This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. December 12, 2011

POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:

Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/

1. Political leaders then and now:

Then:

“It’s time America realized that there is no gay exemption in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence.”
~Barry Goldwater

Now:

“The problem is that sexual activity with people who you are in close quarters with who happen to be of the same sex is different than being open about your sexuality … They’re in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people.”
Rick Santorum

2. Democrat behaves badly:

In the past few days John Corzine ex-Democratic Senator and former Democratic Governor of New Jersey in testimony before an US Senate committee investigating his conduct as CEO of a company involved in perhaps the largest bankruptcy in the US since ENRON, claimed he ” did not know” what was happening in the company.

For those accusing me of one-sidedness, I pledge that should Corzine eventually run for the presidency of the US, I shall ridicule him with the same vigor as I did the candidate that said he did not need to know anything about foreign policy to be president because he will have people to do that sort of thing, and the candidate who, at the time he announced his candidacy, when questioned about immoral and corrupt personal and professional life, promised that he “learned his lesson” and would not do it again.

No, not good enough? What you really want is for me to criticize President Obama and Nancy Pelosi directly? Ok here goes—-Both of them have demonstrated the same fortitude and courage in opposing the thugs in the leadership of the opposing party as Neville Chamberlin did with the thugs at Munich.*

Happy now?

* For those of you who do not know who Chamberlin is and what happened in Munich, I suggest reading the Wikipedia account at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement.

By the way, this item confirms the validity of Godwin’s Law

3. Another Republican decides something is very wrong with his Party’s leadership:

“Basically we’re still stuck in the situation we were three years ago and we haven’t made any progress at all except that our problems are much worse because of political reasons, because we now have a crazy party in charge of one of the Houses of our Congress and they won’t allow anything to happen because it’s in their vested interest to make things worse,” Bartlett explained in his typically exasperated way. “Plus they have a theory that is completely nuts…. I’m very depressed. […] The most we can hope for is that a complete crazy person like Newt Gingrich gets the Republican nomination, the Republicans lose so badly that they lose control of the House and don’t get control of the Senate and then maybe in a year we can finally talk about doing something rational. […]”
Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett

Is it unfair and one-sided to quote a Republican leader who criticizes his party in language no Democrat elected official could or would dare use? Do I also have to find a Democrat critical of his own Party to be fair? Or a Republican who blindly loves his Party? Would the possibility that the Democrat I chose could be more radical than the main-stream Democratic Party be considered fair? Is fairness really what is wanted here? Remember, the Faux News, network logo “Fair and Balanced” is not just a marketing slogan asserting that their news reporting meets that standard, but also implies the claim that all other news networks are both unfair and unbalanced. That means for example, if they (Faux) for some reason have an objection to the assertion that the world is round, they could consider it to be fair and balanced for them to maintain that in fact the world is flat.

TODAY’S FACTOID:

1. Education matters:

Even in the lowest paying industry, “Hospitality and Tourism,” the average difference in average yearly earnings between someone with only a high school diploma and someone with an advanced degree is almost double and over a 30 year career can total about $800,000 or more.

And, if there is a question about finding employment during hard times, employment opportunities increase significantly with education.

Even if a person is underemployed relative to his or her educational attainments, studies have shown that he or she will still earn more on average than those with less education.

TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND AND AMERICA:

1. American are not as wealthy as they think:

Figures from Credit Suisse’s World Wealth Report show that the typical American is a lot poorer than generally believed. In the US the mean average wealth is only $53,000. Compared to the typical Japanese or European, the typical American is only half as rich. Half the people in the US have less than $53,000 net worth. You can imagine what the bottom 20% have.

The reason for this is that although their raw average individual wealth is higher (but less than Britain’s) it is skewed by the very very wealthy. The mean average wealth, the wealth of the average American is much much lower (it drops from about $250,000 to around $50,00).

What this means is that for the average American, they are quite poor compared to other developed nations and the country is no longer the land of opportunity.

This is a devastating and grim insight. It explains why so much of America seems, well, so poor. Because it is poor. People don’t have any money. They dress poorly. Eat poorly. Live poorly.

Compared to Britain and Europe, much of the difference can be explained by the housing bubble, and subsequent housing crash in America. If we remember correctly, the US housing stock was valued at about $20 trillion in ’07. It lost 33% of its value, putting a quarter of mortgaged houses underwater and wiping out about $7 trillion of “wealth.”

It should also be noted that the US Federal Government, through the Federal Reserve and TARP paid out over twice the amount homeowners lost in wealth to the banking industry ($15 Trillion) to save the banks from collapse. Is anyone asking why we did not give the Homeowners $7 trillion instead to buy down their mortgages and bail out both for one half the cost?

2. Thailand, Cracked News from “Not the Nation”(the Thai version of “The Onion”):

Prosecutor Offers ‘Uncle SMS’ Reduced Sentence In Exchange For Acting More Evil

3 Dec 2011 BANGKOK – Following the high-profile conviction of Ampon Tangnoppakul for allegedly sending lèse-majesté texts last year, government prosecutors have offered the 61-year old grandfather a new deal. Under the proposed agreement, Ampon’s sentence will be reduced from 20 to only 5 years if he agrees to act more evil between now and his incarceration.

“We are experiencing a lot of negative press coverage for this case,” explained a spokesperson for the DSI. “By acting like such a sympathetic character, Mr Ampon is doing irreparable harm to the entire system. We would like to therefore ask his co-operation in being less sympathetic, for which we are willing to reduce his sentence.”

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

Yesterday was the last day of the week-long celebration of Kings birthday and the little masseuse and I went to the palace grounds for the evening. Unlike his birthday itself when there were almost a million people in attendance and the evening was occupied mostly with pomp and speeches, there were fewer people yesterday and the emphasis was on entertainment. The absence of the overwhelming masses allowed us to visit the several pavilions at the site that mostly contained photographs about the king’s reign and Thai history.

The entertainment began with a big band orchestra made up of either high school or college students and a number of singers, two of whom appeared  professionals and the rest students.

While most of the singers sang pop tunes in Thai, a young man, who clearly appeared terrorized to be performing, sang a pretty good blues tune. Its minor cords seemed to require a lot of effort from him. He later sang a fine rendition of “My Way” in english but he blew the last note and seemed to die right there on the stage. I felt like crying for him. He did not come our for the finale.

A group of musicians followed playing traditional Thai instruments mostly hooked up to amplifiers and included two heroic drummers who banged on their drums with what seemed like every part of their body except their penis, and I am not so sure about that. They were followed by a team of traditional Thai dancers equally divided between young women in traditional costumes and tall thin young men dressed in attire that looked like it came out of the late middle ages in Italy. Although they appeared to be tall thin young men, in Thailand you can never tell. This was followed with a dance that looked like a Thai boxing match between monkeys (they had furry tails) and young men. There was a lot of jumping about and pushing each other. Finally, just before we left, we watched a dance with the long sticks (I am sure many of you have seen a version of it) where some of the dancers rhythmically strike two long sticks together and the other dancers jump in and out of without getting their ankles broken.

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

Old man memories; Donald Lundy:

Sometime between about second grade and junior high school, I lived in a village in New York, called Tuckahoe. The village  nestled in a wide spot in the valley carved by the Bronx River. In the village resided a collection of poor people, mostly italians and blacks along with a few middle class jews. We lived there because the high income towns that surrounded us restricted individuals of those three ethnic groups from living there. A number of Tuckahoe residents however worked in those other towns as gardeners, domestics and the like. Others worked in the industrial plants in nearby Yonkers while the remainder mostly occupied themselves with the shops and business that serviced the residents of the village.

Like most low-income areas of that time, the village had an industrial past. The vast marble quarries that attracted the italian immigrants had by the late forties and early fifties played out leaving the village a relatively impoverished residential enclave surrounded by great wealth.

Immediately after school we kids ,would run and play in the streets until dinner time and then again after dinner until bedtime. My parents insisted I return home before dark and go to bed shortly thereafter where I jealously listened to the other children, playing in the streets near my home well into the night.

Several of the village boys in my age group,including me, as boys tend to do, began to spend most of our play time together and began to envision ourselves as a gang much like that in the “Our Gang” comedies that were popular short features shown with the double features that on Saturday mornings we watched in the local movie house referred to as The Itch.

As we grew older, we modeled our gang on Leo Gorcey and the Dead End Kids. In fact the leader of our group, Peter Cirrincione, referred to as “sir rinse” even adopted Gorcey’s walk. I guess I would have been the good-looking skinny sullen guy in the movies who was always somewhat alienated from the group. Unlike some of the other characters like Huntz Hall, the actor who played my part often changed during the decade or so that their movies were popular.

Like that character, I was always a bit moody, aloof and estranged. I could never simply follow whatever “sir rinse” wanted to do and so would go off on my own a lot. At that time I was quite small for my age, quick to take offense and so I fought a lot. Also because I preferred to spend my time reading, I appeared arrogant often correcting things the others would say. In other words, I was a bit of an asshole. (To be continued.)

JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:

RED STAR

Chapter: Something about the fan and feces (cont.)

She grimaced and pulled the purse closer to her as though she feared that Vince would pick it up and play with it.

“Damn it Isabella, did you expect me to stand idly by and do nothing?” he said.

No,” she responded curtly, “but I expected you would think about the others you may have put in danger'”

That silenced him. He really hadn’t thought of anyone else. Now he wondered if Ike or Fat Al were at risk; or anyone else. Still he was not convinced that this was much more than government security paranoia.

Nevertheless, he blurted out, “I apologize, I did not think about that. It was inconceivable to me that my office would be bugged.”

“What else didn’t you think of,” she said sarcastically?

“I did not think I would find myself as attracted to you as I am,” he let slip and immediately regretted it.

Her eyes widened and she gazed at him until the door to the kitchen opened disgorging a waiter pushing a small food cart and her eyes slid over to study him.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

a. Strange Apocalypses:

GEOMAGNETIC REVERSAL

The Earth’s magnetic field provides a shield against harmful radiation from our sun that could rip through DNA and overload the world’s electrical systems. Every so often, Earth’s north and south poles switch positions and, during the transition, the magnetic field will weaken or disappear for many years. The last known transition happened almost 780,000 years ago and it is likely to happen again.

Danger sign: Electronics stop working.

b. Profiles in Presidential courage:
“A few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance fell to around 40%. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the middle class.

It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It’s wrong. It flies in the face of everything we stand for…”
Barack Obama in Ossawatomie, Kansas.

Recently someone told me that Obama doesn’t really believe this but is just saying it to get votes and that when he proposes laws and programs to address poverty, unemployment and inequality he is also doing it to be re-elected. Hmmm, I think I can live with that kind of hypocrisy, don’t you?

c. Excerpts from Bill Moyer’s speech to Citizens United:

“But if you want to see the story pulled together in one compelling narrative, read this — perhaps the best book on politics of the last two years: Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Two accomplished political scientists wrote it: Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson – the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of political science, who wanted to know how America had turned into a society starkly divided into winners and losers.

Mystified by what happened to the notion of “shared prosperity” that marked the years after World War II; puzzled that over the last generation more and more wealth has gone to the rich and superrich, while middle-class and working people are left barely hanging on; vexed that hedge-fund managers pulling down billions can pay a lower tax rate than their pedicurists, manicurists, cleaning ladies and chauffeurs; curious as to why politicians keep slashing taxes on the very rich even as they grow richer, and how corporations keep being handed huge tax breaks and subsidies even as they fire hundreds of thousands of workers; troubled that the heart of the American Dream – upward mobility — seems to have stopped beating; astounded that the United States now leads in the competition for the gold medal for inequality; and dumbfounded that all this could happen in a democracy whose politicians are supposed to serve the greatest good for the greatest number, and must regularly face the judgment of citizens at the polls if they haven’t done so;

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson wanted to find out “how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.” They wanted to know: “Who dunnit?”

They found the culprit: “It’s the politics, stupid!” Tracing the clues back to that, “unseen revolution” of the 1970s — the revolt triggered by Lewis Powell, fired up by William Simon, and fueled by rich corporations and wealthy individuals — they found that, ‘Step by step and debate by debate America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.”

There you have it: they bought off the gatekeepers, got inside, and gamed the system. And when the fix was in, they let loose the animal spirits, turning our economy into a feast for predators. And they won — as the rich and powerful got richer and more powerful — they not only bought the government, they “saddled Americans with greater debt, tore new holes in the safety net, and imposed broad financial risks on workers, investors, and taxpayers.” Until – write Hacker and Pierson – “The United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by.”

d. How To Talk Like A Republican (the new American Lexicon):

I assume we all remember how effectively, “the right to choose” was used during the debate on Obamacare. I also assume those of us who used that phrase thought we used it because it was factually accurate and not cynical political manipulation. But then, I guess both sides resorted to “cynical political manipulation.” They did didn’t they, or does someone cynically want us to believe that?

e. The difference between Americans and Europeans :

Americans are more likely to believe in unilateral military intervention.

f. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
“This and that…” is written for my own enjoyment. I send it on hoping that those of you who actually read it enjoy it also. If not you are free to erase or avoid reading those sections that you find objectionable.

Not too long ago, one of you objected that a graphic sex scene in my mystery novel since might be read by the teenagers who are on my mailing list and requested that if I could not refrain from that in the future, I at least warn her so she can do whatever she thinks appropriate on her end. I am ok with that and will try to honor the request. (By the way, in the next few chapters of the so called Mystery Novel, there will be a considerable amount of gratuitous violence, obscene language and a little kinky sex. You may want to be prepared.)

More recently, in response to my increased coverage of Republicans during their debates and the news coming out of the Occupy protest, I find myself accused of a one sided hatred of Republicans. I am embarrassed that I actually responded to that. I am even more ashamed that I unknowingly had been subjected to what I call “Faux News Think,” and fell into the trap.

“Faux News Think,” as I should have realized, is a method of political discourse that anyone who had taken Rhetoric 101 would recognize. It is a gussied up version of school yard debate techniques, that demands that one side explain themselves while the other never has to do so. The genius of it is that Faux News and those that developed it, whether knowingly or unknowingly, managed to inculcate it into enough of the population that some believe they thought it up themselves and it is reasonable and natural.

I am thinking of writing an article about it. In my next Post I will explain what it is in some detail.

TODAY’S CHART:


TODAY’S CARTOON:

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Categories: October 2011 through December 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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