gooder" laws applied to hospital emergency departments need to be reexamined rationally.

Another important element of the process, already achieving great success across the country, is getting rid of labor unions so the workers can no longer dictate unreasonable drains on corporate profits. The "at will" employment model, that has been replacing trade unions, has been a great boost to employee flexibility in working hours, availability for work on holidays and general workplace conditions; along with those positives, both payroll costs and benefit package costs have improved following union decertification at most enterprises.

Experience has shown that most workers don't save enough for their retirement needs, that is due to lack of self-discipline in most cases; the democrat's Socialist Security program along with its attendant medical and prescription programs are not in accord with the spirit of The Constitution of The United States and need to be privatized or abolished.

We believe that limiting unemployment compensation amounts and duration is essential in putting people back to work sooner, other than those rightfully terminated for disciplinary reasons or unsafe work habits, and thereby helps to limit the unemployment rate.  A certain base amount, 7% to 9%, of unemployment is actually good for business in a way, employees have less truancy and are more cooperative and more productive when they know there'll be a hundred applicants for their job if they're let go.

Further, it is obvious that a need for unemployment compensation is just another symptom of workers being irresponsible by failing to save enough for their needs, why should the past employers be forced to pay a person whom they no longer employ?

Replacing the disastrous federal government Social Security swindle with mandated savings placed in private institutions, such as banks, insurance companies and capital management firms would insure that old people who earned enough would be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement, rather than the misery many old people now endure due to the current socialist model.

People who feel they don't have enough money to meet their current debt, but aren't working, need to stop whining and asking for handouts, instead they should pick a corner of their property and start growing food. That way they can maintain their independence and hold their head up in public. Our pioneer forefathers (and foremothers) who homesteaded this great land on free, or nearly free, 160 acre farms wrested from the savages didn't ask for a handout, they would just be self-reliant and go out and shoot a buffalo or a couple of antelopes, maybe raid an Indian's cornfield, and have a barbecue, and that's the way it should be.

If Obama is reelected, you won't be able to do that any more, he has sworn to confiscate your guns and require you to have a license to hunt game animals and to get the property owner's permission, too. That's what socialism does to a free people, takes their guns and makes them into weak, timid slaves who have to ask for permission.

In reality it's all very simple, quit taxing business to death, stop onerous government regulation of private enterprise and stop the free bread and the free circuses so the masses quit lying around and go to work to support themselves.         
Eagle and Flagstaff image copyright 2012, What's Going On.

The above statement was not written by Romney,
it is our concept of his & the republicans' position.
It was rephrased and enlarged from the
Original post by Shanti2:
"You don't get it. The solution to all economic problems, unemployment, the deficit and the national debt is to get rid of those who are unproductive and can't make money for the capitalists. We can do this by eliminating health care for the poor so they will die sooner, getting rid of unions so the workers can't stand in the way of profits, and cutting Social Security so old people will be so miserable they won't want to hang around and be a burden to the rich people who earned their money and should be able to keep it. Very simple, but not very civilized."


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Feast of San Precario

Feb. 29 is the day of San Precario, the patron saint of precarious workers.

Precarity is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting a person's material and/or psychological welfare. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of intermittent, insecure  or under employment and the resultant precarious existence. The social class defined by this condition has been termed the precariat.

Precarity is a general term to describe how large parts of the population are being subjected to flexible exploitation (low pay, high blackmailability, intermittent income, etc.), and existential precariousness (high risk because of low incomes, program cuts, high cost of living, etc.) The condition of precarity is said to affect all of service sector labor in a narrow sense, and the whole of working class society in a wider sense, but particularly youth, women, and immigrants.

Precarity is a term of everyday usage as Precariedad, Precariedade, Précarité, or Precarietà in a number of European countries, where it refers to the widespread, nearly ubiquitous in the United States, condition of temporary, flexible, contingent, casual, intermittent work in our Western postindustrial societies, brought about by the loss of labor union  strength and representation that have strengthened the hand of management and the arbitrary power of employers since the late 1970s.

In sociology, Precariat refers to working class people with no job security, or no prospect of regular employment, distinct from the lumpenproletariat. The term is a recent neologism obtained by merging precarious with proletariat.

The precariat class has been emerging in advanced societies such as Japan, where it now includes over 20 million people.  The young precariat class in Europe became a serious issue in the early part of the 21st century, while oddly, although nearly all subprofessional workers in the United States lack any semblance of secure employment due to the "at will" format of employment coupled with minimal government regulation of arbitrary firing of employees by managers, most workers seem to accept the fact that they are constantly blackmailed by their employers to act against their own best interests.

In the United States the precariat class workers even lose their health insurance if they become unemployed, subject to a temporary "opportunity" (revealingly called "COBRA") to retain coverage at a vastly increased price over the premium paid through the former employer, and for some reason the workers in the United States accept that as sensible and resolutely reject all attempts to provide them, at least, some semblance of independence from the employers' demands on them in form of health insurance that can't be dictated, or simply terminated, by the employers.

In spite of the exceptionally precarious position of non-professional workers in the United States and in the United Kingdom (not quite as abysmal as in the U.S.) most of the actual reaction is taking place in the European Union nations, perhaps because it is seen as a province of the governments in those countries to protect workers from arbitrary exploitation by the wealthier and aristocratic classes, who generally are the employers.

As a side-note; Walmart- the largest U.S. retailer, recently sold its German operation because under German laws it could not compel German workers to conform to some of the regulations which its employees (called "associates") in the U.S. are required to accept without complaint.  Complaining is a serious breach of etiquette at Walmart, almost on par with telling a coworker how much your hourly wage is...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weird sidelights on history - 1832 and all that

Of course, the old frontier truism remains as untouched by revisionist thinking in the 21st century as it emerged unscathed from the 20th.  It was uncontested by anyone in the 19th century - when it first popped out of the mouth and mind of Abraham Lincoln, in 1832 - during the Black Hawk War, and was shared with the men drinking their coffee around the militia campfire while pursuing the hostile Sauks, Meskwakis, a few Kickapoos and some Potawatomis  toward Wisconsin. 

Some people have blamed the Black Hawk War on the incident when a party of Meskwakis and Sauks killed twenty-six Menominees, including women and children, at Prairie du Chien in July 1831.  Now, I suppose that could be it, it's hard to find out after slightly over 180 years why Black Hawk and his band decided to cross the Mississippi into Illinois.  And, it is entirely possible that he (and they) simply were trying to avoid more problems with the Menominees.  His raid on them the previous July, after all, was in retaliation for some killings of Meskwakis by Dakotas and Menominees in 1830,  also at Prairie du Chien. 

In May (1830), Dakotas (Santee Sioux) and Menominees killed fifteen Meskwakis attending a conference at Prairie du Chien.  The raid and killing of the Menominees in the summer of 1831 was retaliation for the deaths of the Meskwakis, and it has been said that the move into Illinois was made simply in an attempt to avoid a counterstrike and further escalation.  A serious problem with that, likely unappreciated by Black Hawk and his people, was the new president of the U.S...   
Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, had become chief executive in 1829, and Jackson, besides being the scourge of Britain in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, was a celebrated "Indian Fighter" who might have invented the phrase "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

If Jackson never said it out loud, you know he hummed it in the shower. He not only mentioned the idea in speeches, he made speeches that had no other topic.  It went so far in the U.S. that a rider on the great Plains - or almost anywhere- seeing an Indian mounted at some distance, would aim the old carbine and pop off a couple of rounds.  It was, of course, nothing personal; but the impersonal murders still killed a hell of a bunch of Native Americans, many of whom were just minding their own business on their own land...

On April 5, 1832, Black Hawk and around 1,000 people, warriors and non-combatant civilians recrossed the Mississippi River back into Illinois and it was assumed to be an attempt to reclaim ancestral land which they had been, according to the natives, tricked into ceding to the United States.  Maybe.  Only about half of Black Hawk's band were warriors, potential combatants, and the rest were a combination of women, children, and elderly.

The band consisted of Sauk, Fox (Meskwakis), some Potawatomi, and some Kickapoo;  which lends credence to the idea of peaceful intent.  In the event, though, the United States and Illinois governments saw it as an act of war and sent troops.  When you study the attitudes of Jackson and many of the whites objectively, you see that the continuation of breathing by Native American people was considered to be an act of war against the white settlers.  By then, the philosophy of "removal" of the native peoples was ascendent as the policy of the government of the United States.

Lincoln served as a volunteer in the Illinois Militia from April 21, 1832  until July 10, 1832 and was elected Captain of his first company.  He was just 23 and had zero military experience, but was put in charge of a rifle company of the 4th Regiment of Mounted Volunteers within Samuel Whiteside's brigade. He did so well at it that the unit was dissolved and everybody was discharged while the war was underway and they'd never seen a hostile fighter.  So, Lincoln, still needing a job, enlisted in a cavalry unit as a private and went back to the rear echelon in the war.

Where, digression ended, we find "Honest Abe" back at the fire - about to speak.  He said, solemnly, in the glow of the first tentative light of morning, "Love is where you find it; but, it seems - nearly always - that some young woman is sitting on it."  That might not seem all that profound until you consider it, but the fellow squatting next to Abe, turned to him as if to say something and then comprehension whacked him aside the head and he suddenly found himself with hot coffee and milk exploding out of his nose as he laughed uncontrollably.

When I first heard the story, about May of 1955, I think - from Bill Savaard - It was said; and -actually as the point of the anecdote- that the coffee spraying mess-mate was Jefferson Finis Davis, of Mississippi and late of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who was then just 24 years old and a lieutenant in the regular army under Zachary Taylor's command. 

And; the story, as offered, made the embarrassment of the, supposedly, priggish Southerner out to be the cause of his later antipathy toward Lincoln and by extension, a cause of the "war between the states" which caused the deaths of over 650,000 Americans along with the destruction of the area which had become the Confederacy, prior to being reduced to rubble - and, only incidentally, the emancipation of the slaves. Good story, right?

Now, as my grandfather, the old-time dairy farmer from Texas used to say - when confronted with a story that he felt certain was not cloaked in veracity, although it sounded plausible - "That will do to tell."  And, so it proves to be: I and, I'm certain, my contemporaries present at the recounting of the tale back when Eisenhower was President of the USA, accepted it without reservation, of course we were twelve.  Consider; it's heavily swathed in detail.  Potawatamis, Kickapoos, Meskwakis and Menominees, oh my!  Zach Taylor, Andy Jackson, Honest Abe and Jeff Davis - there's hardly anybody left out; Davy Crockett and Tippecanoe were busy elsewhere...

It is true as can be that Lincoln and Jeff Davis were almost the same age and both were doing pretty much as the story goes, except that Lt. Davis was down home in Mississippi at the time - he was attached to Zachary Taylor's unit, though - he just was not there.  And, had he been, it would not have made a hell of a lot of difference.  It's unlikely to the point of nearly impossible that a U.S.Army officer, an Academy graduate, would be at a campfire with a bunch of militia temporaries. 

Davis was not a prig, he was a serious man of principle and a believer in the constitution of the USA, subject to his interpretation of "states rights" and he believed - as many did - that the several states were still sovereign entities and had the legal right to opt out of the United States should they decide to do so. He was pursuing General Taylor's daughter, a pretty girl who then was 17, and he wanted to marry her - really, he just wanted to sleep with her, okay;  sleep wasn't really involved, we just call it that - but you had to get married to do that back then.  General Taylor would, otherwise, have shot him dead as a rock or skewered him to the point of perforation with a sabre, and no court in the land would prosecute Taylor for defending his daughter's honor and his own.

As for Jeff Davis starting the "Civil War," hardly or "no way" describes that idea. Jefferson Davis was against secession of the southern states in 1860, he was a sitting United States Senator, and it wasn't his first term. He had previously served as the United States Secretary of War under President Pierce until 1857.  While he did believe that the several states had the constitutional right to depart the union, he did not believe that the union was going to let them go peacefully and he did not believe that the south had a snowball's chance in hell of beating the northern states in a war.  He made speeches in which he counseled against a precipitous secession. It happened anyway.

Jeff Davis waited twelve days until he had unequivocal instructions from Mississippi before he, in what he said was the saddest day of his life, resigned his position in the U.S. Senate and went down the river to Mississippi.  I'm guessing, knowing as I do, that Davis lost his first bride (Taylor's daughter), who was only 19 and very beautiful, to malaria only three months after they were married, that he meant to express that he was heartbroken over secession.

Davis, of course (at least we, now, think of it as "of course"), was a cotton plantation owner and long-time slave owner; which means that his "broken heart" might have been due to the fact that he expected the Confederacy to get its collective derriere thoroughly kicked by the more populous and more industrialized north, and that he could anticipate the abolition of slavery as a result of the expected military loss; or maybe not.  Maybe he was talking with just (just!!!) the bloodshed that would be the result of such a war on his mind, I doubt that though.

It would have been far better, in my estimate of the situation, to wire a foxtrot uniform and stay in the north, but I had four great-great-grandfathers in Confederate uniforms in that war - and those are only the ones I know for sure, several others might have been.  We look at things a bit differently now, we don't think people should be owned as chattel, like cattle and chickens - actually, we know damned well they shouldn't be and we are abso-damn-lutely amazed that our ancestors, who weren't idiots, failed to figure it out.

Of course, nasty old man that I am, I have my own theory as to what that was actually all about.  It's a different paper and it features one of my - former - heroes, now slightly demoted to merely another imperfect human male, Thomas Jefferson.  Smart, brilliant, even - but - just a man, a bit hypocritical (a rather large bit) and unable (or unwilling) to keep his hands off the servant girls.  Of course, the pivot (as nearly always) would be a girl, or several girls, or maybe young women.  As old Abe said, and it wasn't new and it wasn't temporary or transient, it is still as it was then - a simple reality: what the men are willing to kill or die for usually has a girl or a young woman sitting on it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Same-sex marriage espoused by President

09 MAY 2012
President Obama made an announcement in which he stated that he has decided to back the legality of marriage for same-sex couples.  There is resistance, the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage being a political football these days.  There's a lot of backlash in the press and from the more hardline religious right; which ought to surprise nobody, some of them are against anything Obama could do.

Religious or political conservatives often cite various Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments as their justification for opposing gay rights. Regionally, opposition to the gay rights movement has been strongest in the South and in other states with a large rural population. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS has used biblical injunctions against homosexuals and homosexual acts as the justification for a campaign against the United States and the US military, which continues with picketing of military burials and other confrontational activities.

It seems to me that we have more than enough instances in which people, usually young female people, are forced or coerced into having sex with someone they don't want for it to more than absorb all that righteous indignation and holy activism; and that after we solve that problem, then, if there's energy left and concern left, we can discuss why we're worried about what consenting adults do to one another.

The President, in essence has said that he is siding with logic and with the direction of social thought in the country.  And, of course, he is.  If you go back a few years, to the 1960s or so, and you look at US law and sentiment, we were a country in which there was, in many jurisdictions, a tacit open hunting season on homosexual males (especially).  Some people went out actively seeking gay men, certainly not using that term for them, for the purpose of beating and robbing them.

I'm not making this up. I remember, in Southern California in 1962, being invited to go along on an expedition to West Hollywood for the purpose of raising money by "rolling queers". There was some danger involved, I was told, because California law actually protected "them".   I declined, and although I'm a well-known coward, that wasn't the reason... 

I'd like to say that I was morally outraged enough to do something about it and notified the police of the planned activity; but that's not what happened, instead I backed away from associating with the people involved but otherwise did nothing.

I was young, I didn't actually know anyone (as far as I was aware, then) who was homosexual and hadn't even had the concept until I left home to go into the military a few months earlier.  There were some jokes and accusations going around in high school, just nothing that I took seriously or even, really, understood.

There was no public discussion of homosexuality back then, basically, it just was not mentioned by most people.  I would say that, while less well known, it was considered to be on par with heroin addiction in the public mind. Something dirty and disgusting that only evil losers would stoop to doing, to put it nicely.

But, in San Diego, there were a few men who were publicly gay.  Once in a while I would see a couple or a small group on Broadway; the guys wore their hair wrong - obviously not military, some wore facial make-up, and they dressed wrongly - maybe they weren't gay at all, maybe they were in a show or something - I have no idea.

Then in August of '62 a guy that was in my technical school at the Naval Training Center was arrested, in the barracks, by CID and taken away in handcuffs.  A little later the word went around that he had become "involved" with a "bad crowd" and was booted out of the service; the "bad crowd" was gay men.  Then, from September of 1962 until January of 1966 I wasn't in the country much, just short visits between deployments. 

As far as I know, there were no openly gay men in the US military in those days and probably very few closet gays, either.  The environment on shipboard would probably have been intolerable and being homosexual was strictly illegal; while performance of any homosexual acts would get you many years in prison if discovered, with a strong possibility of being fatal instead.

In June of 1967, we - my wife & 2 very young daughters and I, moved to Portland, Oregon and then the job I had taken caused us to move around a lot for the next four years; but in June of 1971 we were back in Portland.  My wife got a job managing a fish and chips restaurant that belonged to a small local Northwest chain.

We found that one of the restaurant managers in town was a gay man.   Portland has - and had, then - a fairly large population of gay men, and he seemed like a nice enough guy and was a pretty good manager.  A little later my wife hired a young man to work in her store whom we got to know and found out that he had moved from some little town in Montana to Portland because he was gay and the gay community in the city was well known.

Being gay and participating in gay sex was still illegal in most places in the country.  In 1972, a Tacoma, Washington teacher of twelve years with a perfect record was terminated after a former student outed him to the vice-principal. The courts upheld the firing as being just.  On June 30, 1986, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick, that homosexual sex was not protected under the citizen's right to privacy. 

At the end of 1989 there were still 24 states where any homosexual activity was likely to be illegal and some definitely was, the penalties weren't slight either.  There were thirteen states left in 2003, where homosexual acts were illegal,  when the US supreme court decided that all state sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

Since 1970 we have gone from a situation where any and all homosexual activity was illegal in every state except Illinois to a situation where, as of nine years ago, it is legal in all states between consenting adults in a private home. It only took 33 years.  But; as you might have noticed, the journey to extending normal privileges of citizenship, along with those fragile and often hotly contested things which the founding fathers were pleased to label as "rights" in the first ten amendments to our supreme law, to gays, has neither been without controversy nor blessed with universal acceptance as being the right thing to have done.

For several years I have favored the path that some other countries have used wherein the civil ceremony/contract is distinct from the religious contract.  A couple needs both in some countries in order to satisfy both the priest and the law. So I found it comfortable to suggest that the civil union was one thing and had little to do with marriage in a religious sense and therefore we could sidestep the issue by making the civil union unrelated to gender.  That, of course, satisfied almost nobody and I've decided that it's not about my comfort, anyway, and in reality has nothing at all to do with me.

Now, again, about all that outrage: how about doing something about all the sexual assault and sexual trafficking of young women against their will?  After you get that stuff stopped, then I'm willing to discuss the issue of homosexual equality - actually; I'm not, but I can find you some folks who would love to talk with you about it...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A deadly combination -- guns and 'stand your ground'

A deadly combination
By Mark NeJame

Mark NeJame is a CNN legal analyst and contributor and has practiced law, mainly as a criminal defense attorney, for more than 30 years. He is the founder and senior partner of NeJame, LaFay, Jancha, Ahmed, Barker and Joshi, P.A., in Orlando, Florida.

The famous, or infamous, Florida "Stand your ground" law:
Florida Statute 776.013 (3) states:
"A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

Mr. NeJame makes some interesting and, I think, valid points regarding the Florida statute; there's a lot more in his article at CNN.com, but here's a quick look at his view of the problem with the law as it's written.

"This law applies a confusing blend of subjective and objective standards. Stand your ground is appropriate in many circumstances, but the lack of clarity in the statute needs to be addressed and re-evaluated, particularly when firearms are so readily accessible in public places.

The way the statute is written, an individual who observes a fistfight could conceivably shoot and kill the dominator in the fight if they reasonably believed that person was going to cause "great bodily harm" to the other.

Even if the two combatants knew that the fight was nothing more than a "good ol' boy" disagreement, the way the statute is written could allow a gun to be used if the observer reasonably and actually believed that great bodily harm could occur.

Moreover, merging the statute with overly relaxed gun laws could open the door for the guilty to walk away without consequence. Consider another gun-toting observer of the hypothetical fist fight, who is an enemy of one of the combatants."

I think it's worth considering the simple fact that in most states and U.S. jurisdictions a sworn peace officer does not have that amount of personal discretion over the use of deadly force, nor in my opinion should they. Do you want your police officers empowered legally to walk up to an altercation in progress and shoot one of the fighters without regard to the existence of a real deadly threat? Even more important, do you want everyone who can pass the legal requirements and monetary requirements for possessing a firearm to have that power by legal privilege. Our soldiers in Afghanistan don't have that degree of discretion over the use of deadly force.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Westboro Baptist Sewer

    Ordinarily I wouldn't hot link to someone else's graphics, but WBS says it's OK with them.
 "1955-2011 © Copyright Westboro Baptist Sewer. You may use any of our material free of charge for any reason."   Straight from the horse's a$$.

These folks, in my - as it's said these days - humble opinion, have gone far beyond the bounds of decency.  Apparently one of their leaders believes he has a direct line to the celestial throne and is privy to God's attitudes concerning us stupid and evil sinners.  I'm not here about the GL stuff except to note that these people are engaging in "hate speech" on a wholesale basis and if I did it I would be arrested.  I'm here about the disgusting and outrageous treatment that the so-called Christians are inflicting upon the families of our fallen service people.  Check out the friendly list below, taken directly from their website.

    6445 - soldiers that God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    47,949 - pickets conducted by WBC.
    858 - cities that have been visited by WBC.
    1089 - weeks that WBC has held daily pickets on the mean streets of doomed america.
    117 - people whom God has cast into hell since you loaded this page. [this is a timed counter]*
    218,400,000+ - gallons of oil that God poured in the Gulf.
    $15.68 trillion+ - national debt of doomed america.
    8 - people that God saved in the flood.
    16,000,000,000 - people that God killed in the flood.
    144,000 - Jews that will be saved in these last days.
    0 - nanoseconds of sleep that WBC members lose over your opinions and feeeeellllliiiiiings.

I thought the Limbaughesque distortion of the word feelings was particularly infantile, and then failing - pointedly - to capitalize America while capitalizing Afghanistan and Iraq is another infantile touch.  It's not surprising that they've confused British Petroleum with God, it's obvious that they aren't tuned in to God... 
* It's a timed counter unless they really do have a direct link to the celestial throne, in which case it might be an actual count...
They apparently have several websites, there's a list of links on the GHF index page. 

The thing about them, the thing which brought them to my attention, is their disgusting behavior in picketing military funerals and their bragging about praying for the deaths of our service members.

And, just so we're communicating, I do not give a flying f*** about the opinions of a bunch of bigoted psuedo-Christian semi-humans like these sweethearts.  It's not about disagreement with their opinions, it's about believing that their actions are unconscionable!  And, I'll go a step farther; it's about believing that their actions in invading funerals in order to spew hatred and stupid incorrect religious nonsense should be illegal and should be stopped.

I do not accept that free exercise of their (or your, or my) protected religious freedom includes getting into my face and refusing to leave me alone.  It is time we reinstitute reasonable boundaries
for public actions by people.  The level of civility in this republic has degraded seriously over the past few decades.  Good manners are the lubrication for the gears of society.  Not that Westboro Baptist Sewer would know anything about good manners.

They hang out around 3701 SW 12th St. in Topeka, KS 66604 (for these folks the first three numbers of the zipcode make an apt statement) Phone: 785-273-0325, just in case you'd want to call or drop them a line.

That makes me think of the old "High-Brow" greeting card from the 1950s, it had a picture of a toilet with a guy using his fishing pole to dangle a hook in the water in the toilet bowl.  The caption was: "Thought I'd drop you a line."

I sometimes think that it was a mistake to repeal the anti-sedition laws.

 Westboro's GHF website 

 The link below should take you to one of their fliers, among other choice dreck it says:
"Thank God for 22 more dead troops.  We are praying for 22,000 more."


Apparently they have been making these fliers weekly and praying for the deaths of many thousands of our military members.  You can access their archive from their website, they're overweaningly prideful about their constant spitting onto the graves of our deceased warriors and into the faces of the bereaved families.

They have a campaign planned for Brownville, TX on the 20th

Another of their outrages: beastobama.com 

"obama is the antichrist

Any fair study of the scriptures coupled with the study of the signs of the times will convince almost anybody with a modicum of intelligence that the end of the world is drawing nigh. This is amazing stuff going on here, right before our eyes, unprecedented in the history of the world - and it fits the pattern set out in Revelation 13, when there’s a great beast supposed to rise out of the worldwide sea of troubled humanity. He’s arisen out of that filthy sea of restless humanity and captured the imagination of the nation and the world.  Barack Obama is the Antichrist, and is leading doomed america to her final destruction and the destruction of the world! We're not talking some vague, nebulus postulation, we're talking plain, straight BIble talk backed up by an overwhelming amount of real evidence - on the ground! Watch this fascinating, three-part documentary and check out the rest of the site for Bible perspective on the rise of Antichrist in the last hours of these last, dark days."

I know that some of my friends and family are not exactly what you might call "vigorous supporters" of President Obama, but don't you think this is just a bit overboard?  It's my considered opinion that the driving force behind Westboro Baptist Sewer is a lot more like the antichrist than is President Obama.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark died on May 1 while serving in Tarin Kowt

A U.S. Army captain in Afghanistan did not indicate any unease when he suddenly fell forward while on a video chat with his wife, who then spotted what appeared to be a bullet hole in a closet behind him, his widow said Sunday.

Susan Orellana-Clark's husband, Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, died last week while serving in Tarin Kowt, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) north of Kandahar. His widow's account offers new detail about what she saw happen from some 7,500 miles away, while also raising fresh questions as to how he died and why, according to her, it took two hours for anyone to come to his aid.

Orellana-Clark said in a statement that, when the two were chatting on Skype last Monday, "there was no sign that Capt. Clark was in any discomfort, nor did he indicate any alarm."
Then, Clark was "suddenly knocked forward," she said. Orellana-Clark said she saw what she described as a bullet hole behind her husband, as did several other individuals -- one of them a military member -- who came over and could still see the scene over the continuing Skype session.

Good ridense to bad rubbish,this followers a growing trend of terrorizing occupiers killing themselves

This story is soooo funny!

Dont Skype. Wear your helmet. Be alert for the enemy. Wondering why you are still in Afghanistan and will be until 2014? Blame Obama.

That all depends on the type of camera you're using.  A good HD camera can be had for under $100.

isu: nope I mean Obama--- Bush hasnt been President for 3 years now FYI and Obama said the plan is for us to withdraw from Afghanistan but not until 2014

obama started this war and now hundereds of thousands of  american citezins have died in the war. vote for romney to make it better here.

Ah, you five, I'm going to guess, and hope, that the lady won't read your comments. I did.  I just want you to know, there are people who find you creeps disgusting. 

Really, blame Obama? a better camera? funny? good riddance? Apparently you haven't a gram of humanity among you.  There's a reason we call you 'trolls' - inhuman monsters would be the reason.

Rickyjen, you are a complete idiot, the others are simply disgusting, evil and nasty, you are all of that and an idiot as well.  Still, you give me hope; at your level of brilliance some Republican idiots won't be able to find the polling place!

Ragging on newly bereaved widows and orphaned children of service people puts you squarely in the pit of the outhouse wallowing in and consuming the offal.


Philosophical issues regarding the concept of : 'blaming the victim'

Philosophical issues regarding the concept of : 'blaming the victim'

Some quoted thought from an interesting blog post:
Posted by Conner  at Out Of Darkness,  Alien abduction: 
"... I don’t feel it [abduction] is the greatest word to describe what is going on but it is still the best term we have at the moment.
Whether a person’s experience is positive, negative, neutral, a combination of all of these, or something else entirely, the person is still removed from their environment.
Even if an abductee is taken from one part of the house to the other, the person is controlled and removed from where they were.
Free will is taken away.
There is always some level of control [by the abductor] during an abduction.
How is this co-participating?
How is this empowering [me] exactly?
Isn’t co-participating a mutual agreement between parties on what activities will be taking place and when?  It’s not like the aliens call me up on my cell and say they are stopping by such and such a night and they are going to be doing this and that so I better get good sleep beforehand and make sure I don’t have a big day planned for the next day after they come around.
They never ask me if I want to participate in what they are doing.
It’s their ballgame and the game is rigged.
The idea that I agreed to abductions from a former life (soul contract) is insulting.
Did victims of crime or natural disasters agree to a soul contract?
Do people really believe that they would sign a contract that would condemn their family to misery, confusion, and helplessness?
Alien abduction does not happen in a vacuum, you know.
This religious concept [soul contract] conveniently puts all the blame squarely upon the abductee.
How spiritually enlightening is this?
Think about it.
"It’s your fault you got mugged because you were wearing that expensive watch."
It’s expedient to blame the victim so nobody has to think or deal with the problem.
It’s interesting to me that so many experiencers and contactees focus on their perceived religious aspects of the alien abduction phenomenon.
This tells me a great deal because whoever these aliens are, they don’t care about our religious beliefs. ..."

His point is, I think, well made as it refers to an instance, or repeated instances, of abduction by extraterrestrial entities. 

Never mind what I, or you, might believe concerning the objective reality of contacts with or abductions by extraterrestrials.

The questions about the reality of ET visiting the Earth aren't germane to this paper, that issue is for another time.

What he's expressing, the frustrations exhibited, seem authentic and reasonable when applied, both, to the entities doing the abducting and the humans writing about 'abductions' but ascribing some 'feel good' new age 'sweetness and light' to the motives of the ET abductors.

But that's not really my point here and now it's, instead, two lines Conner used as a throw-away analogy:

"It’s your fault you got mugged because you were wearing that expensive watch.
It’s expedient to blame the victim so nobody has to think or deal with the problem."

I've noticed that we older folks and especially we paternal type older folks are held guilty of "blaming the victim" almost any time we're unwise [now commonly thought to be a normal characteristic of the aged] enough to comment on a criminal assault upon a young woman committed by a male.

I have a couple of thoughts on that - to mention and to attempt to explain and, probably, to defend.

The first thing is; when a young woman informs you (or me) that she has been insulted, verbally assaulted or, God forbid, physically assaulted in a sexually oriented way by a male, no matter what your first thought is, the first response should always be something in the nature of, "Are you alright", or if she has been assaulted, "Have you seen a doctor, is there anything I can do to help you?" and in all cases there should follow, when the time seems reasonable some expression of outrage [or at the least, anger] that some man would treat her so badly.

Never respond with, "What ever possessed YOU to go THERE dressed like THAT?" nor any variation on the thought.

In fact, it would be best never to ask that question nor any variant of it of anyone with reference to her, never.

I know that asking that question does not imply that you think the victim is at fault for having asked to be assaulted; but that is what young women these days have been conditioned to infer from the question. 

If you ask it you will be labeling yourself as stupid and insensitive to female gender issues and unconcerned about women's rights, and did I mention STUPID. 

The young woman, or at least the vast majority of young women, believes that she should be free to go absolutely anywhere, wearing absolutely anything - or nothing, should she so desire!

And, of course, she is absolutely correct in so believing.  She should be able to go anywhere dressed any way she likes.  It really is that simple.

But; I should be able to park my car in any legal parking place and leave the key in the ignition and the windows down and the doors unlocked, too.  In fact, I can do that.  The problem is that if I do, there is a very small liklihood that my car will be there when I return; and that tends to be very inconvenient.

Overstating the obvious, I should be able to leave my home to go on a trip [whether to the corner store or to Brazil for a month] without concerning myself about locking the doors, too.

In plain point of fact, up until the summer of 1969, I used to park my car and leave the windows down and, sometimes, leave the key in the ignition.  And until that summer, I often didn't lock the house - and when I did, I knew that anybody who still had a skeleton key could unlock it.

During my childhood, up until 1958 anyway, we never locked the house and the cars parked in the driveway usually had the key in the ignition. 

Older GM cars had a little lever on the bezel of the ignition-lock, you could take out the key without locking the ignition and turn it on by turning that bezel, you didn't need a key unless someone had locked it.

When we moved into a newly built house in 1958 the doors actually had functional locks which took keys that you could not walk into the dime-store and buy over the counter. We still didn't lock it up very much and almost never locked the garage door.

In the summer of 1969 someone stole a few items from the unlocked glove-box in my unlocked car and one of our neighbors had some things stolen from their house.  We all [our neighbors and the people at our church] started locking doors and just never stopped doing so after that.

Still, we should be able to not lock our cars and our houses and expect people to stay out, shouldn't we?

'He was right, dead right, as he sped along; but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.'

I don't want to belabor the point, and I'm 90% certain that not a single, solitary woman of the paradigm I'm complaining about, ever will read this post.  [he said; but]
There's an old saying, I've heard it used all my life - you know, since the dark ages - it goes like this:
"Discretion is the better part of valor."

And that's all I'm saying, here.  We don't want our girls, our daughters, granddaughters and our friends to be afraid, we don't want them to feel that they have to ugly-down. Youth and beauty are, as we old folks know all too well, transient.  They're a gift of God to humankind, given to us for our joy.  

My point here is only that it's not an ideal society that we live in, we should be free and unafraid; but we have among us an unknown quantity of unidentified people who pervert and destroy, who take and befoul, who steal, assault and rape and even worse.

So, to the young people: Be free, enjoy your youth and beauty but be aware, be alert and practice discretion that your days may be long upon the Earth.  L'Chaim.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rods From God

There's an urban legend about a woman killed by a shaft of frozen urine fallen from a plane's leaking toilet.

Then there's the one about pennies dropped from the top of the Empire State Building, passing through pedestrians' skulls like bullets.

Then there's the one about telephone pole-sized tungsten rods dropping from an orbital weapons platform at 36,000 feet per second to impact the earth below with the force of a meteor strike.
Guess which one you won't find on Snopes under "stupid bullsh*t?"

Yes, enormous Swords of Damocles hanging in space are one more reason to lie awake at night, thinking about how much safer we feel thanks to science.

The so-called Rods From God system would have two satellites placed in orbit, one to control communication and targeting, the other containing the rods.

When released, nothing but gravity and a little remote guidance is needed to bring them down on target like the wrath of Zeus.

The brute force of hundred-kilogram rods traveling over 7,000 MPH makes them ideal for penetrating underground bunkers, your mother, and hardened nuclear missile silos.

You know, things you might find in a rogue state, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Such treaties don't apply to hypervelocity rods, though they strike with the force of a tactical nuke, they produce no radioactive (and far less political) fallout.

The US Space Command (where we always claimed our Dad worked even before we knew it existed) says they plan to have this capability by 2025.

While on the subject of interesting approaches to weapons of, not exactly, mass destruction; have you heard about "rail-guns"?

A rail-gun, it seems isn't a big cannon that shoots old hardware from the local RR right-of-way.  Instead, it's an electric weapon which uses huge amounts of electric power (around 10 to 60 megajoules) for a few microseconds or so to create an extreme amount of magnetic repulsion between the weapon and its projectile. 

The net result is an extremely motivated projectile, perhaps a few pounds of aluminum (aluminium, for our British cousins) in the form of a gnarly big dart, proceeding targetward at around mach 10 or so.

The extreme acceleration and correspondingly over-the-top velocity mean that the projectile tends to be accompanied by a short column of flaming, overheated air as it pops out for a couple of hundred nautical miles in a few heartbeat's length before annihilating its unfortunate target in a violent outburst of energy caused by the irresistible force running dead-on into the immoveable object.

Perhaps some of this stuff interests me more than it will others because long-long ago I was a gunner in the Navy, and the rail-gun - for now, at any rate, will be a naval weapons system.  Or, it could be land-based. 

Because of its rather huge electrical current needs, a land-based system or one on a large ship, which has its own electrical generation equipment, will be the first uses.  As a shipboard system, it has some advantages which might not be obvious to people who've not been involved in naval gunnery and its logistics.

The projectiles are functional without the two liabilities which most burden navy ships as gun or missile platforms: no explosive propellant needed, and no bursting charges nor explosive warheads to be hauled around.

The rail-gun's projectile is inert, it's just a hunk of metal.  What makes it into a killer and a high-explosive is the kinetic energy imparted by the velocity with which it strikes the target.   If you think getting run into by a 500 grain bullet doing 2000 MPH is bad, and it is, consider the energy involved in stopping that great flaming slug from the rail-gun!

Of course, they're developing a discarding tungsten sabot round and working toward accelerations in the 60000 G range for a system with accuracy within three meters at two hundred nautical miles with a ten shots per minute cycle rate.  With that high a cycle speed it would be usable as an anti-aircraft system as well.

I know their fire-control systems are considerably advanced from the old days when we used vacuum-tubes in our target designation system and in our fire-control radar sets.  But we could only shoot about fifteen miles in those days and accuracy was about ten meters at ten miles, which meant the plane might get by the detonation without much, or any, damage.

So, we had to keep hitting him until he exploded.  Even with a twin mount and fairly rapid cycle rate it could take too long.  Even at mach 1 it doesn't take long to cover ten miles...   Maybe a minute.
Closing straight at you at around eight-hundred knots and flying at wave-top level, a jet fighter is an awesome beast.  You don't get to miss very many times on each run in by an enemy aircraft.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stand your ground??

Florida authorities have picked 17 people to tackle a heated question brought on by the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin: whether the state's "stand your ground law" should be changed.

A question: Does "stand your ground" mean that it's legal to shoot an unarmed person?

Another question: Does not having a "stand your ground" law mean that if someone comes up and is verbally abusive and physically threatening to you while you are in a public place that you have no recourse and must surrender and walk away?

A third question: Do you wonder why everybody is always on edge and unwilling to meet your eyes?

So, here's the point: remember back in the 18th and 19th centuries in the US when some of our up and coming leaders were killed in duels and eventually duels were outlawed and eventually people mostly stopped challenging others to duel and just started shooting or stabbing them in the back instead?

I haven't been a teenaged boy for nearly fifty years and I haven't been in the military for just a bit over forty-five years, but I wonder what you people are thinking and I don't know exactly what the law says anymore, if I ever did.

But, here's how it is: If we're on a public sidewalk and I'm hobbling along and you ask me to move, if I can, I will.  If, however, you order me to move and make a threat of it you should expect to have to back up the threat. And, that's without reference to any law.

I don't know what happened between Mr. Zimmerman and the late Mr. Martin.  I have heard though that young Mr. Martin was unarmed and was shot to death by Mr. Zimmerman.  To me that screams: arrest and at the least a hearing, even if the shooting occurred inside Zimmerman's house and the damned door had been kicked in.  Why would a man shoot an unarmed man or boy unless he either was in fear of his life or just wanted to and thought he could get away with something?

If someone attacks you with a knife, you don't have to pull your knife and carefully measure the blade to meet the attack with equal force.  If you are threatened with deadly force you are justified in applying the maximum chill-factor that's available.  And, having been there a couple of times as a young man, it's nearly automatic anyway - if you actually stopped to think about it you probably would be killed - but I wasn't carrying a firearm either time, so both assailants survived.

Being attacked, whether physically or only verbally, by an unarmed person is quite different; it will make you angry or afraid, or both, it's not really clear what steps you can take beyond hitting the guy back if he strikes you, or yelling for help.  There's the scenario where you're the abusive badass and you hit the intended victim, and he steps back slightly and gets a really big smile on his face.  Run!

That's why I say it calls for a hearing, an inquest or some official inquiry if you decide to shoot the guy.  It could be justified, but probably would be a hard sell.  Refusing to back down is one thing, whipping out your Glock and perforating the guy is a different type of thing - it's homocide and not involuntary, either. 

Even shading it into manslaughter would take some redefining.  If he lives you're looking at aggravated assault with intent to kill.  You'd need to make a damned good case for being in fear of imminent death at his hands, which is a hard sell if he isn't armed or doesn't outweigh you by 75 or a hundred pounds.

And, in case you hadn't noticed, these are the same - within a narrow range - as the rules that would apply to a sworn peace-officer.

On Crime and Punishment in England, The US & Mexico

 From BBC, London- 19 April 2012

Three young Englishmen have been given lengthy prison sentences for a shooting incident in a London, England shop which left a five-year-old girl paralyzed.  The little girl, Thusha Kamaleswaran, was shot in the chest and a man, Roshan Selvakumar, 35, was shot in the face at a Brixton shop last March.

The gunmen, all 19 and 20 years old, Nathaniel Grant, Kazeem Kolawole and Anthony McCalla were convicted of causing both victims grievous bodily harm with intent and attempted murder of a rival gang member.  Grant was told he would serve at least 17 years before becoming eligible for parole, while Kolawole and McCalla will serve at least 14 years.

Judge Martin Stephens said the crimes were "of the utmost gravity", adding: "Not one of you has, in my judgment, shown a sliver of remorse."  Last month's trial yielded testimony that  "the three cycled up to Stockwell Food and Wine and Mr. Grant opened fire".  One wild shot resulted in a bullet hitting little Thusha in the chest.  That bullet passed through the seventh vertebra of her spine, damaging her spinal cord and leaving her paralyzed.

The court heard testimony that the gunmen were trying to kill Roshaun Bryan, a rival gang member, but instead shot Thusha and Mr. Selvakumar, who were innocent bystander-victims, during the attempted murder.  Prosecutor Edward Brown told jurors: "The reality of this shooting may be that, whilst there was an intention to kill the suspected rival gang member, the gunman and his accomplices couldn't have cared less if someone else was shot too."

Detective Superintendent Gordon Allison said the only time the men had apologised or shown any sign of remorse was when they were seeking to reduce their prison sentences.  He added: "The CCTV images of little Thusha dancing happily in Stockwell Food and Wine are images that many of us will struggle to erase from our memories".

"... McCalla, Kolawole and Grant will have many years in prison to reflect on the damage they caused to an innocent five-year-old girl and her family but also Roshan and the community that is London as a whole."

A team of detectives who investigated the case are leading attempts to raise money for the vital care and equipment Thusha now requires. Her injuries have not only ruined her dreams of becoming a dancer, but have imposed a serious long-term financial burden upon her family.

Judge Stephens said the trio posed "a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm in the future".  It is Judge Stephens' summation which caught my eye.  It is a simple, yet profound, statement of the rationale which explains the reason society needs to be relentless in finding and punishing this type of offender:

"Shooting into a shop, a confined space where it was known there were people present, is an attack on society itself by men who saw themselves as outside the law and above the law."

Read more on this crime at BBC.

It is nothing less than an attack on society in general, an act which adds more weight to the load which can overwhelm and crush a society, destroying the quality of life for all. Here in the US we have some areas in several of our cities where the level of violence, usually gang-related, is high and as a result people who don't have to be there, avoid those places while those who can't avoid the area simply try to stay out of sight.

Usually the violence is by gang-members and is directed against other gang-members.  The greater problem for the society, though, is the collateral damage caused by the violence.  Drive-by shooting, which is rarely very accurate, often results in injury or even the death of people who weren't the intended target.  It's the callous disregard for the lives of others which does the damage.  Along with that lack of regard comes mugging and robbery, housebreaking for burglary and home invasions.

In trying to think of a good example for a worst case scenario not directly attributable to foreign invasion or to politically motivated civil war, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico comes to mind. A large city which is being devastated due to having been chosen as the venue for a murderous turf-war between drug runners. Mass executions of groups of rivals, bribery or murder of public officials and gun-battles in the streets is not the kind of environment the people of the city want, it just descended upon them and there doesn't seem to be any power that can effectively combat the reign of terror.

According to Wikipedia, an article in The Guardian in September 2010 says of Ciudad Juárez – because of the violence "About 10,670 businesses – 40% of the total – have shut. A study by the city's university found that 116,000 houses have been abandoned and 230,000 people have left."

It's not just because "drug dealer a" killed "drug dealer b".  I'm sure that "drug dealer b" was important to someone besides himself, but that's not why the people are leaving.  They're leaving because "drug dealer a" shot up a crowd at the cinema where "drug dealer b" was picking up his little drug-dealers from the Saturday matinee and purchased (at gun-point) several city police officers who had come to arrest him.

When it reaches the point where the criminals are more numerous, better armed and much better funded than are the forces of law and order finding a workable solution to the problem becomes difficult at best.   Between October 2010 and February 2012, 64 Juarez police officers have been murdered and the federal government has brought hundreds of federal police and 7500 soldiers to the city in an attempt to assert government control.

One of the city’s more grisly murders took place on December 20, 2011, when Officer Jose Everardo Sanchez, who had been kidnapped the previous night, was thrown into the street from of a vehicle with his hands and feet tied. His killers then doused him with a flammable liquid and set his body ablaze. The gruesome scene took place at 8:30 a.m. in full view of many horrified witnesses who saw the officer writhe in pain until succumbing to his wounds.

Besides the police officers and drug cartel members killed, over 4000 young women have been murdered in the past four years and almost none of those killings have been solved by police. It would be easy to say that the Chihuahua Police, Juarez Police and federal police are incompetent or corrupt, but that isn't the reality of the situation.  Of course there are stupid and/or corrupt officers - it happens everywhere - but that's not true of the vast majority. 

What is true is that there are cartels - gangs - of exceptionally vicious and cold-bloodedly murderous men and women who are making money in unimaginably vast quantities making and distributing illegal drugs. Those people intend to keep doing business and they employ hundreds, if not thousands, of agents with cell-phones who act as lookouts in their cities and towns to warn the gang of police presence.  They also employ hundreds, if not thousands, of cold-blooded murderers who are armed with the best hardware money can buy who act as bodyguards and shock troops.

The killers and their employers are, because of their firepower and their willingness to use it, nearly impervious to arrest by law enforcement.  Despite all the stories you hear, in Mexico as in the USA as in Germany or England, and most other countries, the police very rarely are going to shoot first unless certain that they are threatened with firearms by someone who might shoot.  The officer can't know until the weapon fires or, at least, becomes visible that it's not just some random citizen who is approaching or being approached.

That, and absolute ruthlessness is what gives the cartels their edge.  Back in the early years of the last century the US had some gangs of outlaws roaming around and robbing people, sometimes killing in the process.  John Dillinger, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were fairly well known among them.  Those three and a few others were casual killers, if a citizen resisted being robbed they would simply shoot the victim and then take the money.  If they felt threatened by a police officer they would simply shoot the officer.

Those outlaws were finally stopped, but there wasn't anything pretty about it and there was no reading of rights and handcuffing involved.  They were stopped in ambush and killed in a hail of bullets fired by several officers acting in concert.  Essentially they were murdered by the officers because of their history of killing others.  Less historically documented but very emphatically illustrative is the final few minutes of the movie "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid," in which the two are surrounded by a regiment or so of Bolivian regular soldiers armed with rifles and decide to go out shooting, armed only with revolvers.

Things have reached the point, I think, where extraordinary responses to the challenges posed by those who, apparently, believe themselves above the law are indicated.  Here in the US the response to the drug cartels has been to imprison small-time dealers and some users for lengthy terms, so that the USA now detains a full 25% of all the world's prison inmates.  We only comprise about 4 1/2% of the world's population, so either we're much more criminally inclined than everyone else on Earth, or something is out of whack...

The United Mexican States, Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, has only 1/3 the US population, or around 112 million people but their country is the favored land route into the United States whether it's drugs or people being smuggled and the USA is the big destination for either one.  For that reason Mexico has lots of ruthless criminals, some foreigners and some home-grown fighting over those routes through their country and into ours.  The official death toll in Mexico for the past five years of the "war on drugs" is right at 50,000 people, while we have incarcerated around 750,000 for drug-related stuff since the inception of the war on drugs.

People are dying and people are becoming filthy-rich because of the war on drugs.  Mexican society is being badly damaged. In the USA murders, burglaries and robberies all happen due to the drugs while billions of taxpayer dollars are spent and hundreds of thousands of people are imprisoned - either because of the drugs themselves or because of crimes committed to get money to buy drugs.  It makes one think that the logical plan would be to legalize the stuff and figure a way to make them dirt cheap so that the users wouldn't have to commit robbery on a wholesale level to afford to feed their habits or addictions.

I don't see any advantage to the country in making the stuff illegal and failing to prevent it being imported while disrupting the hemisphere and keeping people in prison at tremendous cost.  It hasn't prevented a "drug culture" existing, instead it has made criminals, often desperate murdering criminals out of people who are just too weak to stay away from the stuff.  I'd think it would be far better to bring them back into society than to leave a large population outlawed but still living among us with no legal means of support. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some Notes on Lying vs. Being Mistaken

About Lying

About Lying
Some Notes on Lying vs. Being Mistaken

On July 29, 2011 Chuck from Austin, Texas wrote:
The word "lie" indicates intent to deceive. If I say that it is Tuesday when it is actually Wednesday, does that make it a lie? Obviously when two people have differing opinions one (or both) of them may be wrong, but that does not make it a lie. I believe that there is a God. The fact that you do not does not make either position a lie.

August 6, 2011 at 4:40am Mark wrote:
??? hmm... I'll ponder on that, but that's just a technicality.
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that if a person "believes" something to be true and claims it, that is not lying? But he will still be claiming something that is not true, so isn't he technically "Lying", even if he is unaware of it?

The moderater said: No Mark, if he believes it to be true, even though it is not true, then his advocacy is not lying it is simply "being wrong." "Lying" is about the intent to deceive, and not about being correct.

It is possible for a person to tell you the objective truth and yet be lying if that person is intending to deceive you.

The simplest illustrative example that comes to mind is an instance in which there are two containers, one numbered "1" and the other numbered "2". If an object be placed in container #1 and the other person (the one who will lie to you) has been told that the object is in container #2 and that person, intending to mislead you, reports it to be in Container #1; you will have been given correct information while being lied to.

For those who have the tendency to overthink these things, do not confuse this with Schrödinger's cat, in which you can't know if there is a cat in the box until you open the box; but in the interim the box must remain simultaneously in both a cat and a non-cat state. I, personally, think that's asking rather a lot of a box.

About Lying

By Tim C. Mazur

Tim C. Mazur is COO of the ECOA, the world’s premier member organization serving ethics and compliance officers.

"I don't dig into people's private lives. I never have." Ross Perot's brief statement on ABC News in July 1992 was meant to end allegations that he secretly investigated his presidential campaign volunteers. The allegations ended, but not the way Perot intended. Within hours, irrefutable evidence appeared that proved Perot had hired others to probe his people's pasts. By the next day, there was no question on anyone's mind: Ross Perot lied.

So what? It wasn't the first time a politician lied and it won't be the last. Sometimes a lie, a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive, seems the perfect response: a brother lies about his sister's where-abouts to the drunken husband threatening to harm her, a doctor tells a depressed patient that he has a 50-50 chance of long-term recovery when she is confident he'll live only six months, a son gives his late mother's estate to the poor after promising to honor her demand that the money be placed in her coffin. When trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation, perfect honesty may seem second best next to values like compassion, respect, and justice. Yet many philosophical and religious traditions have long claimed that rarely, if ever, is a lie permissible. What, then, is the truth about lying?

The philosopher Immanuel Kant said that lying was always morally wrong. He argued that all persons are born with an "intrinsic worth" that he called human dignity. This dignity derives from the fact that humans are uniquely rational agents, capable of freely making their own decisions, setting their own goals, and guiding their conduct by reason. To be human, said Kant, is to have the rational power of free choice; to be ethical, he continued, is to respect that power in oneself and others.

Lies are morally wrong, then, for two reasons.

First, lying corrupts the most important quality of my being human: my ability to make free, rational choices. Each lie I tell contradicts the part of me that gives me moral worth.

Second, my lies rob others of their freedom to choose rationally. When my lie leads people to decide other than they would had they known the truth, I have harmed their human dignity and autonomy. Kant believed that to value ourselves and others as ends instead of means, we have perfect duties (i.e., no exceptions) to avoid damaging, interfering with, or misusing the ability to make free decisions; in other words - no lying.

A second perspective, virtue ethics, also maintains that lying is morally wrong, though less strictly than Kant. Rather than judge right or wrong behavior on the basis of reason and what people should or should not do, virtue ethicists focus on the development of character or what people should be. Virtues are desirable qualities of persons that predispose them to act in a certain manner. Fairness, for example, is a virtue we may choose to strive toward in pursuit of fulfilling our human potential. In virtue ethics, to be virtuous is to be ethical.

Though the nature of virtue ethics makes it difficult to assess the morality of individual acts, those who advocate this theory generally consider lying wrong because it opposes the virtue of honesty. There is some debate whether a lie told in pursuit of another virtue (e.g., compassion: the brother's lie to his sister's drunken husband is motivated by compassion for her physical safety) is right or wrong. This apparent conflict between virtues is managed by most ethicists through a concept called the unity of the virtues. This doctrine states that the virtuous person, the ideal person we continuously strive to be (We are continuously striving to be an ideal person, aren't we?) cannot achieve one virtue without achieving them all. Therefore, when facing a seeming conflict between virtues, such as a compassionate lie, virtue ethics charges us to imagine what some ideal individual would do and act accordingly (WWJD?), thus making the ideal person's virtues one's own. In essence, virtue ethics finds lying immoral when it is a step away, not toward, the process of becoming the best persons we can be.

According to a third perspective, utilitarian ethics, Kant and virtue ethicists ignore the only test necessary for judging the morality of a lie - balancing the benefits and harms of its consequences. Utilitarians base their reasoning on the claim that actions, including lying, are morally acceptable when the resulting consequences maximize benefit or minimize harm. A lie, therefore, is not always immoral; in fact - according to this view - when lying is necessary to maximize benefit or minimize harm, it may be immoral not to lie. The challenge in applying utilitarian ethics to everyday decision making, however, is significant: one must correctly estimate the overall consequences of one's actions before making a decision. The following example illustrates what utilitarian decision makers must consider when lying is an option.

Recall the son and his dying mother described earlier. On careful reflection, the son reasons that honoring his mother's request to settle the estate and deposit the money in her coffin cannot be the right thing to do. The money would be wasted or possibly stolen and the poor would be denied an opportunity to benefit. Knowing that his mother would ask someone else to settle her affairs if he declared his true intentions, the son lies by falsely promising to honor her request. Utilitarianism, in this example, supports the son's decision on the determination that the greater good is served (i.e., overall net benefit is achieved) by lying.

Altruistic or noble lies, which specifically intend to benefit someone else, can also be considered morally acceptable by utilitarians. Picture the doctor telling her depressed patient that there is a 50 percent probability that he will recover, when in truth all tests confirm the man has only six months to live. The doctor knows from years of experience that, if she told this type of patient the truth, he would probably fall deeper into depression or possibly commit suicide. With the hope of recovery, though, he will most likely cherish his remaining time. Again, utilitarianism would seem to support the doctor's decision because the greater good is served by her altruistic lie.

While the above reasoning is logical, critics of utilitarianism claim that its practical application in decision making is seriously flawed. People often poorly estimate the consequences of their actions or specifically undervalue or ignore the harmful consequences to society (e.g., mistrust) that their lies cause. Following the examples above, the son's abuse of his mother's faith in him and the doctor's lie undermine the value of trust among all those who learn of the deceits. As trust declines, cynicism spreads, and our overall quality of life drops. In addition, suggesting that people may lie in pursuit of the greater good can lead to a "slippery slope," where the line between cleverly calculated moral justifications and empty excuses for selfish behavior is exceedingly thin. Sliding down the slope eventually kindles morally bankrupt statements (e.g., "Stealing this man's money is okay because I will give some to charity.") Those who disagree with utilitarianism believe that there is potentially great cost in tolerating lies for vague or subjective reasons, including lies in honor of "the greater good."

Critics of utilitarian justifications for lying further note how difficult it is for anyone, even honorable persons, to know that a lie will bring more good than the truth; the consequences of actions are too often unpredictable. Lies frequently assume "lives of their own" and result in consequences that people do not intend or fail to predict. Moreover, it is very difficult for a person to be objective in estimating the good and the harm that his or her lies will produce. We, as humans, have a vested interest in the lies we tell and an equally vested interest in believing that the world will be better if we lie from one instance to the next. For these reasons, critics claim, lying is morally wrong because we cannot accurately measure lies' benefits and harms.

Clearly, lying is an issue worth examining, as many people believe it is a bigger problem today than it has ever been. A recent Time magazine cover story concluded, "Lies flourish in social uncertainty, when people no longer understand, or agree on, the rules governing their behavior toward one another." Maybe social uncertainty abounds because we are a mixture of Kantians, virtuists, and utilitarians who share no common ground. More likely, the problem is that too few persons adequately consider any ethical perspective when facing a situation that tempts a lie. Either way, it seems that the solution to our dissatisfaction begins with acknowledging the value of ethical reasoning and ends with a commitment to follow through with what we determine is the right thing to do.

From the website of:

The Markkula Center for Applied EthicsFurther Reading:

Bailey, F. G. The Prevalence of Deceit, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Bok, Sissela. Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.

Greenberg, Michael A. "The Consequences of Truth Telling." JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 266 (1991): 66.

Revell Jean-Francois. The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information. New York: Random House Books, 1992.

Thaler, Paul. "The Lies that Bind." The New York Times Magazine 140 (June 9, 1991), 16.

You might remember from quite a few years back a debate in the USA over "situational ethics" as the idea was styled, which posited the idea that, in reality, there is no such thing as right nor wrong, but the determination of a thing's "rightness" was a function of the situation at that time and of its outcome with regard to that situation...

The idea was roundly condemned by most, if not all, religious leaders and the fundamental Christian people saw the concept as simply part of Satan's plan, because, clearly in the Judeo-Christian canon there is defined an absolute of "good" and "evil".

I agree, there are absolutes defined in the ten commandments and in Leviticus. It is not left to human agency to decide that it is okay to steal this time, nor to decide that today, for instance, it is not a sin if I covet my neighbor's ox, or her ass.

It seems, these days, that most Christian literalists and fundamentalists, in the USA, are aligned politically with the right-wing of the Republican party and I suspect that it came about due to the issue of abortion more than anything else. They have come to, it appears, equate morality (in the sense of "righteousness")with "right" in the political sense also. Oddly, it seems to me, but that's another story.

The point today is about lying. I have noticed over the past two years, as never before, a lot of email messages forwarded, endlessly, which accuse President Obama of all sorts of crass, crude and vicious behavior. I realize that the right-wing of the Republican party doesn't agree with his political or economic ideas and doesn't think that he should be President.

I think everyone knows that. But, as I said; the point today is about lying. Because many of those messages which people forward to me appear to have been written by people who remain in ignorance of Barack Obama's background; his birthplace, education, employment history and such (or they flatly accuse him of having lied about all of it) and go on from there to describe unlikely scenarios and statements which demonstrate some flaw in the man, his ideas or his family, I tend to vet the statements for accuracy.

It does not surprise me that most are simply made-up out of whole cloth. The rest often will be built around a misrepresentation of an actual event, many of which didn't actually involve Mr. Obama. I might, then, make the categorical statement that those emails tend to be a pack of lies. Actually, I will so state: those emails are a pack of lies.

But, in defense of my family members and friends who are conservative Christians, they are not lying. They are simply mistaken in believing and forwarding the scurrilous disinformation invented by those who claim to be ethical and honest while denying that everyone with whom they disagree politically or, for the love of God, economically could possess those qualities. 

So, without trying to assume the mantle of a teacher of righteousness for I certainly am not worthy of 
that, still, there is written a command from The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to mankind, given to 
the children of Israel at the mountain of the lawgiving which deals with the type of lying that these 
people of the right are doing.  In Matthew 20:18 Jesus restated it for that generation and for us, as well: 
"Thou shalt not bear false witness".