Previous Posts

[Sixteen months ago when Idiot Politics went off the air, so to speak, all content was deleted. With the recent decision to reactivate the blog, an effort was made to retrieve as many of the previous posts as possible through the Internet Archive. Only the latest post were available, and they have been provided below.]

Republican Whine Over Debate Questions

Looks like the Republican whine over the format and questions of their debates is falling flat in puff of pixie dust. Republicans are ever viewing themselves as victims of something or someone. They like to complain about the “liberal” media. What they are actually experiencing is that they are constantly running up against the truth and don’t like it. The media isn’t liberal. It is generally impartial, with outlays of liberal tainted opinion columns (New York Times is an example), but it does frequently kowtow to Republican intimidation, particularly CNN. On the other hand, Fox News is little more than an extension of the Republican party.

This victimization of themselves has not always been a characteristic of mainstream Republicans. In the days of Dwight Eisenhower and later Barry Goldwater and Gerald Ford, they at least had intellectual integrity and political honesty, even if I didn’t always care for their stances on the issues. Of course, Richard Nixon was an exception. Rush Limbaugh changed all that when he essentially took over the philosophical leadership of the party. It seems that people don’t really take a hard look at who he is — an uneducated drug addict who was never in uniform, and four times divorced. Doesn’t really sound like much of a conservative. Perhaps someday a new group of Republic prophets will take the stage and serve the party better.

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Pope Francis and Climate Change

This article in The Guardian is really good news. The Pope really is showing his sincerity on many issues. Global warming is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. And it is our fault. Failure to act to reduce carbon emissions is a moral failing of epic proportions. The Republicans are little more than an arm of the big oil companies, and their moral disregard for the health of the planet should destroy the party.

Perhaps their sense of fatalism and their wish for an apocalypse is driving their beliefs and actions. I believe they really do wish to bring on the end of the world. Hopefully this will be reflected in the polls in 2016. Can’t imagine why anyone would vote for a Republican candidate anymore.

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Wired: Apple’s Support of Ad Blocking May Upend How the Web Works

Articles like this one on Wired don’t address the real problem. Ads are ruining the culture. They are everywhere, screaming at you to look at them. Good for Apple blocking them. Marketers won’t let you alone while you focus on the content that you are there for. They may pay the bills for publishing houses, but they destroy more than the experience. They don’t allow you to function on the website. When I go to CNN website, they always start an ad video that precedes a video about the story. But I don’t want to see either video. I want to read the story. The video that duplicates the story isn’t there to add content. It’s there to get you to watch the video ad first. I always shut it off and read the story. Articles like this in Wired don’t get to the heart of the issue. Marketing is everywhere and destroying everything.

Yesterday a woman from AT&T came to our door to tell us that they were going to be in the neighborhood working on their lines. She said that she was just there to let us know what they were doing, upgrading and fixing lines and to not be concerned. But she wasn’t there to inform us. She had come to our door as a form of covert marketing. She wanted to know what AT&T products we use.

Marketing is everywhere and in everything. They do not know when to stop. Marketers are destroying culture. They are screaming at us on the television, ringing our landline phones off the hook, flashing at us on our cellphones, packing garbage into our mailboxes, and destroying our online experience.

I don’t know where all this is headed, but if marketers had some sense about what they do, customers wouldn’t mind advertising. but marketers want to consume everything within our culture. We’re just fighting back.

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Brian Williams’s Troubles

This should have been over days ago. It had to do with the personal side of Brian Williams and not the way he does his job as anchor of the evening news. He apologized. Get over it. We’re coming down on him for these trivialities while we have Fox News and that band of political and journalistic gutter trash spouting lies, distorting reality and ripping apart America every minute they are on the air. Brian Williams is good at his job. Let’s create a groundswell of support for bringing him back. Grow a backbone, NBC. Take the hit, move on and don’t look back.

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Comcast Views Customer as Asshole

Interesting story on CNN about Comcast. Comcast sent out a bill to a customer, and since he cancelled his cable service because he could no longer afford it, Comcast called him “Asshole”. Comcast has apologized, but what this gives us is a quick look into the culture at Comcast and the attitude from above that creates an environment where this could happen. Comcast has notoriously bad customer service. We have Comcast and can testify that Comcast support is about as bad as it gets. We used to have a Comcast support center here in Healdsburg. It was always crowded with customers and had truly helpful people behind the counter. So Comcast closed this support center and now Healdsburg customers have to drive to Santa Rosa. What a despicable company. One might say that Comcast is an Asshole Company.

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Greece — And What They Are Up Against

I am not an economist, but I have been following Greece closely for the last 22 years, ever since I traveled about the country for 10 weeks in 1993, and I spent more time there in 2009. I do have some opinions about what is going on with the Greek economy and the new government that has just taken over. As a part of the Eurozone, Greece no longer has its own money, the drachma, but is on the euro. The Eurozone is dominated by Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and the single individual with the most influence is Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005 and the de facto leader of the European Union. Merkel has been adamant about Greece incorporating harsh austerity measures that have brought Greece’s economy to its knees. Greece has a lot of problems because of corruption and nepotism as well as a business structure that is certainly outdate for our time.

But the new government has vowed to put the country on a different course to provide a brighter economic future. The new Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has vowed to be aggressive with his new policies.

Click here to see what is new cabinet looks like.

Click here to see what Tsipras is doing already.

The economist who seems to have the best record in predicting what is going on in economies throughout the world is Nobel laureate Paul Krugman who writes an op-ed column for the New York Times and also has a blog there. Click here for his opinion of what Greece should be doing. Here’s a link to his latest op-ed column on “Ending Greece’s Nightmare.”

This is a difficult time for Greece as well as the Eurozone. I’m hoping this new government can pull it off and return Greece to a country where the people are not suffering as they have the last few years. Unemployment is around 25 percent. I do believe Germans have a tendency to be overly ethnocentric. Greece will never be German, and Angela Merkel should wake up to the fact that her policies have not been good for Greece, and they have also not good for Europe in the current economic situation. The Eurozone could unravel.

Here’s how The Guardian sees the different scenarios playing out:

“Greece’s debts: what happens next?

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Cowardly Democrats

It seems that the world is beginning to wake up to the economic situation. Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank (ECB) has finally decided to act, and act forcefully, by introducing quantitative (QE) to help prevent a downward spiral in the EuroZone. It may be too late, but at least we’re finally starting to see some movement toward a more sensible monetary policy. Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate economist, has been screaming for this and other expansionary policies for years to prevent a meltdown world wide. Of course, the Germans, ever looking out for their own interests, are bellyaching about it.

President Obama has held America steady by ensuring that we have someone at the Federal Reserve who understands this and doesn’t let us slip into the same downward spiral being experience by European economies. The Fed has been using QE as an economic stimulus, over the shrill objections of Republicans, having been started by Ben Bernanke while he was the head of the Fed (2006-2014) and continued by Janet Yellen who took over from him in 2014. Republicans said that Obama was debasing the dollar and that QE would cause runaway inflation, which of course never happened. Deflation and a downward spiral into a depression was the real worry, and President Obama’s policies prevented that from happening in America and may well have prevented the world economy from collapsing. He would have done more to strengthen our economy if the Republicans in Congress would have let him.

Republicans haven’t want President Obama to succeed. When he first took office, the economy was in a downward spiral, and it appeared that it was possible that nothing could be done to prevent a complete collapse. This was the situation in 2008, just before Obama took office. Of course, Republicans have their “values” and one of them is abhorring all intervention by the Federal Government in the American economy. Obama also held as much ground as he could against damaging austerity programs Republicans wanted instituted. Obama saved us, but he didn’t get any credit for it.

And now the American economic recovery has set an example for the world to follow and that’s what Shinzo Abe is doing in Japan and Mario Draghi at the ECB by introducing QE in the EuroZone. Also, Greece, as a part of the EuroZone, has been subject to brutal austerity policies, but today Greece has a national election, and it appears that they may elect the leftwing anti-austerity Syriza party. The world is waking up to the fact that these conservative economic policies are on the verge of ruining the world economy.

All this being true, you might think that President Obama would be seen as our savior, that Democrats would be reveling in the president’s successes. But the Democrats are a cowardly bunch and have refused to support their own president, and even during the election just two months gone, stayed away from Obama. Republicans had convinced the American electorate that the president had ruined the economy and crippled America. It is the cowardliness of the Democrats that has let this happen. But President Obama is beginning to show more initiative and combativeness himself, and his popularity in the polls is increasing, so perhaps all is not lost.

So here come the Republicans again, and if they can get their man or woman in the White House, we could well see a complete collapse in the world economy that we have narrowly averted in recent years.

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NYT Post

NY Times has an article on the comments to Tom Hanks article on his experience with community colleges. I had a problem with some of the readers’ observations, so I commented again:

First, their comment: “Some readers questioned the $60 billion price tag of the president’s proposal over 10 years, and whether free tuition is the appropriate goal.”

My response: This is such a short-sighted observation. Educated people pay much more in taxes, and this fact alone means that it doesn’t cost anything in the long run. They create companies, do research for new products, invent new technologies, make movies, write plays, paint, sketch, become doctors, lawyers. Educated people are the culture and the business community. They rule the world. Truth be known, there isn’t a nickel’s worth of difference in any two human beings on this planet. Mostly it’s opportunity, self-confidence, preparation and persistence. I’m a perfect example. Raised on a farm, graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class, and yet I got an MS from Stanford university in astronaurical engineering. Let’s give everyone the opportunity. Let’s take the education monopoly away from the rich. The question isn’t if we can afford to educate everyone. The statement is that we as a government of the people can’t afford not to. Knowing that anyone can get a college education in itself will change students’ attitudes at every grade level, just knowing they have an academic future. To me all college education should be free, even graduate school. This isn’t a trickle-down effect. It’s trickle-up. Actually, it’s not a trickle, it’s a gusher.

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New York Times Op-Ed by David Brooks

Some things really get me riled up. One of them is people writing about something they don’t know anything about. It’s even worse when they are writing for a major publication like the New York Times. David Brooks at times makes a lot of sense, but not his most recent article. I made this comment to his “Support Our Students” article.

I just simply do not understand how someone who seems honest and sincere could write an article that is so completely wrong. Unlike you, David Brooks, my parents were not well-educated, and I did not initially attend a well-known university. I graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class and went off to a community college, which at the time was free in California. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to attend. I struggled through, graduated with an AA degree, and a few years later, I went on to a BS in engineering and then to Stanford where I received an MS, also in engineering. So I know how important it was that my community college was tuition free, and also how important it was to my classmates. You don’t.

After I retired from my aerospace career, I joined the staff at a community college, worked in the library, and I also taught astronomy, novel writing and Greek mythology for a time. I worked a lot with students and saw them struggle with the bills, mostly problems paying tuition because times had changed, and tuition was no longer free. President Obama is really on to something with his free-tuition proposal.

You don’t know what you’re talking about, David Brooks, you and your cherry-picked statistics. You haven’t been there, and you don’t have a clue.

Of course, he proposes a lot of things instead of the free tuition, which is the President’s proposal. But it is all obfuscation and a dilution of effort that requires many laws that would never get through Congress. The President’s proposal is simple and right to the point.

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How to Change Your Life for the Better

Today I posted a comment to an article by Tara Parker-Pope titled “Writing Your Way to Happiness.” Here’s my comment:

I graduated in the lowest quarter of my high school class, so I went off to a two year community college instead of a university. Yet, just two weeks into classes, I was totally demoralized, didn’t know what I was doing there, knew I wasn’t cut out for college, and had decided to quit. One evening I sat down at my desk and wrote a long letter to my parents explaining why I was going to quit and come home. I poured everything I had into that letter. The next morning I realized that none of it was true. I tore up the letter and went to class. I never looked back. I didn’t do well, but I did graduate with a two-year degree and a few years later went on to a university where I got a BS in mechanical engineer, then went on to graduate school at Stanford University and got an MS in astronautical engineering. Decades later, I worked for a while on a second undergraduate degree in literature. I have now written nine books. But everything, my entire academic future and who I became, hinged on the one night when I wrote that letter of total defeat to my parents.

I didn’t have space to get into it, but I’ve written a book on storytelling, titled Story Alchemy, that describes the process by which an author comes to terms with him/herself. It’s based on the psychologist Carl Jung’s Active Imagination. If you’re interested, you can pick up a free digital copy just about anywhere online. Here it is on Amazon. It’s also available on a website I created here:

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