Tuesday, April 22, 2014


So as the encouraging figures for the number of people previously without health insurance now getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act are reported, there's been a chorus of "cooking the books" from the right.  Which reminds me of the right's reaction to encouraging job numbers back in October 2012 just before the 2012 election - the exact same phrase "cooking the books" was being thrown about by Fox News and others on the right.

I see this as the same dynamic that leads rightwingers to claim that scientists' reports on global warming are somehow falsified.  I haven't seen the same phrase "cooking the books" used in this context, but the claim is the same: that data is being manipulated to serve a political agenda.

So why would rightwingers make these accusations, when it's clear (to most of us) that government bureaucrats are doing a professional and disinterested job of collecting and reporting data, and climate scientists too are collecting and reporting data, and (disinterestedly) telling us the implications for the planet's future they honestly infer from their findings?

I suggest that the right wing mind doesn't comprehend disinterested collection and analysis of data - that the question "What's in it for me?" is the animating consideration for a rightwinger, and that they are ready to bend facts to point to a desired end.  (Remember "unskewing the polls" before the 2016 election?)  So when facts and figures point in a direction they don't like, they assume that those collecting and analysing data are doing what they themselves would do - falsify to gain an end.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Apples

When I see what the Koch brothers are doing to undermine our democracy, I think it's time for President Obama and the Democratic Party to resurrect Theodore Roosevelt's term for such people: "Malefactors of great wealth."

Friday, August 9, 2013

Snowden in Russia

I see the administration is upset that Russia granted Snowden asylum for a year.

Let's imagine a Russian who blew the whistle on Russian domestic intelligence gathering landed in New York requesting asylum, and Russia demanded his return.

Would we send him back?

Sauce for the gander and all that...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Irresponsible Journalism

Imagine if during WWll a newspaper had published a story revealing how our knowledge of German codes had enabled us to avoid a submarine attack.  Would that be considered responsible journalism?  Because of course, the Germans would have changed their codes, meaning that we would not have had warning of another attack.

This week we read that our ability to tap a conference call among Al Qaida leaders alerted us to a new terrorist threat.  Was it responsible journalism to report that fact?  Can't we now anticipate that Al Qaida will find another way to communicate with each other, closing off what could ave been a valuable source of intelligence about future planned attacks?

The Guantanamo Conundrum

As we know (or should know), many of the prisoners held by the US at Guantanamo Bay are completely innocent.

Some of the innocent have been released, but many are still there, and the conditions under which they have been held have (understandably) radicalized them.

So here's the conundrum:  what is the morally right thing to do with people who would never have posed any threat to us if we had left them alone, but now that we have imprisoned and tortured them could be a threat to us if we released them?

Obama Still Weak on Jobs

In his July 24 address at Knox College, President Obama once again put out exactly the wrong message when he took credit for " cut(ting) the deficit by nearly half as a share of the economy since I took office."  As economists have pointed out, we should  be increasing government spending rather than cutting it (see below), even if in the short run we increase the federal deficit, as our present policies are slowing our economic recovery, and prolonging the high rate of prolonged unemployment that is ruining so many lives.  

What should the president be saying?  Well, things haven't changed enough  to make my posts of March 2011 and May this year outdated.

Agreeing With Boehner

It's not often I agree with John Boehner, but when he said, "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal", I was in complete accord.

There are thousands of laws in existence, and I've often wondered how many of those laws are still useful.  I would think one function of Congress would be to examine past laws, and repeal or amend those that have become outdated, and certainly to repeal those laws that do actual harm.

As candidates for repeal, I would first nominate the stupid, painful and damaging sequester, and second the federal drug laws that criminalize private recreational behavior,  are the drivers of much of the nation's criminal  activity, and have resulted in the US having the world's highest proportion of its citizens imprisoned.