Tue, 8 July 2014
Greg Abbott is not just the Republican candidate for governor. He is also the Attorney General of Texas. He ordered state agencies, including the State Health Services Department to no longer release any information on vast amounts of dangerous chemicals corporate neighbors are storing, including explosives.
Sun, 6 July 2014
The tension between economic realism and political realism resulted in a reduced economic stimulus that still succeeded in pulling the country away from a solid depression. The recession that remained was beyond painful for many Americans. Jobs were lost, homes were foreclosed.
Enough Democrats pushed for a middle path to get what economists predicted.
It was a recovery. It was a weak recovery, but it was a recovery.
The public had opinions about the stimulus. But they didn't vote based on their opinions.
Sun, 15 June 2014
The Love It or Leave It mentality has, at its heart, a rejection of traditions important to representative democracy.
Missouri Republicans seem to have a different tradition.
State Senator Republican Ed Emery wrote to one citizen who protested Republican blocking of insurance for low income residents. Part of Ed Emery's letter was an invitation...
Sun, 8 June 2014
All the vital, angry, deadly issues in this prisoner exchange come down to a few decisions. Each of those few decision involves priorities.
This true of the President. This is true of each conservative critic.
What is most important?
Tue, 3 June 2014
Depending on our level of ignorance or on our philosophy, we either negotiated for a hostage, or we negotiated for a prisoner exchange.
The meaningful question is whether either one will encourage other enemies to take prisoners for the purpose of negotiation.
Sun, 1 June 2014
Eric Shinseki once discussed his management technique, comparing it to combat, where you never have enough information or resources."Sometimes you just gotta launch, and fight your way through the unknowns."
That might work at times in combat. In a non-combat organization, a narrow focus on motivation works about as well as overfilling a gas tank in response to a dead battery. Perverse incentives are a recognized enemy in the private sector. In this case, the 14-day mandate provided an incentive that was singularly perverse.
Thu, 22 May 2014
Conservatism was so much simpler when I was a kid. Conservatives just didn't much like black people.
Some were outspoken about it. Black people had all sorts of new privileges. Too many. They could vote. In fact, they could vote for the first time in some parts of the country. Lynching was now against the law. Segregation was still pretty strong, but it was technically against the law. Same with discrimination in housing and hiring. It was still going on, but it was against the law.
What more did they want?
The fact that, with the leadership of a Democratic President, some form of civil rights had become the law enraged enough conservatives that a migration of sorts had already begun. Lyndon Johnson remarked privately that new laws respecting the rights of black people would ensure that Democrats would lose the South for many decades. Conservatives left the Democratic party and became Republicans.
Even back then, outright racism, the kind spoken out loud, was confined to a vocal minority. Most commonly, the some-of-my-best-friends denial was a preface to each expression white resentment.
Sun, 18 May 2014
Cybernetics is used across scientific disciplines. It is used to explain evolutionary development, to formulate mechanical engineering constructs, for neuroscience, and mathematics. It is used in pretty much anything that incorporates a feedback loop for guidance. I do x - or x comes from an outside event - and y happens as a result. That changes what my next action will be as I adjust.
Cybernetics happens a lot in nature. We experience it in our own actions. How many times have we been told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result?
I've been thinking lately about how my limited understanding of cybernetics applies to politics and policy.
Republicans win their last election in 1928 until they learn to partially accept Social Security and finally win through the 1950s.
Democrats lose Presidential elections that don't involve Watergate from the late 1960s until the early 1990s. Painful introspection produces changes. Democrats get majorities of the electorate in five of the next six elections.
The Great Depression drags on and on. So a new policy, Keynesian economics, is devised and timidly applied. Things get better. World War II arrives and Keynesian economics is involuntarily amplified. The Great Depression disappears. So Keynesian economics becomes official policy for generations.
The Obamacare website doesn't work. So new experts are brought in. They work around the clock. Then the website works.
In recent decades, Republicans seem to have lost the capacity for change through introspection.
Sun, 4 May 2014
Although most opponents of civil rights laws through the 1960s were openly motivated by race, this was not true for everyone. Barry Goldwater had quietly opposed segregation in Phoenix. He later described his efforts as a series of private appeals.
The Goldwater argument against Civil Rights law was based on a largely libertarian interpretation of Constitutional rights. "You can't legislate morality." The liberal response at that time was "The Hell you can't!"
Author Jim Fedako adds a wrinkle with a sort of goose and gander logic. If customers can pick and choose which businesses they will purchase from, why can't business owners make similar choices about which patrons they will serve? If government is to restrict the right of a business to choose its customers, why not dictate to customers from whom they must buy?
Tue, 29 April 2014
I confess to playing with those who subscribe to biblical literalism. A conservative in 1992 told me candidate Bill Clinton was among Satan's minions. I got a little impatient with that, so I asked him if he noticed that the acceptance speech given by President George H. W. Bush was exactly 66 minutes and 6 seconds long. The look on his face kind of mitigated the fleeting guilt I remember feeling. Because, you know, I had just made it up.
More recently, another friend insisted to me that Obamacare was designed by Satan to enforce the Mark of the Beast. A number would be issued to everyone. All business, even buying from supermarkets, would require that number. I suppose that, over the years, I have gotten a little bored with that sort of talk. So I succumbed to temptation yet again.
A number issued to everyone? You mean like the Social Security number you carry in your wallet? The startled realization that he was already among the doomed pretty much ended the discussion.
I got to thinking about religious paranoia as I read about the impeachment of Nixon. That is to say Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Jay Nixon is a Democrat. The Missouri House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans. They are even more conservative than those national Republicans we all know and love. In fact, they erected a little statue in the Capitol Building in Jefferson City in honor of Rush Limbaugh. No kidding, they really did that.
Governor Jay Nixon is pretty popular in Missouri. But Republicans regard him as a horrible chief executive. They have three reasons.