Iraq … =^( … Sad … A wise man once said … Some Policy OPTIONS

Iraq … =^( … Sad … A wise man once said: If you break it you own it.

Options:

++ Put it out with the other broken stuff. Let someone else haul it away. Don’t look at the stuff until it is gone. It will just break your heart.

++ Try to superglue it back together. It will be uglier than ugly … but … nah, not a good idea.Everything for 800 miles in any direction is a bad neighborhood. Always has been. Always will be.

++ Play Olympian Gods: Hit the mortals with lightning bolts. If they assume that Mount Olympus is really angry then the mortals may play nice. Must be prepared to play God indefinitely. (It’s not like the place has been rebuilt since the last time we played God.) Must assume that mortals that believe that they will become martyrs will need convincing with LOTS of lightning bolts for several decades.

++ Create a ‘No Shit Zone’. This is also playing God. Develop a short list of 10 or less ‘Thou shall/shall not’ for the locals; promise a jobs creation plan for Americans at home (after getting them to work for less) for the endless production of lightning bolts. Besides, Israel has already shown that if you play really rough you can expend all of your lightning rods pretty damn quickly … this could create lots of jobs … although the result will be that we will increase by a factor of 300% the number of young kids that swear that once they grow up then they’ll be back to avenge their family.

No shit: Playing God ain’t what it used to be since the locals got the same weapons that we have. Just wait until China sells them a tactical Iron Dome. Jar Jar Binks … we need you buddy!

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ARIZONA / IMMIGRANTS / DREAMERS / Drivers Licenses ordered by the 9th District Court

ARIZONA / IMMIGRANTS / DREAMERS … Yes, if it were me I would give drivers licenses to Dreamer kids that can pass the test. Lots of reasons: safety, employment, getting to/from school, basic economics.

Denying Dreamers the chance to get a drivers license is just spiteful and will be counterproductive in the long run: these kids will end up living their lives in America as Americans. Do we want them to wave the Red, White and Blue or do we want them to grow up distrustful of their country?

However, this is an issue that each individual state must deal with.

In this case, the court can order but the order will be appealed and thus not happen. It will go to the Supreme Court which would/should rightly note that absolutely nothing in the Constitution gives the federal government power over drivers licenses.

As for ‘equal protection’ or ‘equal treatment’, none of the requirements between the states re drivers licenses are inherently equal. A state can choose to be as progressive or regressive as it wishes.

Bad for the Dreamers, but not the federal government’s business. If it wants them to have drivers licenses then it should issue them one … which it cannot do … not within its authority.

READ THE FULL STORY on The Wire – includes the complete court order.

Arizona Dreamers

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Bad times. Sad times. Good signs.

The killing of the three Jewish teens in Israel recently was repugnant. The revenge killing of a Palestinian teen was no less so. // Read more about this.

So where does an attempt at reconciliation begin? It has begun in this situation with the families of both sets of teens.

PEACE // It starts with realizing we need to move beyond the hate.

Read the complete story.

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July 4th / The day after …

Bill Golden
Bill@Bill4DogCatcher.com

One of the unique things about our nation’s founders is that most realized that they were not chiseling truths with their declarations. The Declaration of Independence was a unique statement and yet there was hope for a compromise. Full independence was not yet an end goal sought by most or all.

Declaration of Independence

When independence came …. some of the founders became very disillusioned. Patrick Henry later accused George Washington of selling out, with criticism that the role of president would become a monarchy (and it almost did). Henry refused to participate in the Constitutional Convention — he saw no need for a constitution as the states were ‘states’. So he went home to his plantation and stayed there. George Washington tried to bring Henry and his followers back into the government by offering Patrick Henry the Secretary of State position but Henry declined.

As for the Constitution that came some years after the war’s end (1787-1790), the Constitution has proven to be an amazingly resilient document as our nation’s basic law and core law for union. Patrick Henry did throw his support behind adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution (1791).

Yet, the Constitution is not a truth for all time. It was and is the pathway for union in an imperfect union.

“Whatever be the Constitution, great care must be taken to provide a mode of amendment when experience or change of circumstances shall have manifested that any part of it is unadapted to the good of the nation. In some of our States it requires a new authority from the whole people, acting by their representatives, chosen for this express purpose, and assembled in convention. This is found too difficult for remedying the imperfections which experience develops from time to time in an organization of the first impression. A greater facility of ammendment is certainly requisite to maintain it in a course of action accommodated to the times and changes through which we are ever passing.”

–Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:488

+++++++++

As for Patrick Henry, after the French Revolution his views changed on a number of thing. In 1795 he pretty much switched sides and became a proponent of federalism — believing that ‘the people’ can descend into chaos when they have no structured government to guide change and to provide a framework for change.

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June 2014 Jobs Report — Good News But Can It Stem the Downward Slide?

The most recent jobs report of 288K jobs in June 2014 was good. A strong report.

However, Part #1, fewer Americans (as a percentage) of the population ages 16-64 were employed. Some math: if jobs recovery were continue at the rate of 280-300,000 per month it would still take another five years for Americans to catch up with 2007′s employment rates (as a percentage of the population with a job).

However, Part #2, I expect the number of Americans (as a percentage) to continue to fall until the participation rate reaches approximately 58% in 2018-2020 — this is what the U.S. workforce looked like in 1965.

>> We need a conversation about what the future looks like. NOW. The future of work is that fewer will work, and many will work for less.

BLS.gov Participation Rate

Source: US Gov Bureau of Labor Statistics http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

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Advocatus Diaboli – If you hear me mumbling / Just be happy!

Mr Rogers gives advice on bad things and good helpers

I admit to being a busybody at times. One of my Facebook accounts exists just so that I can meet outrageous (and occasionally some sane) people so that differing perspectives are always coming my way.

Embrace the opposing logic to make your own stronger … or so my theory goes. Argue multiple sides of an issue and discover your own weakness in the process.

Along the way I have become a bit cynical. My great discovery is that many, maybe most, people are not really all that interested in the facts. Yes, even I split hairs with some facts … yet since I am being the judge here let me restate my point as simply: a great many people do not actually know why they believe what they believe.

How can we make a meaningful difference if our lives are not focused on resolving differences — rather than trying to ensure that one point-of-view comes to dominate another?

So along the way I have adopted the modus operandi of being an Advocatus Diaboli, a Devil’s Advocate. It has become so much of my persona that at times I debate myself. Really. So if you hear me mumbling in public it will be because the internal debate has escalated and thought alone is insufficient to express what I am thinking.

The secret to success for being a cynical optimist or Advocatus Diaboli, and not losing your mind in the process, is to constantly believe that someone somewhere exists to help make good happen. Expect bad. Seek good.

xx

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Veterans, the 1% COLA cut, longterm impact – Yes, we have a problem

If you are a military veteran under the age of 62 you undoubtedly believe that the recent congressional budget accord reached by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and approved overwhelmingly by the House is a really, incredibly bad deal.

Part of the deal is funded by realigning the pension plans of almost every federal recipient with a pension under the age of 62.

Mea Culpa: I criticized the reaction of some veterans groups which played up the cuts as if military veterans were getting gored and carrying the budget debt burden almost on their own — certainly there was no mention of the more significant impacts on other parts of the federal government. I also criticized the huge numbers being thrown out and challenged them to do the math. I want to admit that my own math had issues. The math of the veterans groups is essentially correct, albeit without some important context provided to their audience.

Math, Options and the Need for Balancing the Federal Books

I am one of those veterans that will take cuts to my retired paycheck.

Veteran Group Math: My challenge to veterans groups is that I wanted to see the math. A conversation broke out and an interactive spreadsheet (Excel required) was sent to me that shows how the math worked. If you are a veteran you can enter your current monthly retirement pay in the green spreadsheet cell, press your return key, and a calculation across 24 years will automatically be done. The spreadsheet assumes that COLA/CPI increases an average of 2.5% each year.

My Math: Actual COLA/CPI can shift radically from year to year as economic conditions change. I tested the 2.5% average COLA, adjusted it down to 1.5% average per year (the new REDUX solution by Ryan/Murray), and contrasted it against historical COLA/CPI rates for the last 22 years — which is the time period that Ryan/Murray used to achieve their numbers.

I provide my math as a PDF spreadsheet that lets you see all the numbers together on one page. My example retiree is an E-7 with 20 years of service.

Short version of the results:

  • Using 2.5% as an average annual baseline COLA/CPI rate tracks relatively well with the results of using actual COLA/CPI rates across time.
  • Due to the magic of compounding interest, even at 1% of the annual COLA/CPI rate, there are significant longterm impacts on the veteran retiree paychecks.
  • An E-7 with 20 years of services would take home approximately $7,070 less per year by my calculation in their 22nd retirement year, and $10,750 per the 2.5% average COLA/CPI calculation.

Over 22 years the example E-7 will lose enough money to put several kids through a state university plus probably buy a new car. That is a significant impact.

Unhappy? Sure. However, if we want this fixed then we need to offer up some options.

We need folks to step forward and to do more than just decry cuts to their pensions and to their programs. We need a bigger conversation about federal funding of budgets, programs and promises.

If we want our pay restored then we need to do more than to focus on ‘me’. We need options and solutions that address how the federal government itself is funded.

Yes, military retirees were asked to give up 1% of their annual COLA/CPI adjustment — which is what their annual pay increase is based upon, and not based upon the pay raise given to the active military.

However, MANY federal employees are being asked to now pay an additional 4.4% of their full pay into their pension fund — which is the equivalent of the military being asked to pay 8.8% instead of just 1% of COLA/CPI.

I do not want to be an apologist for what is a hurtful policy. Yet our nation is facing an unparalleled financial challenge and as long as a majority of Americans and/or their congressional representatives refuse to raise taxes to pay our nation’s debts and promises then the only other alternative is to make cuts.

Veterans have powerful lobbyists working in their behalf. The cuts do not go into effect until 2015. We have time yet to achieve some different outcome. Yet every other group that also got hit will also be scrambling to get their cuts fixed too. If veterans and veterans groups want an equitable outcome then we need to offer up options and to put those options on the table. One of the reasons that we are in our situation is that we want without also wanting to pay for the benefits.

Brainstorming Time

We need to be creative. Every problem needs a solution, a menu of options. We, and veterans groups and all special interest groups, need to do more than just decry hurtful decisions. We/they need to step forward and to also offer policy options.

I look forward to hearing your options proposals. I will cheerfully help get out the word and work for change.

Please keep in mind that they cuts were based upon each of the 12 federal budgets taking cuts in proportion to their size within the overall federal funding schema. So to restore military veteran pay the BIG QUESTION remains: are you asking that Americans pay higher taxes, OR what military programs would you cut, OR what military efficiencies would you demand to pay for restoring the cuts?

The cuts were balanced proportionately. It will not work to in these challenging times to demand that the others that took cuts also give up more to pay for restoring our cuts without their concerns also being remedied.

Best regards,
Bill G.
WGolden@Bill4Dogcatcher.com

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Would Someone Just Shut The Pope Up?

Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up?

Some on the political right are going absolutely nuts over Catholicism’s new pope, Pope Francis.

Rush Limbaugh has labeled him a Marxist and numerous rightwing conservatives want the pope to stick to moral and spiritual issues rather than discuss economic challenges of the common man, which he supposedly knows nothing about — it seems that the pope has limited infallibility powers, although Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was heavy on economics: not an economic prescription but clear recognition that there are those that have and do not work to benefit those with little, and those that are without much more than their soul through the length of their lives.

Pope Francis biography

Yet, not all American conservatives are going bonkers. The American Conservative just published a piece that takes a balanced look at what the pope has actually said and tried to consider his words in context, which is rare in almost any discussion of policy these days.

From the opening paragraphs of The American Conservative‘s story Would Someone Just Shut That Pope Up?

Since the release of Evangelii Gaudium there have been countless articles and commentary about the economic portions of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation. Some of the commentary has been downright bizarre, such as Rush Limbaugh denouncing the Pope as a Marxist, or Stuart Varney accusing Francis of being a neo-socialist. American conservatives grumbled but dutifully denounced a distorting media when Pope Francis seemed to go wobbly on homosexuality, but his criticisms of capitalism have crossed the line, and we now see the Pope being criticized and even denounced from nearly every rightward-leaning media pulpit in the land.

Not far below the surface of many of these critiques one hears the following refrain: why can’t the Pope just go back to talking about abortion? Why can’t we return the good old days of Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI and talk 24/7/365 about sex? Why doesn’t Francis have the decency to limit himself to talking about Jesus and gays, while avoiding the rudeness of discussing economics in mixed company, an issue about which he has no expertise or competence?

Pope Francis has done much more than just talk, the pope has made some early substantial changes both in how the church interacts with people (moving homeless centers to where the homeless are) and in how the pope personally presents himself to the public (less bling, more humility, less judgement and more embracing of people as having challenges).

Reality is that Pope Francis is not trying to prescribe economic policies. He is acknowedging that our economic lives have gone a bit of whack. Those that have seem to have much more than they did just a few years ago, and those without seem to have less. This varies based upon locale. In many areas of the world where 25-50% of work-age adults have no jobs then the pope’s message is bound to ring true. Within the USA, with its widespread affluent society, the message will seem quixotic to many as we live life in our zoned affluent neighborhoods and do not have to live with those that fall from economic grace — because when they do they move out and disappear.

Below are some ways that Pope Francis is working to portray himself as a pope of the people:

1. Uses a wooden chair instead of a golden throne.
2. Does not wear the gold-embroidered red stole.
3. Wears his old black shoes instead of the classic Prada red slippers.
4. Wears a metal cross instead of the one with rubies and diamonds.
5. His papal ring is silver, not gold — and he reused a prior design. Tradition is that each pope have a unique design created for their reign.
6. Wears black pants under the cassock, same as he wore when a common priest.
7. Had the red carpet removed.

 

Pope Francis - how he is different

Pope Francis – how he is different in personal style from his predecessors.


Note: I am not a Roman Catholic. As a Unitarian we are taught to investigate and to honor the best of thought and philosophy offered by all of the world’s religious traditions and teaching. Pope Francis seems to be off to a good start on getting a conversation going about where our society is and where it is going. In my personal belief, all actions undertaken in our lives are economic actions no matter how trivial or whether an exchange of money is involved. Economics involves the making of moral decisions, whether that is our intent or not. I look forward to hearing more from Pope Francis. Actions are more important than words.

Bill Golden
aka Bill4DogCatcher

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Nelson Mandela and flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff

Nelson Mandela and flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff

There has been some grousing that President Obama has order the U.S. flag to fly at half-staff in honor of South African President Mandela’s passing.

“The president may order the flag to be flown at half-staff to mark the death of other officials, former officials, or foreign dignitaries. In addition to these occasions, the president may order half-staff display of the flag after other tragic events.”

– U.S. Flag Code, para 3.

Twice before has a president directed the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff for a foreign dignitary.

President George W. Bush ordered flags to fly at half-staff at the passing of Pope John Paul II in 2005, and President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the honor in recognition of the passing of Winston Churchill in 1965.

American flag at half mast

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Nelson Mandela the Terrorist?

Nelson Mandela the Terrorist?

Nelson Mandela - 1990 South Africa
Nelson Mandela – 1990, South Africa

Not all of what has been written since President Mandela’s death has been about the good that came from his life. There are those that prefer to focus on why he went to prison in the first place: armed terrorism … or was he a freedom fighter? =^)

My buddy Lou D’Abbraccio gave an eloquent perspective on this and the plight of black South Africans:

“… would the country have agreed to the changes necessary to address past injustice without the threat, or the reality, of violence? That question will go unanswered; Were I in his position, I might have embraced the same tactics if that is what it took to bring about change. If he had persisted in those tactics after de Klerk ended apartheid, he would have been like any other post-colonial thug. What made Mandela different, and worthy of praise, is that when he rose to power, he did reject those tactics, and pursued reconciliation over retribution. He could have been Mugabe – but he wasn’t. In his moment, he chose to be a statesman. It doesn’t excuse the rest, no – but it is worthy of praise nonetheless.”

Well said, Lou.

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