Tag Archives: Politics

On teens, bullying, and gay bashing in Iowa

Are teen bullying and gay bashing events in Iowa typical or an aberration? I haven’t had the time to research it closely and compare data in a state-by-state fashion; that’ll have to wait. But, consider the following list.

  • Jan 2014: News sources in Des Moines (WHO-TV 1 and WHO-TV 2; KCCI; Des Moines Register) reported that 16-year-old Nathan Rogers suffered multiple facial injuries from a beating he suffered around New Years Eve at the hands (literally) of several other teens, who have been charged with felonious assault. Continue reading

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Throw out which DC officials?

Are you aghast about, alarmed by, or just plain ticked off with the elected officials in Washington? Do you find yourself wondering what they must be thinking? Do you wonder why we elected some of them?

Whom would you dismiss from the US government?

I’ve got a little poll running for the next couple of days here. You may select multiple individuals. So, take a couple of seconds, scan the list of contenders. Note that you can only vote one time, but you can (as I indicated) vote for more than one individual when you vote—in fact, you can recommend they all go!

This is a time-limited poll. It’ll close on Saturday. Sorry you can’t vote often, but you may vote early! You can tell your your Republican’t or Spendocrat pals to vote, too; just send ‘em this link: http://bit.ly/1hXtKDW (sorry, a previously posted link was wrong).

Your votes are anonymous, but you are welcome to—ahem—expose yourself (or not) in the comments section. For example, you could wonder why I omitted certain dead people from the options.

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Gunning for me?

How many guns do you own? Using data from the International Small Arms Survey, Max Fisher of the Washington Post reported that there are 270 million weapons in private hands in the United States, or about 9 for every 10 US citizens. In an informal survey, I asked a lot of my friends whether they owned guns, and they said “no.” Thus, there must be a lot of people who own more than one to balance out my social circle.

lots of guns lying on a table

But, you know, there’s big money being made from guns and ammo. That’s a point that Bill Moyers makes in his editorial (print version; video version linked to accompanying image) that aired 4 January 2013 on his TV show. It’s a dandy of a commentary that includes a clip of Wayne LaPierre making that extraordinary statement about bad and good guys with guns, echoes of Archie Bunker, and a real-life gun dealer who quit selling guns. That’s why, as Mr. Moyers reports, the gun lobby suppresses discussion about sensible control of weapons. Watch the video of his editorial.
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Data > BS

It’s easy to doubt this equation in the political season, but BSers are common on TV and in the newspapers.

Well, The data folx are getting their due, as Nate Silver, Drew Linzer, Daryl Homlman, and especially, Sam Wang get recognized by the smart press because these people are accurately calling election data. Their observations were pretty dang accurate. Even though some advocates called these data people’s observations biased, it turns out that those observations may actually have been biased the opposite direction!

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George McGovern, 1922-2012

George McGovern campaigning in Houston, TX, in 1972; Courtesy Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries;   http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections-archives/request-digital

When I was first eligible to vote in a US presidential election in 1972, I went to a little elementary school a few blocks from the rental house where we lived in Pasadena (CA, US) and cast my vote for George McGovern. I never liked his suits, but I really liked his positions. Not only was I in favor of getting US troops out of Vietnam, but I thought McGovern was right about equal rights for women and a guaranteed family income for those with demonstrated need.

In 1972, I was still reeling from the loss of my favorite candidate from the 1968 campaign. For the ’68 election, not only I was 20 years old and—therefore—ineligible to vote, but Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. McGovern was, in a way, also a link back to RFK for me, adding to my interest in voting for him.
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Madness on the DT Mall?

Did you know that there’s a mad woman loose on Hookville’s downtown mall? It’s more than an idle rumor. It’s actually The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giradoux, re-imagined by Kay Ferguson and a troupe of veteran players who have been engaged in intense physical training for months as they developed their version of the 1940s play.

The Madwoman of Chaillot is the story of a witty, eccentric woman who rallies a band of artists, workers, and down-and-out characters in a clever plan to disrupt avaricious plans of powerful figures who are bent on sacrificing beauty to obtain profits. As Ms. Ferguson says, the story sounds a lot like “Right Now, USA.”

The first performance is 6:00 PM 6 September 2012, and it’s running all through the month of September. The troupe is using a novel approach to the production, starting with a first act for free on the mall, then parading to The Haven, where they’ll accept donations for the second act, part of which will go to The Haven. Read all about the project, the players, and more.

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Talk about dying, please

In some posts here I have reported examples of situations illustrating what I consider to be times when people should be able to hasten their own deaths. I recognize that people have differing views about whether individuals should be able to aid their own death when they are near the end of their own lives. It’s important to me that people have a civil discussion about this matter, not a discussion that is marked by histrionics, name-calling, and illogical argument.

Steve Lopez, who has reported for the Los Angeles Times about cases that evoke compassion about the people involved and with whom I agree about many of these matters, conducted an interview about this subject on 9 August 1012 with two representatives from Compassion & Choices, Judy Epstein and Kathryn Tucker. Admittedly, all three of these folks support the view that people should have options for hastening the end of their lives under certain circumstances. Other people may disagree.

What’s important is that we, the people, need to talk about this. We should do so before the issue becomes critical. We shouldn’t wait until someone we love is dying. I encourage people to watch this discussion about end-of-life options and investigate these issues. Sure, there are legal and legislative matters we can debate, but we also have our own person matters that we need to examine with our own loved ones.

For a primer on earlier posts related to my admiration of Mr. Lopez’s compassionate reporting on this story, simply type his last name into the search box at the top right of the screen and read the entries. Start with the oldest one.

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Ms. Clinton on religious freedom

Many people who know me will know that I hold little truck with religion. At best, I consider religions woe-begotten variations on reasoned ways to live one’s life humanely. However, as much as I find religions untenable, I shall defend folks’ right to espouse religious—or anti-religious and especially non-religious—views. Thus I was thrilled to hear the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “Remarks at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report” in which she delivered one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom I can remember hearing.

Whether you might agree or disagree with Ms. Clinton’s political positions, I think most people will agree that the core of her remarks are a spirited defense of foundational principles of human freedom. I hope people everywhere, regardless of political stripe, can watch or read this talk. There are, to be sure, the usual segments of the talk that have to do with thanking contributors to the talk, thanking allies, and calling out miscreants. But there are, as I heard it live while driving home from a meeting yesterday AM, sections of the talk that discuss fundamental human aspirations. Reminders of the ideas of principles on which the US and other democracies were based hundreds of years ago.

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Charity for the 1%?

It seems like it’s a good time to remember some history. Do you sometimes forget relatively recent history? G. Santayana was reputed to have said something about (paraphrasing for syntactical fit) those of us who don’t remember the past being condemned to repeating it. Of course, ancient history may be inaccurate (did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned?), and this recent history might be, too. But see for yourself. Check this little bit of history from 2008 about how downtrodden the 1% were back then.

Thanks, This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Getting More Serious

Barbara Hansen of USA TODAY used GMI Ratings, Standard & Poor’s data, and other USA TODAY research to analyze the pay of chief executive officers of US corporations in 2011. Matt Krantz and Ms. Hansen reported the results of that analysis 28 March 2012. Here is a listing of the top 10 earners for 2011. Ms. Hansen’s table, available with the story they reported, can be sorted in other ways to allow one to see data on 151 companies’ executive’s earnings.

COMPANY EXECUTIVE TOTAL
Viacom Philippe Dauman $43,077,942
Honeywell International David Cote $35,378,249
Walt Disney Robert Iger $31,363,013
Marathon Oil Clarence Cazalot $29,911,662
Altera John Daane $29,576,725
Motorola Solutions Gregory Brown(1) $29,313,864
IBM Samuel Palmisano $24,221,865
Johnson & Johnson William Weldon $23,362,939
United Technologies Louis Chenevert $22,878,306
American Express Kenneth Chenault $22,490,401
Qualcomm Paul Jacobs $21,722,333
Coca-Cola Muhtar Kent $21,161,811
Cooper Industries Kirk Hachigian $21,116,678

Now, I don’t begrudge people making money, especially if they work hard, and I presume these men work hard, probably as hard as I do. And it’s not about me and them. But, what does one do with this sort of money. In one year, they’re making more than what a well-paid teacher made (including nice retirement and health benefits) over the past 35 years. Equitable?

Well, if these men gave 1% of their incomes to an endowment for a local school for five years, that would amount to something. Those schools would suddenly have budgets that would allow them to buy curricula that they might not otherwise be able to purchase, given the anti-tax and anti-education mood of many neighbors. And, if these savvy business men said, “You have to buy curricula that have a proven track record of success with the funds from this endowment (and here are the sensible rules for deciding what counts as such a curriculum),” then they might be “giving back to the community,” as their similarly wealthy athletics stars say.

In fact, mayhaps we could just ask that these way-wealthy folks would form coalitions and tackle problems such as this, just as the Buffet, Gates, Broad, and other families have addressed international problems. Mr. Atlanta Falcon Matt Ryan, Atlanta Coca Cola Mr. Muhtar Kent, Mr. Atlanta Hawk Joe Johnson, and Mr. Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones…y’all could do some good works among you, if you formed a team. Just 1-2% of your incomes a year for a three-year run for schools, boys-and-girls clubs, community music programs, shelters for indigent elderly folks…. Do you think you could afford 10%?

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Who’s the 99%?

Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir have an answer to that question. It’s actually pretty obvious, ’cause the 1% (really the one-tenth of one percent) are all those folks you and I see pretty much every day. May Day is just around the corner.

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