Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I have had a front-row seat for the past 6 weeks to the debate over what has eventually become House Bill 2 (HB2) in the Texas state legislature.

To a majority of the people outside of Texas and perhaps to a significant percentage in-state who are only paying marginal attention, the debate has been framed as two sides arguing over a late-term abortion bill.  This has been a masterful red herring by the Perry-Dewhurst administration, swallowed by some of the national press, because a majority of the country is against "late-term abortions", even though that definition is a very loose one.

Problem is, that's not what the protests have been about.  Had this bill been simply about reducing the period to obtain a legal abortion in Texas from 24 weeks to 20 weeks you would not have seen the level of protests nor the passion.  There would have been no Special Legislative Session nor a second one.  (Texas lawmakers only meet every 2 years for a maximum of 140 days, but the Governor can call a 30-day Special Session if he/she believes there is legislation that is too important to wait.)

Framed by the administration and the bill's authors as a bill to restrict late-term abortions, and secondarily at 20 weeks because this is the (wholly unproven) point where fetuses feel pain.  The real aim of this bill, though, is to shut down any clinic providing abortions, by adding onerous restrictions that they hoped they could bury sufficiently so that the media or the public would not notice the details, which would have allowed it to be ramrodded through by the Republican majority in both chambers.  And they were almost successful until being out-maneuvered by the Democrats in the Senate, which allowed enough time for public opposition in Texas to be organized.

The proponents of the bill then shifted gears to try and frame it as protecting women's health, a dubious argument when it would shut down clinics across the state, not only leaving few options for abortions but also shuttering dozens of clinics that provide the only care facilities for hundreds of miles around.

In short, this has not been a fight over late-term abortions.  This has been a fight over an attempt to eliminate abortions without regard for the consequences.

No abortions can legally be performed in Texas after 20 weeks.  The method of calculation is also altered to start at date of fertilization (most of the time this is a guess, of course) instead of the typical method of going forward 7 days from the last menstrual period.  The stated reasoning for this is because of a supposition that the fetus "feels pain" beyond 20 weeks.

All abortions must be administered by a doctor who has "admitting privileges" at a hospital no more than 30 miles away.

All facilities where abortions are performed must be brought up to Ambulatory Surgical Center, or ASC, standards.  This includes the following: men's and women's locker rooms, hallways wide enough for gurneys to turn around, a boiler room, a centrifuge, a pharmacy staffed by licensed pharmacists, and an on-staff janitor and janitor's closet.

If the drug RU486 is to be administered to induce abortion, it must be taken in the presence of a doctor with admitting privileges at a local hospital, as must the follow-up dosage 48 hours later.

Any exceptions.  Health of the mother is endangered?  Too bad once you pass 20 weeks.  A 12-year old impregnated by her uncle?  Should have spoken up sooner.  A women raped by her boss?  Same.  The baby is going to be badly deformed, will die soon after birth, or is already dead?  Tough it out and carry it to term.

Any funding for contraception usage.

Any increase or even mention of counseling support.

Any increased funding or even moving of funds towards strengthening or encouraging adoption.

Any requirement or strengthening of sex education.

This bill did not survive in the regular legislative session.  So Governor Rick Perry called a "special session" of 30 days, which he has the right to do, and changed all Senate votes from the normal 2/3 majority to a simply majority, which mystically he also has the right to do.  The bill's opponents successfully galvanized the public to demonstrate and voice their opposition, which delayed a vote long enough to lead to the event that sparked a more national interest, when Senator Wendy Davis successfully fillibustered the bill long enough to allow the clock to run out on the Special Session.  (It's a bit more complex than that, but that's the gist of what occurred.)

Rick Perry, wanting to burnish his conservative credentials for another run at the Presidency, immediately called a 2nd Special Session to attempt to ramrod the bill through again. In this session, the renamed bill was pushed through at the front of the session to ensure that there would be no last-minute parliamentary procedures to delay it.

Part of the Republican strategy was to not accept any amendments to the bill, as this would cause a 48-hour delay because it would be required to be kicked back to the other chamber (in this case the House) for debate.  Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, accepted no amendments.  None for rape and incest exceptions.  None for when the mother's life was in danger.  None for a baby that would be born unviable or stillborn.


This is a long series of dirty tricks by the Republicans.

Ending the Citizen's Filibuster
Texas law allows for a Citizen's Filibuster.  This essentially allows individuals the forum to get up and speak against (or for) a particular bill.  While each citizen is limited to 3 minutes of time, there is no limit to the number of citizens who can speak.  They are required to be a resident of Texas or the district where the bill we take affect if it's not statewide.  Over 700 people registered to speak against the bill.   But the Republican-led State Affairs Committee voted to cessate the filibuster.  (This will undoubtedly be one of the upcoming legal challenges.)  And this breach of protocol at best and law at worst is what led Wendy Davis to declare that she would personally filibuster the bill.

Questionable Procedural Ethics
During Wendy Davis's filibuster, Senate Republicans broke from traditional decorum to do anything they could to find technical reasons to end her filibuster.  There is a 3 strike rule, and the first strike was given when she mentioned Planned Parenthood's budget for not being germane to the conversation.  About abortion.  Yes, they were serious.

The second strike came she was trying to adjust a back brace she had worn. (Senate filibuster rules say that you must stand, cannot lean on anything for support, cannot eat, drink, or leave chambers)  The strike came when Senator Royce West helped her adjust the brace when it appeared she was having difficulty.

When she mentioned the previously passed Sonogram law the majority Republicans ruled she had violated "germaneness" rules and had strayed too far from the topic at hand, ending her filibuster.  In case you're not familar with the Sonogram law, it requires every woman seeking an abortion to first submit to a sonogram at least 24 hours prior to the abortion, and then to be forced to listen to the heartbeat (if there is one) and be shown displays of the embryo/fetus.  Yes, this was considered off topic to even mention when discussing abortion.  What it really was: a thinly-veiled and underhanded attempt to push Senator Davis off the floor so they could sneak in a vote before midnight, when the Special Session was mandated to end.

Senate Democrats fought this in chambers, but finally at about 11:45pm they had run out of options.  And that's when the citizens opposed to the bill who were seated in the Senate gallery took over.  Fed up with the underhandedness of the Republicans, they spontaneously made as much noise as they possibly could, ultimately making it impossible for a vote to be taken because no one on the floor could here.

Manipulating the Vote
Republicans managed to tabulate a vote by walking around the floor from member to member, but it took too long and the vote was tabulated after midnight.  Incredibly, with the procedures being live-streamed and observed by over 800,000 people, they manually changed the time stamp on the vote to reflect it as occurring before the midnight deadline.  No surprise, this was caught immediately and reported to media outlets just as quickly.  The Republicans were forced to rescind the vote.  (Although never apologizing or actually confessing that they had done this purposefully.)

2nd Special Session
Governor Perry now called for a 2nd Special Session.  Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, smarting from his failure to pass the bill in the 1st SS, now made it priority.

Why Stick to Texas Voters?
But now the bill's opponents in the State had become educated, angry, and organized.  A rally was held on the State capitol's steps the day the 2nd SS opened.  Over 5000 were on hand to support the effort.  Anti-abortion groups were now trying to martial their troops and attempted to organize supporters to come to capitol for a counter-protest.  Their numbers were awful by comparison, measuring in the low 100s.

The anti-choice groups decided that they needed to take more drastic action and began organizing church groups from outside of Texas to attend every event.  Slowly, their numbers grew so that at each event they were closer and closer to making the numbers appear equal.  But these were not largely Texas residents, but people who were zealots from elsewhere, some being paid to attend by being given places to stay, meals, and free transportation.  Bear that in mind with any video you may see.

Capitol Police Intimidation
Possibly the most heinous aspect of all was the behavior of the Capitol Police force.  In all probability they were being directed to take the following actions by the Administration. (Perry and Dewhurst both referred to the bill's opponents as an "unruly mob" even though there had been no incidents.)  These tactics included:

-showing up to all rallies in riot gear
-creating lines of troopers on horses (also in riot gear)
-purposely not putting bags on the horses so they would defecate in the middle of rallies and leave the piles
-removing people from the gallery for breaking all sorts of rules (like talking).  Of course, only opponents of the bill.  There's not a single report of a "blue shirt" being removed.

-And the most heinous: confiscating tampons and feminine pads the day that the vote was to be taken.  The first reports were that some people had tried to bring jars of feces and urine, so the response was to confiscate anything that could be thrown.  The Texas Tribune was the first to report that there had been no such jars.  Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) convinced the DPS (Department of Public Safety) to cease the confiscations.

Further irony here: concealed weapons (guns) were allowed in chambers.  You can't make this up.

Despite what most of the media is sadly reporting, this bill is NOT about limiting legal abortions in Texas to 20 weeks, nor are the protests focused on that.  This is about forcing clinics to close, no matter what the fallout.  Regardless of your stance on abortion, remember that.  Understand that this will severely reduce the health options of women in much of Texas, not just those seeking abortions.  Republicans have gone so far off the rails they don't care who they hurt, so long as they can destroy Planned Parenthood.

Anything else is a red herring, which is exactly what the Republicans want you to focus on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It may not be political, but it's just as ridiculous as partisan politics.

Quit with the West Nile hysteria.

If every West Nile death actually occurred in Texas (which it has not), that would be 41 people this year out of a population of 25MM, or .000000164%.  The actual number as of this posting is 17 people dead.  As a national statistic of 41 deaths in 8 months given a population of 310MM it's even more laughable to be on the radar.  More people die from the flu in almost any given week than have died from West Nile this entire year. (Roughly 25,000 annually, over 200,000 hospitalized annually.)  More mothers die in labor (800-900/yr).  More pedestrians are hit by cars and killed (4300 in 2010).  More people are shot and killed (35K-40K/yr).  More people die of alcohol poisoning (estimates run around 1200 annually).  I do not mean this to intimate that a death from something such as West Nile is not horrific and horrible.  But to suggest that this is something for which everyone need to gird their loins is irresponsible.

West Nile is not statistically significant. It isn't going to mutate and be transmitted in another way, so there's no reasonable chance for an epidemic. Yet Dallas and Tarrant counties here in Texas have commmitted tens of thousands of dollars to spraying insecticides, which will probably not prove effective (mosquitoes breed too readily) and will harm the environment.  Spraying pesticides kills everything: bees, dragonflies (which eat the mosquitoes), and beneficial insects.  The long-term effects of DEET are still unknown, and while it could turn out to be perfectly safe there is a reasonable possibility that it will have long-term negative effects, such as increased risk of cancer.  DEET-infused mosquito spray melts plastic and strips nail polish.  Generally speaking, that's not desirable in a topical spray that coats your body.

Hysteria over West Nile is leading to "cures" that are far worse than the problem, which in reality really isn't that big of one.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Every so often you come across something you wish you'd written. 

Below is a reprint of a tongue-in-cheek article that appeared in Thursday's Chicago Tribune. Not that this is necessarily directed at a single party, but the Tribune was, of course, historically a conservative newspaper that now finds itself nowhere near the Republicans due to the shifting ground and polarization of the past decade.

To which I can completely relate. 

The tome:

RIP: Facts (360 B.C.-A.D. 2012)

A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world's most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.

But for many, Facts' most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child's certainty of its mother's love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.

Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people's lives that Irish philosopher
Edmund Burke once said: "Facts are to the mind what food is to the body."

To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep.
Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.

Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.

"It's very depressing," said Mary Poovey, a professor of English at
New York University and author of "A History of the Modern Fact." "I think the thing Americans ought to miss most about facts is the lack of agreement that there are facts. This means we will never reach consensus about anything. Tax policies, presidential candidates. We'll never agree on anything."

Facts was born in ancient Greece, the brainchild of famed philosopher Aristotle. Poovey said that in its youth, Facts was viewed as "universal principles that everybody agrees on" or "shared assumptions."

But in the late 16th century, English philosopher and scientist Sir
Francis Bacon took Facts under his wing and began to develop a new way of thinking.

"There was a shift of the word 'fact' to refer to empirical observations," Poovey said.

Facts became concrete observations based on evidence. It was growing up.

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power.

But those halcyon days would not last.

People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.

"There was an erosion of any kind of collective sense of what's true or how you would go about verifying any truth claims," Poovey said. "Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact."

Though weakened, Facts managed to persevere through the last two decades, despite historic setbacks that included
President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, the justification forPresidentGeorge W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the debate over President Barack Obama's American citizenship.

Facts was wounded repeatedly throughout the recent
GOP primary campaign, near fatally when Michele Bachmann claimed a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease causes mental retardation. In December, Facts was briefly hospitalized after MSNBC's erroneous report that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign was using an expression once used by the Ku Klux Klan.

But friends and relatives of Facts said Rep. West's claim that dozens of Democratic politicians are communists was simply too much for the aging concept to overcome.

As the world mourned Wednesday, some were unwilling to believe Facts was actually gone.

Gary Alan Fine, the John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, said: "Facts aren't dead. If anything, there are too many of them out there. There has been a population explosion."

Fine pointed to one of Facts' greatest battles, the debate over global warming.

"There are all kinds of studies out there," he said. "There is more than enough information to make any case you want to make. There may be a preponderance of evidence and there are communities that decide something is a fact, but there are enough facts that people who are opposed to that claim have their own facts to rely on."

To some, Fine's insistence on Facts' survival may seem reminiscent of the belief that rock stars like Jim Morrison are still alive.

"How do I know if Jim Morrison is dead?" Fine asked. "How do I know he's dead except that somebody told me that?"

Poovey, however, who knew Facts as well as anyone, said Facts' demise is undoubtedly factual.

"American society has lost confidence that there's a single alternative," she said. "Anybody can express an opinion on a blog or any other outlet and there's no system of verification or double-checking, you just say whatever you want to and it gets magnified. It's just kind of a bizarre world in which one person's opinion counts as much as anybody else's."

Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Work, Parenthood, and Faux Apologies

Lost in the Hillary Rosen-Ann Romney flap (with a side of Bill Maher thrown in for good measure) is what Mitt Romney's position has been when the subject of the debate wasn't his wife. A video has surfaced of Mitt Romney discussing his view of welfare earlier this year before the upcoming New Hamsphire primary. It's easy to locate on major media sites (and probably YouTube), so I suggest you should watch the entire exchange. The short version is that he believes that those who are going to accept aid from the government, federal or state, should in return be required to take a job so that they can share in "the dignity of work." And of course, intentionally or not he's suggesting requiring unemployed mothers to get a job since they comprise the vast majority of welfare recipients.

So, we have a more clear understanding of how Mitt feels, especially since his legislative record reflects what he says in this speech, leaving little doubt that this is his actual opinion. Perhaps there can now be a sane and measured conversation.

Let's go back to what actually started this chain of events: Mitt Romney commenting on more than one occasion that Ann is his go-to source when he wants to know about women's issues and how the economy affects families. And that says more about him than it does her.

See, this actually has little to do with Ann, who by all accounts is a wonderful mother and person and has come through some serious health crises. This is about Mitt, who appears to seek counsel about the economic toll befalling non-wealthy American women from a person who was also born into privilege, married into privilege, and chose not to enter what most of us consider the workplace. She is no more qualified to give advice on the subject of everyday economics than I, a childless man, am qualified to give advice on parenting.

Now, if the discussion moves to what Romney said in Manchester, then that's another conversation entirely, and one that probably should be fleshed out. There are undoubtedly some people who could be working who choose not to, but there also will be people who cannot land a job whether it's "required" or not. It's not a simple debate with easy answers, but that's precisely why the debate should occur. But let's not obfuscate the real problem here: a man who's never known hardship seeking advice from his long-time companion who's also never known hardship about "ordinary Americans." And the counsel-giver has never worked in the public or private sector. That is the real issue here, and it goes to the heart of Romney's judgements and critical thinking skills.

So sure: exact the pound of flesh from Hillary Rosen, who's an easy target precisely because she does speak in sound bites and talking points instead of providing thoughtful commentary or insightful information. But understand, now that the dust has settled and people have had time to digest the topic, many are going to conclude that it could be a real problem to have a President, already seen as out-of-touch, who turns to a person in his same circumstances for most of his advice instead of reaching out to experts in the various disciplines needed to run the country.

Friday, July 29, 2011

One Question

If all of you people who thought putting in Tea Party candidates was such a good idea, let me ask you one question:

If they weren't in Congress, would we be having this meaningless and destructive showdown over the debt ceiling?

"Anybody but..." is a stupid way to elect your representatives, especially when it's a bloc that combines ignorance with arrogance. Too late now, though, as you're reaping what you sowed. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to live with it as well.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dumbing Ourselves Down

I’m going to start by saying that this new blogging journey that the CW and I are on is an interesting one. Any blogger, or even most national opinion writers, can sit at their computers and spout. To back up your positions with factual information requires a great deal of time and research. Despite the time-suck the CW and I are determined to stay the course. If every blogger in America did the same we’d probably have better discourse in this country. Alas…


For whatever reason, there seems to be strong empirical evidence that Americans have surprisingly little knowledge of current political issues even as they seemingly have incredibly black and white views on political positions. Proving or disproving this beyond the empirical is a difficult, if not impossible proposition, although one can easily find enough evidence to comfortably say that Americans are woefully ignorant of political realities and facts. Examples: Barack Obama is a Muslim, who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and who the top military commander is in Afghanistan. So we (“we” being me and the CW) chose to do some research on how people today are getting their political information.

To do this, we had to make some suppositions. We started with the way news is reported, and we looked at 1) political and news magazines, 2) local and national newspapers, and 3) cable and local television news.

-Our first supposition was that news magazines (e.g., Time, U.S. News, Christian Science Monitor Weekly, Business Week, Forbes) have the most in-depth coverage of stories based on their area of interest when compared to the newspapers and TV.
-The second supposition is that both national (e.g., USA Today, Wall Street Journal) and local newspapers cover topics that are more widely varying than magazines or TV, especially local newspapers since they also are attempting to cover stories of local interest.
-By nature, if these suppositions are true (which seem reasonable that they are based on empirical evidence and common sense), then TV news reports little more than an overview of a small number of stories. Even 24/7 cable news does not spend the in-depth time on most issues, outside of opinion and tabloid shows.

-According to this synopsis by the Pew Research Center of a survey concluded in February 2009, readership of newspapers in any form has fallen among all age groups. The WWII generation (the “Greatest Generation”) dropped to 53% from 65%, and Baby Boomers dropped from 48% to 38%. Gen X & Gen Y apparently never started reading newspapers in any form, as their numbers over the same time went from 31% & 22% respectively to 26% & 21% respectively.

-During this same time period news gathered from TV sources has remained stable.

-Even for those getting their news online, online cable TV news sites (CNN, Fox, MSNBC) are visited consistently higher than the entire aggregation of local newspaper sites, which also suggests that people’s understanding of local issues, arguably more important in people’s day-to-day lives than national issues, is declining rapidly.

Pew also breaks the country down by how they get their news into Integrators, Net-Newsers, Traditionalists and Disengaged, with Traditionalists being by far the largest segment (46%). This is the only segment that is almost solely reliant on TV for their news. However, the Integrators (23%) also use TV as their main news source. Integrators are defined as those who use traditional sources (TV, magazine, newspaper) and the internet. They tend to be middle-aged Americans who are “well-educated and affluent.” This means that, taken as an aggregate, 69% of all Americans rely on TV for all or most of their news.

This might be ok if TV were a reliable source for accuracy in a “headline news” sort of mode, or if the 24/7 news channels were to take the major stories of the day and give them a journalistic analysis. But that’s not the reality of what national news coverage has become; certainly not with the cable news stations, which have become more and more politicized over time. CNN, which was once thought of as both the bastion of TV journalism and ironically as the mouthpiece of the left is now foundering as not being politicized enough, and therefore 3rd in the cable news ratings.

So if TV news is a brief overview of issues, is overtly politicized instead of being journalistically sound, is rewarded (by ratings) for assuming a political stance, and people are picking and choosing what network to watch based on their political affiliation, then the viewership is being rewarded for continuing to believe what they want to believe. Along the same line, the network or station in question is rewarded for giving their viewership “red meat” along the political lines they hold. To the medium of television news, journalism is all but dead, true dissent is dead, and by nature, the truth is dead. Yet this is what 69% of all Americans choose as their primary news source.

Is it any wonder that we are becoming more polarized and more intractable? If this climate continues, will we ever be able to compromise for the good of the country? Ask yourself, whatever you believe: can you see any point in listening tothe other side? Or do you believe that the other side is so out of touch that there’s no sense in listening to them?

Regardless of the answers, it seems reasonably clear that to have some grasp of the truth you must turn off the TV.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Silent No More

My blogging absence has been purposeful. In trying to keep above the toxic rancor it seemed better to be silent than to add to the cacophony. However, there have been several occurrences that have convinced me that silence is the wrong option, and that now more than ever is the time to voice concerns and thoughts.

Because there are voluminous topics which need exploration, I’m going to consider this particular posting to be a preview of what will be written in detail over the next few weeks. So, somewhat Larry King-style and in no particular order, a smattering of topics and my POV that will be covered:

-How a segment of the population is rationalizing that the 1st Amendment, specifically the separation of church and state, can be summarily tossed out the window, and the long-term damage this does to our economy.

-The hypocrisy of newly-minted “constitutionalists” who claim to want a strict interpretation of a “dead document,” while at the same time express a desire to toss out that which they don’t like, such as the 14th Amendment.

-How a large swath of evangelical Christians are being led down a blind alley by disingenuous and dangerous “leaders” who prey on their worst fears, and what this likely means for them and for the country if they continue.

-The venom and negativity of conservatives and Republicans is matched only by the vacuum left from the lack of any positive direction or ideas they have.

-The failure of Democrats to have a unified message or to fully get behind Obama has been almost as detrimental as the negative spewing coming from the right.

-Why Obama needs to abandon his natural state of reasoned debate, as no one’s paying attention to sane dialog. Instead he must change his tactic to lay out his vision in overly simplistic terms while doggedly attacking Republicans. The question becomes whether or not he has the temperament to do so.

-The irony of the continued cry of “activist judge” as a slur against the left, while the current conservative Supreme Court has reached for decisions that are just as activist and also have the side effect of being damaging instead of merely polarizing.

-A definition of facism, since few people seem to understand exactly what that is, and why it is both more of a threat to U.S. style capitalism than socialism and also far more likely of an occurrence.

-The continued and arguably accelerating “dumbing down” of America. Everyone seems to think it’s happening, but few look in the mirror to see if they’re part of the problem or take personal responsibility to do anything about it.

-Why TV news is the single worst place to get information and, since the 24/7 news cycle is here to stay, how we must re-train ourselves in its wake.

-The rise of fringe candidates and how they disrupt or even derail governmental effectiveness.

-Racism is alive and well, only society and the right has gotten better at sending coded messages so that their followers can convince themselves that they’re not actually racist.

-Why it doesn’t matter whether you believe in climate change or not, since failure to change our energy policy will remove the United States from its perch as both the economic, military and political superpower, presuming the damage is not already irreversible.

-Why taking policies further that conservatives parrot (e.g., lower taxes, less regulations, relaxing of antitrust laws) will have a detrimental effect on the overall economy.

-An examination of how, as individuals, our personal habits have made us responsible for the mess we’re in, even though no one wants to admit or accept any blame for it; also, the way forward out it.

I will be trying to remain calm and factual. When opinion is necessary, I will strive to remove as much emotion as possible. I am not a journalist, nor an economist, nor a politician. I am just an interested observer who tries to do his homework. A good dialog would be nice, but it’s not really my aim. If I can serve in some small way to educate, inform and make someone think who otherwise is just aping buzzwords and re-hashing talking points, even if they retain their ideological position, then I will feel that this has accomplished something positive.