November 25, 2015
A Legal Question

From the New York Times:

One of those bills — which has been supported by Koch Industries, libertarians and business groups — would make wholesale changes to certain federal criminal laws, requiring prosecutors to prove that suspects “knew, or had reason to believe, the conduct was unlawful,” and did not simply unknowingly violate the law.

Many laws already carry such a requirement — known as “mens rea” — but Congress left it out of many others, and libertarian groups say that has made it too easy to unknowingly violate obscure laws. Some environmentalists argue, however, that the real motive of Charles Koch, the philanthropist and the company chairman, in supporting the legislation is to block federal regulators from pursuing potential criminal actions against his family’s network of industrial and energy companies, a charge the company denies.

Any lawyers out there? Whatever happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:29 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (3)
Legal Absurdities
November 23, 2015
Paranoia Strikes Deep

Events continue to prove the truth of FDR’s pronouncement that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. The paranoid style in American politics reflects that in American life, as Dave Weigel reports:

One week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Diane Lochocki drove with her boyfriend from New York to the New Hampshire State House. Ben Carson was filing for the presidential primary, and Lochocki, 78, wanted to see him. It was time for a new president, one who actually took the threat of radical Islam seriously.

“Terrorists are insidious people,” Lochocki said. “Your neighbor could be one and you wouldn’t know. I feel we should close our borders until we get the rest of the world under control. If that’s inhumane, then I’m inhumane. You think what you want.”

Right, if only Obama had the nerve and the courage, which he might were he to have been born white, we would even now have the world under control, and there would be nothing to fear.

Carson would seem to be the perfect candidate for Ms. Lochocki, given the shared lack of concern for others’ opinions when they fail to validate one’s paranoia. The good doctor, whose basic selling point to his audience is his oft-repeated disdain for political correctness, is exactly what the Republican party needs (which is why we’ve heard of him): an African-American man who started at the bottom of the economic ladder yet made it to a high peak in his profession, proving by his example that institutional racism is a thing of the past, nothing more than the fever dreams of those cowed by political correctness. He tells right-wingers that they don’t need to consider other people when they speak and act, which is what they’ve always done anyway but these days civilization has advanced to the point that there are sometimes unpleasant social repercussions.

Dr. Ben demonstrates by his candidacy that knowledge, skill, and talent are dispensable attributes for presidential candidates who have a following composed almost entirely of Right-Wing Authoritarians. One of the things Bob Altemeyer demonstrated experimentally about RWAs is that they’re very good at categorizing information so that beliefs can remain unchallenged. They also tend to believe that someone else truly believes what they say if the RWAs agree with what was said, even when they’ve been warned that the other person was instructed to say that. This explains, for example, why obviously insincere protestations, especially of faith, are widely accepted as genuine, and why revelations of embellishments and exaggerations in Carson’s autobiography have no effect on his support. His obvious inability even to conceptualize the role of President, let alone assume it, seems to be draining his numbers a little, but like The Donald he has a core group of supporters that is unlikely to abandon his candidacy, and in his case this is literally a religious quest for most of his audience.

I suppose it goes without saying that if you had media channels to a bunch of high scorers on Altemeyer’s RWA scale you could put together a very profitable enterprise, such as a mail/email operation that sold, say, inspiring tales of success and belief. Complaining about the historical accuracy of such tales would be succumbing to political correctness.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at 1:03 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Political Commentary
November 21, 2015
Being Who We Are!

You have to hand it to Ben Carson, he has a signature style, a unique and instantly recognizable brand. Between him and Trump the Republican race is immensely entertaining this time round. Though I have to admit that after predicting that he’d go nowhere and enjoying watching my prediction come true, I’ve found myself feeling a bit sorry for poor Jeb!, so clearly in over his head and gradually realizing that he’ll never live this down, his brother will throw it at him every chance there is.

But Dr. Ben is simply hilarious. His complete innocence of information on the Middle East, for example, and his inclusion of Dewey Clarridge as an advisor speak volumes about his belief in the primacy of information itself in contrast to ideological or philosophical stances. He seems to be an intuitive-leaper type, which is a scary prospect in a hypothetical President when coupled with such a breathtaking lack of interest in knowledge or study, an ignorance of the fouding values he purports to represent, and a logically consistent but deeply disgraceful attitude of discrimination against those he has decided to fear, all of whom are apparently conflated in his simplistic conception so that he’s willing publicly to utter a statement like this.

In Mobile, Carson said: “Islam itself is not necessarily our adversary.” But Americans were justified in seeing threats from Muslim refugees and the US shouldn’t “completely change who we are as Americans just so we can look like good people”.

Okay, first, “not necessarily”? Meaning what: unless they wanna be, and in that case bring it on?

Second, refugees are a threat? No, they’re running from the threat and we either help them or we turn away. Are we overwhelmed by our own fears to the point that we cannot help others? Do we believe that by hurting others we can live longer?

But the most telling bit is the final one. I think he speaks for many when agreeing that we most certainly would not want to deny who we are just so we’d look like good people. We’re bad-ass, and we’re proud! That, in a nutshell, is the nut who goes for Carson, the bad-ass Christian.

Despite the reports that the good Doctor is running at the behest of the Almighty, I continue to support the theory that the whole Carson campaign is a direct- and electronic-mail scam that went sideways. But now it seems like the barker might even believe he’s got a chance, and that ups the hilarity a notch. Given, of course, that we all know he has zero percent chance of winning. Right?


Posted by Chuck Dupree at 8:04 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Political Commentary
Round and Round We Go

Here, to show how far we haven’t come as a nation, is the late and inimitable Molly Ivins, from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram of May 11, 1997:

You can’t get a decent deal with people who don’t want the government to work. They don’t want it to work well; they don’t want to work at all. The Shiite Republicans aren’t interested in fixing government – they want to destroy it.

Why let them? Why let them abolish the tax credit for investing in low-income housing when we continue to subsidize housing for Donald Trump, who gets to write off the interest on his family mansion, his New York condo, his place in the country, his villa in Aspen, his townhouse in Miami, and his grand estate in Palm Beach? Why cut the capital-gains tax and the estate tax (so rich folks will invest more, explain the R’s), when the R’s aren’t willing to invest even $5 billion of the $112 billion needed to repair schools in this country? You tell me what’s a better investment.

I think Clinton should give up on trying to make deals with these folks and just start kicking ass. And do we think he will? Of course not. Pol to the bone.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 12:40 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
America is Doomed | Economics and Society | Historical Perspectives
November 18, 2015
The Nerve of Those Syrians…

From the New York Times:

UNITED NATIONS — A New York-based human rights organization is accusing the Syrian government of flouting international law by killing health workers, bombing hospitals and blocking lifesaving aid from entering a strategic city in northern Syria that was held by the opposition groups.
…Who do they think they are, Americans?


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:09 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | War on "Terror" | Weakening America
Think About This…

…and incidentally, what's up with New Zealand? I was counting on moving in with you guys if Trump won. From the Undernews:

The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion, according to the market research firm Kantar Media.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:31 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Regulation for the Benefit of Public Health, Safety and Welfare
November 16, 2015
The Past Is Ever With Us

Back in June of 2000, in the earliest days of Bad Attitudes, I posted the following. Unfortunately it has aged well, and so here it is again:

Take it from Thorstein Veblen, the hard times, they are a-coming. The tip-off is that the minimum wage is edging up by a few niggardly pennies.

Professor Veblen published “The Theory of Business Enterprise” in 1904, during a period of business consolidation similar to our own. The consolidators of the day were known as “Lords of Creation,” but not because they created anything. They merely absorbed one another amoeba-fashion, as Time-Warner and America Online have just done. The principal object of the Lords was not to create anything new and useful, but rather to siphon money out of already existing corporations and into the pockets of those who controlled them. This resulted, then as now, in a peculiar form of surface prosperity that never seems to get down to the men and women who actually do the nation’s work.

Here is how Professor Veblen viewed the rising tide which in his day was lifting all yachts.*

To the workmen engaged in industry, particularly, substantial benefits accrue from an era of prosperity. These benefits come, not in the way of larger returns for a given amount of work, but more work, fuller employment, at about the earlier rate of pay. To the workmen it often means a very substantial gain if they can get a fuller livelihood by working harder or longer, and an era of prosperity gives them a chance of this kind.

Gradually, however, as prosperity — that is to say, the advancing price level — rises and spreads, the increased cost of living neutralizes the gain due to fuller employment, and after the era of prosperity has been under way for some time the gain in the amount of work obtainable is likely to be fairly offset by the increased cost of living.

As noted above, much of the business advantage gained in an era of prosperity is due to the fact that wages advance more tardily than the prices of goods. An era of prosperity does not commonly bring an increase of wages until the era is about to close. (Emphasis added.)

The advance of wages in such a case is not only a symptom indicating that the season of prosperity is passing, but it is a business factor which must by its own proper effect close the season of prosperity as soon as the advance in wages becomes somewhat general. Increasing wages cut away the securest ground of that differential price advantage on which an era of prosperity runs.”

* This figure of speech, now a political cliché, was originally used by Walter Mondale during his 1984 presidential campaign against Mr. Reagan. At least I thought it was original when I wrote it, and will continue to think so unless someone can point me to an earlier occurrence. I hope no one can, as this is the only cliché birth to which I imagine myself ever to have given.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:04 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
America is Doomed | Economics and Society | Historical Perspectives
November 12, 2015
Your Tax Dollars at Work

This is from We Meant Well. A pdf of the complete report is here.

Shaker Aamer was just released, after 13 years in captivity, from Guantanamo, and returned to Britain. His wife lives there, and he has permanent residence there. He was never charged with anything by the United States, simply kept. Here is what was done to him over the course of his 13 years at Gitmo.


Click image to enlarge

Are you proud to be an American yet?

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:22 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Police State | War on "Terror" | Weakening America
November 10, 2015
Words I Wish I Had Written

From the New York Times:

In the same town, a man was caught in a police sting operation while having carnal relations with show hogs. We had never even heard of show hogs, so our friend Martha Foose, a Delta-born cookbook writer, had to explain. “We have beauty pageants for our swine,” she said. “And they get those hogs dolled up. They shave their underparts, curl their eyelashes, buff their little trotters, and I guess it’s more than some guys can stand. I call it ‘dating down the food chain.’



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 10:11 AM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Reveling in the Weird
November 09, 2015
Who’s in Charge Here…

Further evidence of where the real power lies in higher education. Next thing you know the jocks will go on strike till the adjunct faculty gets paid a living wage. Oh, sorry. Next time wake me up when I drift off dreaming.

The president of University of Missouri resigned Monday amid criticism over his handling of complaints regarding racial bias and racist slurs on campus, acknowledging “the frustration and anger” that he saw among students “is real.”

Tim Wolfe said the termination of his position would be effective immediately. The announcement came at a special meeting of the university system’s governing body, the Board of Curators.

For months, black student groups have complained about racial slurs and bias within the system’s overwhelmingly white flagship campus in Columbia. Their efforts got a boost over the weekend when more than 30 black football players announced they wouldn’t participate in team activities until Wolfe was removed.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:44 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
American Heroes | Education | Sports
October 31, 2015
If the Great Pumpkin Really Visited…

By now you’ve no doubt heard about the spooky asteroid about to make a near-earth pass.

But if we actually pause, and dare, to consider the implications for more than a brief moment as the asteroid flies by, they’re pretty scary.

Not that the asteroid, TB145 or the Great Pumpkin to its friends, will hit Earth or even threaten to, nor that it does from certain angles have a pair of depressions that mimic eye holes in a skull. Nor that it happens to pass us on Halloween. What’s scary is when it was discovered, which was October 10. Of this year. Three weeks ago. And this one’s twenty times larger than the one near Chelyabinsk in 2013 whose impact was estimated at 20-30 times the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb. And that one hit at a shallow angle so most of the impact was on the atmosphere; had it struck more head-on, or more directly above a heavily populated area, there would undoubtedly have been more than the actual 1,500 injuries and 7,200 buildings damaged.

Chelyabinsk was undetected until it hit. TB145 we detected three weeks before it passes nearby. Chelyabinsk was 20 Hiroshimas; TB145 would therefore be looking at something like 400 Hiroshimas.

And while the toll of death and destruction created by the asteroid’s impact would be horrific, nearly unimaginable, let us speculate briefly about what life would be like on Earth should something the size of TB145 be discovered heading directly for us, impact in three weeks. Given the vagaries of impact and our lack of knowledge of the asteroid it would probably be impossible to predict the effects of impact; would it break up on contact with our atmosphere or become a bullet headed for the planetary core or what? And while we could see this immense destruction heading our way we’d likely have no idea which part of the planet would be most affected; an explosion 18 miles up like Chelyabinsk would scatter its effects differently than one that impacted more directly. Would it hit in the middle of the Pacific, the Amazon, Manhatten, Prague, Lagos, Siberia, Beijing? We wouldn’t be able to predict precisely where one should go for shelter, other than underground, which has its own fears and dangers. Where would the super-rich go? Could they put themselves in orbit long enough to ride out the physical and social upheaval? It quickly goes all science-fiction-y on us. Panic would be widespread, but no one would be certain where to run. Now that would be a scary Halloween.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at 6:39 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (4)
News/Current Events
Lying in State

A propos of nothing, here’s a piece I did for The Harvard Crimson in 1986 while I was teaching there:

Several years ago scores of passengers came down with severe diarrhea after eating a meal aboard a Japan Air Lines jet. It turned out that a food handler at a stopover in Alaska had caused the outbreak by coming to work, in violation of airline rules, with an infected cut on his thumb.

Just one of those things, and, fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. Until a few days later, when the Japanese executive in charge of JAL’s food service department apologized to everyone concerned by committing suicide.

Americans react differently to these matters. After the leaky booster rocket made by his company caused Challenger to explode, the chairman of Morton Thiokol was asked if he should have resigned. His name is Charles S. Locke. Here is what Mr. Locke said: “You explain to me why I should.”

We don’t go in much for kid stuff like personal responsibility or honor, here in the Land of the Setting Sun.

And so I was mildly surprised a few weeks ago to read that Bernard Kalb, a former newsman, had resigned as State Department spokesman on what sounded a good deal like a point of honor. It was like seeing a cow eat a chocolate bar: no physical reason why the thing can’t be done, but you don’t run across it every day.

What you run across most days is what issued immediately from President Ronald Reagan, a former actor and labor union leader, Secretary of State George Shultz, a former economics professor and businessman, and National Security Advisor John Poindexter, an admiral. All three appeared to endorse lying so enthusiastically that you came away with the idea that it was not only the salvation of the Republic, but could probably cure hives as well.

This is of course the general view of the matter in all governments, and in all other bureaucracies, too. Kalb’s action makes him stand out from the crowd like Boy George at a sheriffs’ convention.

No such thing has happened since 1983, actually, when Les Janka quit the White House press office over the lies his superiors were telling about the conquest of Grenada. Before that we have to go back to 1974, when White House Press Secretary Jerald F. terHorst quit after President Ford pardoned Nixon.

Both men, like Kalb, came from news backgrounds. Could it be that former newsmen are marginally more, well, honorable than the rabble of lawyers, lobbyists, military men, bureaucrats, businessmen, and politicians who hold most of the high appointive jobs in any administration? The notion seems so preposterous that I advance it without much confidence…

…Read on

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:07 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (3)
October 28, 2015
Who is this Blumenthal Guy…

…and what awful things was he emailing to Hillary anyway? Dylan Matthews tells us at

And while Clinton has insisted the missives were “unsolicited,” the emails show she regularly sought Blumenthal’s counsel. In a reply to a missive from Blumenthal about the 2010 coalition negotiations in the United Kingdom, she wrote, “I shared your emails w Bill who thought they were ‘brilliant’! Keep ’em coming when you can.”

Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton described then-House Minority Leader John Boehner as “louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle”; attacked the Tea Party for wanting to “divide the nation” until “it won’t look or feel like America”; assailed his former employer, the New Republic, as a “preferred outlet for the highest level Likud/neocon propaganda”; forwarded a piece on the Koch Brothers by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer with the subject line “Yes, there is a vast right wing conspiracy”; sent Clinton a number of articles by his son, the anti-Israel journalist Max Blumenthal; and passed along a memo from his close friend and prominent Clinton ally David Brock describing a plan to impeach Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

This is the first thing I’ve seen that tells us what those emails to Hillary from Sidney Blumenthal actually said. I find it encouraging that Hillary asked for more — and that Bill found them “brilliant.”

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:33 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Political Commentary
October 27, 2015
Unplumbed Depths

One wonders what remains
Inside Trump’s head
That he has had the brains
To leave unsaid.




Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:55 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
American Heroes | Idiots | Immortal Poets | Psychology and Society | Rich White Trash
October 23, 2015
Flush Fund

From We Meant Well:

As Obama fails on another campaign promise, this one to end the war in Afghanistan, and as that war moves into its 15th year, it is important to remember the U.S. has spent around $110 billion (no one knows the exact amount due to poor record keeping) to “rebuild” that beleaguered nation, so far…

As for what the $110 billion of U.S. money could have purchased had it been spent to rebuild America, VICE notes it is enough to dig a new train tunnel under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan, lay a high-speed rail link from San Diego to Sacramento, reconstruct New Orleans’ levees after a storm like Hurricane Katrina, and still have around $10 billion left over to construct a few hundred schools from Chicago to Houston.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 12:32 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (3)
War on "Terror" | Warmongers | Weakening America
October 20, 2015
Behind the Curtain

Here’s Michael Hudson at Naked Capitalism, explaining what all those job-creators are really up to:

Well, companies themselves have been causing this crisis as much as speculators, because companies like Amazon, like Google, or Apple, especially, have been borrowing money to buy their own stock. And corporate activists, stockholder activists, have told these companies, we want you to put us on the board because we want you to borrow at 1 percent to buy your stock yielding 5 percent. You’ll get rich in no time. So all of these stock buybacks by Apple and by other companies at high prices, all of a sudden yes, they can make that money in the short term. But their net worth is all of a sudden plunging. And so we’re in a classic debt deflation.

PERIES: Michael, explain how buybacks are actually causing this. I don’t think ordinary people quite understand that.

HUDSON: Well, what they cause is the runup – companies are under pressure. The managers are paid according to how well they can make a stock price go up. And they think, why should we invest in long-term research and development or long-term developments when we can use the earnings we have just to buy our own stock, and that’ll push them up even without investing, without hiring, without producing more. We can make the stock go up by financial engineering. By using our earnings to buy [their own] stock.

So what you have is empty earnings. You’ve had stock prices going up without really corporate earnings going up. Although if you buy back your stock and you retire the shares, then earning the shares go up. And all of a sudden the whole world realizes that this is all financial engineering, doing it with mirrors, and it’s not real. There’s been no real gain in industrial profitability. There’s just been a diversion of corporate income into the financial markets instead of tangible new investment in hiring.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:05 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Class Warriors | Economics and Society | Graft, Corruption and Malfeasance | Rich White Trash | Weakening America
October 19, 2015
Catch 22

Read this entire story, then get back to me about how this is a Christian country. And don’t skip over the ads. The one below showed up in my download. Who knew Google’s algorithms had a sense of humor?

For Earl Harris, the problem was keeping up. He had a job in prison, cleaning the kitchen, but it paid only $7.50 a month — well short of the $168 the state of Missouri was billing him.

“Didn’t they know I was in prison?” he asks. “Weren’t they the ones that put me in there?”

When he got out in 2001, the unpaid amount was listed on his credit report — and pursued by an agency with the power to garnish 65 percent of his wages, intercept his tax returns, freeze his bank account, suspend his driver’s license and, if he failed to pay, lock him up again.

By then, his debt had surged to more than $10,000.

Harris entered barbering school but soon returned to drug dealing and was thrown back into prison for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, his child-support debt swelled to more than $25,000.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:55 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Legal Absurdities
October 17, 2015
Move Along Folks,

…Nothing to see here. Just filling a vacuum left by Woodward and Bernstein. From Bloomberg Politics:

In 2010, Breitbart News hit a wall. The site published video, furnished by a conservative activist, of a speech to the NAACP by a Department of Agriculture official named Shirley Sherrod, in which she appeared to advocate anti-white racism. Within hours, she was fired, as the story blanketed cable news. It soon became clear that the Breitbart News video was misleadingly edited—that Sherrod’s point was the opposite of what was portrayed Fox News, which aggressively promoted the video, banned Andrew Breitbart as an on-air guest. Bannon, who was raising capital for the site’s relaunch, suddenly encountered “nuclear winter.”

But in a gauge of how media standards have shifted since the ’90s, the ostracization of Breitbart News didn’t last long. Less than a year later, when the site caught Weiner tweeting pictures of his genitals, Andrew Breitbart was welcomed back on Fox News. The experience taught Bannon the power of real news…

Time-strapped reporters squeezed for copy will gratefully accept original, fact-based research because most of what they’re inundated with is garbage. “The modern economics of the newsroom don’t support big investigative reporting staffs,” says Bannon. “You wouldn’t get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. We’re working as a support function.”



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:27 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
October 04, 2015
Counting by Corpses

Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then. Here’s the Donald, from Agence France Presse:

During a separate interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump said that he thought things would be better for the Middle East if Assad were stronger.

He added that he believed the situation in the region would also be much improved if Moamer Kadhafi were still in power in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

If we were a moral country (not that such a phenomenon has ever existed in the history of our species), we would base our foreign policy on a very different metric: the corpse count. How many corpses would Saddam Hussein have created had we left him in power? How many corpses did Cheney, Bush & Co. create instead? What, in possession of this instructive hind sight, should Obama have done in Afghanistan?

Well, you get the idea.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:37 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Afghanistan | Declare Victory And Leave | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | War on "Terror" | Weakening America
September 30, 2015
Feel Free to Eat Your Jesus Fish, Though

Ed, at Gin and Tacos:

The great masses of Americans cling so desperately to their own imagined versions of things like freedom of religion and right to bear arms because those are the only freedoms they can claim without deceiving themselves to have. If those are taken away they would be forced to recognize how truly un-free in any useful sense they are. If people are unable to find work that pays a sufficient amount to cover life’s necessities and to live in a manner and place of their choosing, then all of their many intangible rights and freedoms guaranteed by law provide only a superficial – important, but superficial nonetheless – freedom. We are free, in short, to do whatever we can afford, which, in the majority of cases, is to say “Not much…”

Without implying that the government owes everyone a job of their choosing in the exact location of their choosing, it’s fair to say that if you can’t find work that pays enough to live a life that gives you real choices and options then you are free only in the sense that you are not imprisoned (although there will be plenty of that as well) and nobody can tell you how many Jesus fish and Rush Limbaugh bumper stickers you can put on your car, nor how many expensive guns you can hoard in your meager home that you struggle to afford. Americans obsess over those largely symbolic freedoms, the threats to which exist only in their own imaginations, because even though we dare not admit it we understand that many of us lack anything better.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:25 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
Economics and Society | Psychology and Society
September 27, 2015
Structured Un-Tag

From the Napa Valley Register:

It all started with a social media report earlier this week when a group of parents, responding to what they had heard was a ban on the game of tag in elementary schools, formed a group called “Support ‘tag’ at Recess…”

“Elementary schools draw community backlash for ‘hands off’ at recess,” reported the Mercer Island Reporter. A spokesman for the school district seemed to reinforce the impression with a statement:

“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.

And how about the Pope while we’re at it? Laying on of hands, what’s with that anyway?



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 7:24 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Regulation for the Benefit of Public Health, Safety and Welfare
It’s Not the Money…

…it’s the principle of the thing. From the New York Times:

A test like Judge Diment’s — if individuals can pay, they will once threatened with jail, he asserts — is not unheard-of. Nor, for that matter, is jailing those who cannot pay: A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Hampshire found that the state’s taxpayers paid $167,000 in 2013 to jail people who owed $76,000.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:21 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Civil Liberties | Class Warriors | Legal Absurdities
September 24, 2015
Cops Fail to Kill Troubled Suspect

Sergeant Michael Van Buren is in the right line of work. We first see him starting out with the usual stuff, screaming at an apparently armed woman to hit the ground, drop her weapon. When this doesn’t work we all too often see the officer repeat himself, shouting more and more hysterically until he pumps both himself and the suspect into mindless rage and fear.

But Sergeant Van Buren isn’t a frightened coward. He shifts gear instantly into calm reason and patiently persists. Little by little, minute by minute, a relative calm descends, and at last the situation is brought under control.

Van Buren seems to be a regular Sonny Lee, of whom I’ve written before. Sonny was a short, wide, famously tough detective sergeant in Arlington, Virginia, when I was a police reporter. One day I asked him if he had ever had occasion to draw his gun. “Hell, no,” he said. “Man needs a gun to do this job, he’s in the wrong line of work.”



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:28 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Heroes and Friends | Hope for the Future
September 22, 2015
No Comment

From the New York Times:

Though some Americans have tried to write off the practice of raping boys, which was described in an article in The New York Times on Monday, as a cultural difference between Afghans and Westerners, many Afghans say that they, too, find it shameful and wrong. (In fact, the Taliban banned it when in power.)

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:01 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Our Gain…

…is Wisconsin’s loss:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is back at work at the state Capitol after his abrupt exit from the Republican presidential race.

Walker’s spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said Tuesday that Walker was spending most of his day in briefings with executive staff and he would not make any public appearances.

She says that Walker “looks forward to continuing to work hard for the people of Wisconsin for the remainder of his term.”



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 12:59 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Class Warriors | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans
September 19, 2015
ISIS to Crucify Kid!

No, wait a minute. That would be Saudi Arabia, our BFF:

Saudi Arabia has dismissed the final appeal of a juvenile prisoner set to be crucified. Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr was arrested aged 17 after participating in anti-government protests in 2012. He was accused of protesting illegally and being in possession of firearms.

Ali was initially held at a juvenile offenders’ facility. Reports indicate that he was tortured and signed a confession under duress. The appeal was held in secret and dismissed, with no remaining legal routes of objection to his sentence of “death by crucifixion”, initially handed down on 27 May 2014.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:13 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
September 17, 2015
Bring Back the Draft

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Only four or five Syrian individuals trained by the United States military to confront the Islamic State remain in the fight, the head of the United States Central Command told a Senate panel on Wednesday, a bleak acknowledgment that the Defense Department’s $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters has gone nowhere…
Oh, I know it looks bad, but what if those $125 million or $100 million Syrian individuals turn out to be four or five super troopers? Captain Marvel, for instance. Or Batman. Or Plastic Man. Don’t laugh. It could happen. But actually it won’t.

I know because I spent two years as a private in the finest body of fighting men in the history of the world and the rest of the planetary system as well. President Obama didn’t, or he wouldn't keep falling for the murderous nonsense sold to him by the War Department, as it was once more accurately called. He looks at all those stars glittering on the shoulders of some manly fellow, all those bright ribbons stretching from axilla to sternum, and thinks, Wow, that guy must really have his feces assembled. When I look at the same man I see a second lieutenant, and one who brown-nosed his way to the top. Genuinely smart second lieutenants seldom make it past colonel — that’s the difference between a General Petraeus, say, and a Colonel Wilkerson.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:27 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Declare Victory And Leave | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | The Fall of the Roman American Empire | War on "Terror" | Warmongers | Weakening America
September 16, 2015
A Break For Student Debtors

Do you or your child have heavy student loan debt? Well I have good news for you. This is from the Exit Counseling Guide for borrowers of federal student loans:

If you die, of if you are a parent borrower of a PLUS loan and the student for whom you obtained the loan dies, you may be eligible for a discharge.
How’s that for a deal? If you or your kid dies you may get a discharge!

Now quit complaining and get my nonfat Latte, you entitled whiners.

Posted by OHollern at 11:45 AM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
September 15, 2015
Cough It Up, Folks…

…and pass the link on to your friends, bearing in mind that Zoë Wilson, unlike most charities I could name, has no overhead. The 14-year-old granddaughter of our next-door neighbors recently arrived in Ljubljana, where her biologist father is conducting a year-long conservation study of Slovenian bears (who knew?). So why not?, she figured she might as well buy 32 pairs of shoes and a whole bunch of other neat stuff while she was there. But she still wants more. Can you help her out?

With the money I raised we were able to buy 41 train tickets, sleeping bags, blankets, pads and 32 pairs of shoes. If you want to know more about our days volunteering keep reading! When we first arrived there were not too many people, just beat up tents set up on a large dirt area. I mostly noticed young kids kicking a slightly flat soccer ball, and playing on plastic bikes while their parents watched them.

When we showed up we were met by Hungarian volunteers who had been working around the clock, they showed us where all the storage was. Then we moved all of our donated gear into the makeshift tents. We still had 1000 dollars to use, so my dad and a volunteer named Dora and I drove to the (railway) station where we met other volunteers from Migration Aid. We spent $500 or 135,000 Hungarian forints on 41 train tickets to a small Hungarian city on the Austrian border where the refugees would then be able to walk into Austria. These tickets will be going to people who have absolutely nothing. After this we went to a giant Wal-Mart esc store.

We filled up a cart with men and woman’s shoes. We bought 32 pairs of good walking shoes. When arrived back at camp the volunteers were in shock at how many we had. Shoes were badly needed. After I helped pass out shoes, a wave of people arrived in camp. What had just been quiet was now filled with a buzz of different languages, everyone just asking for help. I found the kids first. Fitting five year olds with new pants, jackets and shoes, “miss, miss please” was a phrase that filled my ears.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:10 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Hope for the Future
Poor Baby

Over at The National Review, Jonah Goldberg is terribly upset. Over here, I’m not:

How many Republicans have been deemed unfit for the Oval Office because of comparatively minor character flaws or ideological shortcomings? Rick Perry in 2012 saw his candidacy implode when he couldn’t remember the third item on his checklist of agencies he’d close down. Well, even in that “oops” moment, Rick Perry comes off as Lincolnesque compared with Donald Trump…

Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 2:43 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
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