Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why we should defund Planned Parenthood

I have to admit, I didn't know that the federal government (aka me, and other taxpayers) were providing funding for Planned Parenthood.  I don't really care about the videos supposedly showing how Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue, other than it drew my attention to yet another way my tax dollars are being spent on something that I don't approve of, and, to my recollection, I was never asked for my opinion about either.  I still haven't been asked for my opinion, but here it is anyway.

I am against public funding of Planned Parenthood.  Our congressmen should defund the organization, regardless of the legality of what Planned Parenthood does.  Regardless of how the federal funds are actually spent.  And regardless of how little of Planned Parenthood's activities are actually related to abortion.

These are the things that liberals seem to think are the important points in this discussion.  It's legal.  Abortion is such a small part of what Planned Parenthood does.  No federal money goes to fund abortion.  I don't care.

I don't care about whether federal money goes directly to abortion because money is fungible.  Does anyone really think that it matters whether that money goes into some magic separate account, never to be used to fund abortion?  I don't.  It's all the same.  Give me some money and tell me I can't use THAT money to, say, buy beer, and I'll just use that money to pay my rent, leaving me more of my other money to buy beer, if I'm so inclined.  It's a fallacy to say that federal funds aren't funding abortion.

I don't care if it's only a small part of what Planned Parenthood does, either.  To me. that's like saying out of the thousands of people I've met throughout my life, I only killed one.  Being such a small number, it shouldn't matter.  Somehow, I don't think this defense would work for me, and it shouldn't for Planned Parenthood either.

And, I don't care if it's legal, either.  As a taxpayer, I shouldn't have to fund everything simply because it's legal.

And there's more to it than just those things.  Under Obamacare, I have to have health insurance, and last I checked, so do women.  So, I don't really see that funding Planned Parenthood is any sort of attack on women's ability to get health care.  That's what insurance is for, and you're required, as am I, to have health insurance coverage.  And yes, there are insurance policies that cover elective abortion.  Of course, those may have limitations, such as only one elective abortion a year.  How many elective abortions do women need to maintain their health?  And, if I have one of those health insurance policies, then I'm already funding something that I don't agree with, so, just how often do people think I should be paying for things I don't even think should be happening?

Planned Parenthood also claims that they didn't profit from the sale of fetal tissue, another thing that is actually illegal.  First, I don't care if they did.  Second, though, I wonder whether that's actually true given that Planned Parenthood showed an "excess of revenue over expenses" (aka profit) of over $100 million last year (see page 22 for the relevant line).  The previous year showed a smaller, but still substantial, excess.

So, that leads me to these headlines:

Republicans double down on Planned Parenthood probe

It should be clear to people that I'm in complete agreement with the Republicans on the need to further investigate Planned Parenthood  Unfortunately, liberals will try to make the Republican effort into some sort of witch hunt because, possibly, those videos that brought this all up in the first place may be fraudulent.  But, this isn't really about the videos, at least it shouldn't be, unless someone is considering criminal charges.  I'm just talking here about how my tax dollars get spent.

Speaking about Planned Parenthood's announcement that the organization would stop accepting compensation for fetal tissue:
 Planned Parenthood officials said they aren’t expecting the policy change to silence its critics — only to force them to change the conversation, Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in an interview Tuesday.
Curious maneuver, if you ask me.  It would seem that Planned Parenthood wouldn't really want to change the conversation, unless, of course, there really is something to the idea that the organization was profiting from selling fetal tissue.  But, okay, in my book there's plenty more to talk about than that.

The question of the legality of what Planned Parenthood does is something for someone else to determine.  The question of how my tax money gets spent is something for me to determine, and, frankly, I have no interest in funding an organization that participates in, and even promotes, something that I see as immoral.  Liberal can, being that they are so concerned about the effects of defunding Planned Parenthood, go to the Planned Parenthood website, and click the "donate" button.  In this way, you'll get to deduct the donation from your taxes, which, indirectly means the rest of us will still be partially funding Planned Parenthood, but at this point, I'm really okay with that.  I don't actually think most liberals feel so strongly about it that they'll open up their own wallets to support Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How to misinterpret data

Obamacare Signups Near 10 Million in Midyear Report

This is a great lesson in misinterpretation.  This quote is from the end of the article:
""Consumers from coast to coast are continuing to show how important health coverage is to their families," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. The figures released Tuesday cover the period through June 30."
Let me see here.  We pass a law that says everyone HAS to do something.  Then, some people abide by the law, and voilĂ , we have proven how important health coverage is to people.  Well, it might be important to people, I don't know, but the fact that people are signing up certainly doesn't show any such thing.  It only shows that people are signing up because otherwise they face a fine, and, according to this article, 84 percent of those that signed up are eligible for tax subsidies.  So, yeah, it's probably better to sign up and get free, or at least reduced cost coverage, than to not sign up and pay a fine, which is scheduled to increase substantially this year from last.  So, what this really shows is that people would rather spend money and get something than spend money and get nothing.  Yawn.  Unfortunately, this law will only lead to increasing healthcare expenditures, while hiding the true cost of healthcare from consumers.  In the meantime we can just go about pretending it's all good.


Senate Republican Tom Cotton Commits Treason Against America For The Second Time

I always thought that treason was doing stuff like aiding and abetting the enemy, so I couldn't resist when I saw the headline.  Turns out, it's worse than I thought.

Apparently, the left thinks that treason consists of disagreeing with the President, at least so long as the President is also on the left.  Or maybe they think it's okay to disagree so long as you don't actually say you disagree, and certainly so long as you don't actually take any action based on that disagreement.  Action meaning doing stuff like voting to block the President from making a deal, or lobbying your colleagues in the Senate to vote with you.  After all, our government isn't meant to have actual checks and balances; it's only meant to have the appearance of checks and balances.  That way, we can have a dictator while maintaining the appearance of having a democracy.  Cuz, you know, appearances are everything.

So, this article claims that Cotton "[swore] a pledge of allegiance" to Israel.  Um, no.  He did promise to stand by our ally, which, call me silly but this is something that I think we should do, otherwise we're not allies.  At any rate, here is the quote that apparently constitutes a "pledge of allegiance" to the left:
“Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal,” Cotton said in a statement after the meeting. “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”
I suppose that technically you could, in fact, call this a "pledge of allegiance," but the linked article only used those words to put a spin on the actual words, to make it sound as if Cotton were just about denouncing his U.S. citizenship.  Instead, though, he was promising to use the power of his office to work to stand by our ally.  Hardly what I would call treason, but then, I'm not exactly a progressive.

Well, this article is full of nonsense, like this:
"[T]his is an executive agreement and not technically a treaty"
That quote actually links to this article, which explains what the difference between an executive agreement and a treaty is.  I'll save you the click; there is no difference except in the name.  The term executive agreement was devised to come up with a way for the President to not have to get Senate approval for a treaty, by calling it something else.  So, um, technically, it is a treaty.  A treaty by any other name... well, you know.  Except here in the U.S. of course.

Given the foolishness demonstrated by the author of the linked article, it isn't surprising that the comments are even more foolish.  For example:
"Arrest and try the Idiot for treason. Iam sick of our elected officials giving aid to foreign countries."
 Apparently, this individual thinks that any kind of foreign aid is treason.  I may not really like how much foreign aid we give, but I wouldn't call it treason.  If it were, then every one of our government officials is probably guilty of treason.  Hmm, maybe that guy is on to something...

Here's another good one:
"Mr. Cotton and his "cohorts" in congress should be charged with treason no matter what. This is a huge embarrassment to the USA. Its high time we charge people with treason..... Our forefathers would have done it already."
They should be charged with treason no matter what.  That's an interesting thought: charge them regardless of whether they committed actual treason.  Cuz, you know, they embarrassed us.  Okay, they didn't embarrass me, but it looks like they embarrassed some people.  Clearly treasonous.  But if embarrassment is truly equivalent to treason, then perhaps Obama, and those that chose to elect him twice, are equally guilty of treason.  That last part of the quote is particularly interesting in that our forefathers were also guilty of treason.  It's also interesting that someone that probably doesn't know much about the history of our country deigns to know what our forefathers would have done.  Worse than that, this is probably also a person that insists that it isn't important what our forefathers would have done, since this is definitely a different world than the one our forefathers lived in.

And then, there's actually a comment that questions the validity of the claim that Cotton actually committed treason.  Unfortunately the poster hasn't yet learned that you won't get a good response to that kind of question in the comments section.  Here is the response:
"Was he or was he not in that country? Did he and a few other senators invite Him to our country to disgrace our president?"
Sounds like a lawyer wannabe.  Last I heard, visiting Israel (that country) doesn't constitute treason.  And, did inviting the leader of one of our allies to speak to Congress actually disgrace our President?  Nope.  I actually doubt that disgracing the President was the intended outcome.  Personally, I think our President does a pretty fine job of disgracing himself.  Again, maybe we should lock him up, if we're going to be locking anyone up.  Making a case to support an opinion that differs from the President's opinion does not constitute treason.

This isn't rocket science here.  This isn't treason either.  For the record, so long as we as a country insist that we don't negotiate with terrorists, I think we shouldn't negotiate with state sponsors of terrorism either.  So, it follows that I am against the deal with Iran.  And while I don't necessarily know enough about Israel to form an opinion as to whether we should be allies with them, I do know that since we are allies with them we should be committed to that relationship and promise to aid them should they need it.  Otherwise, what exactly is an ally?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The cost of stupid

For a while, I was considering actually determining how much stupidity costs.  Then, I decided that actually attempting to do that would be, well, stupid, so I didn't.  I don't think it really needs to be figured.  It is, for all practical purposes, equal to GDP, which helps to explain why we run federal deficits regularly here in the U.S.

So, here are some examples of how stupidity costs us.  I know of one employer that has a facility to employs over 1,000 people, all of whom have the job of dealing with customer stupidity.  A rough estimate of the cost of this single facility is $50 million annually.  Don't ask who it is.

A road near my home was dug up last year to do some utility work.  When the crew ran into some underground utilities that weren't where they were supposed to be, they decided to postpone the work until this year and repaved over the whole thing.  This year, the road was dug up again, and it looks like they completed the work, since they have repaved the road again.  Painted some nice white lines on it.  Looked really good, until they then decided to chip seal it.  Maybe that's a new thing, to chip seal new asphalt, but I don't really see the point, and I especially don't see the point of painting lines first, since now, they'll need to repaint the lines.

We've spent billions launching air strikes against ISIS, never doing enough to win, or even to take back meaningful areas of land.  Stupid.  Either set about winning, or GTFO of that whole mess.  My choice is the latter.

Most, if not all, automobile accidents are the result of stupidity.  The list goes on.  In saying this, I'm not saying that everyone else is stupid and I'm not; I am, after all, human and being stupid is part of that.  But, really, a lot of the stupid that goes on in the world is, in fact, avoidable.  Unfortunately, most don't want to be bothered with avoiding it, or worse, most think that they are, in fact, not stupid, which, in turn, makes them the stupidest of all.

So, now that I've gotten that off my chest, here's a look at some of the recent news.

Yeah, I don't really care how it got tied up in politics.  I don't know what all the hubbub is about.  It's a name, a label.  People are too hung up on labels these days.  To me, there's actually a simple solution to the problem anyway.  Name the mountain Denali, but name the national park McKinley.  I'm sure someone would be offended by that, but who cares, really.  People are spending way too much time looking for things to be offended by.  Another example of the cost of stupid.

"[T]he Fed plans to raise its benchmark interest rate one-quarter of one percentage point, a mathematically minor move that has become a very big deal."
Um, no.  When the rate is changed from 0% to 0.25%, it's actually not a mathematically minor move.  It's friggin' huge, mathematically speaking.  But, in the real world, it won't change much, so it really is a kind of minor thing.  I don't think it's really the rate that's all that important.  It's more about the signalling.  If the Fed raises rates, it signals that they think the recovery is strong.  It also gives them room to lower the rate when we enter the inevitable coming recession.  What do I think?  I don't think it much matters what the Fed does.  The next recession, which isn't far off in the future, is going to be bad whether the Fed has any room to lower rates or not.  It's going to kill a lot of people's retirement plans, including mine.  To get a little more specific, without going into a lot of detail, I think the next recession is going to be long and marked by high inflation, which shouldn't happen but will in this artificial economy our government has created in order to make it look like they're doing something.

We have drug violence all wrong: Prohibition is the root cause  

Yes and no.  Legalizing drugs may actually reduce drug violence, but at the same time, I suspect that violence would increase elsewhere.  But, I'm all for legalizing drugs.  I'm also all for legalizing prostitution.  I don't even think driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs should be an actual crime.  Drug laws don't stop people from doing drugs.  DUI laws don't stop people from driving under the influence, and prostitution laws don't stop people from going to prostitutes.  Perhaps in some cases it does deter those things, I don't really know.  Really, though, I don't feel like having those laws makes anything safer.  And I don't expect to see a big decline in violence if those things are ever legalized.  We'll still find reasons to kill or hurt each other, because that's the way we are.

Inside Ben Carson's quiet surge

So, it looks like Ben Carson deserves another look.  In an earlier post, I really pretty much dismissed him since I didn't know who the heck he was, actually.  But, the more I see, the more I like, mostly anyway.
"He told CNN earlier this year that some people become gay in prison, indicating homosexuality is a choice -- a comment for which he later apologized."
I just wish he hadn't apologized there.  I don't know if there's a genetic "cause" of homosexuality or not.  In the end, though, the behavior is a choice.  And I don't think that anyone that has an opinion like that needs to apologize for having that opinion, nor do they need to keep their opinion to themselves.  It is, perhaps, the one thing that I actually admire about Donald Trump.  I don't think I've ever heard him apologize for his opinion.

Obama to Call for More Icebreakers in Arctic as U.S. Seeks Foothold

I hear a lot of people on the right saying that Obama is executing a plan to destroy the U.S.  I don't think Obama is smart enough to have a plan.  I think he's doing it, as my kids used to say, "on accident."  But, if he does have a plan, this particular part is absolutely brilliant, I must say.  Let's just assume for a moment that the human contribution to climate change is real, and substantial.  First, Obama throws billions of taxpayer dollars into decreasing carbon emissions, which is already not economically viable hence the need for the government to spend that money.  Then we'll spend more making sure oil companies can produce ever increasing amounts of oil, making "clean" alternatives ever less economically viable as the increasing supply of oil pushes the price ever lower.  Presumably, the next logical step is to spend even more on reducing carbon emissions, in order to counteract the effect of cheaper oil.  At least that way, nobody will really know exactly how much they're spending on energy.  We'll all just smile appreciatively at Obama cuz, you know, gas is so, darn cheap, and it's all because of HIM.  Kind of like health care, which is now more unaffordable than ever, yet most think it's more affordable than ever.

I have one question though, and I know it's not original, but I still need to ask.  How much carbon did Obama release into the atmosphere on his flight to Alaska to "highlight the challenge of climate change and call for a worldwide effort to address its root causes?"

Kentucky Clerk Denies Same-Sex Marriage Licenses, Defying Court

I just have to say one thing to that clerk.  If you don't want to do your job, get a different job.  That's why they invented those (different jobs, that is).

The Daily 202: Six unclassified nuggets in newly released Hillary e-mails
"IT folks at State did not know about the Clintons’ e-mail setup" 
Of course they didn't.  It was on a need-to-know basis.  And how was she supposed to know that someone would have a problem emailing her and ask the IT folks at State?  So, from her perspective, they didn't need to know.
"Sidney Blumenthal e-mailed HRC that incoming Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle.”" 
I think Boehner deserves an apology.
“The incompetence is mind numbing.”
 As it is around the world, Chelsea.  Fortunately, your parents fit right in.
"In related news, ICE announced that a four-day sweep led to the arrest of 240 undocumented immigrants with criminal records in Southern California. The feds said most of those 240 had at least one felony conviction on their record. “It was the most successful four-day sweep of its kind in the region,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “But an ICE spokeswoman cautioned against concluding that crime involving immigrants is up.”"
Why in the world would I conclude anything other than there were 240 undocumented workers with felony records arrested?  I can't stand it when a bureaucrat  tells me not to jump to a conclusion that is nonsensical.  Does she think I'm stupid?  All I can say is good job, now get them out of here.  Of course, I also won't be jumping to the conclusion that that will actually happen.
"Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) has called parents to apologize over comments he made to their second- and third-graders during an elementary school visit. “Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” the lawmaker told the children."
Well, yeah, cuz we don't want kids to know the truth about the world.  Unless it's not true, of course.

There are more gems in that last link, but alas, my time is limited.  Unfortunately, I have to think about getting ready to go to my job, which, according to some, I owe to the stupid people of the world that can't follow relatively simple instructions.  Without them, I'd be unemployed.  At least, that's what people think, although I prefer to think that without them, I'd have a way better job.

Friday, August 14, 2015

More stuff that has nothing to do with overpopulation

Extreme weather poses risk of more food shortages, civil unrest - UK/US report

Of course it does.  And overpopulation doesn't.  So, let's spend more billions ineffectively, and watch as carbon emissions continue to climb despite spending billions to stop it.  And while we're at it, let's make everyone pay so that others can have sex without worrying about having babies, and then have everyone pay so that they can afford have babies whenever they feel like it, give them unlimited time off after having a baby, you know, to bond and awesome stuff like that, and finally, let's give them a tax break for having babies cuz nobody should actually have to bear the cost of their own actions.  Sounds good.  Especially since scientists have found that the universe is dying, so we may as well just party like it's 1989, or something.  And nothing really gets the party going better than having a baby!

How Humans Used Up a Year of Natural Resources In Under 9 Months

This isn't an overpopulation problem either.  That said, with sarcasm in case it didn't show, it could also be helped by decreasing consumption.  But, who the heck wants to do that?  Especially with the big universe dying party to plan for.

Of course, when those brats get a little older, their not going to be quite as cute as when they're newborns.  But, have no fear, cuz the FDA has approved OxyContin for kids!  And you thought I was kidding about babies being great for parties.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Get out of my house

Rand Paul: Get Government Out of Marriage

Yeah, I think so too.  But this article actually goes further than the headline would suggest by telling us what other GOP candidates think about the whole gay marriage thing.  And although this isn't one of my personal big issues for the 2016 election, it's a good a place as any to start looking at the candidates.

So, here's Rand Paul's reasoning in a nutshell:
“I acknowledge the right to contract in all economic and personal spheres,” he noted, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a danger that a government that involves itself in every nook and cranny of our lives won’t now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt religious convictions of others.”
Right on.  I don't think anybody can really argue that the federal government is not becoming increasingly involved in all of our personal lives, and I for one don't like it and think we need to reverse the trend.

Of course, Rand Paul isn't the only candidate that is disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling.  Some candidates think that a constitutional amendment defining marriage is a proper response.  I have two problems with this.  The first is actually a broader restatement of what Mr. Paul stated in the above quote, that government won't now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt convictions of others.  Whether my "sincerely felt convictions" are of a religious nature or not, the government should not presume to tell me how I should believe.  And I believe that individuals have a right to contract.  I don't believe they have the right to contract for the purpose of gaining additional rights at the expense of others who are not parties to the contract, and I don't think the government should have the power to force me to be a party to a contract that really has no effect on me otherwise.

The second problem I have with the constitutional amendment response is that it won't pass.  I'm not sure why anyone thinks it might pass, given that the majority of states have already legalized gay marriage.  The fact that it won't pass makes it nothing more than a talking point designed to get the votes of those people who truly believe that their religious convictions should be forced on others, and that somehow, they are entitled to special rights and privileges because of their religious convictions.

And then there's this gem:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal went as far as to say, “[L]et’s just get rid of the court.” 
Um, no.

It appears that Ted Cruz and Scott Walker also would support a constitutional amendment, meaning that they don't really have a response that will accomplish anything but want to make it clear that they don't support gay marriage.

Finally, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson all came out with a more or less "Oh well, what are you gonna do?  It's the law," kind of response.  Telling me that none of them really wants to take a stand.

So, there it is, and at this point, although this isn't really a major issue for me, Rand Paul has come out on top.  He's the one guy that actually has a real reason, other than his feelings, for not supporting gay marriage.  Yeah, get government out of my house!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Elitist ideas and more

Obama signs trade, worker assistance bills; measures advance administration's economic agenda

This way, we can buy cheap imports, and the government will pay to retrain us to do whatever is left over.  Yay!  Take it from me, though, if you're, say, 50 or older, that retraining won't likely do you a whole lot of good.  But what does Obama have to say about it?
But he said they will ultimately be good for American workers and for American business.
Okay, so, American business, I get because you can't beat cheap foreign labor.  And, it's also good for American workers, cuz, you know, we can all retrain at government expense into something awesome like Medieval  Dance, or flipping burgers at McDonald's.

AAP: Docs Have Role in Preventing Childhood Obesity

No, there's nothing really interesting in the above link, other than some smarty pantses did a study and arrived at some obvious conclusions, like kids should eat lots of vegetables, and not a lot of junk.  Nah, can't be right.  I think we need another study to make sure.

What Is Cryptosporidium, and Should You Be Concerned?

And in more health news, the only thing really surprising here is that people still swim in public swimming pools after all the publicity about it.  Apparently, some people still don't get that using a public pool as a toilet is just, well, rude.  And then there are some that don't see anything wrong with swimming in someone else's toilet.  So, sounds like a win-win for at least those people.  I think I'll take a pass on public swimming pools, though.

Supreme Court quashes clean air rule, says cost must be considered

It's been about 40 years since the Ford Pinto case caused national outrage that a company would actually do a cost-benefit analysis when considering whether to take an action that might save a few lives.  Now, it appears that the Supreme Court is saying that this is exactly what the EPA should do when considering environmental rules.  But, here's a comment that's truly troubling, made by Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group:
“Elitist ideas usually carry lofty price tags.”
Since when is clean air an "elitist idea?"

U.S. Healthcare Spending On Track To Hit $10,000 Per Person This Year 

This is from back in January, but so long as people keep yakking about how much Obamacare is saving us, I'll keep pointing out how much it's costing us.  It will only get worse.  $10,000 per year, per person.  That's a staggering number to me, and should be to everyone.  I know that I can actually live on less than that, and pretty soon, I'll probably have to, since, well, I have to spend on health care every year now, thanks to Obamacare.  Some people will say I've been lucky, and maybe I have been, but I've never come close to spending that much on health care in my entire life.  And yes, I get the whole idea that some people have health problems and so, their costs are much higher than mine.  But $10,000 per year per person is, well, mind-blowing.  Especially when you consider that this doesn't even include the administrative costs associated with Obamacare, like that disastrous website.