Monday, November 29, 2010

When Reality is Bad Enough

My dad's been pretty quiet - but here's a new one.

  • Who lives in a house

  • like this? Soon the
  • world will know. 

  • Imagine 

  • who would have such taste and live in such

  • opulence? An American Billionaire?  A Saudi

  • Prince?  Louis XIV of France?

    Have a good look at these pictures, then scroll  to

  • the bottom of  the page to see who owns this work

  • of Art. 


         This Mansion is in

  • Harare and belongs to:      The President of

  • Zimbabwe - Robert Mugabe - 
    While his people starve, they do not have food,
     and die because of no medical

  •   help... And we are asked to help his people over and over again.. He and his

  • family live like this....... his GREED kills his people.....
    If you send this to everyone you know,

  •  (gjerne ogsÃ¥ til Erik Solheim), they

  • can send it to everyone they know:

  •  Soon the whole world will knowwhat

  • this man is doing to his people.  


    The citizens he supposedly serves?  




    "For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing."
    - Edmund Burke

I'll save you the effort of looking this one up on Snopes - You've seen this house before.  It's a commonly used set in cinema.  It is a real house, but it's in California.  And Mugabe doesn't own it.

Here's a picture of one of his homes.  Who's value, according to a source that describes the home, is about 8 million pounds. That's 16 million dollars to us American folks.  Unfortunately, photography is strictly prohibited.  A good reason why only aerial photos are available.

And, if that isn't enough, the picture on your right is a photo of his retirement home in Hong Kong.  Nice place.  According to Time Magazine, it could have been yours last year for about 5.7 dollars.  Too bad he beat you to it, huh?

Quite frankly, why do viral emailers need to manufacture facts?  Oftentimes, the reality is bad enough.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nah. It Has Nothing To Do With His Being Black.

Of course, all racist right-wing statements start with "Race has nothing to do with this but..."

This one doesn't even bother.

Again, posted to make you aware.  Sorry.  Can't make this funny.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Help! It's The Right-Wing Thomas Jefferson Zombie!

One rhetorical tool that's always annoyed me has been the quotation of "founding fathers".  It seems that, these days, when anyone wants to make a political point, they pick up a book of quotations, find a quote from a founding father that remotely connects to the point they're trying to make, and let it fly.

That way, when someone argues against the point, they look unpatriotic.  After all, who can argue with a founding father?

Well, most people can.  The fact is, the founding fathers often disagreed with one another.  And often said things that, in retrosepect, seem downright wrongheaded.

The founding fathers were only human.  Most of them realized it.  Their genius was not in their individual quotations.  It is the fact that they built consensus around a system of government that, for the most part, allowed differences among the people to be settled without resorting to shooting one another.  Or by dictators enforcing peace by repressing the people.  It really is a remarkable thing.

So, why did I digress into this?

Well, my father's sent me a bunch of quotes from Thomas Jefferson.  It turns out he was quite a right-wing posterchild.

Until you check and see if Thomas Jefferson actually said them.  I've taken the liberty (ahem) of using posts from the Thomas Jefferson Library to check our facts.  I figure that real historians will be pretty impartial on whether a quote is real, or from a Right-Wing Thomas Jefferson Zombie.

Ready?  Away we go...

A founding father's wisdom,  still appropriate today.................especially today!

How did Jefferson know?
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
This was quoted correctly.
Especially read the last quote from 1802.
Spoiler:  He said it in 1937.  After calling for another heapin' helpin' of brains.

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe .
Thomas Jefferson
The full quote is, "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe."

So, is our zombie friend suggesting we give up high technology, and live on the land?  If so, will he give up on forwarding viral email?

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson
The first time this quote was attributed to Thomas Jefferson was in 1986.  Well after his zombiefication.
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson
He actually said this, in a letter to Destutt de Tracy.  It does make sense.  I wish people from both sides of the aisle would follow it.  But, still, I wonder whether Jefferson would want quotes from his personal letters treated as divine scripture.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson
The Jefferson-Zombie has changed the words a little bit, from a letter to Thomas Cooper.   But even Thomas Jefferson scholars had trouble finding it.  This was not a major publication.
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
Thomas Jefferson
0% Thomas Jefferson.  100% Jefferson-Zombie.
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Thomas Jefferson
This was in Jefferson's first draft of the Virginia constitution.  There were two other drafts.  None of 'em made it in.  Such is the nature of democracy.  We debate ideas - we don't deify them.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Thomas Jefferson
Zombie-Jefferson strikes again - the real Thomas Jefferson never said it.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson
A famous quote.  Not meant as a governing principle though.  Obviously.
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
Thomas Jefferson
Uh, oh.  There's some bad juju here.  He used some similar wording in the "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom".  In which it was stated that the government could not compel it's citizens to donate to a church, or ministry.  So, a statement for the separation of church and state is now a statement that no one should give tax money to things they don't like?  Sorry - he never said that.  And I can't imagine how such a government would function.
Thomas  Jefferson said in 1802:
'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.'
Perhaps, they meant "Zombie-Jefferson was first quoted in 1937 as saying"?  Come on folks, the concepts of inflation and deflation didn't exist in Jefferson's time.
I'll do my part!
I did mine.   I'd like to think that I'm respecting the beliefs of the founding fathers.  At least, more than the folks who make up self-serving quotes under their name.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frequently Assumed Falsehoods: My Chat with a Birther

My dad hasn't been sending me many emails lately.  Actually, this is probably a good thing - I'd like to see him doing stuff other than obsessing over this stuff.

Fortunately, an acquaintance of mine gave me enough material to write a different article.

Usually, this friend seems pretty normal.  Which is why this message surprised me.
Impeachment !!!!

How much more proof is needed?

Obama admits not being born in Hawaii .   (He made this statement before he learned that he had to be a natural born in this country to "citizens" of this country........We may not be as crazy as the press would want us to be.)  Circulate this before they yank it from the internet.

Will some one tell me why this guy is not being impeached??? 
 If you just watch the first 30 seconds your mouth will drop open.

 Obama admits he is not a citizen
Hmmm...maybe the "birthers' are on to something...
Watch it before it’s pulled!
The birther phenomenon has always fascinated me.  The proof of President Obama's citizenship is overwhelming, in my opinion (details later).  And, yet, birthers persist.  Kind of like the folks who still believe that the earth is flat.  But, until now, I didn't think I knew any real birthers.  Even my father only said that they should look into it, and only because he'd rather see him impeached.  Whether the charges are true or not.

But let's set aside the "trying to overrule a legitimate election" thing.  If my friend was the real thing, I wanted to learn more.

I'm curious - I don't run into many real "birthers".

What, to you, would be considered proof that Obama was born in the US?

Here are some folks who've actually looked at the documents:

She replied:

Really Scott, why should we look for any more proof (he was born in the US) when he has already admitted HERE he was born in Kenya?  Did you watch the excerpts where he admitted he was born in Kenya? What's up with that? This email proves he was born in Kenya because he is in the picutre speaking about being born in Kenya. Sorry if I seem contentious. Our Constitution does not allow an alien to sit as president.  He  needs to be IMPEACHED!!! and quit occupying the White House.

Oh, boy.  Yes, I did see the video.  It was an obvious forgery.  I even looked into it further and replied:

Really?  I thought the video was a very obvious forgery.  (And in the beginning, it was intended to be, it turns out.)  They explain it here even better than I can.

So, why do you insist on believing in a video with very obvious changes in pitch, the fact that his face isn't visible during key admissions, there's no reaction from the audience that was seated RIGHT THERE in the audience, the fact that no news organization (not even Fox News) picked it since it's been up in March?  And why ignore all of other evidence that he's a citizen?

Again, why do people seem to grasp at any excuse to believe that he's not a citizen?  Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

Please explain.
She replied:

I perused the Obama clip again.  It doesnt seem bogus to me. I dont put much credence in East Coast or West Coast political views. Yes, there are different takes in the clip; that dosnt make it bogus.
We have studied Islam forty years.  Obama is a muslim.  Muslims hate Jews. Goes back to Ishmael and Jacob----brothers, but not the same mother. The mother of Ishmael was Egyptian. Jacobs's mother ( and wife of Abraham) was a Jew. The hatred has lasted thousands of years. It will never end-----until Messiah comes.
The old adage------"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck............).
Obama is a muslim and muslims hate Jews. Dont look for him to do anything for Israel. 

Okay...  Got it.  She's got that special edition of the bible that says Obama is a Muslim.  Forget the fact that his family and Reverend Wright's church go back for decades.  Forget the fact that he's publicly been seen drinking, and has never been seen observing any dietary restrictions, observing Muslim Sabbath or Ramadan, attending calls to prayer, or making a pilgimage to Mecca.  And forget that this video is a very obvious forgery.

We're clearly in crazy-land now.  Maybe a little bit of talk will bring her back to rationality.  Because I really do want to understand this movement...

The original author of the video has admitted it was meant as a joke.  Don't know what else need to be said.  Unless you think Superman and Avatar were real too, because you saw them on film.

I didn't vote for Obama either.  I just think the energy of the "birther" movement would be much better spent on debating his policies, than debating the overwhelming evidence in favor of the fact that he's a citizen.

She gets a little more rational.  But only a little.

I dont mean to belabor this topic, but would you send me the link that will prove the "original author of the video admitted it was a joke"?  Although Obama does come close to being a cartoon character, unfortunately he is real.
The energy of the birthers HAS been spent on debating his policies, but it has fallen on deaf ears.  Some Americans are now waking up, but it is too late.  They  awoke in Oz. 

Like I said, only a little.  And, clearly, she didn't read my original reference to the video.  So, I spelled it out for her:

In the opening seconds of the original video:
And, there you have it.  It's timestamped by YouTube.  If any birther can point out a source with an earlier timestamp, I'll admit I was wrong.  But I doubt it's going to happen.

I never heard from her again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why are viral emails attacking programs that CREATE jobs?

Somewhere, in the bowels of government, there's an unsung agency.

Most folks haven't really heard about it.  I suppose that it's presence, so far, has been pretty uncontraversial.

After all:
I doubt it's a perfectly run agency.  But it sounds like a pretty darned good deal for the American taxpayer, and to our flagging economy.

You might think that, given our current economic woes, that the right-wing email folks would find better agencies to attack, right?

You'd be wrong.  Arriving in my email box yesterday:

Brazilian  Oil Drilling
Thank God for Fox News and Glenn Beck!

This is a perfect example why many refrain from watching news onABC, NBC, CBS, or MSNBC.
Last week on a segment of the "Glenn Beck Show" on FOX(Fox Cable News) was the following:

Even though President Obama is against offshore drilling for our country,he signed an executive order to loan $2 Billion of our taxpayer dollars(which we can't afford to loan since we're broke) to a Brazilian Oil Exploration Company  the  8th largest company in the entire world)  to drill for  oil  off thecoast of Brazil! The oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of China and NOT THE USA !

Now here's the real clincher...the Chinese government is under contract to purchase all the oil that this field will produce, which is hundreds of millions of barrels"... We have absolutely no gain from this transaction whatsoever!

Wait, it gets more interesting.

Guess  who  is the largest  individual stockholder of this  Brazilian Oil Company and who would benefit most from this? It is American BILLIONAIRE, George Soros, who was President Obama's most generous financial supporter during his campaign.

If you are able to connect the dots  and  follow the money, you are probably asupset as I am. Not a word of this transaction was broadcast on any of the other news networks! Are they doing their job? Think about it.

Forward this factual e-mail to others who care about this country and where it is headed. Also, let all your Government representatives know how you feel about this.

Below is the Wall street Journal articl confirming this information.


"America will never be destroyed from outside.If we falter and lose our freedoms,it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Abraham  Lincoln

Snopes and have already written great articles debunking this nonsense.  And confirm that this email originated much earlier than the BP oil spill.  Suffice it to say:  This loan was unanimously approved by a bipartisan committee selected by George W. Bush, and President Obama had no influence on the approval decision.  This loan can only be used to purchase American-Made supplies and American labor.  They will repay the loan with interest, and make a profit on the transaction.  China does not have sole access to the oil produced.  And George Soros definitely lost "profit", due to the fact that he sold shares while this deal was negotiated.  Which, again, was under Bush administration, who he actively campaigned against.

So - no.  There's definitely no political conspiracy here.  Only a baseless attack on a government organization that seems to be successful at what it's doing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secret Service - It Ain't Free.

One theme that's arisen in my father's viral emails has been of the "outrageous" costs of President Obama's trips.  At first, these emails focused on trips he's made for pleasure - first for flying to New York to see a broadway play, then for Michelle Obama's decision to extend her London stay to do some sightseeing with her children.

Never mind that it's clearly noted in the (mainstream) articles above that the President paid for personal expenses out of his pocket.  Right-wing emailers are aghast that they have to spend money on the Obamas' security.

And, other than repeated emails about these two trips?  I thought things had died down for awhile.  Maybe the Obamas have decided to take vacations to places that are less expensive to secure.  Maybe.  And if so, this might not be a bad thing.

But, now, this whole "Oh, the expense" thread has come back:


There is no recession in the White House!

Can you imagine what this trip will cost the tax payer?

"It's good to be the King and Queen". All this on borrowed money from China!

Barack and Michelle's Mumbai Darshan plans
Obama’s personal security staff itself will be huge, and it has already started making its own arrangements in Mumbai. “A team of secret service agents has already arrived, and has surveyed the areas of his stay and the roads and places on his itinerary,” the officer said.
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”
Since Obama will stay in a hotel that is on sea front, elaborate coastal security arrangements have been made by the US Navy in consonance with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “There will be US naval ships, along with Indian vessels, patrolling the sea till about 330-km from the shore. This is to negate the possibility of a missile being fired from a distance,” the officer said.
The President will be accompanied by his chefs, not because he would not like to savour Indian cuisine, but to ensure his food is not spiked.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to land in Mumbai on November 6 .
Now, wait a minute.

This trip isn't for personal recreation.  This is for state business.  It can't be avoided.  He doesn't have the choice of going somewhere cheaper.  And these hotels have been a target for terriorist attacks.

It's awfully hard to begrudge the need for security.  As well as our nation's need to continue ties with India and the G20.  So, yes, security is absolutely necessary.

But one thing should seem pretty strange.  The techniques of the Secret Service are kept very confidential.  Who actually has access to the budget and plans for President Obama's upcoming trip?

As usual, this has been investigated by Snopes and FactCheck.  Both have verified that the only source to this information has been an unnamed Indian contact.  Who, probably, would not have access to such information.  And certainly not the budget for it.

And, as Snopes and FactCheck point out, even with the measures that this email states are happening, the $200 Million figure seems, well, crazy.  Our war in Afghanistan costs less per day, and uses much more resources.  If the $200 Million were true, this trip would cost $66,000/day per staff member.  So, clearly, this source can't be considered credible.

But, I suppose some right-wing folks still might complain that the secret service is wasting valuable taxpayer money.

That's probably fine.  I'm all for efficient use of government resources.

But one thing I'd ask?  Make it apply across the board.

Remember - the Secret Service provides the security details for both Bush presidents, and Dick Cheney.

I'm not arguing against our needing them.  These figures have been targets of assasination attempts.

But if you're going to complain about the expense of security during campaign rallies and vacations?  Make it apply to our former figureheads' public (and usually paid) appearances and expansive ranches as well.

We don't need two standards.  One is good enough.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Want welfare? Pee in the cup.

Okay, here's one that looks new to me.  And it's an interesting idea.  But I'm not sure whether the author really thought the ramifications through.

TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE...              
I  have a job. 

I work, they pay me.

I  pay my taxes & the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.

In order to get that paycheck, in my case, I am required to pass a random urine test (with which I have no problem).

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test.
So, here is my question: Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I  have no problem with helping people get back on their feet.  I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their butt - doing drugs while I work.

Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?
I guess we could call  the  program "URINE OR YOU'RE OUT"!

Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don't.  Hope you all will pass it along, though.
Something has to change in this country - AND  SOON!
P.S.  Just a thought, but all politicians should have to pass a urine test too!

On the surface, it seems pretty fair - most workplaces require their employees to take drug tests, why shouldn't welfare recipients?  But it doesn't really think itself through...

Why Does a Fast Food Cashier Need a Drug Test?
It seems like not too long ago, workplace drug testing was a pretty rare thing.  Generally, workplaces' interest in their employees' lifestyle has been pretty limited.  When someone comes to work regularly, does a good job, and doesn't create problems, it's bad business for a company to cause friction by creating rules about what they should and shouldn't do when they're off the clock.  Especially if it doesn't affect their work.

Now, if a fast food cashier comes to work intoxicated, yells at customers, and can't keep his cash drawer straight?  That would have been the time that the workplace intervened.  Until a few years ago.  Is it because workplaces suddenly decided to become good corporate citizens and help the government fight it's war on drugs?

Probably not.  There are some recent trends that have made drug testing a wise business decision.

I can't name them all, but probably one of the biggest drivers of this policy is the cost of providing healthcare. After all, one of the most expensive aspects of keeping an employee in the United States is the cost of their healthcare insurance.  Companies are always looking for ways to reduce their insurance costs.  Insurers, competing for companies' business, try to develop lower-cost products.

This forces healthcare companies to look for a way to reduce the expense of insuring a pool of employees.  When you've got a working-age population, one of the biggest expenses are the effects of drug use - either in providing drug treatment, treating "accidents" that occur under the influence, or the medical effects of their use.  So, they can offer workplaces a good deal - if the workplace provides a $75/per person drug screen, and decides not to hire folks who turn up positive, they have a lower risk pool.  It costs less to insure such a population, and the healthcare company can pass some of the savings to the employer.  It's a win/win situation for everyone.  Except for the folks who have trouble getting a job - but maybe they'll have more motivation to seek treatment?

Does this make sense in Welfare?
Now, let's look at this writer's statement, "Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?"

Although it's good business for employers to avoid employing folks who have positive drug screens, government assistance programs don't have the luxury of being able to refuse "hiring" someone onto their rolls.  It's designed to be a safety-net program, in order to provide appropriate rehabilitative services and temporary support to folks who can't find employment.  Now, we can argue about how such programs can be made more effective, but few are arguing that we should abandon these programs altogether.  Including the author of this email.

Businesses can afford to drug-test their employees, because insurance savings outweigh the cost of testing.  Businesses have the option of refusing to hire - an action that costs them nearly nothing.  However, when the government has a welfare recipient with a positive drug screen, their options are pretty limited.  They could:
  • Call the prosecutors, and charge violators with the crimes they've committed.  Costing a lot of money.  And even more, if we send folks to jail.  And even more, when folks start asking the constitutional question of whether this is an illegal search.
  • Require substance users to go to substance abuse treatment in order to recieve further services.  This would require a huge expansion of our government's capacity to treat such folks, costing a lot of money.  Granted, the government might save a little of that money, initially, upon a minority of folks who would refuse treatment (and their welfare checks).  But most of these folks would probably start "surviving" by breaking the law.  And we'd end up paying that way again.  And, of course, some disgruntled folks will probably still make a consititutional claim that the government is carrying out illegal searches.
In short?  This "money-saver" will probably cost more money than it saves.  A lot more.
It might be worth it.  But I think that's where reasonable debate must begin.