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Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 17,860

About Me

Lifelong Democrat

Journal Archives

The biggest problem we face is with respect to education

Mandatory public or private education is critical for an informed society to function. Our predecessors saw the need for a robust public education system to ensure that our populace would be able to function, contribute, consider issues intelligently and critically and to help advance our country.

Over the last three decades or more, the Republicans have chiseled away at our education systems. They've done this at the federal, state and local levels. They've been unrelenting and ruthless in their pursuit of diminishing the education of our children.

The results have been catastrophic!

This is why people watch Fox News or get lost in tabloids or turn away from their civic responsibilities. Far too many Americans have been forced into lives of ignorance. This is the result that the GOP and the 1% have been after for these last years. With the assistance of the ignorant, these "masters of the universe" can advance their own financial and personal interests at the expense of the rest of us.

While I agree with the quote, Samuel Clemens was far too smart and wise for our time.

Trump's mental capacity

This week, I'll have several medical exams. It's that time of year for all my annual checkups. None of them include a formal mental health evaluation.

Trump doesn't need one, either. First, as Josh Marshall pointed out, (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/is-president-trump-mentally-ill-it-doesnt-matter), the medical and scientific results of such a test don't matter. His observable behavior shows us exactly who the man is. As citizens of the U.S., we don't need a psychiatrist to tell us what we already know: Trump is nuts. He is clearly unfit to be president.

Second, what would happen if there were a formal diagnosis of some mental illness? There's really nothing that says the president must be removed for a mental condition. Would such a diagnosis trigger a 25th Amendment solution? Pence, the Cabinet and Congress don't need a formal diagnosis to act under that Amendment. They already know what we know: Trump is nuts. He is clearly unfit to be president.

Lastly, the soft science of psychology has squishy metrics. How would we codify what's acceptable and what requires action? Professionals in the field often disagree about their patients. Would such presidential examinations be used for political purposes? Besides, mental health professionals (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/opinion/psychiatrists-trump.html) have already declared what we know: Trump is nuts. He is clearly unfit to be president.

I find it uncomfortable when a president releases his medical records. Aren't these the kinds of things we want to keep private? I certainly don't want other people to see my records, including my employers. It's a difficult issue.

A related joke from astrophysicist, Lawrence Krauss

A physicist, an engineer and a psychologist are called in as consultants to a dairy farm whose production has been below par. Each is given time to inspect the details of the operation before making a report.

The first to be called is the engineer, who states, "The size of the stalls for the cattle should be decreased. Efficiency could be improved if the cows were more closely packed, with a net allotment of 275 cubic feet per cow. Also, the diameter of the milking tubes should be increased by 4 percent to allow for a greater average flow rate during the milking periods."

The next to report is the psychologist, who proposes, "The inside of the barn should be painted green. This is a more mellow color than brown and should help induce greater milk flow. Also, more trees should be planted in the fields to add diversity to the scenery for the cattle during grazing, to reduce boredom."

Finally, the physicist is called upon. He asks for a blackboard and then draws a circle. He begins: "Assume the cow is a sphere....”

Pretty funny if you get it. Otherwise, not so much.

By the way, the second picture looks just like a fat cat I used to belong to.

Evangelicals get their religion from their politics

Mr. Rothenberg's point is directly spot-on.

The ways that many churches influence politics in America are many. The methods range the spectrum of American politics. On the Democratic side, churches have often been the focal point for Get-Out-The-Vote and registration activities. Sometimes these churches will use Jesus' teachings to make observations about current events.

On the Republican side, however, religion has been weaponized and bastardized so that the behaviors accepted by those adherents have little relation to the lessons Jesus taught. The perfect example of this weaponization is their use of Bible passages to support their political and social views: they use Old Testament verses to support their restrictive views even though they contradict what Jesus said in the New Testament. One example of this is the Right's attack on homosexuality where they quote Old Testament laws condemning it while never acknowledging that Jesus never said a word about the subject. Another example is when Jesus had mercy on a woman accused of adultery and prevented the crowd from stoning her to death. Today's rightwing Christians would stone her but forgive the man with whom she had the affair. Incidentally, isn't it curious that Jesus never said a word about the man in that story?

The political use of the pulpit by rightwing churches is an abomination to our political system. It has allowed bigotry, hatred and greed to dominate their world-views and justify wholly un-American values. As an atheist and an American, I find the Right's use of religion to be deplorable.

Something to keep in mind about Comedy

Comedy is extremely difficult to execute well. Humor is ill-defined and its parameters are constantly changing. Additionally, in order to break through as a performer, comedians have to push the edges of what they think is funny in order to create a unique brand.

This creative search can often produce great comedy. It can also backfire spectacularly. As Steve Martin said, "Comedy is not pretty."

Several weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the Friars' Club in New York City decided to go ahead with their planned roast of Hugh Hefner. The evening was polite as the city and the country were still in shock from the terrorism. When Gilbert Gottfried took to the podium, however, he told a joke about his difficulty in flying post-9/11 and how his plane had made an unscheduled stop at the 104th floor of the Empire State Building. The audience started to boo him and someone yelled out, "Too soon!" The joke had crashed disastrously and Gottfried was suddenly destroying the evening. Amazingly, he rallied by dropping his original routine and switching to his rendition of "The Aristocrats," a joke so filthy that Frank Rich called it the dirtiest joke of all time. The audience went wild with their enthusiastic response.

My point is that comedians don't know if they're writing funny stuff until it's in front of an audience. Go to any stand-up comedy club and watch the performer trying out their new material. Much of the writing will be funny but some of it will clunk to the floor.

Senator Franken pointed out that what he conceived would be funny, wasn't and he apologized. Certainly, the totality of his work in public life should bear witness to his character and fitness for his office.

Your last sentence is sad but funny

Americans have been getting more and more ignorant about our civics for years. It is eroding our republic. Distrust of our governments has been stoked by Republicans' decades-long assault on the structures of our nation. In our schools, very little time is spent teaching the civics of the U.S. and how they work. The complexity and intricacies of our governments are profound yet Americans don't make the effort to comprehend them.

We see the examples of this ignorance nearly every day. The misunderstandings of the Bill of Rights and the other Constitutional Amendments has been glaringly highlighted in the recent disputes about NFL players' free speech rights. Trump's ignorance about the Founding Documents, the Rule of Law and the mechanics of government exemplifies how little too many Americans know about the philosophical and practical structures of the U.S. It's been demonstrated many times that, in general, voters really don't know very much about the candidates and the issues they cast ballots for.

Trump thought being president would be very different than what it is. He wants to be dictator so he could, in fact, fire the Speaker of The House.

Trump is an idiot but it frightens me that so are so many of our fellow citizens.

The Great American Experiment

Is it possible that the experiment put in motion by the Founding Fathers is a failure? Do our present circumstances represent the end of our representative government?

The polarization of our citizenry cannot be bridged by any of the people in our governments. The battle lines are deep and darkly drawn and it is not going to change. So many of our government officials are corrupt and we are led by some of the most incompetent people in the world.

The racial issues that have erupted with Trump have been with us all along. The efforts of the Civil Rights Era seem to have been ineffectual in redirecting our society. The slow destruction of our public education systems has produced an incurious and ignorant society. The greed of capitalism has caused our people to become selfish and self-important.

I'm distressed by what I see and what it augers for our once-great country.

Hey, Alisyn Camerota!

Fuck you!

First, you're on cable TV. Anything goes. It is not broadcast television so there are no FCC regulations on speech.

Second, you saw President Fox's videos taunting Trump. That's exactly why you and your producers put him on the air.

Third, how dare you suggest that you would censor free speech? Without that Constitutional guarantee, you and your network would be out of business.

Besides, why would you bleep the word "fuck" anyway? Where is the offense? The real offense is that your network will allow Republicans to spout blatant falsehoods and in most cases, your crew doesn't push back with facts. That is far more obnoxious, nefarious and dangerous than a four-letter word that gets used daily by so many people of all ages.

Lastly, Alisyn, fuck off because you thought it was funny, too.

Posts and commentaries about Hillary Clinton are a waste of time!

Mrs. Clinton does not hold any lever of power. She is not involved in anything to do with our government. There is nothing she can do to alter our nation's political trajectory. Rightly, wrongly or otherwise, she lost the election. Do ya'll remember that night?

Seriously, the Democratic Party will move forward. We have to. The rear-view window/navel gazing is a waste of time. While there are lessons to be learned, aren't most of them quite obvious?

Please, let's be progressive.

Thanks for reading.

Words have meanings

My dictionary is nearly six inches thick with thousands of words and their definitions. The Guardian article articulates most of the reasons we have language. In order to communicate and cooperate as a civilization, we have to agree on the meanings of words or we're only making noises at one another. I mean, fundamentally, if you say the grass is green while I insist that it's purple, we'll never be able to effectively discuss the grass.

Donald Trump abuses language every time he speaks. If you want to give yourself a headache, try reading the transcript of his interview with the Associated Press. Nearly the entire interview is gibberish. I cannot parse a single sentence so I have no real idea what he was talking about. His thought process is unintelligible as he veers all over the place.

This is a short quote from Kathleen Parker's column today:

The disconnect between the witty and the witless was that Trump fans took him seriously, not literally, while the media — silly gooses — took him literally but not seriously — as many have mentioned.

This is a clever observation, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that reporters shouldn’t take literally a president’s or candidate’s words. Certainly other nations and leaders do.

I added the emphasis and the rest can be found here:


My point is that words have meanings and unless it's very clear that the president is joking, then his words must be taken literally. That job doesn't allow for ambiguity in communication. That path leads to confusion and danger.

I don't know why that is so hard to understand. After all, grass is green.
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