Politics

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obama-muslim quote

by Reid Fitzsimons

Barak Obama is a liar, which is not a preposterous thing to say. Bad people lie and good people lie. Sometimes lies are told out of cowardice, other times to help a person through a troubled period, sometimes to facilitate a seemingly greater good, and other times to facilitate a selfishly desired goal. At times people lie to themselves, at times to others, and sometimes to both. Politicians are probably more accomplished liars than average though some are notoriously unskilled and hence entertaining, Richard Nixon, Gary Hart, and John Edwards being examples. The Clintons are not particularly adept at lying in that the truth eventually reveals itself. Their success is based more on the concept found in the lyrics of Are You Lonesome Tonight- “I'd rather go on hearing your lies than to go on living without you.” As difficult as it may be for a rational person to accept, just as there are people who actually watch and receive pleasure from morning network news programs and reality shows, there are masses totally enamored with Bill and Hillary. The Clintons may not be particularly adept liars but they know their intended audience, and this has served them well for many years.

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state

by Barry King, November 28 2015

Thanks to Reid's son Forest for introducing me to this book. If you buy it, or buy anything else from amazon.com, please shop at smile.amazon.com instead of www.amazon.com, and select The Virunga Fund as your beneficiary. It won't increase your price, but amazon will make a donation to Virunga.

http://smile.amazon.com/Seeing-like-State-Certain-Condit…/…/

Book review: Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James C. Scott.

Prototypical scheme: A wild forest was designed by God, or by Darwinian evolution, to "succeed" as an ecosystem capable of sustaining a bio-diverse assortment of plant, animal, insect and bird species (and many other kinds). Modern "scientific" forestry, on the other hand, in its early stages, focused on maximizing board-feet of lumber produced, and chose mono-culture: a whole forest of trees of a single species, planted in rows. Many such projects worked for a few years, then failed as the whole forest ecosystem collapsed for unforeseen reasons involving complex interdependencies. The key insight is: these projects, and many others like them, were promoted as "modern", "scientific" and "rational", but were nevertheless unsustainable.

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obama.boehner

by Reid Fitzsimons

(Warning: this article includes gender stereotypes, which might be viewed as microaggressive)

One day, 30 plus years ago, a guy I worked with (we were friendly if not exactly friends) kind of blurted out, “We do IT once a week, straight missionary, over in five minutes.” Obviously he needed to express some frustrations pertaining to this aspect of his marriage. Often marriage is described as a series of compromises, which is probably true in many cases, and doesn’t necessarily imply problems beyond resolution. In regards to intimacy, typically or perhaps stereotypically, the husband wants IT more frequently or adventurously while the wife is looking for more cuddling and romance. Neither is wrong, and within the foundational concept of marriage, compromise may well enhance the relationship for both. True compromise, however, requires working within a mutual framework.

Say a husband is a selfish ass who read one Penthouse Forum (is that still around?) too many, you know- “You might not believe it, but my wife caught me looking at the hot young divorcee who moved in next door. Instead of being angry she told me to go ahead, as long as she could watch!” He’s not thinking of trying to be more affectionate if maybe his wife would be willing to experiment with this or that. Rather he pictures himself as some swinging orgy guy, which inconveniently falls outside the bounds of marriage, even if he begins to convince himself otherwise. Compromise becomes coercion, though he still presents it as the former. “Come on honey, why can’t you be reasonable- if I’m satisfied I’ll be a better husband to you.” Perhaps the wife is strong and deftly disabuses him of his fantasy or tells him to get lost, but perhaps she is not. For some reason she is capable of submitting herself to humiliation: maybe being with him offers her a desired social standing, or she can’t overcome deep personal insecurities, or she has evolved some less-than-healthy concept of love. She’s grasping for anything to justify an acceptance of this situation she knows is wrong and unfair to her. If he says, “I may be having sex with a lot of different girls, but you’re the only one I truly love,” it is enough. It has to be enough, because it’s the best he’s going to give.

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sen csey

by Reid Fitzsimons

Note: The following appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Times-Leader newspaper on Sep 17, 2015 with the title "Sen. Bob Casey Parrots Planned Parenthood's Dubious Statistics."  Below that (“Follow-up”) reflects a discussion subsequent to when the letter was written (early August 2015) with one of Sen. Casey’s policy staffers in his Washington office on Sept. 10, 2015.

A majority in the US Senate recently voted to terminate Federal funding of Planned Parenthood (PP), but a “supermajority” was not obtained, hence the motion failed. Among those voting in support of the half billion dollar plus subsidy of PP was Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. Those who follow such things know that Sen. Casey frequently declares himself to be “pro-life,” but of course he is not- his obsequiousness when it comes to the severe progressive liberalism of Barak Obama disallows whatever independent thought he might possess. Perhaps claiming to be “pro-life” buys him few votes or, less cynically, it helps assuage a sense of inadequacy in his inability to live up to his father’s moral standard.

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cc

by Barry King

For lovers of science and of nature, parasitism is a fascinating topic. An important detail is the complexity of the definition of "success" for the parasite, who prefers to rely on the productivity of others rather than on his own productivity (the cuckoo prefers not to be bothered by the hard work of building a nest, incubating eggs, and feeding chicks, so she just lays her eggs in someone else's nest.) The "success" of parasitism has an obvious strategic limitation in this consequence, that if the parasite is too "successful" the host is overwhelmed and goes extinct. Then the parasite goes extinct because it had become fatally dependent on a now-extinct host. Cuckoos can get away with it sustainably because they are parasitic only gently and on a wide variety of other species rather than on just one. A forest with cuckoos is more (bio)diverse than one without, but if the cuckoos collectively are not careful they will end up subtracting both their hosts and themselves from the biodiversity gene pool. That's why infectious organisms that cause 100% fatality in their hosts are extremely rare: their evolutionary tactic is strategically suicidal within just 1 or 2 generations. In human politics and economics, the analog to parasitism is misleadingly called "rent-seeking" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking) I guess it's a good thing that we humans are not aggressively parasitic organisms - or are we?

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hillary_1

by Reid Fitzsimons

Back sometime in the late 1990s, beginning on a Monday at 8am and ending at 8am the following day, I was scheduled as the medical officer on-call at the NY State facility for mentally retarded/developmentally disabled people where I worked from 1986 to 2001. The on-call person is the primary medical contact for his or her own caseloads along with the patients of other providers who happen to be off the schedule at the time, and for everyone after normal working hours. Soon after my shift began I received a page from one of the outlying residences. The concern was an elderly lady who had been ill onset the previous Friday evening and continuing to the present. Her presentation included recurrent vomiting of blood, poor to no intake of fluids and in general looking very sick. I told the direct care staff to bring her to our clinic immediately and it was obvious she was in extremis, requiring an acute care hospital and operating room, well beyond our clinic capabilities. I made the arrangements for transfer to the hospital and got her on her way with haste, but sadly she died later that day.

My inclination was to always treat the lower paid direct care workers with respect, but in this case, knowing the agony this innocent person suffered over the preceding weekend, I very pointedly inquired as to why they let her deteriorate and failed to contact the weekend on-call person. To my surprise they said, with some frustration, they in fact had made the call. I asked what the on-call physician told them, and they replied, “He said give her Mylanta.” Though I don’t specifically recall the cause of death in this case, it was probably complications of hemorrhagic erosive esophagitis, the sometimes fatal end of the spectrum that begins with what is commonly called heartburn or reflux, and not uncommon in our patient population. At some point this patient was perhaps salvageable and, if seen and properly treated, her suffering certainly could have been diminished.

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Bernie-Sanders-Cowed-in-Seattle

by Reid Fitzsimons

Bernie Sanders is vying to be the next Democratic candidate for president. He is a socialist, or perhaps a democratic socialist but probably not a social democrat. The former two aspire to the end of private property and capitalism, while the latter suggests more of a welfare state within a capitalistic framework- a reluctant capitulation that wealth must be created in order to distribute it. Here is a brief bio gleaned from various internet sources:

Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, NY City in 1941 and grew up in what might be described as lower middle class circumstances. He was a bit of a high school athlete, attended college in Brooklyn for a year then transferred to the University of Chicago, graduating with a BA in political science in 1964. By this time he was established as a socialist and left-wing activist. He spent perhaps a few months at a kibbutz but otherwise the cursory internet sources don’t specify how he occupied his time in the mid-60s. Several agree he purchased a “summer house” (together with a spouse at the time) in Vermont and by 1968 was residing in Vermont full-time.

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bortion

by Reid Fitzsimons

Somewhere in the early 1980’ I switched from being pro-abortion to pro-life. I wasn’t any kind of firebrand pro-abortion activist, just one of the tens of millions of Americans who didn’t want to be troubled by thinking too hard. It took no great empathetic powers to comprehend an unexpected pregnancy can put a severe damper on life’s plans and, as Americans, we didn’t and don’t suffer interruptions to our ambitions or life-styles easily. Additionally, the feminists and social justice people of the early 80s, personified especially by Planned Parenthood, assured us we weren’t talking about ending a life but that abortion was more akin to picking boogers out of our noses. I recall three terms The Great Progressive Minds used when describing that troublesome entity residing in the uterus- a blob of tissue, a clump of cells, and, for the more intellectual among the mindless masses, the products of conception. What person in their right mind could possibly be opposed to sucking out a blob of tissue? It would be like being against hacking up a big loogie.

At this time I was a PA (Physician Assistant) student in Cleveland and I certainly possessed a cursory knowledge of embryology, so academically I knew the blob of tissue paradigm wasn’t entirely accurate, but everyone wants symbols and terminology to comport with their worldview; it allows us to not be troubled in our beliefs. During the clinical year I did a month-long inpatient gynecology rotation at hospital downtown, one that frequently did abortions. No problem for me, and I was perfectly fine with observing and assisting. Assuming most people can’t really envision the procedure, it is not one that requires high-level surgical skill. In other words, abortionists may be wealthy but are unlikely to be world-class physicians. Essentially a hollow plastic tube (curette) is passed through the cervix while attached to a suction machine and, with a little scraping and vacuuming of the uterus, viola’! problem solved. The thing is the suction tubing is transparent, and I happened to notice the promised blob being sucked into oblivion looked quite a bit like little arms and legs, with feet and fingers and things. Was it possible the progressives and good people at Planned Parenthood had engaged in a bit of deception?

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by Barry King

I have Mennonite relatives who travel all over North America without paying for hotel rooms, by staying in the homes of a network of relatives of relatives or friends of friends. In so doing, they fail to support the hotel industry and perhaps contribute to slow job growth in that sector. I have Amish relatives who, when they suffer fire damage to a barn, will accept the volunteer help of neighbors for rebuilding, instead of hiring unionized construction workers for that job. In so doing, they take jobs away from those unionized workers. Further: the working conditions at the Amish Barn raising might possibly be OSHA-non-compliant. The Amish also plow their fields with mule teams instead of tractors, and drive horse-drawn carriages on the roads, instead of cars.

It wonders me (that’s a Pennsylvania Dutch phrase) how I should understand Anabaptist attitudes toward innovation. Anabaptists until very recently have been counter-cultural in a variety of ways, which is kind of innovative, but on the other hand, plowing with a mule team in the 21st century seems old-fashioned. Now comes another data point: modern internet-based ride sharing via Uber looks a lot like “Mennonite-Your-Way” travel arrangements and like the Amish approach to barn-raising, and the Uber economic model is considered innovative rather than reactionary, whereas, the growing backlash against it looks pretty darn reactionary. Sixty years after Bill Buckley coined the phrase, who is it now who is standing athwart history and yelling “Stop!”? (Hint: read Hillary’s recent speech in which she scolded Uber, without mentioning it by name. If the guy in Seinfeld who withheld soup was a “Soup Nazi”, does that mean Hillary is now an “Uber Nazi”? Just wondering...) Bill Clinton wanted to build a bridge to the 21st century, which at the time was a forward-looking idea. Now here we are, and Hillary apparently wants to build the same bridge, but she plans on using it to go the other way.

So why exactly is Hillary staking out a position as an Uber Nazi? Well, she counts on union support, and the unions hate Uber, and she likes tax revenues and regulation, while Uber drivers and customers tend to dislike those things. How much do unions and government regulators hate the Uber-style economy? In France, Hillary’s fellow travelers (mobs of taxi drivers) “went full Luddite”, destroying Uber cars, and the French government joined them by arresting Uber managers.

Bottom line: the fundamental difference between the Amish, the Mennonites, and the Uber drivers on the one hand, v. the Uber Nazis on the other is this: the former are content to do their economics via free contracts voluntarily entered, while leaving the rest of the world also free to do whatever they want, whereas, the Uber Nazis want to impose their preferred models on other people by means of government coercion or violence.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421134/hillary-uber-economy-speech-sharing-economy-2016

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4542228%2Fpresident-obama-eulogy-clementa-pinckney-funeral-service  President Obama at his best, drawing on 2000 years of Christian tradition, also recently demonstrated by Rwandan Christians after their 1994 genocide and by Lancaster County Amish folks after their 2006 Nickel Mines school massacre (an example of forgiveness also explicitly followed by the survivors at Emmanuel AME church). The President here has kept a tight rein on his inclination to exploit crises for political advantage (limiting it to between about 25:00 and 30:00 in this 38 minute speech). That's progress, but he is still missing that part of the Christian tradition, which some Rwandan survivors have also missed, but which the Amish understand, and which Jesus himself clearly understood and articulated: that there is a possibility for Christians to do forgiveness and reconciliation, and experience Amazing Grace, without at the same time yielding to the temptation to lay their hands on political power which amounts to violence and coercion in another form.