Saturday, December 31, 2011

A time for reflection ....

I was struck that this week's Jack Kelly column doesn't really have any distortions of general history or reality. He talks about the Republican candidates and the race in Iowa. He confesses at one point to not being for any of them (but ...). On the other hand, I was also struck by how much Kelly seems to be toeing the Tea Party line. Kelly expresses no interest in ideas or policy; his primary criteria for evaluating the candidates is how conservative they are. He goes through each of them, eventually declaring Santorum the least objectionable.

Kelly evidently doesn't think much of the libertarian Ron Paul; describing him in this way in this paragraph: "Rep. Paul has zero chance to win the nomination. His libertarian positions on economic issues are popular, but his anti-military, anti-Israel foreign policy views appeal mostly to crackpots."

Kelly goes on to dismiss Paul as not able to even be nominated, let alone elected. I am not sure whether Kelly's evaluation of Paul's positions amount to distortions of reality (partly because I have trouble understanding what constitutes Paul's view of libertarianism), but apparently they don't work for the Tea Party.

Glenn Greenwald takes an interesting view of the comparison of Ron Paul's and Barack Obama's respective foreign and domestic security policies. He stridently claims that he is not endorsing or even supporting any particular candidate in that column. Which makes me feel a bit better, because Greenwald totally slams Obama, especially in comparison with Ron Paul.

Greenwald's column at some point almost sounds like the Declaration of Independence in listing Obama's ... well, essentially crimes against humanity and liberty. "He has slaughtered civilians", "He has institutionalized the power of Presidents — in secret and with no checks — to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA, far from any battlefield", "He has waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers" and "His obsession with secrecy is so extreme that it has become darkly laughable" This goes on for a couple more paragraphs, complete with links to more in depth pieces on each issue. The point Greenwald goes on to make is that (ironically?) Ron Paul essentially opposes each of the things Obama has done, yet progressives support Obama (essentially without qualification) and oppose Rom Paul (essentially without qualification).

Now, I have to say we do not live in a fantasy world; I do not believe there will ever be a candidate or elected President who absolutely embraces all the values of progressives (or conservatives or whomever). Actually, there are (as there surely must be) a couple of purist candidates - Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul come to mind. Both have devoted and dedicated followers, but I have to say that it seems unlikely either would ever get a majority of American voters behind them. You know, there is always the idea people have that if all of the American voters were exposed to Kucinich's views or Ron Paul's views ... yada yada. I think that even a majority of American voters don't care that much about politics, which by the way is why it usually works better to scare people than to give them issues in depth. Not that voters are stupid, they just aren't that interested in economic schools of thought, for example.

I have to say that at one point Greenwald does make the lesser of two evils argument, sort of acknowledging that it is somewhat legitimate. What apparently bothers Greenwald the most is that national Democrats and the press won't even mention the actual evils that Obama has embraced.

Our country is in trouble economically, there are problems abroad economically and yes, there are still foreign policy challenges. But the economic debates do not involve what might be actual solutions (according to Paul Krugman) and the real foreign policy and domestic rights issues are not even being raised, according to Glenn Greenwald. So what happens if you are interested in real solutions for our real problems?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Trib complains about Obama, makes same mistake ...

So the Trib today (Monday) takes a shot at Barack Obama's comments about the rich in his speech in Osawatomie. Now, Obama did make a mistake in saying that some some billionaires pay only 1% in federal income taxes (the one percent only paying one percent, somewhat lyrical). Apparently there is no specific data to back up that claim, but Politifact still rated the Obama claim was only "mostly false". As I said , there is no specific data, but Politifact noted that according to the IRS 30 of the 400 billionaires paid (at some point, I don't know what year) an effective tax rate of between 0 and 10 percent. Further, Politifact noted that Bloomberg reporter Gigi Stone made the specific statement about the billionaires only paying the one percent on a TV interview. That doesn't mean the white House should have put it in a speech given by the President (or not at least without attributing it specifically to Ms Stone), but at least it can't be said the President just made it up.

On the other hand, the Trib asserts the nebulous statement that income inequity "n 2007 had fallen to its lowest level in six years" per the Census Bureau. I could not verify that statement searching on "income inequality in 2007 Census". Of course, not being specific as to whether they are talking about the top 20% versus the bottom 20%, or the top .01% versus the bottom 50%, the Trib makes it impossible to evaluate their statement.

And in any event, a particular fluctuation in one of many ways to look at income inequity that dips to the slightly lower number than a number five years earlier says nothing about sixty some years of increasing income of inequity. But the Trib doesn't say anything about that. Because even though the Trib expects the President to be absolutely accurate, it does not feel it has to do anything like the same.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jingle whether you want to or not


Happy holidays to you and yours, Merry Christmas if that is what you celebrate. Jack Kelly wishes you only Merry Christmas (if you don’t like it, convert and become a Republican as well, or you will go to haich eee double hockey sticks).

Jack Kelly has a sort of Christmas theme column today, which would be nice if he weren’t kind of mean about it.

He starts by talking about how many Christians there are, in the US and around the world. Nothing he says is particularly surprising. He talks about how Africans are adding converts rapidly, which I have heard from several sources.

But then he starts looking at the US and that’s when he gets mean, or at least predictably partisan. We are told that Christianity in the US has faltered because “It began with banning the singing of carols in Christmas pageants at elementary schools, then banning the pageants themselves. Creches on public property were next.”. I was not aware that religion had to be present in the schools to prosper.

Of course, the removal of Christmas from the schools and the proliferation of “Happy Holidays” is the fault of the liberals, according to Jack. Mr. Kelly tells us that liberals say that what the First Amendment says about religion means that we can’t allow Christmas in the schools. Kelly says that is a misreading of the First Amendment, and what the founders intended.

But even though Kelly talks about different religions early in his column, it misses a crucial point. If we push Christmas on all school children, then Jewish and Muslim and what have you children feel like there is something wrong with them. If you got Jack Kelly drunk and therefore loose of tongue, he would say that is exactly what has in mind. If Kelly were being totally honest, I think he believes Jews and Muslims need to convert (and become Republicans, if they aren’t already). It is really hard to read Kelly’s column and not reach that conclusion.

Which is totally at odds with how and why this country was founded, starting with the Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution (although they promptly started the campaign of genocide against the Native Americans). The founding fathers took pains to say that we could not pull a Henry the Eighth and create Anglicans 2, or tell the Anglicans they have to become Catholics (‘cause really it would be simpler). Now, maybe we didn’t start out as a multicultural society, but our democracy and values were so attractive that people came from all over the world. Jack Kelly seems to want to tell all those immigrants that they need drop their own heritage and culture and become more like us. Kelly does not say, but I think the liberal message is that they are welcome just as they are. Which one sounds more like what we think of as America?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pay attention, or we'll be fooled again ...

Who was it Who said "we won't get fooled again"?


Sorry, indulging myself in the tiniest bit of Abbott and Costello like shtick, but I think we do need to pay attention to the stories coming from the right and the left (or in this case from the left about the right). Joe Nocera at the NYTimes has (I believe it's)yet another good explanation of both what conservatives are saying about and the reality of Freddie and Fannie's role in the financial meltdown. Nocera concentrates on the particular people who generated what he calls "The Big Lie", detailing how they spun it and how conservatives and Republican politicians including presidential candidates have rushed to repeat it. Nocera does pause to mention that Freddie and Fannie did get involved with sub-prime mortgages, but on the back side of the bell curve of the market. Which is to say Nocera does not let Freddie and Fannie off the hook, but he points out they were not driving the market for bad loans. By contrast, the big lie lets Wall Street off the hook, the crisis was the fault of the government.

Along the way Nocera has some killer links, like this one (admittedly from a Media Matters related website, but go ahead and produce data that proves their statements wrong). I might quietly point out that putting those kind of links in a column (like Frank Rich used to do) allows those of us who are curious to evaluate what the columnist considers to be back up sources, which is exactly what Jack Kelly of the PG doesn't do (yes, I will almost undoubtedly comment on tomorrow's column).

I also want to note the latest (surprise) Paul Krugman column where he points out that, in his particular example, Mitt Romney is being allowed to lie outrageously about Barack Obama. Now, thinking back to Bill Clinton, conservatives certainly lied outrageously about him. I think of the very tragic Vince Foster thing being spun into a claim that Democratic operatives actually killed him. Mind you, Clinton managed to provide enough actual dirt with his personal behavior to enable the Republicans to impeach him (but not convict him in the impeachment process, the language of which process is always confusing and hurts my head). But I do wonder if some (or maybe all) Republican politicians think they can be extra nasty to Obama because Obama is black. In particular I think of the phrase Rush Limbaugh uses to as a get out of jail free card for his responsibility in repeating whatever lie: "Just sayin'". Just sayin' that Obama wants to redistribute money so that everyone has the same amount, says Mitt Romney. Just sayin' that Obama is going to put free enterprise on trial, Romney opines in an interview.

Obama as President has been moderate to the point of alienating many of his supporters. Which is fine, he did not make campaign promises written in stone and/or blood, and besides, at least one of his promises was to reach out to the the other side. But what Krugman (and I) objects to is not that Obama broke his promises to be more aggressively liberal or even that the Republicans are lying about what kind of President Obama is, he (and I) objects to the media not screaming about how huge these Republican lies are. Of course, Obama himself has only recently began to push back ever so slightly (despite what my conservative friends might say). If Obama were a bit more like Clinton (by which I guess I might mean simultaneously thin skinned and tough) and responded as quickly as possible to any Republican attack, the media might be more inclined to fact check everybody, and grudgingly admit the truth gap between the two sides.

But it is a shame that mostly the mainstream media only repeats Republican attacks without any examination. Of course there are liberal blogs (such as the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, 2 Political Junkies and my own blog), but you the reader have to be a bit careful since we bloggers don't necessarily feel the need to try to be "fair and balanced", or even acknowledge there might be another point of view besides our own.

Speaking of not necessarily balanced, Gail Collins has another funny (not to say snarky) column today in the NYTimes, largely a summation of a moderately exciting political week. Yes, she slips another reference to Mitts' dog on the roof of the car (and I still laugh every single time). This time, she managed to find a recent Romney response to the story "“Uh — love my dog. That’s all I got for you,” Romney responded.".

Gail Collins knows what's important.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The flaw in the logic ...

This Sally Kalson column appeared Sunday, when it was well worth commenting on. But today's decision by both UPMC and Highmark focuses more attention on the conflict. Yes there was a Ruth Ann Dailey bit of lunacy about preferring a Romney-Rubio ticket over Gingrich, as if there is any difference, and there was today's House Republican turnabout on the payroll tax and unemployment compensation. But the Kalson column has unexpected depth. The column is certainly worth reading, first for her emotionally raw description of her struggle with cancer. She also perfectly characterized the roles of both UPMC and Highmark in this situation, how Highmark is no company of angels, sitting on billions in what I believe they characterize as "excess revenues" while UPMC is exploiting its unique position as both insurer and near monopolistic healthcare provider to black mail Highmark.

Now, as I remember it, Republicans who continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act say that an unregulated free health care/insurance market would work better than increased regulation. Of course, we've just seen how reduced regulation worked for financial markets. I think that the situation in Pittsburgh exemplifies how the unregulated free market might work. I mean, right now health in is somewhat regulated. Rates are regulated at the state level, and people can complain about decisions made by insurers that they think are unfair. My own experience is that our state's regulators are fairly weak and ineffective in curbing cost-cutting excesses. Also mostly insurers can only operate in one state, although I know that both Aetna and Cigna have small operations in Pittsburgh. I will say that the "Blue's", Blue Cross and Blue Shield, although present in most, if not all, states, are in fact all independent operations who only coordinate in the slightest manner.

The current battle between UPMC and Highmark is evidently something that escapes regulation, yet it seems possible that UPMC could emerge as the hands down dominant player in our region. They would be limited in rate and price increases only by their ability to justify to them our weak regulators. This strikes me as an unsurprising consequence of allowing a healthcare provider to set up an insurance arm. If we couldn't see it before it was done, we should at least acknowledge it now.

At the national level Republicans are still claiming that free markets would make healthcare better and cheaper. Pittsburgh's experience with the current low level of regulation should be held up as a counter argument.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Freddie and Fannie discussed

Of course according to any right thinking person, the New York Times not only has a liberal slant, but lies to make that slant seem reasonable. So we can't believe any of Joe Nocera's column he titled "An Inconvenient Truth" (the title itself a slap in the face of right thinking people). Sure Nocera acknowledges how Freddie and Fannie not only wrote their own legislation and ignored attempts to regulate them, but had the well known accounting scandals in middle of the last decade. He even admits they made a "belated, disastrous foray into subprime mortgages" which ended up costing us all about $150 billion. But Nocera claims that Fannie and Freddie were not at the center of the financial meltdown. How can he make such a preposterous claim?

All parody aside, I found Nocera's column to not only a clear (and very fair) examination of both the virtues and recent faults of Fannie and Freddie, but also a good explanation of their place in the alternative (fantasy) history that Republicans have constructed. One local conservative commenter recently claimed that the Community Reinvestment Act was at the heart of the 2008 financial meltdown, that making sure that poor people of color could get affordable mortgages had somehow turned into liberals forcing banks to sell McMansions to blacks who could make the mortgages and bankrupted the banks. When I copied and pasted a passage from the Wikipedia page on the CRA about how (according to Paul Krugman among others) the CRA had had little effect on the meltdown (compared to mortgages given to more affluent people and for commercial property), this local conservative commenter stated that Obama and Krugman (!) had "cooked" the books at the Fed, just like the Soviets used to do.

My point being, not just the Republican Presidential candidates or the Republicans in Congress with their identical Climate Change denying or new found adherence to the Austrian school of macroeconomics (with its simplistic monetary theories that they cling to even though the real world behaves just the opposite of what they say it is doing - have you noticed our current hyper-inflation?), but even local conservative columnists and commenters on blogs all say the same things in the same way. Some times it seems like Democrats almost admire the way the Republicans march in lockstep. I think they are no more than a third of the country (Democrats and independents are each also about a third), but their very unity gives them an inordinate amount of power. But I wouldn't want the Democrats to be that united, since it might mean all Democrats would have to believe something like creationism, or all have to be pro-choice, instead of thinking for themselves. I think Democrats should have principles, but should always be open to discussing ideas. At least that's the way I want to be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kelly's title says it all...

Today Jack Kelly wants us to understand that the drunk on power but failed politicians the Democrats are will do anything to keep power, including stealing elections. This is especially true for Obama (who already stole the 2008 election), who "trails in all swing states" according to Mr Kelly.

Trails who? That's a good trick, to trail a nonexistent nominee. Especially considering the current crop of Republican hopefuls, each of who has his or her own particular baggage. It took Newt some four years to be chased out (by his fellow Republicans) of the Speaker's job, but chased out he was and someone is likely to remind voters why.

I have to pause and say that you just have to read the title and sub heading: "Voter fraud is real And voter ID laws are really needed; they are not racist" and it's like the desperation is almost palpable. Having to prove all three remarks essentially makes a strong prima facie case for the current racist and anti-democratic views of the Republican/Tea party.

Today's column is vintage Kelly, he raises an issue that is not entirely without merit but not really a crisis, and then discusses it entirely in terms of how the Democrats are both committing fraud and trying to block reforming legislation. And Kelly gets to mention ACORN once again.

Truth to tell, there is probably something in Kelly's quoting as accusation that LBJ stole his first Senate election (though I know no details). I've certainly heard the rumor/accusation that Illinois was stolen for JFK. Democrats, having the support of labor, have historically often been in a good position to control urban poling places.

But in terms of recent electoral theft, where the popular vote went one way and the election went another, I have two words for Jack Kelly: Al Gore. No one disputes that the popular vote went for Gore. Yet Kelly fails to mention Gore once in his column.

Kelly does make several assertions, and I internet-researched some of them. I found them to be classic cases of where Kelly either doesn't tell us all the facts or ties things together that are not related. Kelly's lead off statement, for example, mentions the impending resignation of the Indiana State Democratic Chair and a probe of signatures for to get candidates on the primary ballot in the 2008 election. The way the paragraph is written, one would naturally assume the two statements were linked, and Dan Parker's resignation would be a tacit admission of guilt.

Or the Indiana Democrat Party's decision to keep Parker as chair could have nothing to do with this probe, which may not deserve to be called vote fraud anyway. The fact that Republicans are in the Governor's and Secretary of State's offices makes this probe that much more suspicious.

Kelly also mentions this: "Former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis, who is black, said vote fraud is rampant in African-American districts like his in Alabama."

Newspapers in Alabama naturally wanted to hear names, yet Mr Davis refused to give even one. Davis may be telling the truth, but the way he has told it so far only serves a Republican agenda (having only vague and impossible to substantiate allegations).

The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law has issued a report of a case by case analysis of vote fraud, finding them to be at best much ado about nothing. It looks like the report was dated 2007, but I find little reason to think its conclusions have since been invalidated.

As I said, Kelly again mentions ACORN: "Of 1.3 million new registrations ACORN turned in in 2008, election officials rejected 400,000." Once again, I will point out that ACORN itself had a quality control process, where it would examine each registration for completeness and call the phone number on each registration to make sure they were valid. If the form was incomplete or the registrant could not be reached by phone, ACORN would still turn in the form, but with a big red flag on it. Did ACORN red flag 400,000 new registrations? Thanks to the Republicans hounding ACORN out of existence, we may never know. Maybe it is not funny how Jack never mentions ACORN's quality control process, since (according to Jack) ACORN (I suppose by virtue of its mission to help the poor) must have been trying to steal elections for its Democratic co-conspirators.

I haven't said anything about whether voter ID laws might be racist or not. I believe it is accepted that historically after the Civil War that in the South poll taxes and ID requirements for former slaves who might not have such documents were considered racist. I ask you, is it possible that an African American living today might have been born not in a rural hospital but at home with his/her mother assisted by an illiterate midwife, who was unable to fill out a birth certificate? If it is possible, does this person deserve to be denied the right to vote?

I urge you to read this book (of which I myself only read a portion, I found it tough going). It does not have to do with voter registration per se, but it certainly bears on the relationship between African Americans and federal, state and local governments.

Before closing, I just want to note one more set of statements Kelly made about how voter ID requirements don't affect turnout: "In Georgia, black voter turnout for the midterm election in 2006 was 42.9 percent. After Georgia passed photo ID, black turnout in the 2010 midterm rose to 50.4 percent. Black turnout also rose in Indiana and Mississippi after photo IDs were required." In that statement, Kelly compares 2006 to 2010. In between was the 2008 election between Obama and McCain, which saw large voter registration efforts. For all three of Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi, that registration effort may have out weighed the disenfranchisement effect of those laws. Also for Mississippi and Indiana, these could be comparisons between a midterm and a Presidential election, which always sees a higher turnout.

But that's Jack Kelly; only some of the facts, some of the time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Climate change's turn

This week Jack Kelly returns to his attacks on climate science. Before I address his column directly, I wanted to make a couple of related points.

First, how come when Julian Assange gets hold of State Department cables and emails, he is is traitor who deserves to be executed, but some unnamed thug can steal University of East Anglia emails, and that is described as a leak. Kelly wants to pretend this is some whistle blower who is disturbed by what (s)he sees. I think it is some paid hacker financed by the Koch brothers or Rupert Murdoch (go ahead, prove me wrong). It's funny to me that conservatives lose all there libertarian principles when it is liberal's privacy rights being discussed.

And also, there is more involved with energy extraction and consumption than just climate change. Oil,natural gas and even coal are essentially scarce resources. We use oil not just to power our cars, but for fertilizer, plastic and I believe several other things. We still import middle eastern oil, even though doing so is involving us in a seemingly intractable set of conflicts. So switching over as much as is feasible to alternative energy systems is highly desirable. It might well be that our grandchildren would thank us, certainly our great great grandchildren would.

So, as I say Jack Kelly today gives us a gleefully gloating column announcing the "impending collapse of one of the most brazen scams in the history of the world" (climate change,in case you hadn't guessed). Kelly asserts that the participants at the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa are showing signs of sadness that their scam will be exposed. Although apparently it is possible Kelly wrote his column too soon, if we can believe an article from the Guardian shortly before midnight on Saturday.

Kelly trots out a lot of the same old evidence and a few new items. He starts with a report from Canadian Donna LaFramboise, which found that of the 18,531 references in the 2007 IPCC report, some 5,587 were from non-peer reviewed sources, such as "newspaper and magazine articles written by non-experts, unpublished theses and pamphlets produced by environmental groups".

By the way, let me pause here to say that since Jack Kelly gives us the benefit of all this great research he does, the online edition of the Post-Gazette should make these sources available as hyperlinks.

That is a really interesting claim, these 5,587 non peer reviewed theses and pamphlets. How many of each. Well, I found a website which described this effort, and as you click links, you can find the lists of references and what LaFramboise thought were peer reviewed or not. I looked at three of some 133 different reviews of references for the chapters of the IPCC report. I didn't see much in the way of pamphlets or newspaper or magazine articles written by non-experts (not that I could known whether a person is an expert or not). I saw several books on climate science and other topics in the references that were marked as not peer reviewed; I guess no one reviews books at all. I did see some tourism reports in one chapters references; evidently the chapter was discussing the impact of climate change on tourism and Stewardess Review (not an actual journal name I saw) is not peer reviewed.

So LaFramboise went through hundreds or maybe even a few thousand references on our behalf herself, right? Actually, she solicited volunteers through her climate skeptic website. So of course she assembled a team of academics well versed in the peer review process. Judge for yourself. Me, of her more than forty volunteers I count at least six "names" that are essentially anonymous (including two anonymous-s), although I will say there was at least one person who could be said to be expert in science (although probably not in the top tier of climate scientists). I might also mention that concerning people solicited through a climate skeptic blog, let's just saw I am skeptical of their impartiality.

In the references I saw, I did not see any examples of obviously bad sources. Reports from congressional hearings, working papers from conferences, the occasional unpublished paper; these did not send up any red flags. So how should we look at this? Well, LaFramboise complains that Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman has repeatedly said that the IPCC only takes information from peer-reviewed sources. Here's a list of quotes from various persons that LaFramboise provides us, judge for yourself.

Kelly also gives us various "facts" that he says few journalists have reported: "Temperatures in the lower atmosphere this October were just one- tenth of one degree Celsius warmer than in 1979, according to data from weather satellites. Temperatures haven't risen in 13 years, according to measurements from ground stations. Data from tree rings and ice cores show no warming since 1940." I tried to google the first two claims (using Kelly's words), found nothing for the first and a connection to Richard Mueller's BEST study recently completed. Notice the qualifications, satellites, a specific date and lower atmosphere in one case and ground stations in another. Judith Curry dwells on the 13 year numbers, although again I wonder about the qualifications.

Kelly mentions Curry in another context, commenting on LaFromboise's book. Scientific American did an in depth article on Judith Curry, where they assert that Curry is a skeptic in that she questions the care with which the IPCC selects, handles and presents data, but she herself believes the world is warming. This is what the selective quoting does for Jack Kelly, creating climate deniers out of people who actually believe in climate change. Instead of the positive contribution Curry could make in trying to make the IPCC better, she becomes a stooge for the Koch brothers agenda.

Kelly has this near the end of his column "There never was a consensus among scientists in support of anthropogenic global warming." Well, I haven't and do not have the ability to interview all "scientists" to find out if what Kelly says is true, but I don't think it matters. First of all, does Kelly mean among climate scientists or among all scientists? I suspect engineers, chemists and quantum physicists may not have a professional opinion about an issue outside their specific field. But I suspect all scientists have at least some professional respect for national academies of science and other professional scientific organizations. They have, as I understand it, all signed on to climate change which is caused by man. But Kelly never mentions that.

By the way, Dayvoe of 2 PJ's has a good take on this column as well, including some things I missed.
Ask him why.

A quick thought

Apparently recently, thanks to Bloomberg news, we found out that instead of just getting 800 billion in TARP funds, the banks and (possibly) other financial institutions had access to seven trillion dollars in bailout money.

Now, in the last year to eighteen months, when Republicans/conservatives have said the word "stimulus", they have prefaced it with the word "failed" (like in the nineties Mohamed Farah Aidid's name was prefaced with "rebel warlord"). Some Democrats/liberals argued the stimulus had kept the economy from tanking completely, but was too small to turn things around. Now we find out that banks had access to ten times the bailout money we thought they had received. We were that close to another depression, but Republicans/conservatives not only do not want the government to help the economy, but scream bloody murder when it is suggested the rich could do their (patriotic) part for the economy. Didn't our parents or grandparent sacrifice in World War II (after having had to sacrifice in the Great Depression)?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

No real disagreement ....

Since I comment on Jack Kelly every week, I feel compelled to say something about this week's column. But this week Kelly is talking about the Penn State mess, and the failure of leaders there to act. It seems he is basing his column on a sermon given by (what I assume is) his pastor. And frankly, I don't have any major disagreement with what Kelly says in his column.

To me, the only discussion that makes sense is whether McQureary should have physically defended the boy that particular night and then called the cops, or only called cops, University or town. Of course, as we know he did neither, and nobody thinks what he did was adequate. Frankly Joe Paterno should have never been involved, but since he was, he is fair game for what he failed to do as well, as is the athletic director and the University President. As Kelly says, the powerful protected each other and I will add another entity they tried to protect, the all powerful football program. Of course, because of McQreary's, Paterno's and Curley's failusre to act they end up dragging the football program into the scandal.

Kelly takes pains to say that Sandusky and this fellow Bernie Fine are not victims but victimizers. I might be inclined to say the two are somewhat victims, but agree that mostly they are victimizers and that what they did to those boys was far worse than any pain they themselves have experienced. They are the textbook definition of one type of criminal, someone who knows right from wrong but gives into what they know is an illegal sexual impulse.

I remember an interesting discussion/argument between two co-workers (which I involved myself in on the periphery). One is a male Muslim and the other a woman (Christian, I am not sure whether Catholic or Protestant). The woman was complaining about Muslin treatment of women, and the Muslim brought up how the ancient Greek adult males interacted with young boys. The Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss surveyed as many cultures as he could find and found that the one (and only) taboo he could find across all cultures is incest. Despite that fact, no one in the history of America would make an argument that adult males interacting sexually with male children is in any way acceptable. I have no doubt that Sandusky and Fine knew that, and should have sought therapy or some type of counseling instead of acting on their impulses.

I think we call all agree on (at least) that.