Friday, April 29, 2016

Hope Amid a Sea of Violence

The news is, of course, distressing; violence and hate seem to be all around us. Electorally we have never, I think, been as divided since the Civil War but nothing, no political system and, certainly, no one person is perfect. George Orwell knew that dystopia is the usual reality and utopia a fantasy which is why he wrote "Animal Farm." Nearly all revolutions ultimately fail. It is why the French Revolution had its Robespierre, the Russian Revolution had its Stalin, China its Mao, and North Korea its brutal Kim Jong-Un. It is why Cambodia had its slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot, why the Shah of Iran fell and why a brutal religious dictatorship of the humorless Ayatollah Khomenini took hold. Free speech for so many is a quiet dream of those who dare not speak its possibility. There are, of course, dozens more examples of revolutions that sour. Hope in the beginning of a revolutionary political movement feels so good and all things seem possible but as humans are prone to do they often take a wrecking ball to it.

I am going out on a limb to say it is why the American Revolution of 1776 looks so good to me, a fervent criticizer of American power. Have we had our wrecking balls throughout our short nearly 250 year history? Absolutely, we have. Still, the ideals for which the colonials fought are, I believe, still very much alive and its goals for which we strive are still possible because we have a process. Persons of color were freed by that process, a Civil Rights and a Voting Rights Act passed, a Depression overcome, two Word Wars won with a little help from our friends and later adversaries. Women got the vote and women's rights are expanding with every decade. People with a different sexual orientation can now love and marry whom they choose, the disabled obtained rights and our nation licked polio. Most importantly a black man became president and a woman just may (I hope) take the presidency as well. At the very least she will win the nomination of one of the two main political Parties of this huge nation. Is our nation perfect yet? No, of course not and with our competing interests it never will be but we strive and hope the demagogues and religious fanatics are not given power. Well, I can hope they are not.

In the end it is amazing that a nation of 350 million human beings is still alive and stuck together with an invisible glue. There are many good things to save about this nation and many bad things we must throw out. But there is a process to do so and I want to see this nation, no matter who it elects, live understanding one cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Indeed, it is why I devote my years now to try to be an advocate for causes that are humane, fair and just whether for humans, animals, or the planet which gives all of us life. I live since the late 1960's in hope that, as Martin Luther King said, we will overcome one day. We must, I think, at least try. There is hope amid this sea of violence and Lady Liberty still shines her light in that sea beckoning others to light their own lamp with her torch!

My Letter to Rachel Maddow -- Murder in Flint

Rachel, I just heard on Amy Goodman’s "Democracy Now" broadcast (linked below) about the murder of two young mothers in Flint, Michigan one of whom was at the center of the legal action she brought against the City of Flint for the lead poisoning of their children. One of the first to file suit and murdered at her town house was Sasha Avonna Bell. I do not know the name of the other murdered woman. I had to replay the story again to see if I heard it correctly. I did. See video below of Amy Goodman's broadcast.

Only you, Rachel, can expose the Flint lead-poisoning-in-water issue you revealed against the noxious Republican Snyder administration and his self-appointed Emergency Managers answerable only to him. They have produced this water-in-lead poisoning crisis impacting thousands of children (as well as adults) into eternity stealing their future if not, ultimately, their lives. It now involves the alleged murder of a woman or women seeking damages for the injustice the Snyder administration has perpetrated.

We need the truth. This cannot and must not be swept under the rug. Who murdered Sasha Avonna Bell? Perhaps you can pull back the opaque curtain of hidden things to reveal those things to the light of transparency on Snyder and the actions of his deceitful administration.

Why the Presidency needs to be kept in Democratic hands: The House Just Voted To Give Wall Street Billions From Americans’ Retirement Savings

Enforcement of the Fiduciary Rule

This article attached here or below is not long but it behooves you to read the link. I also provided a summary of it below to know why the Presidency MUST be kept in Democratic hands. This bill has been lobbied by the Wall Street immorals and will overturn the Obama administration's proposed "fiduciary rule." Luckily, for those who rely and will rely on their 401Ks and retirement accounts the House vote will ultimately get a presidential veto by the DEMOCRATIC President Obama. In short, if it passed it means Wall Street can continue to sell you any investment it wants no matter the risk without telling you of the risk and without telling you the fees associated with it, legally. The Obama proposed "fiduciary rule" would ensure they must tell you about the risk and their fees but Republicons want to undo it.

A Republicon presidential signature would allow investment banks to continue to NOT tell you the risk and the fees associated with an investment so retirees and those who will become retirees could and do lose billions. It would ensure Wall Street can continue to make huge profits legally at your expense through your investments no matter the risk of which you probably now may not know or even know the fees it attaches (sometimes through the back door) because they do not have to tell you. What Wall Street wants to continue to do and does do is wrong, it is immoral and it is what Republicans -- the hypocrite usurious good religious Fundamentalists they SAY they are -- will ensure. Read the short summary I have cut and pasted and then go to the link below it and read the rest of the short article. Also read about the "fiduciary rule" by clicking on the link within the article. READ and HEED!!!!!
The House voted 234 to 188 Thursday to undo a rule proposed by the Labor Department earlier this month that would require anyone getting paid to provide retirement investment advice to act in the best interest of retirees. Many people think that’s already how things work, but it isn’t.

The way things work right now is that brokers who oversee retirement savings accounts can be paid extra to steer their clients into unnecessarily expensive funds or excessively risky investments, without disclosing that fact to their clients. That sort of conflicted investment advice costs Americans saving for retirement $17 billion a year, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
To remedy the situation, the Obama administration proposed a fiduciary rule to keep Wall Street from taking so much money in fees from retirement accounts. The financial industry has opposed the rule from the start.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

"If I Lose Friends Over Trump, So Be It"

Donald Trump’s candidacy isn’t really about politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. It’s about revenge.

By Tom Nichols

I have been thinking about Peter Wehner’s piece in the New York Times yesterday, in which he talks about the sadness of losing friends over Donald Trump’s candidacy. I have not—yet—lost any friends over Trump, but it’s possible. Unlike Wehner, I am less concerned about it. The Trump campaign is a test of character, and many Americans are failing it.

Put another way, if my opposition to Trump is going to cost me friends, then all I can say is: So be it.

I know people who are voting for Trump, including members of my family. I do not immediately find myself opposed to anyone who would vote for Trump; to the contrary, I find a lot of fertile ground for discussion and argument with conservative friends who disagree with me only about the lengths to which the “never Trump” movement should go. They might not be comfortable with Trump, but they will do anything to stop Hillary Clinton, and I understand that position.

By Now, You Know What You’re Getting

But I find almost nothing to say to people who are full-throated, enthusiastic Trump supporters, especially now. Back in August, I could console myself that most Trump supporters just didn’t know what they were getting into, and that they would return to their senses and regain their decency once they got a look at the unhinged huckster onto whom they’d signed.

All these months later, however, the pretense has to stop.

As Jonathan Last noted recently, an attorney and blogger who calls himself “Thomas Crown” summed up this kind of voter in a recent article. Crown discussed one of his clients, a pseudonymous “Mrs. Martin” who was supporting a Trump she mostly knew through bits and pieces of information, none of them too close to the truth about the actual man. “Mrs. Martin” seems a decent sort, even if I’m having a bit of trouble believing that she’s as untouched by Trump’s reality as she claims.

All these months later, however, the pretense has to stop. Trump’s supporters are voracious consumers of his public and television appearances, and they now know what kind of man he is. With my friends and family who still cling to Trump, I never waver from my insistence, directly and firmly, that they are making a terrible mistake, and that Trump is making them worse people for being involved in his message. I still love them, and they still love me. (I think.)

Friendship With Political Opponents Is Possible

In a lifetime spent in and around politics, I actually haven’t lost many friends over political disagreements. In my academic life, I have always been part of a political minority; I once did a campus radio show with a colleague who admitted happily that during the 1960s he had denounced his father as a class enemy on national television. (He settled into being somewhat more of a conventional liberal 30 years later.) I doubt that being a conservative helped my early career, but few of the people I knew in those days broke even a casual friendship with me.

Trump and his views are ghastly in a way that goes beyond politics.

I also have liberal friends from my days working in politics. We stayed friends even as they and I worked for opposite sides, and while I wrote articles (and speeches for a GOP senator) excoriating their ideas and their party. Much like the sheepdog and the coyote in the old Warner Brothers’ cartoon, we would fight each other during the day, punch the clock, then go out and enjoy a friendship based in a common interest in politics, even if from different sides of the field.

But Trump’s candidacy isn’t really about politics, which is why it divides people so deeply. Trump and his views are ghastly in a way that goes beyond politics. They challenge our human decency and patriotism. That’s why they test not only our political associations but our friendships.

A Rant Is Not a Policy

Yes, fellow conservatives: Trump is worse than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Their policies are liberal, even leftist, often motivated by cheap politics, ego, and political grandstanding. But they are policies, understandable as such and opposable by political means.

There are no real principles on the table here, only Trump’s demagogic stoking of incoherent and even paranoid rage.

Trump’s various rants, by contrast, do not amount to policies. They are ignorant tone poems, bad haikus, streams of words whose content has no real meaning. They’re not positions available either to the GOP or Democrats, because they do not contain a vision of the future over which those parties can fight.

In fact, Trump’s policies are not policies. They’re just feverish revenge fantasies. Trump, a scam artist whose entire career has been based on victimizing the working class, should be the target of that anger. Instead, he is encouraging Americans to turn their hostility away from him and against their fellow citizens, inviting us into a war of all against all over which he will preside as an amused dictator.

The division between Trump’s supporters and the rest of us is not about reconciling our political differences. It is not about opposing policies we hate. (Most of Trump’s policies are actually quite liberal, but that is irrelevant.) There are no real principles on the table here, only Trump’s demagogic stoking of incoherent and even paranoid rage.

Revenge Destroys Friendships

This is what destroys friendships. Trump’s supporters are now like roaring drunks in a bar fight, people who you might have tried to reason with five drinks earlier but now are just lashing out at everyone in every direction. Pumped up on talk radio conspiracies, overdosing on the venom of Sean Hannity and Judge Jeannine, comatose with irrational fury, they are no longer part of any sensible political debate in America.

Trump’s supporters are now like roaring drunks in a bar fight, people who you might have tried to reason with five drinks earlier.

This blind madness puts both political and emotional distance between Trump supporters and the rest of us. Most conservatives have already told Trump that we will not sell our character as Americans, and indeed our very souls, just to feel the pleasure of resentful anger for a few months. All we can do is to keep trying to talk our friends out of making that very mistake, or at best to hope that buyer’s remorse will set in.

Still, if anyone who knows me really believes I am now a traitor to my country because of the way I’m going to vote, then I can do without their friendship. If they end their relationship with me because Donald Trump has identified people like me as the source of their problems, then maybe we were not that close in the first place.

In the end, I can only say it again: if I lose a friend only because I am opposed to man who is, in my view, a mortal enemy of everything American, then so be it.

Tom Nichols is a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and an adjunct professor in the Harvard Extension School. Views expressed here are his own. Follow him on Twitter, @RadioFreeTom.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Preliminary Thoughts -- Primary April, 26, 2016

Hillary did well. She is, in my eye, the Democratic presumptive nominee. BUT ALL Democrats must UNITE lest the enthusiasm Trump engenders, god forbid, wins the presidency for him. A few of Sanders's supporters incredulously even have said they might vote for Trump. That, if true is, yes, hard to believe.

Sanders's supporters, whose hearts are in the right place, must embrace the rest of those in the Democratic Party who supported Hillary. We are ALL in one Party -- the Democratic Party. Either we rise with Hillary Clinton or sink to the depths of an explosive perhaps even nuclear swamp with unqualified Trump.

Reality speaks. I loved much of what Sanders said but thought him too old. He now, after the grueling primary pace, looks even older. The arduously demanding job of the presidency significantly ages even the youngest who occupy it. More importantly, though, I thought Sanders's rant was ear numbing preachy, sermonizing, didactic and a one track record. He was, to a large degree, a one issue candidate, most importantly, with little foreign policy experience and no plan as to how he would get that for which he advocated done.

I do, though, understand why he engendered the support he did. He speaks truth on the issue of economic inequality and the 1% usurpers of our national wealth. We must embrace that truth, be our own citizens united and elect the Democratic Party's soon to be nominee, Hillary Clinton. She has experience in all venues and will not eviscerate the sacred Constitutional and Bill of Rights principles of our nation -- liberty and justice for all men, for all women, for all minorities, immigrants, the disabled and those LGBT citizens of this nation who have fought so long and so hard for those rights that should be increased and not taken away!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Charles Koch Compares Donald Trump To A Nazi

Yeah sure. Don't TRUST anyone who has been a rightwing extremist killer of the environment and promoter of climate change to come out and say he may support Hillary Clinton. OH SURE, believe that one and I have a George Washington Bridge I'd like to sell you.

Get one of the most DESPISED rightwing extremist Koch Brother John Birch Society aficionado to come out in support of a progressive. Good way to turn off Sanders's and other progressive voters? DO NOT TAKE THE BATE, progressives. Get out to vote en masse for whomever the Democratic nominee is and tell Koch to .......[fill in the blank]


Ted Cruz and John Kasich Team Up to Stop Donald Trump

The dynamic due are a day late and a dollar short (see link below.) In reality, Ted Cruz is the worst of the worst of the worst. Cruz is a mean, cruel, sickening, loathsome, vicious, insane, moronic. Fundamentalist fanatic idiot who cares about one thing--Cruz and that's it. How Harvard gave him a degree I will NEVER know. Shame on you Harvard what a sorry representation of an Ivy League school.Cruz is. This jerk would repeal the Affordable Healthcare root and branch,knock MILLIONS off of health care, kill thousands and wreck our relationship abroad while he is at it. He is a MENACE to life. Kasich, although not great, has a few redeeming qualities -- not many but a few. How he can make a deal with the devil Cruz I will never know. By body language alone it appears Cruz's own daughter finds him repulsive as she squirmed to get away from his hold. Moreover,, one wonders about the Enquirer story shown on Rachel Maddow on his sexual hypocrite escapades. Is the Enquirer just a scandal sheet or telling the truth and whose number IS on the deceased DC Madam list? Inquiring minds want to know..

The Republican slate is an abomination. There is NOT one who has presidential qualities because the Republicrat Party has turned into the I hate government party, stands for deregulating everything, doesn't mind lead in drinking water, wants to get rid of regulatory agencies that really do protect the little guy. Ironically, the Republican Party itself should be ripped apart root and branch and think of some other rationale for governing a nation without crucifying the poor and the middle class.

Shame on ANYONE who votes Republicon. No matter who their nominee is they will lose BIG time in November and they know it. They are breathing their last breath and not soon enough for me!

Our Cultural Connection

Kudos to one of the most insightful, cogent and sensitive looks at the American cultural connection or non-connection to our modern-day eternal Middle East War. I laud Andrew Bacevich's April 24th Boston Globe Op Ed article entitled "War out of sight, sacrifice out of mind." Why am I not surprised this article, linked below, was so good? I am not surprised because it was written by one of my favorite academic historians, Boston University Professor Andrew Bacevich. He is also a retired career officer in the Armor Branch of the United States Army, retiring with the rank of Colonel. This man is a plethora of insight into America's changing cultural face of war and expresses it so well. Moreover, he has lost a son in the Iraq War as well.

In sum, there surely is a difference between our fathers' fighting World War II or World War I, for that matter, and our post Vietnam PTSD and protest fostering a new age of a volunteer military for all post Vietnam succeeding wars. Our warriors now are engaged in combat because they want to, volunteer for it, it does not hurt that this nation offers monetary incentive to do so and puts the cost of it on a credit card. This obviates the hysterics of national protest once seen during the Vietnam years that split this nation in two, the malady from which we never did entirely heal.

Protests, as Professor Bacevich astutely understands, is limited to present day civil rights and economic struggles but has waxed non existent when it comes to the anti-war movements so prevalent during the Vietnam years. Now we can fight perpetual eternal wars because the majority of our nation is far removed geographically and psychologically from the combat front.

That would change, of course, if the draft were again reality but then, of course, many who would be subject to the draft would rail vociferously against war as so many did during Vietnam decades ago. How more divided can a nation grow from civil rights protest to eternal permanent war protest without splitting the nation in two permanently as well!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

[Republican] Delegates face death threats from Trump supporters

This is why Democrats and others who support humanitarian policies need to unite under one banner: The Democratic Party. It is the ONLY vehicle this nation has at this moment in our time for the continuance of the humane policy we have honed over many many decades and even for over a century!

You can read the story here or below.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Now is the Time -- Plowshares of Possibility

Hillary Clinton scored an impressive victory in the New York Democratic primary. She significantly exceeded the expectations of the most politically knowledgeable. Now we must unite the forces in the Democratic Party which when united will win the White House and, with work, retake the Senate and even win the House. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King come to mind:
Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity … Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
This significant victory by Hillary Clinton in the New York Democratic primary should be the time for all those in Senator Sanders’s impressive movement to be united with Hillary Clinton to win the general election. Now is the time to unite the Democratic ranks, who as Secretary Clinton said, have more in common than the differences that keep us apart. Let us come together in unity of purpose most in the Democratic Party and others who support our causes share.  Not to do so invites more Republican obstructionism, more suppression of the vote, more money in politics, more racist hate, millions of cruel deportations, more persons of color imprisonments, economic politics and trade deals that are impossible to keep. It will mean alienation of important allies no matter the flowery Trojan horse sounds that emanate from the Trump campaign. He cannot and never will do what he says he can. In fact, his ignorance of foreign policy even invites nuclear war.
If that is not bad enough a Republican stranglehold on the U.S. Supreme Court would be entrenched probably surpassing my lifetime and yours. Last but not least a woman's reproductive control of her own body would cease taking us back to the glory days of illegal unsanitary abortions killing women who, out of desperation, sought them.
I said that if Senator Sanders was the ultimate nomination winner he would have my support and he would. Through this significant New York win by Hillary Clinton the path to the nomination for Senator Sanders is very difficult and, in truth, nearly impossible.

Those who vociferously supported Senator Sanders began a movement to erase the choke hold of money that corrupts the very nature of this nation, the democracy of which we try to advocate for others to attain. This movement Senator Sanders began will live long after the efforts he made. I know this movement is not lost on Hillary Clinton. She has heard it. Senator Sanders began a movement that will go beyond the 2016 election into the vast future of our nation if it survives Republican attempts to create a 1% winner take all country leaving nothing for the majority middle class who historically have been its true strength.

Now is the time for those who vociferously supported Senator Sanders and began that movement to have a lasting effect. Now is the time to unite with the other half of the Democratic Party who, I believe, want the same things and that is to make this nation true to the tenets of its origin the words of which lie in New York Harbor at Lady Liberty’s feet:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Now is the time, indeed, to turn the swords of discord into the plowshares of possibility, work together and live out the true egalitarian creed of our nation.

We can do this and we can do this together if we unite. We merely have to will it so by working for it and, I believe, we will mightily win the day.

A Place in Hell

This is, as I have said, what the world must confront in its Herculean attempt to eradicate polio. It is ignorance at its MOST sickening. Religious fanatics are attempting to interfere with those who valiantly try to stop the spread of one of the most debilitating viruses often occurring mostly in children. Is this possible?

I am usually not a vindictive person but I will confess I can only hope those who kill human beings who are attempting to eradicate the dreaded disease of paralytic polio, should know what it means to suffer permanent paralysis of their limbs and/or the ability to breathe that the virus causes. The global effort to permanently erase the disease from the face of the earth is miraculous but is roadblocked by noxious actions like those described in the article below.

May the killers of those risking their own lives to save others -- especially children -- from this potentially life-long ruinous disease have a special place in hell reserved for them. The story is here or below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Polio could be history? I wonder

A vaccine swap is being enacted to use a new and allegedly better formulated polio vaccine. See link here or below for the complexity of the story all need to know.

When man tries to perfect biology that has heretofore worked I always ask what could possibly go wrong when such a Herculean effort as this is attempted. I know, too, that there are some in third world countries especially in the Middle East who will not give their children the vaccine as they think it a western plot, With that being said I simply HOPE the scientists involved in this polio vaccine swap effort know what they are doing.

All vaccines, no matter for what they are administered, carry risk. It is, however, ever-so-small compared to not being vaccinated at all. In our era of vaccination hysteria and misinformation I worry that some parents who have no idea the devastation the polio virus monstrosity can cause (ask me as I know well) and, therefore, will not trust a new vaccine for polio or, indeed, most anything else. This vaccine swap of a new polio vaccine in place of the old one better work. The task of doing this is massive.

I spoke at length about viruses to my relative who is a doc. I asked him if he thought the polio virus will always be there. He said an unequivocal yes. In other words if some refuse vaccination the virus will be there ready to enter its modality of transportation -- the gut. If one thinks the virus can be eliminated entirely I am quizzical. As Jurassic Park taught "life finds a way." Whether it's the AIDS virus or polio -- despite the simplicity of the polio virus -- it could mutate and evolve again to try to survive to live another day. I would hate to be at the bottom of Everest after I had just climbed that mountain only to see I must climb it again.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fear Of Aging Alone--Aging: NO WAY OUT

Damned if I do and damned if I do not. If I accept aging and death then all well and good, it still does not obviate the fear of it. Debilitating aging is unacceptable to me. I'd rather be dead? Maybe or maybe not. If old friends die or god forbid a partner does then all well and good I just make new friends. Sorry, not that easy. Old friends are made over decades and a LOT of effort and time goes into making them. If some die the pain is excruciating. If I make new friends the cold hard reality is they may die too. So it's a constant bereavement I may have to endure OR worse think on my own death and missing the life I had more while I'm living it. I see no way out!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Greased palms--"New Documents Show Oil Industry Even More Evil Than We Thought"

Remember the coverup by big tobacco when it knew its ugly product killed by cancerous torture millions and never would admit it? Aux contrare it hired "scientists" to cover it up saying there was no conclusive evidence that showed tobacco killed until decades later in our present time when no one could cover it up anymore. The evidence is overwhelming. Executives of big tobacco who lied before Congress should have been convicted of perjury and ultimately manslaughter. They have, though, happily so, been sued in the hundreds of millions, perhaps, billions of dollars. There were consequences to their misery-inflicting coverup.

Big oil has taken many pages out of big tobacco's book KILLING THE EARTH and us along with it by the consequences of climate change caused by man and his filthy fossil fuels. Climate change is melting ice caps responsible for rising oceans faster than anyone thought. It is responsible, too, for extreme weather events that number by multiples of hundreds each year all over the globe and in the US from Hawaii, and California to Maine. It is especially visible in our western states and in the American south. All life on earth, animals that inhabit it and its ecosystem that depend upon a clean environment have felt its impact.

Those CEO's of big oil who deny it are criminals and those legislators with other know nothings who support them are accessories to murder! As Naomi Klein says in the title of her new book "This Changes Everything!" Keep electing those immoral unconscionable Republican Cretans who deny climate change and hand a nation off to your progeny who will be decimated by it. See link here or below.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Loathing Trump BUT

Dare I say, loathing Trump SO entirely as I do, I cannot disagree with him with respect to the insane, interminable and never ending primary process. It is SO convoluted and opaque that it takes an MIT degree and the memory of an elephant (pardon the pun) to figure out the so called delegate "rules" that can go on for 20 rounds if they cannot reach the ever powerful nomination number. I say MAKE IT SIMPLE and fair. Hold primaries, in states that want them with WINNER TAKE ALL. Delegates to the respective conventions should be sworn to uphold the tally of how the voters vote in each state.

The convention should be a formality simply totaling the primary votes. Do away with the remnants of the smoke filled room using the Jacksonian spoils system trading the spoils of war for a vote. We look like a third world nation which, in some respects, sadly, we are in this economic oligarchy that exists at the moment.

I want a Democrat who can win. Let the voters determine it. I want Hillary because she is the most capable, has endless experience and can do the job. In my opinion Bernie is too old, looks it, is a one issue candidate and appears as the scold some who know him say he is but if the voters choose him I happily will agree and the DNC should too. Alas, power. does not work that way. Will this endless presidential season of endless Trump never end? I hope it does end with the Democratic nominee as president!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Climate Change May Be Causing Earth’s Poles To Shift

Scientists solve mystery of why the planet’s axis is tilting eastward.

Tennessee Passes Anti-LGBT Counseling Bill

This Draconian law here or below is INSANE.  This is what we face IF a Trump or any Republicrat is elected.  The bill is clearly unconstitutional times 10 but if a Republican is elected president he fills empty SCOTUS seats with Clarence Thomas type justices. I need not relate what could happen to MILLIONS of LGBT people all over the nation.

Feel free to send this to anyone and most especially to any LGBT human beings and their allies that you know!  The LGBT vote must get out TO vote as well!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Shakespearean Tragedy

The link here or below shows what the Republican beast has turned into. This from a man, Trump, who supposedly wants to "Make America Great Again." It is unfathomable what this man's candidacy is threatening to do. It makes the revolt of the 1968 left wing look like a birthday party.

Trump's campaign according to this article in The New Yorker is threatening delegates who will be attending the Republican convention that if they subvert his candidacy (by playing by the rules) in any way they will disperse all the delegates' phone numbers and hotel room numbers to the mob. Yes, read the article above or below but caution: do not let your jaw drop while reading.

If Democrats ever threatened something like that they would be horse drawn and quartered or arrested forthwith. If this is true as the article portends the Trump campaign  will get away with what amounts to criminal threat. If anything like that happens especially if someone gets hurt or god forbid worse the GOP is done, cooked gone from the American political landscape and none too soon for me. They are already in the fry pan waiting for the fire. This article in The New Yorker it is Shakespearean in its tragedy and epic in its potential consequence.



Boston Globe Hammers Trump With Fake Front Page
Kid Rock is going to be an Ambassador. To repeat, Kid Rock is going to be an Ambassador.

Friday, April 08, 2016

What Is Life?

My two cents:

Below is an interesting article the essence (pardon the pun) of which many if not most have contemplated. It is about much more than "my two cents" though so I urge one to read it all. I respond in one pertinent part that when those who claimed to have died say they came back from the dead I knew it was balderdash. I knew that was nothing more than a religious wish the truth of which could never be proven because that truth did not exist. If a person "came back from the dead" he/she was NEVER really dead in the first place. Seeing a "white light" or seeing dead relatives with their arms outstretched telling them "no it's not your time" is merely feel good fairy tales! It is their own brain seeing it because they are, in fact, not completely dead.

In our always have to feel good nation high on religious beliefs of all faiths we must always be "proving" that our beliefs are the right ones, that there really is a life after death and see proof of Biblical myths where there is none. No one has ever come back from the dead even if they say they have. They haven't.

My own mother, in a nursing home for years nearly choked to death. When I visited her after the mishap she said "Don't be afraid of death. I saw a white light." Sure you did mom -- NOT. I aver her brainwaves were still functioning and that is what saw the "white light!" It wasn't god or an angel or any other supernatural scientific impossibility. It was her own brain.

THAT is precisely why I could never be Republican even if I could in other ways which I could not. To be Republican one cannot reject religion usually Christianity and never question the existence of god. I question EVERYTHING ALWAYS and I wish everyone else did too. At least STOP shoving beliefs which cannot be proven true down our throats and denying rights because of those beliefs to human beings who should have those rights in the here and now!

What is Life
By Jeff Schweitzer Scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in neurophysiology

Westend61 via Getty Images

Zombies and the walking dead make for good copy, but do little to advance our understanding of life and death. Unfortunately, neither did the National Geographic with a cover article entitled, “The Science of Death: Coming Back from the Beyond.”

The article issues forth just about every misconception of life that permeates our national discussion. Sam Parnia, a critical care physician and author of the book Erasing Death, is quoted as saying that death “is a process, not a moment.” So far so good. But then he makes a common but critical error in thinking, which gets to the heart of our problem. In discussing a victim of a whole body stroke, Parnia writes that the patient’s organs can continue to function for a period after the heart stops beating. From this he concludes that “for a significant period of time after death, death is in fact fully reversible.”

Well, no, it is not. If a patient can be revived, the patient was never dead in the first place. But how can that be if we see no brain waves and the heart has stopped beating? Surely that is dead, isn’t it? If someone was revived from that state, clearly we must say he came back from the dead, no? That is certainly what is commonly believed, but no, we can’t. The success of reviving the victim means that during that state in which it seemed as if biological functions ceased, the functions essential for life in fact remained viable enough to be resuscitated — and therefore the patient never died. Reports of Mark Twain’s death were exaggerated only because he was not dead. The same is true for “miracles” like toddler Gardell Martin who was “dead” for an hour and a half after falling into an ice-cold stream. We are very happy to have him among the living, but he never left us in the first place.

We find this curious state of suspended animation difficult to accept as anything other than dead because we are asking the wrong question about life and death, without ever clearly defining what it means to be alive. Most of us hold deeply and unquestioned the idea that life is all-or-nothing , on or off, live or dead, one or the other, black and white. I mean, something is either alive or dead, end of story. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are in good company in failing to define life. Dating back to the early Greeks and across millennia to modern times, great minds have recoiled from the notion that life might be a matter of degree, because our intuition so strongly demands that something be alive or not. But our intuition serves us poorly here. The problem seems to be that the more rigorously we attempt to define life, the more we encounter ambiguous cases that test our assumptions, stretch the limits of our definitions, and demonstrate where intuition and common sense falter. With even casual observation, the essence of what makes something alive quickly becomes non-intuitive when we are presented by forms that defy easy categorization such as bacterial spores or crystallized virus capsules that can rest inert for centuries before being reanimated. Those viruses would appear to be no more alive than a pile of salt, but we know that only one can be re-introduced into the kingdom of the living.

Iron is Iron

History has failed to give us a good definition of life precisely because life was viewed not as this continuum from inanimate to animate, but as a huge leap from one to the other. To be alive meant having a special essence, something beyond the normal mechanisms that governed inorganic chemistry and physics. Invoking “vital forces” to explain life endures today in much of the general public. But vitalism, this endowing the living with a life force, is tautological, and explains nothing. If something is alive, it must have a life force; if it is dead, a life force must be absent. That is circular, not helpful.

We now know that no life force exists. The laws of physics and chemistry are indifferent to our struggle to define life, and operate identically on the same principles whether we deem something to be living or dead. The carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, iron and other atoms that come together to form our bodies are just that: the same elements that are found in the iron skillet in our kitchens and the nitrogen in the soil fertilizing our gardens. The atoms in our bodies are not special or endowed with any properties different from the atoms in every object around us. Iron is iron is iron, whether attached to hemoglobin in our blood or flaking off the hull of a rusting ship.


A continuum describes a whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division. The best example is visible light. You know without hesitation when something is green or blue, but cannot say exactly when one color yields to the next. Any attempt to define where one color ends and the other begins becomes arbitrary because green turns to blue across a smooth gradient of frequencies with no inherent boundaries. A pristine lake might be green-blue or blue-green or turquoise, but not clearly green or blue. This nature of the light applies to the idea of living and non-living as well. If we call green “dead” and blue “alive” we see that no boundary exists between the two because they transition one to the other with no intervening gap.


Atoms deserve special attention since everything we know is an aggregation of atoms, the same in things dead or alive. The simplest and lightest atoms such as hydrogen, helium, and some lithium formed just moments after the Big Bang. A star derives energy from the combining of these lighter elements into heavier elements through nuclear fusion. Our own Sun is currently fusing hydrogen to helium, a process that will occupy most of its lifetime. After the hydrogen supply is depleted, the star will burn helium to form progressively heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, and iron. Up to a point, fusion releases energy and is therefore self-sustaining, which is why we see the sun shining every morning, unless you live in Seattle.

This all relates to life; just hold on a few more seconds. The creation of elements heavier than iron requires the input of energy, and is not self-sustaining. Some other source of energy is needed, and that comes from the explosion of a supernova. A massive star will eventually deplete its energy source of lighter elements. The star will collapse into itself when no longer supported by the release of nuclear energy through fusion. If the original star was sufficiently massive, the collapse will release a huge amount of energy in a spectacular explosion. The resulting supernova supplies the energy necessary to support fusion of nuclei heavier than iron. The explosion also causes a blast wave that ejects the elements into interstellar space. Some of this dust is eventually gathered up in planets, like earth, as new solar systems form. Every single carbon atom in your body, and every carbon atom in the charcoal at the bottom of your barbecue, comes from such interstellar dust.

Nothing Special

Derived from stardust, the elements in your body exhibit no special properties. Carbon is carbon. Nitrogen is nitrogen. Atoms are just atoms, so the old premise that life is made of some special stuff is wrong. But more modern efforts to describe life fall short, too. The most recent edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica offers a typical definition of life as a “state characterized by the ability to metabolize nutrients (process materials for energy and tissue building), grow, reproduce, and respond and adapt to environmental stimuli.” At first, that sounds perfectly reasonable, but the Britannica definition is in fact completely inadequate, as has been every previous attempt.

The Characteristics of Life

Broadly speaking, the following characteristics are usually invoked in various orders and degrees to define life: autonomy; reproduction; stability, change and evolution; resistance to entropy; conversion of matter and energy; metabolism; excretion; movement; autopoiesis; homeostasis; complexity; organization; growth and development; respiration; responsiveness; the presence of a genetic code. The fatal flaws in each of these characteristic called upon to define life all fall into just three simple categories: the traits assigned to life are present in some non-living systems (like growth, in crystals), the traits assigned to life are absent in some living systems (movement - think of sponges), or the traits can only be determined or defined across generations (like evolution or reproduction), depriving us of the ability to determine if the beast before us is alive or not. Every single character or trait that has been used to define life suffers from one or more of these three deficiencies.

Take the presence of a genetic code for example. That would seem to be a pretty good way of defining life because DNA is only found in living things. Wrong. We can extract DNA from fossils, and few would argue that an old bag of bones that has been in the ground for 100,000 years is alive. This type of defect in definition can be found in every one of those categories that so many have invoked to define life.

Beautiful Ambiguity

Let’s return to the idea of colors. Nobody would deny the existence of green or blue, yet nobody can define when one color becomes the other. That inability to draw a clear line between them does not diminish the reality of the two colors. We accept the existence of clearly identified colors even when the transition between colors of light are absent of any clearly delineated boundary. Life is no different. We know at the extremes when something is alive or not, with no ambiguity, just as we know something is green or blue. Other cases are ambiguous, just as we do not know when green becomes blue. A virus could be alive or not, simply depending on your perspective. In some cases, such as viruses, bacterial spores, and prions, defining matter as alive or not becomes arbitrary, an exercise in semantics, rather than a window into the deeper workings of nature. We might be obsessed with attaching a label of “living” to something, but that something simply sits somewhere along a continuum of complexity regardless of the label finally affixed, aloof to our discomfort.

The region along the spectrum of complexity where non-living transitions to living is a zone of ambiguity that exists because life is not an all-or-none phenomenon, and because the stuff of life is the same stuff as non-life. Previous definitions of life have fallen short because of a common commitment to find a unique spark that simply does not exist. Definitions struggled to capture something essential about life that was not found in the non-living world, rather than accept that no such distinction can be found. Definitions of life were meant to reflect something fundamental about nature, rather than serve as a useful tool for categorizing complexity. That is why all have failed.

There is no single unambiguous definition of life. Most examples of life are complex; most metabolize, grow, reproduce, and evolve over time. But not all do, and not all have all of these functions present. Some physical systems also share these same characteristics. That fact is not troubling; it reflects the reality of nature. “Life” is an arbitrary label we apply to distinguish extremes of complexity along a continuum. We know that a block of pure quartz is not alive and that a screeching kid in the restaurant is; whatever label we paste on all those cases in between is a convenient convention, but in no way reflects any fundamental break or division between the living and non-living.

These thoughts are not original, just widely ignored by those outside the field of biology. Josephine Marquand suggested in 1968 that we “avoid the use of the word ‘life’ or ‘organism’ in any discussion of borderline systems.” Norman Horowitz in 1955 and John Keosian in 1964 concluded much the same as here. Even the 1968 Encyclopaedia Britannica stated that “There is no point along the continuum of existence from the simplest atom to the most complex animal, at which a line can be drawn separating life from nonlife.” Notice, however that Marquand, Horowitz and Keosian are not household names, nor is the Britannica observation widely cited. The idea of a continuum of complexity, with simple inorganic systems at one end and the highest life forms at the other, is a bit difficult to digest, and does not satisfy the human need for easy answers. The idea also moves against the grain of our intuition about something being alive or not. So we put up some resistance. But resistance is futile.

With a new perspective on the phenomenon of life, we can look with a more jaundiced eye at claims of death and resurrection in cases like Gardell Martin. We can readily reject statements like “death is in fact fully reversible” when we know that life is a continuum along a spectrum of complexity, with no simple on-off switch. Those revived were never dead, the switch was never turned off - just dimmed to below our ability to see, waiting to be re-energized. Let’s move away from this rather silly idea of victims coming back from “the beyond” and leave Zombies, the walking dead and resurrection to Hollywood and Sunday sermons. You can’t come back from a place you’ve never been.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Sanders Digs In, Clinton Calls for Unity in Spat Over Qualifications

Good for her. She's what one calls in Yiddish a MENCH! Bernie is a scold and he just lost whatever chance he might have had to take the oval. He NEVER will because he stooped to Republican speak and refuses to ameliorate things which she is doing. It is in her interest and OURS, of course, to keep the Democratic Party in tact. For his sour punishing with no regret comments he just lost whatever chance he had to be president. Personally, although I like his views, I thought he had zero chance and now even more so.

IF there is a candidate who is more qualified than the Secretary of State Clinton I do NOT know who it is. Sanders is living in dream world much like Trump. As president one cannot waive a magic wand and wish things to be so. One has to be able to walk a line and negotiate. Am I telling Senator Sanders anything he does not know? I think I may be and THAT is reason number one he is not going to walk into the oval. I am voting Hillary and wish I could twice because she is so very experienced and pragmatic. One must be to get things done. Senator Sanders stop scolding and start exuding the humanity you say you have in policy but I do not see in reality. Do not alienate Democrats UNITE them!

My finance professor relative says this: "Bernie Sanders should not be President, he is too old and he is also not entirely correct; in a way, his mantra about breaking up banks is just as stupid as Trump demanding the Mexicans pay for a wall; unintended consequences. Banks will break themselves up- it is called divesting, or spinoffs, when market forces and regulations make it advantageous to do so. In the same way that Treasury just prevented a huge tax inveersion by changing the rules. You did not need Congress for that. Look up the Pfizer-Allergan deal that was just blown up; they planned to merge, move the HQ to Ireland (where Allergan is) and thus avoid paying US taxes, Treasury got serious and made, or enforced rules that require US Corporations to not do that. They could have done this earlier for other companies, too, and maybe they will in retrospect.

Now the M & A (mergers and acquisitions) guys will work on other deals, like breaking up Pfizer instead of merging it. Pfizer shares went up yesterday. The company will still do what it can to maximize profits, which is their job. Same thing with banks. Change the rules a bit and they will diversify all by themselves; no need the “break them up”, whatever that means- this was done to ATT in the old days BTW.

The size of the bank is not the main problem, it is what they might do to embrace too much risk that is."

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Conservative Abortion Conundrum

Donald Trump was asked a question by Chris Matthews he was not prepared to answer. Trump, having supported a woman's right to choose all of his life, was tripped up by his new-found right-to-life mantra considering a fetus the same as one would consider the murder of a fully-formed human being. The problem is the so called "Right to Life" position is rather difficult to defend. If Roe v. Wade is overturned then what should the punishment be if one disobeys the law? Who does one punish?

SCOTUS in 1973 extended the right of pregnancy termination to the woman in whose body the fetus resides. If this is overturned and abortion becomes illegal does the state punish the doctor performing the abortion, the mother having it, or the friends, partner or husband who brought the woman to it? Moreover, how much of a penalty would the "guilty" parties pay? Does the state punish her/them with a fine or imprisonment for 1 day, 1 week, 1 year or 2 or 3 or 4 or more? If a fetus is considered a "person" then should not the punishment for killing a person be death? Trump could not answer. He could not answer because he never thought about the question. When he did think about it Trump came up with the nebulous answer that there should be some punishment. When Matthews quickly pressed him who should be punished and for how long Trump grumbled out quickly "we have to figure it out but the woman, yes, she should be punished." The teen, Tanya Niemi, who asked the abortion question never knew she may have delivered a fast ball right over the plate to the candidate of the Narcissist Party for which he was unprepared and therefore, could not answer. She may have destroyed his campaign as he tried, for the first time, to walk his answer back.

Really, Donald, you believe there should be SOME punishment for the woman making this important decision? How much punishment, Chris Matthews asked, but the candidate of the Narcissist Party did not know. The Republican Party has made their social issues bed and now Donald Trump and the rest of the sad Republican group has to lie in a very uncomfortable one. To Republicans, ALL Republicans, abortion is murder and Roe v. Wade to them must be overturned. To court any other view is Republican heresy.

Please allow me to refresh memories of the glory days of illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade saved lives. In that era sex before marriage was taboo and verboten. In that era a woman who had unprotected sex lived in terror of becoming pregnant and worse that the man who made her pregnant would leave her. There were movies then where the most egregious sin was that the girl became pregnant before marriage. I take you on a trip down Scarlett Letter memory lane to Torquemada torture films like "Blue Denim" with Brandon DeWilde and Carol Lynley or "A Summer Place" with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue where the sinners of sex before marriage were racked with guilt as to what to do when the girl became pregnant.

Abortion was illegal then except if one had money and connections one could find a doctor somewhere sometimes even in Europe who would perform it or another here who would say it was a D&C when it really was an abortion. Women who were poor and did not know those tricks or could not afford them were relegated to quack abortionists, unsterile conditions, coat hangers, future sterility and even death from poisoning or they could have a child when they could not afford one. There were even homes for unwed mothers like one in Boston called "The House of the Good Shepherd" where my mother said "bad girls went." Yes let's return to the STUPIDITY of that era when abortion was illegal.

Mores have loosened up since then. Pregnancy before marriage is not the egregious sin it once was and fathers through their DNA confessional legally bear some of the responsibility for support of their child -- unless, of course, they skip then the state (Republicans love so much--NOT) will help shoulder the burden.

NO ONE but no one is mandating one have an abortion if it is against one's belief system. It, though, is a personal decision choice and the Supreme Court said it was. If you do not want an abortion by all means do NOT have one but leave your conservative conundrums to yourself and my choice about my own body to me!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Arsenic or Ebola.

Hugh Hewitt, conservative extraordinaire, was on MSNBC commenting on the Wisconsin primary results. Why he was on not once but twice I have NO idea. He said Cruz is one who could win against Hillary Clinton.because the Supreme Court is in play.

Really?? Really MSNBC?. Why have that conservative Cretan on a progressive channel talking smack? If that ugliness happens that Cruz takes a cruise into the Oval Office I'm off to Antarctica. Cruz the right wingnut extremist will NOT take the presidency even IF Hillary does not win Wisconsin tonight.

In one week Wisconsin will be a distant memory that 1/2 the electorate will not remember. If you ask the man on the street who knows who won Michigan they would not know.. Cruz will NOT beat Hillary. That prediction I will not have to walk back. Perhaps I was a little too quick predicting Wisconsin. The exit polls were looking much better for Hillary which is why I made what looks like a rather inept Wisconsin prediction...Okay I'm wrong on Wisconsin but I will NOT be wrong on the presidency if Cruz is the Republican nominee.He will NOT walk into the Oval. It is a choice on the Republican side between arsenic and Ebola!