Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leaders, Followers, and Chance

Just a little post here. (Thought I had disappeared didn't you.)
ADHD takes a lot to live with sometimes even as you get older. In fact the AD part is worse and the memory slows at the same time.
Jumping from one thought and investigation to another yet not forgetting any of my “great ideas”, is a crazy maker. Yet I cannot always remember the why of the "great ideas".
Now add in “life gets in the way” and you have me.
Which brings me to these thoughts.
While reading a short article on genetics, leaders, and followers recently, I read what I think is most of the truth of it all.
Basically it is this: genetics, early environment, and chance can make all the difference. I think especially for leaders chance is important. Chance may not be the right word. Perhaps I should say an occurrence that allows or forces one to lead. For some the society in which they live can be an obstruction to leadership. Gender, and or youth for example in some societies can force a “born” leader to become a follower. Remember, for instance, the old sayings about the “woman behind the man”. (best example I can think of).
Note I wrote “most of the truth”.
I guess you can lump many other influences in the above words, genetics, early environment, and chance. I was thinking of birth order or being an only child.
Anyway, it was a pretty good article and I have lost the reference. However, this is very similar:
Link here

So here ya go a little post for what it is worth.

Hope your “holidays” are good and happy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I was checking Thomasthis morning and read his post on Voting or Not. I believe it was dated October 4.
So I decided to post a little thought I had on the same subject.

I will definitely vote. Why?
I must vote. Why?

In particular where I live the alternative is nothing but bad news.
My vote may not make a difference but I am sure there are many that feel the same way.
Thus, the expected low "left" turnout.

Of course here in MO we have more on which to vote than the Senatorial seat. The propositions and "initiatives" are important also. Low "left" to higher "right" turnout means we will get or not get the "right" deciding for the whole state, again.

As a "lefty", I feel let down to an extent as do many. At the same time, I feel irritated at the ads coming from the "right". Mr. Rove is good at this stuff. He and his take the truth about where the unhappiness and the cynicism of "main street" came from and blatantly lie. They count on the short memory of people and the vengeance of the "right".
They use the Robert's Court decision that a corp is a person and all its implications to excellent advantage.
(What happened to the Constitutional Amendment declaring a Corp. is a business entity not a person? I hate talking about amending the Constitution, state or federal. But there are times.)

I could just sit here with my mouth hanging open once again but I grind my teeth and decide to fight back.
The only way I can fight back is to vote.

So I will definitely vote. I must vote.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Watch this video.

Don't think you can send someone else that will be any better.
The "I'm not an insider"s are INSIDERS.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Deficits and Military Spending

Just a quick post on war and economics.

Southern Beale wrotethis concerning the truth about some deficit hawks.

And try reading the full article concerning World Military spending. here
The article is both textual and visual, full of charts. This is an updated article and is one you may want to read and re-read. (I find I must read it in pieces to get full value from it. Getting old ya know.)

Now, tell me why am I cynical.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From Great Expectations to Low

Here are some reasons for no posts in a long time: health issues, both emotional and physical; new pup in the house along with the elderly pup; too much heat and humidity.

But here is the really big reason: Cynicism.
From that follows Frustration.

a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

(one definition)

Below are my exact feelings about my "fellow 'Murcans", mostly the ones here in the so-called heartland:

1, 3. Cynical, pessimistic, sarcastic, satirical imply holding a low opinion of humanity. Cynical suggests a disbelief in the sincerity of human motives


I am sure I'll get over it, again. But each time I go through this it takes longer to have great expectations or even positive expectations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crows and Mulberries

Between the rain, coons, the opossum, crows, and other assorted critters; we don't have many mulberries left. I must confess to enjoying the visits from the crows.
Watching them come in to land on the tip, top, spindly branches of the tree, is an entertainment. The branches bend and waver under the weight of the large birds until you think the large birds will certainly fall. But those crows flutter and talk and they ride that branch while taking the fruits.

I want to share a little tale with you to explain my special affinity with the crow.

When I was very young my Dad brought home 3 baby crows for my two older siblings and I to raise. We fed them milk soaked bread first. We used toothpicks to get it in the gaping mouths. Then we added hamburger and slowly they ate mostly meat.
Then we started turning them loose. Two of them did quite well at learning to fly on their own. Mine, wouldn't you know, flew but didn't like it when he got to the top of the house. He squawked as only a crow can and I cried. My Dad got the ladder out; went up and rescued him. Well actually this only happened a couple of times. Dad finally refused to go get him. "He'll learn." And again as parents can be, Dad was right.

What great pets, if you can call them that. They hung around that whole year.
Those birds were smart,thinking, cons and to us clownish. They knew us* and would come down to talk and ride on our shoulders. Our 'babies" did steal too. They loved "shinies" so we knew where to look for toys and other little things that came up missing. They used the "rabbit hutch" home like a chicken going to roost every evening and as a storage facility. They also used the neighbor's clothesline as a perch. Not a great thing after they had been eating mulberries or other nicely colored fruits. Imagine the clean bright white sheets after visits from 3 large crows. It did cause a large problem, fight, with the neighbor.

We have a photo somewhere of my "baby" brother riding a "trike" with one of the crows riding the handlebars. Probably my lazy, spoiled, bird. (When I locate my copy, I will scan it in for your enjoyment.)

So now I watch the large, beautiful, black, birds and enjoy them. I really wish they would come in closer but country crows are not the same as city crows. They aren't as friendly with people in most instances-they don't have to be.

*Longer article on the study

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Returning to the Study, Groups and Group-Think

Since it has been so long, sorry, since the previous posts (see Posts April 19 and April 13) on why some are so easily led and why that leads to aggression; here are some excerpts.
April 13:
Why such aggression lately. Aggression such as carrying a gun so near the President of the U.S. Aggression such as seen during the health care reform debates in Congress and at the town-hall meetings. The list goes on and on.
Have you ever noticed that groups basically are made of the followers, submissives, and the leaders or dominators.
April 19:
Dr. Altemeyer explains that in his books on authoritarians he is mostly discussing extremely submissive “followers” of established authorities, “attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.”
He lists 3 of the personality traits of the “followers”:
1)a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate, authorities in their society;
2)high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3)a high level of conventionalism.
RWA Scale:
“The RWA scale is a personality test disguised as an attitude survey.”
the mid-point of the scale is 100. The higher the score the more the tendency to be an authoritarian follower.

Why the name “right-wing”:
The use of the word right as used here is “an adjective, right, lawful, proper, correct...”

Double Highs:
Social Dominators who also score high on the religion, fundamentalism, scale but the why is interesting. These people go to church more often than most but they go to “project a good image...”
and “It is more important to create a good image of yourself in the minds of others than to be actually be the person others think you are.”

Remember submission to “their” authorities and highly conventional. So keep in mind we are not always talking about political conservatives.

Now on to Question 2 Why are some so aggressive...
(I think it still pertains to being led and believing false “facts”.)

Lets start with more on the compartmental mind to help us understand why many can be led to an aggressive state.

The compartmental mind had no trouble in “believing that America stands for international cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict on one hand, while on the other hand insisting it has the “right” to attack whomever it wants...” (from The Authoritarians)

Here is a quotation from another source which I think fits nicely:
“Meanwhile a newly powerful states’ rights movement is demanding that the federal government not intrude into our affairs—a nice illustration of what Orwell called “doublethink”: the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind while believing both of them, practically a motto for our times.”

From the same story:
“But in a brilliant exercise in doublethink, people are led to hate and fear the deficit. That way, business’s cohorts in Washington may agree to cut benefits and entitlements like Social Security (but not bailouts).

At the same time, people should not oppose what is largely creating the deficit—the growing military budget and the hopelessly inefficient privatized healthcare system.”

And according to Mr Dean in his book Conservatives Without Conscience, “Many conservatives, particularly those who are clearly authoritarians, are not aware of their illogical, contradictory, and hypocritical thinking. If made cognizant of it, they rationalize it away, neglect to care or attack those who reveal their human weaknesses.” (page 27)

Now back to aggression and prejudice.

First let us examine more from Mr. Dean as regards the “followers”.

In Conservatives Without Conscience, Mr Dean discusses Stanley Milgram'swork “...on obedience to authority.” (Milgram's experiments were set up to study delivering electrical shocks to “learners” in obedience to an authority figure.) Milgram uses the term “agentic state” to describe how a person can ignore their normal conscience “...when the individual becomes part of a group, with the individual's conscience often becoming subordinate to to that of the group or to that of its leader.” But Mr Dean does not think that the behaviors of some can be explained in this manner. (see page 44 discussion of Gordon Liddy and see pages 78-81 on I. Scooter Libby)

According to Milgram, "the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and he therefore no longer sees himself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow." Thus, "the major problem for the subject is to recapture control of his own regnant processes once he has committed them to the purposes of the experimenter." (Milgram, 1974, pp. xii, xiii). In addition to this presumed agentic state, Milgram goes on to explain, a variety of factors lock the subject into the situation. These include situational factors such as politeness and awkwardness of withdrawal, absorption in the technical aspects of the task, the tendency to attribute impersonal quality to forces that are essentially human, a belief that the experiment serves a desirable end, the sequential nature of the action, and anxiety.
A Cognitive Reinterpretation...On Obedience to Authority

Further into chapter two of Conservatives... Mr Dean paraphrases and quotes Dr. Altemeyer concerning our RWA and aggression thus; “ showing “general aggressiveness” toward others when such behavior “is perceived to be sanctioned” by established authorities...” (John Dean page 53)

In his book Dr. Altemeyer does discuss and study the religious beliefs of the RWA but as I have, at this point, some disagreement with him I will go back and restudy the chapter. Then perhaps at some point write a post on just the religious questions involved.

However, I can see Dr. Altemeyer's points about the RWA self-righteousness and their feelings that they are “guardians of the public morality”. He also mentions their view of the “ as a dangerous place...” (Dean page 55)

If you back a dog into a corner while threatening him. Watch out now as you are facing “fight or flight”. By backing him into that corner you are interfering with his ability to flee the source of his fear so he will fight or he will submit depending on his place in the pack order. Well yes, there is the issue of his genealogy but for most dogs you will get one of these responses.

Back to Conservatives Without Conscience:

“By and large these Americans have never been troubled by the execution of a prisoner,,,, and there has never been a war in with the United States engaged that they did not support.” (John Dean page 55)
Here Mr. Dean is writing his own thoughts on the church-going authoritarians and their politics.

In the last section of chapter 2, Mr Dean begins with questions of his own and some answers he gleans from Dr. Altemeyer's studies.

“...why are right-wingers often malicious, mean-spirited, and disrespectful of even the basic codes of civility?...

Here are some of the answers he found:

“This heightened level of aggressiveness has a number of psychological roots. Right-wing authoritarians, as we have seen are motivated by their fear of a dangerous world, whereas social dominators have an ever-present desire to dominate. The factor that makes right-wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an “attack mode,” is their remarkable self righteousness.”

(John Dean pages 66, 67)

As to the leaders of these authoritarian followers with a little on prejudice:
(Remember Double High Social dominators score high as both leaders and followers. They answer the follower questions as they would have others follow them not as true “submissives.)

“Experiments reveal that right-wing authoritarian followers are particularly likely to trust someone who tells them what they want to hear, for this how many of them validate their beliefs. Social dominators, on the other hand typically know exactly what song they want to sing to followers.

Ordinary social dominators and ordinary authoritarian followers both tend to be highly prejudiced against ethnic and racial minorities.
Double Highs, however possess “extra-extra unfair” natures, and they can be ranked as the most racially prejudiced of all groups. It seems that two authoritarian streams converge in them to produce a river of hostility, particularly regarding rights for homosexuals and women.”
(Dean, page 60)

In describing more of Altemeyer's observations concerning Double Highs and the seriousness of their threat to society, Mr Dean gives us the idea that the followers are “uninclined to think for themselves...” while the Double High leaders may well lead the intensely dangerous movements. (Dean page 61)

In both books Hitleris mentioned as, I guess, the ultimate Dominator. I would say the most obvious Dominator. I can think of some milder ones. Does anyone but me think of McCarthy and the Red Scare. Or should I say Red Scares Of course, Mr Dean relates much of his early chapters to President Nixon and reasons for Watergate. I think too of recent political leaders and their use of fear and knowledge of the followers' needs. Here is a link to an article I read this morning that pertains to some recentillogical thinking.

In this post mostly using these two books we see some answers to our questions about aggression and prejudice as well as little on who their leaders are and why. We have lots of fear in these authoritarians.
We have lots of prejudice, though I don't cover all of it. The leaders are devious and mostly out to fulfill their needs for power. The followers are deceiving themselves when they consider themselves on the moral high-ground. While the followers need leaders, they fear leaders that challenge their beliefs, not just religious beliefs either. I think their beliefs about the world too.

We now have a glimpse into some reasons,theories, behind the“group dynamics” we discussed in the first post (April 13). I am trying to give the gist of the books while trying to keep the posts relatively short. As mentioned previously, I have some disagreement with Dr. Altemeyer's analysis of religion, fundamentalism, and “ineffective consciences”. I shall go back and reread his chapter on it before commenting further. Maybe I have misread.

Anyway we have spent some time with these two books* and maybe it is time to move on to other theories. Social Darwinism and Just World? I will let you know.

*Bob Altemeyer; The Authoritarians,2006 and see website
John W.Dean; Conservatives Without Conscience,Penguin Books, 2007 or visit
Mr. Deans' blog

Monday, May 10, 2010

Here We Go Again, another Battle

Well, the President has officially announced the nominee for the Supreme Court.
I dreaded this moment because I knew no matter whom he nominated there would be a fight.

I was watching CBS and Bob Schieffer put it plainly. The process from here will be contentious not because of the nominee but because of the tough election year. And it is more about not agreeing with President Obama on anything.

That really is ridiculous. But explains anything that happens politically lately.

So I dreaded President Obama having another decision or another policy to try.
What kind of people are found in "our" Congress? Self perpetuating, they hope.
Are those jobs that much fun? No. Must be money and power-yep.
When will they decide to do the right thing, no matter the elections. I would hope someone helping to make our laws would just finally say I will do what is right no matter the elections. It isn't like they won't find other jobs or make more money on the pundit circuit.

So that is why I dreaded the announcement. I still think Pres. Obama must regret getting the job and probably late at night when he is alone,considers not running again.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More on Mulberries and A little on Sassafras

As I am having an ailment that may go on a while, I will post a short one here. I cannot stay focused on the other subject right now.

Many folks don't care for mulberry fruit. Many folks have complained through the years about the dropping of the fruits, seeds, on vehicles, laundry, and the tracking of the juicy juice on shoes. When I was growing up, one mulberry tree was great but that one didn't usually stay just one for long. They would show up in nearby yards or fence rows. These little trees grew to be fairly large trees and leave “messes”.
As you know we ate and eat them in my family. Now it turns out the mulberry tree this year is producing heavy pollenlink. (The link that still works is today's news. You can then search for the mulberry pollen article.) That pollen may be great for fruiting but not so good for allergy sufferers.

Then I find some articles of interest on the different kinds of mulberry trees. I was unaware of the “invasive”, alien, . One of the recommended replacement trees the sassafras reminded me of a discussion I had recently with the baby brother. He won't eat poke, nor does he like sassafras tea. I don't think he remembers eating poke or drinking sassafras tea when we were little but he does remember the “nasty” smells later in life when he would visit Mom and Dad. Doubt he even tried either one at that time.

Again, there were, and probably are, many who didn't want that “prolific” tree anywhere around their property. They used to say things like: “it takes over like a lilac”. I don't know but I know the tree was not “prolific” enough for some of us. Now you can buy small packets of sassafras root, sassafras oil, sassafras powder, sassafras tea bags or maybe just buy yourself a sassafras tree. Just Google sassafras and you will find places from which to purchase.

I still love sassafras tea. I can't really remember every thing about the tea making with my grandmother but I remember I loved the smell and I loved the taste. I thought it was truly “root beer”.
No fizz but same great taste and smell.

I guess to each their own.

(Well here is a coincidence for you. I have PBS Create on the tube and the host of the garden, Copia, just gave the visiting host of the Victory Garden some mulberries. Mulberries will not be found in stores because they have no shelf life.)

Monday, April 19, 2010


For this post let's reframe our questions. (The questions that were originally raised in this post)
This site gives you a better definition than I could for reframing.
Looking back at last week's post we see the questions really are:
Why are some people so easily led while others will do anything to be leaders.
Why do some people still believe things that are disproved by facts.
Why are some people so aggressive in the name of moral or political values or is it something else entirely?
Why do some people fear, in the extreme, change?
Why do some people fear those different from themselves?
Why racism? Why homophobic fears? Why fear other religions?

In these next posts, I want to give you some beginning information from two books. One is political while the other is more about the social behaviors and actions found in studies of authoritarians.

Here we need to define a few things:
Why the books Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean and Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer. free here I chose to read the two books simultaneously as they are very interconnected. In an interview I saw on UCTV, John Dean talked about the studies on Authoritarianism and recommended the other book. His interest peaked my interest. Mostly however, I will be writing about The Authoritarians (Disclaimer: I am not necessarily a John Dean fan but find he can get my attention and I sometimes wondered about the reasons behind some of the chapters in Dr. Altemeyer's book. Guess I am not that easily led by “authorities.”)

Authoritarians Two kinds:
I had a hard time keeping my definitions of authoritarian out of my head at first.
My definitions were either about a form of government or a “bossy” person. But these are not quite appropriate.
Dr. Altemeyer explains that in his books on authoritarians he is mostly discussing extremely submissive “followers” of established authorities, “attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.”
He lists 3 of the personality traits of the “followers”:
1)a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate, authorities in their society;
2)high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3)a high level of conventionalism.

(page 8)

Mr. Dean at one point describes authoritarianism as the behaviors and thinking of these personalities.

RWA Scale:
“The RWA scale is a personality test disguised as an attitude survey.”
the mid-point of the scale is 100. The higher the score the more the tendency to be an authoritarian follower.

Why the name “right-wing”:
The use of the word right as used here is “an adjective, right, lawful, proper, correct...”

Double Highs:
Social Dominators who also score high on the religion, fundamentalism, scale but the why is interesting. These people go to church more often than most but they go to “project a good image...”
and “It is more important to create a good image of yourself in the minds of others than to be actually be the person others think you are.”

Conservatives: Two kinds political and social: As Dr. Altemeyer explains you can have high RWA's even within the Communist party in a Communist country. Remember submission to “his” authorities and highly conventional. So keep in mind we are not always talking about political conservatives.
Though, if you will, take a look at the chart on page 203. I found it very enlightening and interesting.
I had forgotten about the “Southern Democrats”. Historically an interesting bunch.

I found so much about the people studied confusing-hard for me to get my head around all the seeming inconsistencies in logic as I call it but as pointed out in the book the compartmentalization of their ideas allows for some pretty interesting, conflicting, thoughts.

Now let's look for some answers to our questions. (I think we can actually lump our questions into fewer questions yet.)

1.Why are some people so easily led and hang on to false “facts”?
2.Why are some so aggressive...?
3.Why the prejudices?
4.Who are their authorities and why?

Question 1:

Dr. Altemeyer, as I do, doesn't get into the genetics of High RWA's but allows for it. He begins with parental guidance, then to “missed experiences”. They are not introduced to different groups and ideas.
“They got a “2 for 1 special deal on fear...they were raised by their parents to be afraid of others...”
They “traveled around on short leashes in relatively small, tight, safe circles all their lives.”
Their parents “try to send their kids to “safe” colleges.”

(Also remember the group thing, individuals into the group Venn diagram)

The compartmentalization of their ideas allow for holding conflicting ideas at the same time and can lead to confusing justifications for various actions and decisions.
The high RWA has not further developed or “thought through their ideas as much as most people have...”
In Chapter three How Authoritarian Followers Think, “...a high RWA can have all sorts of illogical, self-contradictory, and widely refuted ideas rattling around in various boxes in his brain and never notice it.”
Dr. Altemeyer gives the usual disclaimer so do we all have “inconsistencies in reasoning” then:
“...research reveals that authoritarian followers...exhibiting sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and ...a ferocious dogmatism (see definition 2) that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds.

...they do not in general have a very critical outlook on anything unless the authorities in their lives have condemned it for them.”

Thus they are easily led and easily become apprehensive, or fearful.

What about hanging on to false “facts”:
One example given concerns the Iraq war. The compartmental mind had no trouble in “believing that America stands for international cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict on one hand, while on the other hand insisting it has the “right” to attack whomever it wants...”

After all, in the ethnocentric mind “We are the Good Guys and our opponents are abominations”...

Will some of these people ever change their minds? Dr. Altemeyer believes some will by revising their personal histories. Others? “petrified by their dogmatism” never. (99)

I have given you a only a few of the explanations found in the book The Authoritarians for the first question. Partly because there is so much information and partly because I have a hard time compartmentalizing. I see so much about the high RWA conflicting and yet interconnected.

But there we have the beginnings of my studies.

I hope you learned something as I did and still do from this book.

Next post will look at the Dr. Altemeyer's book for some insight into aggression and if I can keep more focused, so much information, hopefully question 3.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Just Can't Keep Quiet.

OK I know I should be working on the next post about psych. and social movements.
I couldn't let a couple of things go by.
First is this: Krugman. The hook, first sentence and the following paragraph are great. You know how I love sarcasm.

Then there was the NYTimes/CBS poll this week. Whole poll.

I read the Times article, the synopsis, and listened to a few news broadcasts concerning the poll. I have not heard any one mention much about a couple of things that stuck out to me.

These people fear and just don't like Pres. Obama. I think the man could hand out 10,000 cash to them and cut the deficit by 1/2 and they still would disapprove of him.

Now look at questions 95 and 96 on page 35. Hello world.

No more to say.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Are We the People Easily Led and Aggressive

Lately there are many questions about the nature of we the people. Why is it that there are people who still believe Sadam had weapons of mass destruction: why do people think the health reform law is either socialist or so afraid of it for some other reason: why did people believe the Republican party was the “Christian” party? Then there are the Pres. Obama questions: How can some people still believe Obama is not a U.S. Citizen: Why do some still believe the President is a Muslim plant? Do you realize that many people believe the President is going to take over the U.S. Either to a be a dictator or to turn it over to a world government? Why such aggression lately. Aggression such as carrying a gun so near the President of the U.S. Aggression such as seen during the health care reform debates in Congress and at the town-hall meetings. The list goes on and on.
There is also the question of how someone can tell people one thing for years then turn around and tell them the opposite is true and many ignore it or choose to believe it. Here is a little poll.

So let us take a look at possible reasons. There are many possibilities depending on the types of psychological or sociological theories and studies you use or choose. Nothing is simple. It is like the old question nature vs. nurture. Are we “Tabula Rasa”, blank slates, when born or ... Then breeding horses, who has the stronger influence on the disposition of the foal, the mare or the stallion? Many have decided it must be the mare as she is in closer contact with said foal. Sounds like a good answer but what about those everyday experiences that happen, those unexpected experiences? Personally I get frustrated with any one answer I want to yell it is all of the above and maybe more. I like to envision Venn or maybe Euler diagrams for such questions.
We don't really know much about humans as individuals or as groups. I, for one, am sure there is so much more to learn. (With the advances of science in the body chemistry, DNA studies and with the new ways of watching the brain without being as invasive, we begin to learn more and more.)

First things first; we are humans. We are part of a group of Animals called Primates. (OK some of us don't even agree with that. For my research and thoughts I accept it.) So look at how Primates act. They have group, herd, characteristics and within that group they are individuals. Some are more “individual” than others. Some lead and some follow usually for the good of the group. There are times when different groups group, for protection against other groups or predators. Then those groups, after the predator is gone, may well turn on each other. I am sure you get the picture. ( We could go even further and look at humans as part of the world or the universe but let's focus in or down a little tighter for these studies. )

We all have certain undeniable things in common. We have, for instance, opposable thumbs, a supposedly large brain for our body size, we have a long developmental period. (Well sometimes I am not so sure that last one shouldn't be an arrested developmental period. We seem, at times, to develop no further.) Again though for the purposes of this writing I accept the long developmental period.

Have you ever noticed that groups basically are made of the followers, submissives, and the leaders or dominators. In a small church congregation you will always have the same people over and over who volunteer and the volunteers that want to lead the volunteers, again the same ones over and over. Then you have the rest of that congregation, the ones who want to come to service or “Sunday school” but want the Minister or the Sunday School superintendent and teacher to tell them what they need to “think” about. Well, the same thing happens in most any group. Think about it. What about PTA groups or what about political groups. At work have you noticed that even among the non-management workers there are groups and the group divisions appear within those small groups. All the groups have the same patterns. The reasons behind each participant, individual, and their fit within the group may be different but the group divides along the same lines.

So now we can begin to look at some of the theories that abound about our individual as well as our group think.

Time, both mine and yours, is a problem. My attention span is pretty short-I am an American.
So I am concentrating a few different theories and studies. But hope to cover several, each in a different post.

Here is a partial list of some I am studying or reviewing: The Authoritarians, Social Darwinism, Just World theories, Bandura's theory of aggression, A study of overcrowding and aggression in rats, Effects of birth-order, some history of Social Movements particularly in the U.S. As I have a hard time with genetics, I won't probably spend much time on that branch of science though I acknowledge much is to be found there. (nope, I don't really believe in Tabula Rasa.)

This will take time and many posts to cover so be patient. I hope both the reader and I can learn a little.
When I find something that surprises me I will try to let you know. If, no when-I know me, I find things I don't like or with which I don't agree I will try to let you know. “Even if it kills me.”

Next: The Authoritarians, By Dr. Bob Altemeyer.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Heroes and Idols

Yes, I am still researching and reading for the promised post so here is another one in the meantime.

A short while back Thomas and I were ,commenting in a small way, back and forth about John Wayne.
Then today I saw this about the “Duke” in the N.Y. Times. Watch out it is a little bit of a tear jerker.

My Dad was a huge John Wayne fan. Many people were. I still am. Find that strange?
Let me explain a little.

My Dad had John Wayne Syndrome and once my older brother told me many men did. The Duke was the epitome of the strong silent hero. In many of his movies he was a black and white, pun intended, straight forward kind of guy. Most of the time his character met the bad guy or guys head-on and won the day not just for himself but for those who weren't as strong but were more silent. That must be hard to live up to anytime. But I thought we were supposed to outgrow that kind of thing I never thought I would be like June Cleaver. (Though I sometimes think if my spouse would be like Ward, I would be glad to be June. Easier life that.) Guess you had to be a male to get it.

But I got off why I still like John Wayne, the actor. In the late 60's Mr. Wayne went a little too far in his support of the Vietnam War, for me but that was before I worried about actors and politics. I didn't pay much attention to them except for enjoying, or not, movies. For some reason I always understood these were people playing roles . Sometimes the movies had much to say but the actors were just that to me, actors. Here is a pretty good link about the Duke, actor, his movies, and his life.

Some of my favorite Wayne movies: Three Godfathers, The Searchers,The Cowboys, True Grit, and Rooster Cogburn and the Lady, and of course, The Shootist. My list goes on. He sure was a prolific actor.
Here is a great site listing his movies.

and now that I look at the list I see so many I enjoy but hadn't thought about in years.

Here is Wayne quotation from the above wikipedia John Wayne link that I find poetic:
Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

(Surprising to me as I didn't expect such wisdom from the Duke. See, I am a reverse snob sometimes.)

In considering my own thoughts about John Wayne and his movies, I am regretting that we do not have such a hero today for folks. It is a confusing world and sometimes we need idols. The problem is in picking the idols. Maybe I should say heroes as idols are of stone and make no mistakes while heroes, as is often seen, are human and make mistakes.

The past few years I had times I felt young folks needed a hero. A black and white, good vs. evil, moral type even if they are the stuff found only in movies or good books. But I was wrong they do, Harry Potter maybe. Someone the media leaves alone to do good while having clay feet would be very nice. Why not leave a little fantasy and enjoyment to the young. A guide along the way of discovery of the society around us. The stage after parents lose their wisdom and no longer know just everything.
(I warned my son that there would be a time that his parents would get a disease. They would suddenly know nothing and it would last for many years. Then one day they would recover and they would be very wise once again.)

Maybe today the problem is many do not grow beyond this stage or something. We have our idols and some of us revel in every lurid tale about them. It is as though part of us wants our idols to be less than we think we are. Why are Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood still popular?

I leave you to your answers.

We admire them, we envy them, for great qualities which we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography site link

Monday, April 5, 2010

Frank Rich Again

As I still have much research and thought to go on social movements, I have a short thought or two on Frank Rich' column this past weekend.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Obama!

...Remnick returns repeatedly to the notion that Obama is a “shape-shifter,” with a remarkable ability to come across differently to disparate constituencies. Some of that reflects his agility at shifting rhetorical gears...

Let us face facts. We have a President who is excellent at “shifting rhetorical gears”. I enjoy it.
And there may be some “racism” from the left:
He (a friend of Mr. Rich) theorized that race also plays a role in “the often angry and intemperate talk” he has been hearing from “left-liberal friends for the past many months about what a failure and a disappointment” the president has been. In his view, “Obama never said anything, while running, to give anyone the idea” that he was other than a “deliberate, compromise-seeking bipartisan moderate.” My friend wondered if white liberals who voted for Obama expected a “sweeping Republicans-be-damned kind of agenda” in part — and he emphasized “in part!” — because “they expect a black guy to be intemperate, impetuous, impatient” rather than “measured, deliberate, patient.”

Probably not as indicated here though race may have played a partial roll in President Obama's election. I believe Some white Democrats and Independents voted for him to show the world the nation would elect a black President.

As far back as 2004 — when Obama was still in the Illinois Senate — a writer at The Chicago Tribune, Don Terry, framed what remains the prevailing Obama takeaway to this day. “He’s a Rorschach test,” Terry wrote. “What you see is what you want to see.”

As for this far left but pragmatic Socialist Democrat, I see what I expected to see as this President works-a very pragmatic person. He is like his “health reform” law-the best we can get. He is much more centrist than I would like to see but he is certainly better than the other offerings. And even though I am very far left of center I am pragmatic.
I do admire his new found energy and almost always enjoy listening to him whether in an interview or giving a speech. Of course after what we had in the White House, just having one “rhetorical gear” is something to behold.

And not a moment too soon. The speed with which Obama navigates out of the recession, as measured by new jobs and serious financial reform, remains by far the most determinative factor in how he, his party and, most of all, the country will fare in the fractious year of 2010. If he succeeds in that all-important challenge — or, for that matter, if he fails — the enigmatic, Rorschach-test phase of Obama’s still young relationship to the American people may rapidly draw to a close. It will be the moment of clarity that allows us to at last judge him, as we should all presidents, on what he’s actually done rather than on who we imagine he is.

As far as his ability to produce jobs, I hope he can. But I do not expect miracles.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

No Need to Worry about Health Care Anyway

After checking some “interesting” web sites this morning it occurs to me no one need worry about the long term effects of Health Care Reform. Hang with me you'll see the logic to that statement.

A dear relative of mine sent me a link this morning (thought it was funny).
If you can stand it watch this one.
Fine phone interview with J. Ventura here but my favorite quote is from the host: “...we don't do books on Freedom Watch...” (by the way, how come I don't get a slider on this video so I can advance or go back?) the title across the bottom is Ventura searches for truth in his latest book,...
Here is Ventura talking about the Kennedy assassination. “...Dual Oswalds...” on 9/11 Mr. Ventura says if we didn't participate or didn't do anything to prevent it. (I'll buy part of it.) the book is by Mr. Ventura with DickRussell

Mr. Ventura wrote a check for six figures to pay his taxes? Wow, what happened to his accountant? How much does this guy make.

So all of this led to research of a group the same dear relative told me about. Really thinks he is funny) Turns out I had seen something on this group but didn't register it as some evil world domination thing. Wrong again. Here are three views of the groupVentura
Bilderberg Group now look at this one
Thissite is the one where they picked Pres. Obama or maybe John McCain.

Now while I was having a little research fun with all this I decided to click another link on the global research site. I found this goodie then I found this I must tell you these last two are going to sell you their startling information because the powers that be are going to take down this information any moment now. (send more money now so you will be one of the few in the know) Turns out the world organization is going to do something terrible to both Christians and Muslims:

“The event is called Project Enoch and is a high level military project designed to create a staged second coming of Christ and damage the credibility of the true doctrine of the rapture and blessed hope for christians worldwide. “ (As written on the Vision Revisited second site link previous paragraph.)

But back to my opening. We don't need to worry about Health Care or Pres. Obama past 2012 because the world, as we know it, will end in one way or another.

Well since some of you want to be serious, I give you the truth about 2012. If you read the article, you will see we may really get to have an Earth Hour, or more, of power savings.

Sometimes I wonder if we, humans, have grown-up at all. Do we still run in fear with every eclipse?
Some do, and I guess, always will. thomas has written a little about conspiracies also. (I can't remember the exact posting.)

Not Mark Twain this time:
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
A. Einstein Quote site

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We Have Socialism and other Repub Things

My definition of Socialism is not too technical. Basically I call socialism the step before communism.
Both of them just have the individual basically working for the good of the whole population. Here is a partial definition of socialism: "Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization which advocate either public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources" link While here is a short one for Comunism: "Communism is a social structure in which classes are abolished and property is commonly controlled, as well as a political philosophy and social movement that advocates and aims to create such a society.[1]" link.

So now we have a Health Care Law. Socialistic Law? Here is an interesting link, video embedded from an investment guide.

I don't think that is how Socialism is supposed to work is it? I don't see the direct worker parts of this new law.
I admit I am not the brightest bulb so maybe I am wrong about this one.

Now let's talk about the grand old party. The Senate is "working on, debating" the next step. Not really.But the Grand Old Party is holding up any "work" the committees and subcommittees can do. John McCain, the brilliant one that gave us the "pox upon your head" Palin, said nothing else would get done this year. You thought he was blowin' hot air didn't you. Aw you know better. These guys are good.
video and text 

"In another move to block action by Democrats, Republicans invoked obscure Senate rules that prevent hearings from taking place without unanimous consent, resulting in the cancellation of a number of routine hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. " quote

Not quite as good as the 1995 shut down but let's not get to complacent. Who knows what else they will do. Don't remember the 1995 Shutdown? Here are a few things the Grand Old Party wanted to cut in the budget:

“That final provision, Mr. Clinton said in his veto message, "obligates the Government, Congress and the President to pass the Republican Congressional budget plan with its huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, education and technology, the environment, and its tax increases on working families." “ BATTLE OVER THE BUDGET: THE OVERVIEW;PRESIDENT VETOES STOPGAP BUDGET; SHUTDOWN LOOMS By ADAM CLYMER Published: NY Times, November 14, 1995

I guess the Grand Old Party has changed its collective mind about Medicare. here

Just on Prescription Drug law, Medicare part D:

“And unlike the Democratic bills, which won't add to the deficit, the bill George W. Bush signed was financed entirely through deficit spending. While Grassley and his colleagues accuse Democrats of harming Medicare through cost cuts, it is their bill that has done the most to hasten Medicare's coming insolvency. Between now and 2083, Medicare D's unfunded obligations amount to $7.2 trillion according to the trustees. Numbers like these prompted former Comptroller General David M. Walker to call it "... probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s."
Grassley is not alone in his incoherence. Of 28 current Republican senators who were in the Senate back in 2003, 24 voted for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Of 122 Republicans still in the House, 108 voted for it. There is not space here to fully review this hall of shame, which includes Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, among many others. Here is Kansas Republican Sam Brownback in 2003: "The passage of the Medicare bill fulfills a promise that we made to my parents' generation and keeps a promise to my kids' generation." Here is Brownback in 2009: "This hugely expensive bill will not lower costs and will not cover all uninsured." Here is Jon Kyl of Arizona: "As a member of the bipartisan team that crafted the Part D legislation, I am committed to ensuring its successful implementation. I will fight attempts to erode Part D coverage."* Kyl now calls Harry Reid's legislation: "a trillion-dollar bill that raises premiums, increases taxes, and raids Medicare." “ Slate

“Michael Steele racheted up the rhetoric in a last minute email urging supporters to help defeat healthcare, calling it a "headlong rush into socialism."

So there we have it Socialism and newly found GOP love of Medicare. Maybe as the grand old party gets older it appreciates the wisdom that comes with old age?

Then we have this Sneaky \little devil isn't he.

I was young and foolish then; now I am old an foolisher.

- Mark Twain, a Biography

And see this video: Bloggingheads NY Times

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Really Important Speech

I just watched a great speech. Please take time to watch it. If you can't please read the transcript.
Even if you don't have much time watch the last 4 or 5 minutes.
It is in those last 4 minutes I am reminded why HEALTH CARE is so important.
So I ask you to watch or read the speech and think, really think, why something must be done.

I admit to concern about the aftermath. Republicans are already having lawyersgear up for court cases. I knew they would but not even a little break.

Here's a little prayer that we do the right thing and that many in need improve because of what is done.
If that is a religious, socialist, conspiracy; so be it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Health Care Legislation in the House Budget Committee

This is short and sweet.
The House Budget Committee is just starting.
Ok, I wanted to watch it for many reasons. Mostly to watch the procedure and learn.
Of course, too, I wanted to see if I could learn more from both sides.
I heard the head of the Committee, John Spratt, Jr. then he turned it over to the ranking member Paul Ryan from Wisconsin for 10 minutes.
Rep. Spratt, not a great speaker, is rather laid back. Ok I handle that by doing other things while listening. Then there is Rep. Ryan. Next thing I know I am angry.
Talking to the TV in not so nice language. He repeats the same old Repub. stuff. I hear a man talking to his fellow Repubs. not giving me anything new to learn. this guy flat irritates me. I believe he is the one that talks about the rest of us just need to be better consumers. That will take care of everything-consume, consume, consume.
Now here is the next Repub. talking about his mother and her doctor and no government interference. Maybe his mother is quite young therefore not on Medicare?
anyway you can probably watch for yourself. CSpan 1 and I believe CSpan 3 are carrying the Committee.
Find out more about the Committee here
The more the Repubs. keep it up the more I want to give more to defeat them and help pass the health care bill. I wish it were stronger and more left leaning (I don't like insurance companies) but these Repubs. are so smug acting. I hope you can watch or listen.

Also read: CBO's March 11th update


Top Industries
Congressman Paul Ryan 2009 - 2010

Select cycle and data to include:

* Campaign Cmte & Leadership PAC Combined

Top 20 Industries contributing to Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC

Industry ↓ Total ↓ Indivs ↓ PACs ↓
Insurance $102,220 $9,720 $92,500
Securities & Investment $71,900 $20,900 $51,000
Retired $71,836 $71,836 $0
Health Professionals $63,806 $12,306 $51,500
Misc Finance $37,850 $23,350 $14,500
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $32,250 $1,250 $31,000
Oil & Gas $28,600 $10,600 $18,000
Lobbyists $27,250 $26,250 $1,000
Lawyers/Law Firms $26,300 $12,800 $13,500
Accountants $25,650 $1,650 $24,000
Health Services/HMOs $22,268 $2,768 $19,500
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $19,350 $10,850 $8,500
Air Transport $18,743 $0 $18,743
Real Estate $18,650 $5,650 $13,000
Building Materials & Equipment $16,150 $10,150 $6,000
Electric Utilities $15,250 $1,500 $13,750
Retail Sales $15,200 $200 $15,000
Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $15,150 $4,150 $11,000
Beer, Wine & Liquor $15,000 $0 $15,000
Building Trade Unions $14,500 $0 $14,500

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Frank Rich today, Hope and Trust

the mess we created
...The admission that society...rests ultimately on man-made choices and decisions invites critical scrutiny, dissent and resistance: What has been done by humans can be undone by humans. No wonder that throughout the modern era, attempts were made and continue to be made to represent the grounds for the demands of power-holders as beyond human capacity. Zygmunt Bauman
Quote site I warn you the article is a tough one to read and tougher still, for me anyway, to fully understand.

Writing on a Frank Rich Column is a tough-row-to -hoe.
As always in this week's column, Mr. Rich makes good points but at times seems to refute himself.

At the beginning of the column Mr. Rich complains about “cheesy theatrics”, yet within the rest of the column are complaints about The President's failing narratives. I would answer that these days “cheesy narratives are what works with many. This is one way to visually “frame” the support for health care reform. Maybe learned from the previous masters of “framing” and word manipulation.

The column mentions the complaints of some that the President is over-exposed in the media. I ask; how else would you have the narrative put forth? On prime time television? How many would stop to watch it? Short sound bites or appearances on variety, late night, and the Internet is what many many of the population will watch.
There can be no one clear message about what the President is doing. He must appeal to a broad spectrum. He must remind us of the moral issues involved in health care. He must explain the fiscal issues of health care both short and long term. He must explain how the health care bill would rein in the abuses of the insurance industry. He must even explain to those on Medicare that they are on a government run program. When the country is so fragmented about so many issues he must keep explaining to each group.

Then too there is gerrymandering. What a mess that is. Either the Governor or the State Legislature draws the districts after the Federal Government, using the census determines the number of representative for each state. Now think about that. The State governments are very important here and so is the Census. So be sure to use your census form as you do your vote.
But I am getting off subject here.

Perhaps the biggest error this President has made is that he tried, as a former legislator to let the legislators legislate. The people are getting it. Now he needs to see it too. Congress is too fractured. And why wouldn't they be if the voters that sent them are. Many of those sent by the voters got elected on not just national issues but on issues or maybe just one issue of import to their constituents. Whether it be health care without abortion, just get even with Wall Street, or jobs for me; how do we expect them to work together. If they vote other than what is expected at home, they will be gone. If they do nothing, they will be gone. If they vote against some big lobby, they may well be gone. That lobby can now spend lots of money and effort to get them out. Now add the Republican hard liners that just want to see the Democratic majority gone and the President to fail for spite or for power. “Houston we have a problem.”

Just look at Iraq. The NY Times has much coverage of Iraq today.
What a mess. Lately I read progressive articles on their dismay that we aren't really, really, leaving Iraq. The right, at this time, seems to be ignoring it. The left is still wanting the President to get out of Afghanistan, now. When I, who am against any war, look at the articles on the mess in Iraq right now; I wonder by what miracle can this President end both.

So Mr. Rich is right President Obama needs a powerful vision, I think he does have one, and he needs to somehow be FDR or even Reagan in a time when nobody would trust them either. Too much Hope without any Trust is what he must overcome while appealing to the fractious public.

Yes, the American public will soon be onto some other issue as Mr. Rich mentions, led by the Press, their problem au jour, or some new idol.

Yes, the President needs to communicate a narrative but I don't know that he can count on us to follow too many parts of “his larger vision”. For many reasons as I have written in previous posts, lack of education(Thomashas been posting on education), daily survival, time, feeling helpless, or just tired of it all; we can't, we don't or we won't take the time and effort to focus on more than a piece at a time. Maybe we just don't want to admit what a huge cobwebbed mess we have participated in, allowed, or enabled.

Yet, I don't know about you but my mind cannot take it all in. I am “only” human. I must rely on people smarter than I am and hope they honestly know what we are doing. Or that they honestly believe in what they will try. Hope and Trust.

Now go read this for some great, easy, reading. I wish I had written it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Officially Old

As of the first of the Month, I am now "old". That is old as I used to view it.
I received my Medicare Card. Hoorah!

My spouse and I didn't believe we would see this day. We figured Social Security would be gone by the time we hit this age. OK. We didn't really care we were helping to pay for our parents and for a short time for a grandparent or two.

But here we are.
The feeling is of freedom.

The painful forms I was expecting at the Doctor's office didn't appear. But this time I could talk to him about drug choices without worrying about the employee drug plan telling us I could not get the drug that is better unless I paid for it myself as well as their premiums. This time I could pay my part of the visit right then instead of waiting for the insurance company to drag it out and negotiate "for me". (and by the way my part is cheaper under Medicare) I feel better about that I hated for him to give me and the insurance company interest free loans every time I saw him. Yes I still have a deductible but it is not $2500 per person. Yes we are having premiums withheld from SS but nothing like what we were paying even through the company plans. The drug plan, that could tell me I had to use a step program as the drug I had taken for 2 or 3 years was not on this company's formulary; the drug plan, that got a better deal a little later so informed the spouse that they recommended that he go on the drug I was on in the first place, is gone.

Sometimes they made me feel as though I just wasn't trying hard enough to take care of myself. Well, of course, I can do better but most of the time I work hard at it.

Now as I pick my own Part D plan, not that hard. I can hunt and find one that will allow my Dr. to have more say so at the same time hunt for the best cost plan. A plan that will not just decide to turn him down really before he submits their paperwork with his reasons for giving me the non-generic form. He is the MD after all. He has lots of education and experience. I looked long and hard for good physician and paid extra high insurance premiums to see him. We can discuss cost vs. "return". I can take the one that he believes is better for me with my family background and my already somewhat blocked carotid artery

Premiums will definitely go up but the ability for my Doctor and I to work to find the best drug for my brain's sake is worth it. And since he is very familiar with Medicare he will know how to work with them too.

Now if I had my way for everyone in this U.S. of A. I would love to see somebody go back after the Drug Manufacturers. You remember those discussions about how they pay so much in R&D, NOT! (It is advertising. I wish they couldn't advertise on TV. Oops free speech?) And if I had my way, everyone would have health care as provided by good physicians and hospitals. And drugs would be reasonable. But I don't get my way and maybe this latest version of health care, "insurance", is it for now. It is better than no regulation. It will, I hope, keep the insurance companies from kicking us out for some piece of childhood information we forgot to put down on some form. Or some other so-called "pre-existing" condition. It will, I hope, keep the companies from raising our premiums by any amount they like anytime the like.

And Don't kid yourself that wonderful caring-about-us-old-folks-and-our-Medicare, which was in the main passed by Democrats, Republican party will do away with Medicare when it can. Or maybe the plan is just let it run out of money and it will be gone.

At least for now I am on that terrible government run, socialist, insurance and glad of it. So now I guess I am a cannibal eating my children and my grandchildren.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Representative Bunning is a Hold-up Artist

What else did Senator Bunning, R-KY, hold up last week? If you have a job and insurance you still may well be affected.


When Jim Bunning of Ky. decided to hold up the passage of the "Unemployment and Cobra Extension", he was putting a hold on more than that. He was holding up employment funding. here and possibly some satellite broadcasts. satellite reauthorization.
Then there is the patch for payments by Medicare Medical payments

So Here it is Noon, Guess I'll go check to see if my satellite provider is still providing some of the TV I like. Some of us live in the "boonies". We aren't offered cable. And some of the old movies just aren't the same over the Internet.

CSPAN is on Sen. Reid is angry. The Senate will be working, I use the word advisedly, this afternoon at 3 Eastern time.

This may get interesting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More on We Want but...

I may have to eat my words.

As an update to my rant I add these points that may be of interest.
In my own fine state, it appears we close schools while keeping a nice tax break for large boats, I call them lake yachts. According to a report in the KC Star we cannot be sure of the costs to the state,

In the last seven years, the state auditor has asked the Revenue Department three times to come up with such a figure, but revenue officials declined, maintaining that it would “increase the burden of reporting on taxpayers.”

As recently as last month, the auditor noted that “the cost in terms of reduced state revenue for each exemption cannot be determined.”

Read more: In a time of budget cuts, yacht sales sail through untaxed in Missouri - link

And go to this link for a few states that handled their budget problems differently. Just look for the section marked State Progressives in bold type. In that section will be many more links if you want to be sure of what you read.

Maybe some are willing to pay for what they want. Maybe just maybe I will have to eat my words.

Friday, February 19, 2010

We want but ...

One very long rant here.
Let's see the Neo-cons are back; the Glen-Beck nut-cases are out in force; Limbaugh is still mouthy; Bohner wants to be Speaker of the House; Left Progressives are not happy we didn't just leave the wars; the jobless want jobs; the greedy Bankers want less regulation; big Pharma is sorry it wasted its lobby money; Insurance companies want to insure many more people but without losing any money; we do want the Federal Government to be responsible for making jobs; we do want the Feds to do something about the deficit; we don't like Federal debt; we don't want foreign governments taking our jobs; we don't want foreign corps to own everything; we want security from terrorists both foreign and domestic; we want the right to carry anywhere; we want tougher law enforcement; we want Gitmo closed; we don't want trials “in the homeland” for the terrorists, so-called; we don't want our schools closed; we want a better education for our kids; we want our health care; we want corp. greed punished; we want free speech for all and we do mean all; we want the biggest military-industrial complex in all the world; we want to sell weaponry but we don't want it used; we don't like Social Security unless we are at or near retirement; we need to “fix” Medicare; we want a cleaner environment; we don't want to spend on energy research; we want credit but we don't want big banks to get bigger; we want to get rich on Wall Street. After the fiasco of Greenspan, with his belief in Ayn Rand's separation of economy and state, people are reading Ayn Rand for guidance. (Congressional testimony)( Rand follower ) Oh I know he wasn't a true objectivist. He tried to apply the theory from within. Well, maybe he still is. He did say he saw a flaw but he didn't know how important the flaw or how long it would last.

We want a lot but we don't want taxes raised in any form to pay for anything. We don't even want to cut back on what we already take from the environment. We don't even want to admit that we are responsible for any environmental changes this old world is suffering; that population growth, therefore energy needs grow, is causing some of it. We want bankers, corps, and the fed punished in some way but we want to give all organizations extra free speech. We want Congress to quit taking money for elections from all the interest groups but we want the CEO's able to run ads against or for them and able to threaten them more than they already do. We don't want to give $5 each for election campaigns to lessen the impact of the organizations. We want Congress to pass laws but we don't want our party to give to the other party. We don't like Wall Street investment firms or banks but we want to get our share first. We want to invest but we don't want to know that great investment is financing wealthy foreign corps. We want balanced budgets in our cities, states, and federal government but we don't want to pay more taxes when so many are unable to pay their share. We value families but we want the other guy to work longer hours and more days so he can't spend time with his. We want a great army but no draft. We want people to quit going to ER for the things they should just be going to the Dr.'s office but we don't want to pay for it either.

And when all is said and done we want to throw the bums out because they can't do all these things on nothing. We want to throw the bums out for taking lobby money or the promise of future jobs but we don't like to give them pay raises. We want to throw the bums out for not working together but my congressman/woman needs to be tough, code for stand up for my point-of-view, because I am a conservative, libertarian, progressive, or liberal. We don't like them adding “pork” except for my state. Just what new bums will you believe when they tell you they are going to change Washington. Seems we have heard that before.

This new President too needs to be tough or not depending on who you are. He should or should not talk about the facts from the previous administration. The mess is his now. He should be positive not tell us the truth, We Will have to give some and pay more. If he is really tough maybe he will have to inform us that he tried something and failed. FDR, in the eyes of many, did some great things but he did have to try different ideas and some got knocked down right or wrong. He made some grave errors.
President Obama tried to learn from past Presidents. He let Congress try to put together it's own health care reform. Wasn't that supposedly partly what went wrong with the Clinton health care bill-he didn't let Congress have more say so. Wasn't the Executive Branch out of hand in the previous administration? Didn't that administration get called “the Imperial Presidency”? Weren't there times President Bush was called “King George”?
The new Attorney General needs to quit trying to be a guy who believes in the law until he figures out how to be more political. The Treasury Secretary needs to go because he is too familiar with all that went wrong. No way can he use that information to find a better way. He can wait like others then acknowledge his mistake in believing less regulation was the way to go The head of the Fed. Needs to relinquish power to someone else-but who? The Treasury, the FDIC, who should take the regulation on? Congress?

Here are a couple of anecdotal stories so you can more personally relate to the mess in which we find ourselves.
There is a large county here that is about to close many schools. Parents and non-parents attend meetings to try to stop their school from closing. Their reasons are good reasons. But they either can't or won't offer more funding. The Mayor of K.C., MO has said basically if you don't want some service cut then tell me what you do want cut. Smart man. Not popular for a lot of reasons, but he is “tough”.

Here is another state answer to budget problems.
“Mississippi’s governor is proposing to cut state aid to K-12 schools by over 9 percent, close four mental health facilities, and cut most other agencies’ budgets by 12 percent.” (ref here and pdf here ) The pdf file shows the rankings of “input”, money and the educational results therefrom.

So here we are. We want but don't want. We have our hands out but we don't want other people's hand s out. We want a balanced budget but we don't want to contribute any funds. We want seniors to take less Medicare now but we don't want to take care of them later either. They should help out their kids now or at least get out of the way but when they are in the last years who will pay for their care? Won't it cost more later? We don't like Social Security taxes because we might not get it but we forget it was a pay backwards system in the first place. Don't want your parents living with you from retirement or disability-then pay backwards. Trust me most parents don't want their kids living with them long term or vice versa. We are not the Waltons.

Now do you want to run for office on any level let alone be President. He will get most of the blame for anything not done, or done that someone doesn't like, and in the short term little praise for any small step forward.

Well, I guess he asked for it. I still think though there was probably a minute when he won election with all the newest messes breaking that he asked if there was any way out of the job.

The “beast” is starved and yet enlarged. Let's just hope our debtors are the kind who don't break legs when we can't pay our bills. And when all services are cut I hope you can stay home to take care of your family.
I hope you can educate your own kids, I hope you can nurse your sick, I hope you are in shape to raise your own food or within walking distance to your source of food. I hope your water wells or rivers are clean when you walk down with your water bucket and your dirty laundry-no droughts please. I hope you enjoy your outhouse or the ditch along the paths. Maybe you can barter for some paper to use instead of those rough leaves. Believe me this would not be a fun life. Been there done some of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blogs of Old and Books of Today

While doing further research on another brilliant idea I have, I thought I would go ahead and post this on a book I found.

The other day I found a beautifully bound book Every=Day Thoughts by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago; 1901.

When I removed it from the shelf at our local used book store, I had no idea who Ella W. Wilcox was. The reason I took it from the shelf was the binding. Then I took a further look, a glance at a page or two or more. I had a hard time stopping.
It occurred to me it was a “blog” of 104 “posts” from 1901.

Of course upon further investigation at the computer, I learned about Mrs. Wilcox. She was a poet, everyday man's poetry and she was a philosopher. Actually she was a follower of theosophy. That is a mixture of religion and philosophy.
In her poem “Solitude” she wrote the famous line” laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone”. (As you read the wikipedia biography you will find a mention of Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt. Apparently Mr. Lewis did not consider Mrs. Wilcox a great literary genius.)

Many of the “posts” contained in the book are short and to the point. Most are just 2 or 3 short pages.
The author covers many subjects. Most of her writings in this book are in answer to questions posed by her followers, readers. She uses her poetry as a means in some chapters.

Though she considers herself to be a “religious” person, she writes about “Our Empty Churches” (Chapter LX) in response to a young woman
“...telling us that New Yorkers are pagans, because sixty-five percent of us do not go to church.” She answers with some of her theosophy answers. “Every day I am newly surprised to find people I had supposed to be given over to creeds, or to agnosticism, sweeping into line with the great army of devout and forceful thinkers in this new school of theology.”(p. 200)

I put the previous paragraph in here to get your attention. Now that I have it. Here is another “Blog of Old” excerpt in which the Mrs Wilcox gives advice to someone seeking guidance about his unfaithful wife:
“It is one of life's terrible jests, when a man with so much soul and heart and feeling, is mated with a frivolous and worthless woman-- a woman so devoid of the power of appreciation of God's greatest blessings, that she can give up such a love for the cheap pleasures of a third-class theatrical career.”(p. 114)

She writes about “love affairs”. She offers advice to mothers, wives, and husbands on things such money matters, disrespectful children. She writes in one chapter of the need of moderation between seeking poverty or seeking extreme wealth. The author devotes one “Blog post” is on the care of animals. Lest you be misled by the quotation above she is very much for women earning their own way when they have talent.

In all her posts Mrs. Wilcox preaches patience with the changing world. She encourages cleanliness, smiles, and forgiveness. And, thus far in reading from this “blog of old”, I find only one mention of reincarnation. I have not read it all-I hesitate to do so. This book is old and even reading it causes it problems. So I now have to figure out how to keep it in good shape and yet read from it.

In another book written by Mrs. Wilcox, poetry, you will find beautiful, really, “photographic life studies”. Maurine is the title.
hereis the Google Books link.

If you can find some of her “columns”, you will probably find as I have she is a nice person with a “religion” that is quite different. What an interesting person she must have been.

I enjoy these “old blogs” we sometimes call books. But in particular, this book by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is so much like blog posts it is eerie. It also reminds me of some of the books of today-put together and published collections of columns of so-called pundits, or …

The first time I bought a “book” by a present-day columnist, I was disappointed to find it was really nothing but a compendium of columns they had written. I thought I was going to get more of the reasons the columnist writes what he or she writes. I know they are really great writers but hey books are not cheap these days so at least warn me. ( I know I should have checked it out better before I paid good money for it-I was in a hurry.)

Yet, I bought the old one and was thrilled. So, I guess if I can enjoy the “Blogs of Old” I should be more open about the “Books of Today.” After all they are both suited to those of us with short attention spans.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Balanced News? Don't Ask Me

This started out to be a post on Congress and ineptitude. Then it was about Congress taking over too much power. Then I wanted to write about both parties in Congress saying no to the Exec. Branch. (Rants)
But the more I researched an article I'd read the more I saw another post all together. Then even that changed to what you find below.
Sorry, this is a very long post but I don't want to shorten it. I thought about making it two posts but I don't want to interrupt the flow. I am not really sure how to break it up either. Consequently, the post is extremely long and time consuming. Just what a post should not be. Time is a valuable commodity these days.

Even when you try to get truly balanced news, you end up in a conundrum. (More Circles of Confusion) How does one tell which coverage is balanced? Don't ask me. I don't know. I am actually asking you.

Let's agree for purposes of this post that over-the-air TV and the 24-hour, cable or satellite, coverage is generally short and sweet. But they may give you enough information to seek out more in other news venues. The morning talk shows, the cable, satellite, “news” shows, will sometimes give another little piece of information whether right, center, or left. Now you are on your own. So you read papers or you go on-line and you take a time to check a little more for yourself. Yet, how do you know which article or writing is even trying to be balanced? You may find as I did you'll end up reading an article, trying to find more by and about the author of the article, trying to figure out who his/her real boss is, trying to find out for what the boss really stands(mission statements, other outlets, etc.). Too there are the weekly news magazines and “news” shows but I don't think you want me to get into that.

You could well spend a day or more doing all that investigation and determine you cannot find one person, place or thing that does not have an agenda, thereby a slant when covering the same news item. Of course I remember about psychological testing having, can't help but have, some subjective bias. With the use of statistics, use of large samples, and use of tests that can be replicated, the bias is lessened. However in reporting, writing, and editing, I figure there is bias-No matter how hard the people involved try to give balanced reporting. The reasons are many and the bias not always intended. The reader too comes to each article with a certain bias.

Now on with my search on a story about the Senate passing a bill on Iran Sanctions. The House had passed their version earlier. The two bills must be reconciled in the House-Senate Conference before going to the President.

While reading the NY Times on-line the other day, I saw this coverage: Senate OK's Sanctions on Iran's Fuel Suppliers. link Here is the first paragraph to get you started:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would let President Barack Obama impose sanctions on Iran's gasoline suppliers and penalize some of Teheran's elites, a move aimed at pressuring Tehran to give up its nuclear program.
(Note the use of the words “let President Barack Obama...”)
Please read the article further. At least read the other restrictions section near the end of the article.

I will give you one restriction as it pertains to some of the other articles I found:
Require the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Iranians, including Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, who are active in weapons proliferation or terrorism;
(Note the use of the words “Require the Obama administration...)

Remember these two quotations were found in the same news item.

Now look at this one from Baptist Press: Senate OKs tougher sanctions on Iran.
Here is the first paragraph:
The U.S. Senate approved increased sanctions on Iran's oil-related imports Jan 28 in a move intended to help prevent the extremist Islamic regime from developing nuclear weapons.

Further into the article :
The Senate's action came two days after Land and 45 other Christian leaders wrote to members of the body asking them to follow the example of the House.
(Land is Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. For further on the letter and those 45 others go here

From an articleYESHIVA WORLD NEWS: Schumer Announces Passage of Iran Sanction Legislation that Strengthens Efforts To Stop Iran From Getting Nukes
first paragraph:
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009 has unanimously passed the Senate. The Iranian regime has engaged in serious human rights abuses against its own citizens, funded terrorist activity throughout the Middle East, pursued illicit nuclear activities posing a serious threat to the security of the United States, the Middle East Region, and our allies. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act strengthens sanctions and supports the President as he pursues a dual track of engagements and sanctions. Schumer, in his role as a Banking Committee member, was instrumental in seeing the bill come to the floor for a vote. The House passed a much narrower sanctions package in December while the two bills now have to be conferenced, Schumer is vowing to fight to ensure the stronger Senate Language prevails.
(Note these words “strengthens sanctions and supports the President...”)

The article mentions a Sense of Congress on human rights and the like.

Turns out Sen. Schumer signs letters to the President also.
Two weeks ago, Schumer signed onto a letter from Senator Even Bayh urging President Obama to consider using sanctions on the books. (I think they meant to consider using the sanctions he had at hand)

You can read the whole letter at the end of the article.

Catholic press 
A very short one paragraph coverage by one of the Catholic press. Mainly it refers to Catholic leaders Bill Hudson and Bill Donahue, members of the above mentioned Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran, and they supported and will continue to work for a nuclear free Iran. They do get two links to articles they wrote on the subject.

At this point I looked for world-view items. HereAl Jazeera English had an older article.
First Paragraph:
The US lower house of congress has approved legislation to levy sanctions on foreign companies that help supply fuel to Iran, as part of efforts to punish Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Further on there are interviews with Congresspeople about the bill. Issues are raised about the “concerns” of “U.S. Trading partners and allies...” And an interview with “Afshin Rattansi, a journalist based in Iran, told Al Jazeera: "I think what is happening in the House of Representatives demonstrates yet again a complete lack of comprehension of what is happening in the Middle East.”

There are more interviews with “supporters” and more reporting on the world views as well as a little of the Iranian views of its “nuclear programme”. The article ends by naming some of the companies involved and how they are reacting.

IPS, Inter Press Service News Agency,-The Story Underneath, had a lengthy article.
US: Obama Losing Control of Iran Policy
Here is the opening paragraph:
In a surprisingly swift move on Thursday night that could have wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Senate passed a bill containing broad unilateral sanctions to punish foreign companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand its domestic refiner capabilities.

These paragraphs relate back to the words “let” and “require” as mentioned in the NY Times article:
The contents of the bill require the president to impose the wide-ranging sanctions, restraining the traditional presidential foreign policy waiver to a line-by-line exemption that forces Obama to spend political capital. ... Another aspect of the Dodd bill raising eyebrows is the codification into law of an embargo against Iran by Pres. Bill Clinton in the 1990's. The Dodd bill requires Congress to approve the lifting of the embargo.

This writer, reporter, goes into more on the “human rights” debates. (I recommend you hunt that part.)
The article has much explanation of the maneuvering and has quotations from both Democratic and Republican Senators along with “neoconservative independent Joe Lieberman”. There are interviews with a member of the National Iranian American Council and other groups that support engagement with Iran.

So there you have it 6 articles from 6 different news agencies. Now you tell me which one we should declare as “fair and balanced”. (speaking of “fair and balanced”, I couldn't find much on the Senate passage subject on FOX news I found the AP item and so far 3 anti-Obama comments. If you find more feel free to comment.) I did not search the British news for this post. I am sure it would be interesting, but I really do have a little daily life.

(For a fun look at reporting from the BBC go to sobeale blog and watch the video posted on January 31.)

Hereis a serious look at the state of journalism.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Circles of Confusion

I purposely will not write on the State of the Union address for a while. It is being hashed and re-hashed. I want to listen to it and check out all the "analysis", the many sides, before I even think about writing here. I will wait until the dust settles then maybe I will but, maybe there will be nothing left for me to think about. There are so many great thinkers I may not need to think. (I am just kidding but many do let others tell them what to think.) So here is a post on other things.

After watching Frontline on PBS the other evening I couldn't help myself I had lots of "thoughts" I just needed to put down before I forget them. (Nope I am not just letting them think for me but it was a pretty good reference point.)

First a few definitions regarding "loan sharks", credit, and debt. I do not reference Wikipedia here as we are told it is a liberal reference. (Baloney but I don't want to get stuck in the liberal-or-conservative reference game.)

2 definitions of loan shark:

n. Informal
One who lends money at exorbitant interest rates, especially one financed and supported by an organized crime network.

From the Banking Dictionary: Loan Shark

Lender, other than a regulated financial institution, who makes a business of lending money at rates above legally permitted interest rates. For example, a $5 loan on Monday to be repaid Friday for $6-an annual percentage rate of 1040%, not including interest compounding. Loan-sharking was a pervasive activity through much of the nineteenth century, leading to the formation of cooperative associations, such as mutual savings banks and credit unions, to arrange small loans at reasonable interest rates. State small loan laws generally prohibit loan-sharking, although state laws differ on what is, or is not, an excessive rate of interest.

Now the Law Encyclopedia:

This entry contains information applicable to United States law only.
A person who lends money in exchange for its repayment at an interest rate that exceeds the percentage approved by law and who uses intimidating methods or threats of force in order to obtain repayment.
In most jurisdictions usury laws regulate the charging of interest rates. Loan sharking violates these laws, and in many states it is punishable as a criminal offense. The usual penalty imposed is a fine, imprisonment or both.
(My italics above.)

Definition of Usury:
1. The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate.
2. An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money.
3.Archaic Interest charged or paid on a loan

Now here is a link to the whole Frontline program:

This link is where you can find text or video of the Treasury Secretary Geithner interview for the Frontline program last night.

I was surprised that Sec. Geithner made sense to me in many places. (I had listened to the “one of them” drumbeat and being a lefty I considered that the beaters may know something.) But, I was also struck when he said we can't cap interest rates because some people now need credit more than before. Check out thisinterview with Nessa Feddis. She is a senior counsel and V.P. Of the American Bankers Association.
Ms. Feddis makes almost the same statement Sec. Geithner did in her interview. Or for a interviews on capping interest rates go here.
So, is he, Sec Geithner falling for the if you cap interest we can't make loans or do they all really believe it. Excuse me. I want to yell, if you don't make loans I, the taxpayer, will not make you a loan and will “foreclose” on any loans you already got.

I know it wasn't really a loan. Why, I actually own stock in many financial institutions. Or, I know this is not the way to look at it all. The whole economy could have, I think still could, collapse. I know the terrible “recession” is over. Well, except for many of the real people that walk around or sleep on main street.

This credit fiasco reminds me of the Nation borrowing so much. It is particularly interesting to look at the borrowing from China. We, the tax-payer, borrowed money from China. At the same time we were helping shut down manufacturing jobs in the U.S. by buying Chinese products. So we spent our money to help end US jobs. All the while borrowing the money from the very source of cheap goods made by people who get very little of any of the money we spent.

Or put in another way the nation spent our way further into debt by spending, spending, spending or maybe buying, buying, buying; and borrowing, borrowing, borrowing so we could end much of the manufacturing in the U.S. (we won't even mention the IOU s sitting in the SS files. G.W. Had this one right, those are pieces of paper but guess what they are coming due. So I guess we borrow that too. I'll bet this surprises you I give G.W. Credit for getting something right? Now, does this mean that we senior citizens weren't the ones cannibalizing our children and grandchildren? Yes and No. After all ignorance is bliss. So is playing ignorant.)

I hope that you get the picture it is hard to write a circle or a spiral.

But let me get back to credit and debt:
It is easy to speculate that the population as a whole might see their government cycle of spend and borrow as another justification for their own personal cycle of buy and borrow. I think I remember, it seems so long ago, a budget surplus-don't I remember that or is my mind completely gone? Did we all follow that example? Nope.
gov. savings chart. Now I do realize that other things go along with less saving, or maybe cause it, such as flat wages or no wages. Of course then there is the cost of drugs, “health care” if you will. Add to that the ads for “stuff” and the ads for cheap credit and you have contributed to the downward slope of personal savings.

As to the personal debt problem, we were already using credit in all its forms to have our “Babbittry”* now. I use the term to designate the “stuff” that goes with the attitude. Why wait for that new TV?
Now add to the “instant gratification” attitude of the American Consumer a President of the U.S. telling us one answer to 9/ll was to “spend”, borrow to spend is what many did. We were so used to credit
and debt. So some people used that excuse to get more “stuff”, or a trip, or whatever they justified.

Where was the call to save, or to buy bonds, give your time, something other than spend your money. What money? Use your credit card or overdraft protection: it is just that easy. As the old ads used to say “Buy now pay later!”

So now there are many who cannot even pay the rent, electric bill, water bill, doctor's bill, and on and on, unless they get their over 400% loan until the paycheck or the income tax refund gets to them. And there are still those who get that loan to buy their toys, their Babbittry.*

Now instead of looking at our own failures many will find someone to blame. And are right to do so. Consumers have had lots of help getting into trouble.
There will always be loan sharks for those who need or want them. Though it is not like from the old movies, the feds. aren't going after these loan sharks. In fact after watching and re-watching the interviews, it almost looks as though some government officials either won't touch them because they agree with the the practices, or want to keep their previous and future jobs open.

So I am right where I was about health care in a previous blog. We are all somewhat guilty for the mess. We, meaning many consumers, the shark; the government; and many politicians.

Well, I guess this post will cause a ruckus. So be it.

As Artemus Ward said: "Let us all be happy and live within our means; even if we have to borrow the money to do it."

*You can find the book Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, 1922 on Google or you can buy it on AmazonIt is not a fun read in total, some descriptions of daily life are funny, but it is a worthwhile read. George F. Babbitt is a Realtor selling houses in the burbs around Zenith “for more than people can afford to pay.” (page 2) The book jumps right away into the love of gadgetry and newness, justifications, and “keeping up with the Jones” as well as mid-life crises.

Change George Babbitt's occupation to mortgage broker if you like or leave it Realtor depending on where you live and your state's licensing laws.

I give you this "lefty" quotation:

ETHICS -- LOBBYING FIRMS PREPARE TO OFFER JOBS TO RETIRING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: The last few months have been marked by a series of congressional retirements. To date, 19 members have decided that they will not be seeking reelection this November, including the recent retirement announcements of Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND). With all of these Capitol Hill veterans soon to be looking for new work, Roll Call reports that "law firms and lobbying shops are preparing for a flood of résumés from soon-to-be unemployed Members." With so many retirements already confirmed -- "and many more likely to come after Election Day -- K Street's top firms will have their pick of the litter." Since 2005, at least 195 members of Congress have crossed over to lobbying, according to Congressional Quarterly. Some of these former lawmakers were instrumental in lobbying against health care reform last year, as "three of every four major health-care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls." "Depending on their committee assignments," retiring lawmakers could see "baseline offers as low as $250,000 for part-time gigs, all the way up to $1.25 million salary packages for former chairmen and party leaders." There is no indication, however, that any of the retiring lawmakers have already begun negotiating post-retirement employment. "Both Senators and House Members have to publicly disclose to the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House within three days of starting negotiations with the private sector. None of the retiring Members has made that move yet."