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Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2003, 02:04 PM
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Millions of Americans Are Embarrassingly Ill-Informed – And They Do Not Care


Just how stupid are we? Pretty stupid, it would seem, when we come across headlines like this: "Homer Simpson, Yes -- 1st Amendment 'Doh,' Survey Finds" (Associated Press 3/1/06).

"About 1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half of Americans can name at least two members of the fictional cartoon family, according to a survey.

"The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just 1 in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms."

But what does it mean exactly to say that American voters are stupid? About this there is unfortunately no consensus. Like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who confessed not knowing how to define pornography, we are apt simply to throw up our hands in frustration and say: We know it when we see it. But unless we attempt a definition of some sort, we risk incoherence, dooming our investigation of stupidity from the outset. Stupidity cannot mean, as Humpty Dumpty would have it, whatever we say it means.

Five defining characteristics of stupidity, it seems to me, are readily apparent.

First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge.

Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events.

Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts.

Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests.

Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears.


... (The old joke is that "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.") But it was never clear until the postwar period how ignorant Americans are. For it was only then that social scientists began measuring in a systematic manner what Americans actually know. The results were devastating. The most comprehensive surveys, the National Election Studies (NES), were carried out by the University of Michigan beginning in the late 1940s. What these studies showed was that Americans fall into three categories with regard to their political knowledge. A tiny percentage know a lot about politics, up to 50%-60% know enough to answer very simple questions, and the rest know next to nothing.

Contrary to expectations, by many measures the surveys showed the level of ignorance remaining constant over time. In the 1990s, political scientists Michael X. Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter concluded that there was statistically little difference between the knowledge of the parents of the Silent Generation of the 1950s, the parents of the Baby Boomers of the 1960s, and American parents today. (By some measures, Americans are dumber today than their parents of a generation ago.)



Weekend Economists Go Eat Worms March 27-29, 2015

Demeter is in a blue funk...and nobody else came up with a theme, so I'm indulging in moodiness.

The theory is, if you do enough of it, you begin laughing at yourself for being so ridiculously silly, and the mood lifts. Or you think of something more interesting to do...

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I think I'll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one,
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!
Up comes the first one, up comes the second one,
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!

I bite off the heads, and suck out the juice,
And throw the skins away!
Nobody knows how fat I grow,
On worms three times a day!

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I think I'll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones,
Eensie weensy squeensy ones,
See how they wiggle and squirm!

This song was originally posted at:

More variations on the theme at: http://pieceoplastic.com/index.php/668/finally-the-complete-worm-song/

The market's had a hard week, as well. Friday's DJIA was struggling to show one positive day this week...with 1.5 hours to go as I compose this, barely 18 points in the green. total loss for the week so far: 450 points. And that's after adding Apple to the Index!

And US foreign policy has been eating bitter weeds--losing Yemen, losing control of Ukraine, losing the House of Representatives (well, it's a foreign land now, isn't it?), not even getting around to meddling in Greece or Europe or the Stans....

So what's a nation to do? Dig out the Moody Blues!

DJIA managed to squeeze out 34 points and change....still down 450 for the week.

How Exciting: The Birth of a New Official Enemy! By Jacob G. Hornberger


There are few events more exciting in people’s lives than the birth of a child. Similarly, there is always a tremendous air of excitement that comes with the birth of a New Official Enemy of the U.S. national-security state. This past week, the American people got to experience this exciting event in the life of the national-security state. Through an official decree issued by President Obama declaring that Venezuela now poses a grave threat to the “national security” of the United States, a new official enemy — Venezuela — was brought into existence as the latest Official Enemy of the U.S. Empire.

How exciting is that!

How exactly does Venezuela pose a grave threat to U.S. “national security”? Unfortunately, Obama didn’t exactly make that clear, but who cares? What matters is that United States has a brand new member of the Official Enemy family. Making Venezuela a new Official Enemy enabled Obama to unilaterally impose sanctions on select officials within the Venezuelan government. But as the Iraqis, Iranians, Cubans, Russians, North Koreans, and others will attest, limited sanctions are just the beginning. Gradually, Obama will use his decree powers to expand his Venezuelan sanctions with the aim of causing as much economic harm to the Venezuelan people as possible.

What’s the purpose of the sanctions? The same purpose sanctions served in Cuba, Iraq, and others: regime change. The idea is that by economically strangling the Venezuelan people to the maximum extent possible, they will oust Maduro from power and replace him with a pro-U.S. dictator, perhaps even through a military coup, like in Chile.

And make no mistake about it: No amount of death and destruction is too small in the attempt to achieve regime change. Recall U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s infamous declaration that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions against that country were “worth it.”


Classic Dave Barry from 1995



This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, March 5, 1995

The problem with hunting, as a sport, is that it's not competitive. A guy with a shotgun squats in a swamp; an unarmed duck with an IQ of maybe four flies overhead; the guy blasts the duck into individual duck molecules. Where is the challenge here? Where is the contest?

Fortunately, I have a solution...

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/dave-barry/article16061147.html#emlnl=Dave_Barry_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

How The US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc. By Paul Craig Roberts


Andrew Cockburn has written a must-read book. The title is Kill Chain: The Rise Of The High-Tech Assassins. The title could just as well be: How the US Government and US Military Became Murder, Inc.

The US military no longer does war. It does assassinations, usually of the wrong people. The main victims of the US assassination policy are women, children, village elders, weddings, funerals, and occasionally US soldiers mistaken for Taliban by US surveillance operating with the visual acuity of the definition of legal blindness.

Cockburn tells the story of how the human element has been displaced by remote control killing guided by misinterpretation of unclear images on screens collected by surveillance drones and sensors thousands of miles away. Cockburn shows that the “all-seeing” drone surveillance system is an operational failure but is supported by defense contractors because of its high profitability and by the military brass because general officers, with the exception of General Paul Van Ripper, are brainwashed in the belief that the revolution in military affairs means that high-tech devices replace the human element. Cockburn demonstrates that this belief is immune to all evidence to the contrary. The US military has now reached the point that Secretary of Defense Hagel deactivated both the A-10 close support fighter and the U-2 spy plane in favor of the operationally failed unmanned Global Hawk System. With the A-10 and U-2 went the last platforms for providing a human eye on what is happening on the ground.

The surveillance/sensor technology cannot see human footprints in the snow. Consequently, the drone technology concluded that a mountain top was free of enemy and sent a detachment of unsuspecting SEALS to be shot up. Still insisting no enemy present, a second group of SEALS were sent to be shot up, and then a detachment of Army Rangers. Finally, an A-10 pilot flew over the scene and reported the enemy’s presence in force...By 2012 even the US Air Force, which had been blindly committed to the unmanned drone system, had experienced more failure than could any longer be explained away. The Air Force admitted that the 50-year old U-2 could fly higher and in bad weather and take better pictures than the expensive Global Hawk System and declared the Global Hawk system scrapped. The decision was supported by the 2011 report from the Pentagon’s test office that the drone system was “not operationally effective.” Among its numerous drawbacks was its inability to carry out assigned missions 75% of the time. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that in addition to the system’s unacceptable failure rate, the drone system “has fundamentally priced itself out of our ability to afford it.”

As Cockburn reports: “It made no difference. Congress, led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Democratic Congressman Jim Moran (whose northern Virginia district hosts the headquarters of both Northrop and Raytheon) effortless brushed aside these pleas, forcing the Air Force to keep buying the unwanted drone.”


The Only Truly Compliant, Submissive Citizen in a Police State Is a Dead One By John W. Whitehead


“Do exactly what I say, and we'll get along fine. Do not question me or talk back in any way. You do not have the right to object to anything I may say or ask you to do, or ask for clarification if my demands are unclear or contradictory. You must obey me under all circumstances without hesitation, no matter how arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or blatantly racist my commands may be. Anything other than immediate perfect servile compliance will be labeled as resisting arrest, and expose you to the possibility of a violent reaction from me. That reaction could cause you severe injury or even death. And I will suffer no consequences. It's your choice: Comply, or die.”

— “‘Comply or Die’ policing must stop,” Daily KOS

Americans as young as 4 years old are being leg shackled, handcuffed, tasered and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.

Americans as old as 95 are being beaten, shot and killed for questioning an order, hesitating in the face of a directive, and mistaking a policeman crashing through their door for a criminal breaking into their home—i.e., not being submissive enough.

And Americans of every age and skin color are being taught the painful lesson that the only truly compliant, submissive and obedient citizen in a police state is a dead one.

It doesn’t matter where you live—big city or small town—it’s the same scenario being played out over and over again in which government agents, hyped up on their own authority and the power of their uniform, ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry. In turn, Americans are being brainwashed into believing that anyone who wears a government uniform—soldier, police officer, prison guard—must be obeyed without question.


John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. https://www.rutherford.org

Uruguay says it will not take any more Guantanamo Bay inmates amid mounting controversy

Source: The Independent

Uruguay, the only country in South America to accept released prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, has said it will not take any more amid increasing controversy about the presence of six Arab men struggling to adapt to life there.

Former President Jose Mujica announced in December that he would give refuge to the six men, released by the US, even though opinion polls showed most people opposed the move.

He said the men - four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian who spent more than a decade at the US military prison without ever being charged – had been the victims of “an atrocious kidnapping at Guantanamo".

Yet, President Tabare Vazquez, who succeeded Mr Mujica after he left office on March 1, has voiced reservations about the controversial decision. This week, Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa told reporters: “No more Guantanamo prisoners are going to come. That's final.”

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/uruguay-says-it-will-not-take-any-more-guantanamo-bay-inmates-amid-mounting-controversy-10131095.html

From Doonesbury's Website (Gary Trudeau)

"I am not a feminist."
-- Katy Perry

"I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a feminist."
-- Carrie Underwood

"I have never really thought of myself as a feminist."
-- Demi Moore

-- Bjork, when asked if she was a feminist

"I was never the feminist girl."
-- Kaley Cuoco

"I wouldn't say feminist."
-- Kelly Clarkson

Feminist: (noun) A person who believes in social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

A Quote for Our Time

"In the eyes of posterity it will inevitably seem that, in safeguarding our freedom, we destroyed it. The vast clandestine apparatus we built up to prove our enemies' resources and intentions only served in the end to confuse our own purposes; that practice of deceiving others for the good of the state led infallibly to our deceiving ourselves; and that vast army of clandestine personnel built up to execute these purposes were soon caught up in the web of their own sick fantasies, with disastrous consequences for them and us".

- -- Malcom Muggeridge - May 1966

Who was Malcom Muggeridge?

Thomas Malcolm Muggeridge (24 March 1903 – 14 November 1990) was a British journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. During World War II, he worked for the British government as a soldier and a spy. As a young man, Muggeridge was a left-wing sympathiser but he later became a forceful anti-communist. He is credited with bringing Mother Teresa to popular attention in the West and stimulating debate about Catholic theology. In his later years he became a religious and moral campaigner.

Early life and career

Muggeridge's father, Henry (known as H. T. Muggeridge), served as a prominent Labour Party councillor in the local government of Croydon, South London, as a founder-member of the Fabian Society, and as a Labour Member of Parliament for Romford (1929–1931, during Ramsay MacDonald's second Labour government). His mother was Annie Booler.

The middle one of five brothers, Muggeridge was born in Sanderstead, Surrey, and grew up in Croydon and attended Selhurst High School there, and then Selwyn College, Cambridge for four years. While still a student he had taught for brief periods in 1920, 1922 and 1924 at the John Ruskin Central School, Croydon, where his father was Chairman of the Governors. After graduating in 1924 with a pass degree in natural sciences he went to India to teach English Literature.

Returning to Britain in 1927, he married Katherine "Kitty" Dobbs (1903–1994), the daughter of Rosalind Dobbs (a younger sister of Beatrice Webb). He worked as a supply teacher before moving to teach English Literature in Egypt six months later. Here he met Arthur Ransome, who was visiting Egypt as a journalist for the Manchester Guardian. Ransome recommended Muggeridge to the editors of the Guardian, who gave him his first job in journalism.


Initially attracted by Communism, Muggeridge and his wife travelled to Moscow in 1932, where he was to be a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, standing in for William Chamberlin, who was about to take leave of absence.

During Muggeridge's early time in Moscow, his main journalistic concentration was in completing a novel Picture Palace loosely based on his experiences and observations whilst at the Manchester Guardian. This was completed and submitted to publishers in January 1933 but there was concern by the publishers with potential libel claims and the book was not published. This setback caused considerable financial difficulties for Muggeridge who was not employed at the time, being paid only for articles he could get accepted.

Increasingly disillusioned by his observations of communism in practice, Muggeridge decided to investigate reports of the famine in Ukraine, travelling there and to the Caucasus without obtaining the permission of the Soviet authorities. Reports he sent back to the Manchester Guardian in the diplomatic bag, thus evading censorship, were not fully printed and were not published under Muggeridge's name. At the same time, rival journalist Gareth Jones, who had met Muggeridge in Moscow, published his own stories that served to confirm the extent of the famine. Writing in the New York Times, Walter Duranty denied the existence of any famine, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Gareth Jones wrote letters to the Manchester Guardian in support of Muggeridge's articles about the famine.

Having come into conflict with British newspapers' editorial policy, namely not wishing to make waves in Russia in view of the more worrying political situation in Germany, Muggeridge turned back to novel writing, starting Winter in Moscow (1934), describing conditions in the "socialist utopia" and satirising Western journalists' uncritical view of Joseph Stalin's regime. He was later to call Duranty "the greatest liar I have met in journalism". Later, he began a writing partnership with Hugh Kingsmill. Muggeridge's politics changed from an independent socialist point of view to a right-wing religious stance that was no less critical of society. He later stated:

I wrote in a mood of anger, which I find rather absurd now: not so much because the anger was, in itself, unjustified, as because getting angry about human affairs is as ridiculous as losing one's temper when an air flight is delayed.

In November 2008, on the 75th anniversary of the Ukraine famine, both Muggeridge and Jones were posthumously awarded the Ukrainian Order of Freedom to mark their exceptional services to the country and its people.

World War II

When war was declared, Muggeridge went to Maidstone to join up but was sent away at this point – "My generation felt they'd missed the First War, now was the time to make up." He was called into the Ministry of Information, which he called "a most appalling set-up", and then joined the army as a private. He joined the Corps of Military Police and was commissioned on the General List in May 1940. He transferred to the Intelligence Corps as a Lieutenant in June 1942. Having spent two years as a Regimental Intelligence Officer in England, by 1942 he was in MI6, and had been posted to Lourenço Marques as a bogus vice-consul (called a Special Correspondent by London Controlling Section).

His mission was to prevent information about Allied convoys off the coast of Africa falling into enemy hands – he wrote later also that he attempted suicide at this time. After the Allied occupation of North Africa he was posted to Algiers as liaison officer with the French sécurité militaire. In this capacity he was sent to Paris at the time of the liberation, working alongside Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces. He had a high regard for de Gaulle, and considered him a greater man than Churchill. He was warned to expect some anti-British feeling in Paris because of the attack on Mers-el-Kébir. In fact Muggeridge (speaking on the BBC retrospective programme Muggeridge: Ancient & Modern) said that he encountered no such feeling – indeed he had been allowed, on occasion, to eat and drink for nothing at Maxim's. He was assigned to make an initial investigation into P. G. Wodehouse's five broadcasts from Berlin during the war. Though he was prepared to dislike Wodehouse, the interview became the start of a lifelong friendship and publishing relationship, as well as the subject for several plays. It was also during this period that he interviewed Coco Chanel in Paris, about the nature of her involvement with the Nazis in Vichy France during the war. Muggeridge ended the war as a Major, having received a Croix de Guerre medal from the French Government for undisclosed reasons....


In 1969 he converted to Catholicism and his brain was never what it was....he became that old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

The Secret to Knowing if Your Current Goals Are Ambitious Enough

The Secret to Knowing if Your Current Goals Are Ambitious Enough: Truly ambitious people never, ever realize their ambitions.

This question originally appeared on Quora: How do I know if my current goals are ambitious enough or if I am settling for a visible local maximum?

Answer by Auren Hoffman, LiveRamp CEO. Started & sold 5 companies (and many more that failed), on Quora

If you are unsure if your goals are not ambitious enough, then they are almost certainly not ambitious enough.

Truly ambitious people never, ever realize their ambitions. Of course, that drives them to do greater and greater things. And it sometimes leads to a life that is disappointing to them while often inspiring to everyone else.

The goal posts move as you succeed

For people that are truly ambitious, the goal posts move as they succeed. If your goal is to cure breast cancer, as you approach accomplishing that, your new goal will be to cure brain cancer. As you accomplish that, your goal will be cure all cancer. After that, it will be to cure heart attacks. Soon, you will have the goal of curing death. That is what great ambition does.

Truly ambitious people are never, ever satisfied

The world can always be a better place--people can be smarter, have fewer diseases, less war, less poor, etc. Truly ambitious people never, ever stop trying to innovate, trying to change lives, trying to make positive change. Of course, truly ambitious people are incredibly rare and when they are successful in even reaching a small fraction of their goals, they are usually greatly admired. But even when they are admired, they are never satisfied with what they have achieved because they always could have done more.

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