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A perfect metaphor for the economy and the so-called "fiscal cliff"

In today's New York Times, in the reader comments appended to Paul Krugman's excellent column titled, "Fighting Fiscal Phantoms," there appears this comment, posted by an airline pilot, which was such a perfect metaphor I had to share it here:

Rural Washington State

I'm a pilot. I fly sailplanes and powered aircraft.

When an aircraft "stalls" (loses the capacity to support its weight by lift) it flies like a brick. The counter intuitive and instantaneous response drilled into pilots-in-training is to point the nose toward the ground and regain airspeed. Airspeed creates lift. When you regain lift with speed, you pull back on the stick and, having sacrificed altitude for speed, resume normal flight.

The deficit scolds are total ignoramuses; an economy is an aircraft in flight. We need minimal spending (airspeed) to create lift. An economy the size of the United States' has plenty of altitude (debt capacity) to sacrifice to regain lift and enable us resume normal flight.

The "deficit" is not the problem...lack of domestic spending is the problem.

Put money in the hands of workers by paying them to create tangible and intangible infrastructure (spurring consumption) and we will regain airspeed.

We didn't pay off our WWII debt; we gained enough lift through consumption to grow our way out of it being a burden. Ten is 10% of a 100 economy. Ten is 0.01% of 1,000 economy. Grow the economy! That isn't done through tax breaks for the wealthy; no matter how much the GOP tries to suppress the evidence.

Over the long term the economy can grow enough that the "deficit" won't be a burden.

Revising Senate Rules and forcing the deficit scolds in the House to own up to their transparent bullying is only appropriate.

Or would you prefer a crash?

Nov. 26, 2012 at 3:06 a.m.

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:20 AM (7 replies)

A Must-Watch: "True Origins of the Religious Right"

This is a VERY informative lecture by the Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, distinguished visiting professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, concerning his research into the true origins of the Religious Right. Hint: it wasn't, as the Religious Right likes to claim, a response to Roe v. Wade. Don't miss this one! I've included the introduction for the video that appears on YouTube below the embed.

Author, historian and Emmy Award nominee the Rev. Dr. Randall Balmer, distinguished visiting professor at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, reveals groundbreaking research on the real impetus behind the rise of the Religious Right in this April 16, 2009 lecture, Mistaken Identity: Jimmy Carter, the Abortion Myth, and the Rise of the Religious Right.

A scholar, documentary filmmaker, and Episcopal priest, Balmer is professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University and the 2009 McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and their Impact on Culture at Candler School of Theology. An editor for Christianity Today since 1999, his commentaries on religion in America also have appeared in news publications across the country, including the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Slate. He is the author of a dozen books, including Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fourth edition, which was made into a three-part documentary for PBS.

Read more on Randall Balmer at Emory: http://www.emory.edu/home/news/releases/2009/03/randall-balmer-at-emory.html
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:04 AM (15 replies)

My response to WaPo's "GOPís Red America forced to rethink what it knows about the country"

So, there is this article in the Washington Post that discusses the "grieving" for a "lost America" that is going on in red states. It profiles poor Beth Cox, a Romney volunteer, who can simply no longer make any sense of the world. Poor, poor Beth. I decided Beth needed someone to explain it to her. . .

Mark Kessinger ∑ Top Commenter
When your candidate describes the American public as being split between 47% of the population he claims are unwilling to "take responsibility for their lives" and 53% who do (which is really just another gloss on Ayn Rand's "makers" and "takers";

when your party describes any support for affordable medical care in one's senior years or any expectation of relying on a Social Security supplement which a person has paid into his or her entire working life as "wanting free stuff";

when your party claims that collecting unemployment INSURANCE benefits (for which you have contributed towards the premiums) when you lose your job through no fault of your own is receiving a "government handout (all the while conveniently forgetting that anybody who has ever taken a mortgage interest deduction has likewise received a "handout";

when you seek to deny other citizens the same civil rights you enjoy based on nothing other than your religious beliefs (which shouldn't be dictating what others do in any case);

when members of your party carry on as if they (and only they) had some kind of monopoly on patriotism or on who is a "real American";

when your party becomes so closely aligned with one particular strain of the Christian faith (evangelical fundamentalist), a strain that is abhorrent to many Christians who belong to many of the mainline protestant traditions, and when you insist your strain of the Christian faith represents the only "true" Christianity;

when your party attempts to subvert democratic process by employing various strategies aimed at disenfranchising voters who tend to vote for the other party;

Can it really surprise you, then, that your vision of America repulses a great many people in this country?

Perhaps if you tried dismounting that high horse of cultural superiority you ride all the time and begin to see yourself as no better (and no worse) than any other American citizen, or maybe if you tried stepping out of your smug, entitled belief that the question of who or what is a "real American" is yours (or your socio-economic/cultural peer group's) to define -- perhaps then you wouldn't find the world to be such a threatening and confusing place. But until conservatives are willing to make significant progress along these lines, I have very limited patience, and even less sympathy, for their melodramatic "mourning."

If you can access Facebook's WaPo social reader, you can see the comment here: https://apps.facebook.com/wpsocialreader/me/channels/124962/content/5yqTA?fb_comment_id=fbc_349951668434736_1946325_350128015083768&ref=notif¨if_t=open_graph_comment
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 12, 2012, 04:06 PM (4 replies)

About boycotts of Papa Johns, Applebee's, etc. . . .

This Facebook status update makes a VERY important point about this, that you might want to consider before being too quick to jump on a boycott bandwagon...

Status Update
By Right Off A Cliff
There are a lot of liberal pages posting images of companies they should boycott due to the fact they might be cutting jobs or reducing hours after President Obama's victory.

While it's everyone's right to do that, also know that many of these companies, like a Papa John's, are franchises. The employment at these franchise owned locations is determined by the franchise owner, not Papa John's corporate headquarters.

By boycotting these places you hurt the franchise owner, which may have no intention of cutting hours or jobs but may due to a blanket national boycott by some for actions of which they never intended to perform at their particular locations.

In the end many of these boycotts only serve to hurt employees, not the business owners. These owners simply reduce the frequency of raises or actually do cut jobs or hours because of a decline in business.

But again, many of these businesses we've seen listed are often owned by individual franchise owners who directly control employment and pay....not their corporate headquarters.

We're not saying you don't have the right to boycott, we're just saying be aware of blanket statements by liberals that resemble the same blind following that many right-wingers display constantly. Without a view of the bigger overall picture impacted by these actions many risk behaving exactly like those they oppose.

A strength of our side is often the ability to see the larger picture rather than just our own selfish ambitions or desires...please let's keep it that way.

Personally, I think most of these threats are nothing more than a lot of hot air and aren't even worth responding to.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 12, 2012, 12:23 AM (27 replies)

Just gave my Republican niece a (rhetorical) kick in the ass for a self-pitying FB update

So, I log onto Facebook this morning, and see the status update from a niece of mine who lives in Maryland concerning the outcome of the election:

Disappointed but not surprised......clearly our votes do NOT make a difference when you live in a state with 75+% Democrats......God help us through another four.....

Here was my response:

I don't know of any state that has an exactly equal number of members of each party. And Democrats who live in predominantly red states like, say, Texas (and yes, believe it or not there are some), feel the same sense of disappointment whenever a Republican is elected. And it really doesn't much matter if the split is 75/25 or 55/45, the result is usually the same. Remember, too, you aren't just voting for a President, but you also vote for the other elected positions on the ballot -- senators, representatives, judges, etc. -- and on those races your vote still matters a great deal.

Also, even though it hasn't been the case in the last few elections, people do sometimes vote across party lines. Maryland is historically predominantly Democratic. But take a look at this link to Electoral Maps from 1972-2008 (http://electoralmap.net/PastElections/past_elections.php?year=1988 ), and you'll find that Maryland has frequently voted for Republican presidential candidates. Actually, if those maps demonstrate anything, it is that it is far more likely that predominantly Democratic states can be convinced to vote for Republican Presidents than it is for predominantly Republican states to vote Democratic. So, take heart.

i really wanted to conclude with, "So stop whining and feeling sorry for yourself!" But I thought better of it . . .
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 7, 2012, 02:50 PM (2 replies)


Arrived at the polling place about 3 minutes before it opened. Was the seventh voter in my electoral district to vote and, best of all, was in and out in under 10 minutes!
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 6, 2012, 06:22 AM (2 replies)

A Petition to Congress

Earlier, I posted a thread about taking the running of elections out of state hands and placing it under the purview of the federal government. (See http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021723561 ). I went ahead and created a petition, the text of which appears below. I am under no illusions of what will actually come of this, but my hope, at least, is to generate enough interest to start a national conversation about the various issues involved. If you agree, I urge you to sign the petition and, by all means, to share it as widely as possible. Here is the text:

During the 2012 Campaign season we have seen unprecedented attempts, by way of various strategies, by partisans in both executive and legislative branches of various state governments, to suppress or limit voter participation in the most sacred right of all Americans: the right to vote.

The current system of leaving the running of elections to individual states has resulted in a state of affairs in which access to the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote varies depending on the state in which one happens to live. Some states allow early voting; others do not. Among those that do permit early voting, the number of days and hours allotted varies considerably. Some states are fairly lenient about absentee balloting; others require the voter to provide an excuse for needing to vote by absentee ballot. Some governors, such as Governor Rick Scott of Florida, have severely cut back on the number of days for early voting, resulting in voters having to wait as long as 8 or 9 hours to vote. Some states, on the pretext of combating voter fraud for which no evidence of its existence on any major extent has been forthcoming have imposed onerous voter ID requirements, which studies have shown will result in disenfranchising significant numbers of voters of certain constituencies. The result is that Americans are not afforded equal access to their right to vote -- that is, they are not receiving equal protection under the law as required by the 14th Amendment.

The Constitutionally guaranteed right to vote should never be subject to the kinds of partisan manipulations we have witnessed in the 2012 election cycle, nor should voters' ability to exercise their right to vote be in any way affected by which the state in which they happen to live, or by which party happens to currently control state government. It is time for the running of national elections to be brought completely under the authority and oversight of the federal government, and for uniform standards for things such as establishing voter eligibility, access to early voting and voting by absentee ballot, and hours of operation of polling places. There is really no reasonable case to be made for why the handling of these issues should vary from one state to the next.

An additional, very important reason for bringing federal elections under the full responsibility and oversight of the federal government is that, under the current system, if a political party colludes on a national level to suppress voting by use of the various strategies mentioned above across multiple states, those strategies must be challenged individually, in the courts of each state in which they occur. These strategies must be permitted to be challenged in a single legal process (including appropriate appeals), so that a nefarious practice can be definitively ruled upon in a way that will be enforceable across all states.

Wherefore, we, the signatories to this petition, demand that both Houses of the United States Congress commence work on passing the legislation necessary (be that legislation statutory or in the form of an amendment to the United States Constitution) in order to define national standards for voter eligibility and voting access, and to bring authority for enforcing those standards fully within the purview of the federal government.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 6, 2012, 02:56 AM (7 replies)

Does anybody else agree with me that it is time . . .

. . . to take the running of elections out of the hands of the states, and instead impose uniform national standards regarding voter eligibility, access to early voting, poll hours, etc.? What's going on with Rick Scott, not to mention the Secretary of State for Ohio, and other GOP officials around the country is simply ridiculous. What's more, the fact that these various suppression tactics must be challenged individually, in state courts, creates a needless difficulty for challenging electoral corruption. What do you all think?
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 5, 2012, 10:35 PM (69 replies)

President Obama IS on top of the crisis, and Staten Island IS NOT the lower ninth ward!

The suggestions, in two current threads, based on news reports from the South Shore area of Staten Island, one suggesting that the President is somehow no longer "on" the crisis and needs to get back "on" it, and the other comparing Staten Island to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans during Katrina, are scandalous and irresponsible.

I understand that people are suffering terribly, but those who are in the worst predicament find themselves in the situation they are in, in large part, because they failed to heed evacuation orders that were issued well in advance of the storm's arrival. Some have pointed out that in NYC, many folks don't own cars. I am well aware of this: I am one of them. But, particularly in that part of Staten Island (which is not exactly a poverty-stricken area), there are very few households that don't own at least one car, because unlike the other boroughs, things on Staten Island are more spread out, making it more difficult to function on a day to day basis without a car. But even setting that aside, not only were evacuation orders (including directions to available shelters) given well in advance of the storm's arrival, over 24 hours notice was given prior to mass transit shutdowns.

So, evacuation orders were given in plenty of time prior to the storm's arrival, and there was plenty of advance notice regarding mass transit service shutdowns. But, an unfortunate result that occurs when large numbers of people fail to heed evacuation orders, and the natural disaster turns out to be every bit as bad as or worse than predicted, is that relief and rescue efforts are further complicated, resulting in greater delays in delivering relief and rescue efforts for everyone affected. Don't get me wrong: these folks are no less deserving of a compassionate, expeditious response than any others. But when they fail to heed adequate warnings and fail to avail themselves of assistance that was offered just prior to a natural disaster, they shouldn't exactly be surprised when, in the aftermath, relief can't be delivered to them as quickly as might be needed.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Nov 2, 2012, 12:47 AM (37 replies)
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