The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Gotcha"

I hate "Gotcha" politics, and the Franken anti-rape amendment situation is an example of it. Look: on the surface, I'd vote for it in a moment. But the thirty Republican senators who voted against it (all male) are literally being called "pro-Rape." I don't know what aspects of the bill disturbed them. Probably something about government interference in private business contracts or something. But these guys have mothers, daughters, wives, and to suggest that they are "pro-rape" is really over the top. I've seen the same thing before, from the other side. People taking the very worst interpretation of a vote, and saying that someone is "pro-murder" "against the troops" "pro-terrorist" or some other crap. Sickens me. Good for Al, though. Wow. Maybe it really IS the Al Franken Decade.

##

Couple of South Carolina politicos got quoted talking about fiscal responsibility being like having "A Jew watching your pennies." Oh, my. Does it feel to you like the flat rocks have been flipped over, and we're seeing more of the filth beneath these days? That motivates some people to suggesting that we're going "backwards" socially. I don't think so. I think we're just hearing a little more of how people actually feel about these issues. Remaining in denial, or hiding it, solves nothing. The recent piece about the Secret Service being stretched to its maximum by (among other things) an "unprecedented" number of threats against the POTUS was greeted by a predictable response: from the left, sorrow at the perfidy of the Right. From the Right, just denial or even justification. Those who are capable of waking up will hopefully do so.

##

Watching "Dexter" is definitely one of my favorite entertainments. Almost as much fun is reading the "Talkbacks" on Aint It Cool News. Guys complaining about how Rita, the friendly serial killer's wife, is whiny and insecure...as if Dexter could possibly have a relationship with a whole and healthy female. Yeah, right. I suspect those guys might still be wondering why they can't date Supermodels.

##

Jason is learning about lying. Basically, how well it works. Tananarive and I can't possibly watch everything he does, or know what he is thinking. So if there is an immediate punishment for telling the truth about something, he won't. Now, it can be hard to separate the lying from the "teasing"--which is another form of lie, of course. This one is going to take a very long time to work out. Musashi's first principle: "Do Not Think Dishonestly." Is a murderously hard one. And of course the easiest, and most dangerous person to lie to is yourself.

##

Think And Grow Rich insists on re-reading your goals every day (wait a minute...I forgot to do that this morning. while I go and do it...O.K., I'm back now). This is because repetition of emotionally charged images programs the unconscious mind. How many times have grown adults told you that childhood criticism from family has negatively impacted their entire lives? Or conversely, support from their family set them on a positive path?

Well...what if you didn't have a positive family environment? Then it behooves you to grow up, accept responsibility for your life, become in effect an adult. That adult can then create/provide programming for your "child" self, and that will change everything. Our beliefs (including political positions) can sway, slant and poison all of our perspectives. This corrupted information then feeds the unconscious computer to influence our actions. Information that doesn't fit our deepest beliefs is either deleted or ignored, or causes us deep distress. And how can we know if our lens is distorted? You know that my answer is to aim at balance in all three arenas, and to deeply examine any attitudes that take us away from this Holy Grail. If you have it, you don't need external teachers or gurus...although they can be useful. Ultimately, we have everything we need to make our way through life. We just have to embrace what Tananarive refers to as our "fabulousness." What if we were born not just to survive, but to thrive and grow? What if we were intended to have love, health, and success? What if everything other than that is a matter of emotional obstructionism and bad programming? I don't know if that's the truth, but it is one of the most useful lies imaginable.

And since it's so hard to stop lying to ourselves, if I have to choose an intermediate position between being asleep and awake, it would be being asleep...and dreaming of hard, honest work toward a balanced, healthy, adult life.

48 comments:

Frank said...

"unprecedented" number of threats against the POTUS was greeted by a predictable response: from the left, sorrow at the perfidy of the Right. From the Right, just denial or even justification.

I find this interesting that you assume the increased threats come from the Right.

Now I don't know, (and neither do you), but the fact is that among a certain subset of Muslims, the President is considered an apostate of Islam. And we have seen where some can get pretty violent about that.

And you know, not everyone thinks reaching out to Muslims is a good thing:

Obama is more Dangerous than Bush. This is the title of the main story in the July issue of al-Sumud, the Arabic-language magazine of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The 56-page magazine has several articles devoted to Obama and the Cairo speech, and the front page features a particularly unflattering picture of the US president. But it is the lead article which I find the most interesting, because it confirms that jihadis feel threatened by Obama in their fight for Muslim hearts and minds.

The two-page article (pp-18-19) is written by the Saudi sheikh Abd al-Aziz al-Julayyil and is actually taken from the latter’s website, which says the text was written on 17 May 2009.

Al-Julayyil starts off by saying he was motivated to write this article after observing a lot of optimism among Muslims over the arrival of the new US administration. He says he realises many will react to the headline, for how can the Satanic Bush, who invaded Muslim countries and whose planes and tanks killed Muslim children, be less dangerous than Obama, who has declared he is not at war with Islam?

...Al-Julayyil concludes: So beware of this cunning Satan, for he is more dangerous than the foolish Satan.

The author of this article is not a pro-Obama campaigner, but a hardline Saudi sheikh who has spent time in prison for his anti-American views and association with people like Nasir al-Fahd. At the same time, the view expressed in the article is not a completely marginal one, as evidenced by the responses on al-Julayyil’s website.


Now you could be right about the right being responsible for the increase in threats. But I also remind you that it was historically the Democratic Party that opposed integration and the equal rights act first proposed by President Eisenhower.

And then there's this guy. Which just goes to show making assumptions based on prejudice is something to be avoided.

Prejudice is there, we all have 'em we just need to make an effort to not jump to conclusions based on them.

Mindful intervention is the ticket.

Dan Moran said...

Frank,

Swallowing elephants and straining at gnats ...

If there were a wave of Muslim threats against Obama, we'd have heard about it by now. Of course it's right wingers.

But I also remind you that it was historically the Democratic Party that opposed integration and the equal rights act first proposed by President Eisenhower.

As long as we're all clear that it was Southern conservatives, who then left the Democratic party and joined the Republican party after President Johnson signed the Equal Rights act, then sure, no problem with the observation above.

If you actually want to criticize the Northern liberals who are the core of the modern Democratic party, try this one: the "southern strategy" was Democratic before it was Republican. Go back a couple generations and it was northern Democratic liberals who were dirtying themselves by doing business with racists.

Of course, then northern Republican liberals adopted the "Southern strategy" ... and handed their party over to Southern conservatives. Who then chased the northern liberals out of their party, resulting in yet another realignment, one that this time led to Obama and a Democratic congress.

Politics is interesting.

Frank said...

Dan Moran



Of course it's right wingers.

Of course.

As long as we're all clear that it was Southern conservatives, who then left the Democratic party and joined the Republican party

I guess Keith Bardwell didn't get the memo.

Frank said...

And if it weren't for Party affiliation, it seems that the Obama Administration is worried that African-Americans wouldn't know who to vote for.

Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department's ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their "candidates of choice" - identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters' right to elect the candidates they want.


You can't make this stuff up.

Winston said...

> Of course.

Is that a sarcastic tone? If not, thank you for agreeing with something that is already painfully obvious. If so, please explain yourself.

> I guess Keith Bardwell didn't get the memo.

This has the distinct odor of extrapolating from a few exceptions to suggest a generality. Sort of like when someone says many people are open minded, straightforward, and will not resort to intellectual sophistry to win an argument. I then come back with "I guess Frank didn't get that memo. Have you seen his tactics?"

Dan Moran said...

Frank,

Shrug. Onesie-twosie examples aren't much. There are still Republican liberals, for example, and conservative Democrats, and racists in both groups.

But the plain truth, visible to everyone who's paying attention, is that modern conservatism, by and large, is:

1. White
2. Southern
3. Republican
4. Poor

I don't think most conservatives are racist, fwiw, but I do think that most racists are conservative.

Apropos of #4, I could list the various stats showing that in states run by conservatives people have trouble staying married, getting educated, making money, and staying healthy.

The gap in the U.S. between liberal and conservative states is huge. People in liberal states are richer, healthier, live longer, are better educated, have lower divorce rates, lower murder rates, and on and on.

Frank said...

Winston

This has the distinct odor of extrapolating from a few exceptions to suggest a generality.

You mean kinda like suggesting that the increase in threats to the President is from "right wingers" because some have been found to be racist?

Dan Moran

But the plain truth, visible to everyone who's paying attention, is that modern conservatism, by and large, is:

1. White
2. Southern
3. Republican
4. Poor


Wait!? I thought it was painfully obvious to everyone that Conservatives were rich-country club guys and big businessmen.

You are totally screwing with my stereotype here.

The gap in the U.S. between liberal and conservative states is huge. People in liberal states are richer, healthier, live longer, are better educated, have lower divorce rates, lower murder rates, and on and on.

Let's see. The big Liberal States are California, Michigan, and New York.

'nuff said.

Frank said...

According to a new study released by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, some of the most liberal U.S. states rank lowest when it comes to personal and economic freedom.

The study, which calls itself the “first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres,” had several key findings:

* The freest states in the country are New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place. All three states feature low taxes and government spending and middling levels of regulation and paternalism.

* New York is the least free by a considerable margin, followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, and Maryland.
* On personal freedom alone, Alaska is the clear winner, while Maryland brings up the rear.

* As for freedom in the different regions of the country, the Mountain and West North Central regions are the freest overall while the Middle Atlantic lags far behind on both economic and personal freedom.

Dan Moran said...

You are totally screwing with my stereotype here.

Sorry. Truth has a way of doing that.

The big Liberal States are California, Michigan, and New York. 'nuff said.

Look where the liberal states are on this list, and look where the conservative states are.

Rank - State - GDP per capita in USD
0 - District of Columbia - 64,991
1 - Connecticut - 56,248
2 - New Jersey - 50,919
3 - Massachusetts - 50,735
4 - Wyoming - 49,719
5 - Maryland - 48,091
6 - New York - 48,076
7 - Alaska - 43,321
8 - Virginia - 42,876
9 - New Hampshire - 42,830
10 - Minnesota - 42,772
11 - California - 42,696
12 - Illinois - 42,397
13 - Colorado - 42,377
14 - Washington - 42,356
15 - Rhode Island - 41,008
16 - Delaware - 40,852
17 - Hawaii - 40,490
18 - Nevada - 40,353
19 - Pennsylvania - 40,265
20 - North Dakota - 39,321
21 - Florida - 39,070
22 - Vermont - 38,880
23 - Texas - 38,575
24 - Kansas - 37,978
25 - Nebraska - 37,730
26 - South Dakota - 37,375
27 - Wisconsin - 37,314
28 - Oklahoma - 36,899
29 - Iowa - 36,680
30 - Louisiana - 36,271
31 - Oregon - 35,956
32 - Ohio - 35,511
33 - Maine - 35,381
34 - Michigan - 35,299
35 - Missouri - 35,228
36 - North Carolina - 34,439
37 - Tennessee - 34,330
38 - Montana - 34,256
39 - Indiana - 34,103
40 - Georgia - 33,975
41 - Alabama - 33,643
42 - Arizona - 32,953
43 - Idaho - 32,133
44 - New Mexico - 32,091
45 - South Carolina - 31,884
46 - Kentucky - 31,826
47 - Arkansas - 31,266
48 - West Virginia - 30,831
49 - Utah - 30,291
50 - Mississippi - 29,569

Guess what the states in bold did, that the unbolded states did not do?

If you guessed "Voted for John McCain," you'd be correct.

Sure are a lot of poor states voting for McCain. Sure are a lot of rich states voting for Obama.

17 of the richest 19 entries on this list voted for Obama.

9 of the poorest 10 voted for McCain.

Dan Moran said...

Mercatus is a conservative organization with an agenda. If they can produce a list that shows conservative states excelling in wealth, health, education, life expectancy, or the minimization of violent crime, I'd be impressed.

They can't, of course.

Frank said...

Well, according to the study I quote, we split the top ten (well OK, 4-6)

Rank - State - GDP per capita in USD

1 - Connecticut - 56,248
2 - New Jersey - 50,919
3 - Massachusetts - 50,735
4 - Wyoming - 49,719
5 - Maryland - 48,091
6 - New York - 48,076
7 - Alaska - 43,321
8 - Virginia - 42,876
9 - New Hampshire - 42,830
10 - Minnesota - 42,772

(DC doesn't count for a whole host of reasons with regards to GDP.)

And according to that study most of the bottom ten do not rank high in individual freedom. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, all in the bottom ten got negative ratings on overall freedom.

But clearly our definitions of "conservative" differ.

But you knew that.

And everyone gets all confused when I call myself a Liberal.

Mike Ralls said...

"Conservative" is actually a very very broad label that includes much more of America than what you listed.

Guess what the states with a * next to them have that the states without a star don't?

* Alabama
* Alaska
* Arizona
* Arkansas
* California
* Colorado
* Connecticut
* Delaware
* Florida
* Georgia
* Hawaii
* Idaho
* Illinois
* Indiana
* Iowa
* Kansas
* Kentucky
* Louisiana
* Maine
* Maryland
* Massachusetts
* Michigan
* Minnesota
* Mississippi
* Missouri
* Montana
* Nebraska
* Nevada
* New Hampshire
* New Jersey
* New Mexico
* New York
* North Carolina
* North Dakota
* Ohio
* Oklahoma
* Oregon
* Pennsylvania
* Rhode Island
* South Carolina
* South Dakota
* Tennessee
* Texas
* Utah
* Vermont
* Virginia
* Washington
* West Virginia
* Wisconsin
* Wyoming


States with a * next to them have more people in that state who consider themselves "conservative" than consider themselves "liberal".

Yes, every single US state is more conservative, in this sense, than it is liberal. That's a very broad and powerful ideology.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/122333/Political-Ideology-Conservative-Label-Prevails-South.aspx

"all 50 states are, to some degree, more conservative than liberal (with the conservative advantage ranging from 1 to 34 points),"

Pagan Topologist said...

I have not seen it in a newspaper yet, so I don't have any confirmation or background, but I heard on CNN (I think) this morning while cooking breakfast. that there was indeed a large spike of death threats against the President just after his inauguration, but the number has settled down to a background level about the same as for the last two presidents. If this is true, it seems like good news. But I will withhold judgement until I find some more information.

Marty S said...

Anybody can find stats to back up their point of view.Here is a link to a ranking of states by affordability. Where affordability is measured by the income required to purchase and maintain a two bedroom house.

http://www.nlihc.org/oor/oor2005/rankmap.pdf

Least affordable California,Massachusetts,NJ and NY.

nuff said.

Anonymous said...

If Frank -- or anyone else -- would like track death threats to Obama by ideological background, check in with the Southern Poverty Law Center. They've been tracking this and similar issues for a long time...

Ps: It's the rightwingers. Not the Muslims.

Robert Curry

Anonymous said...

Frank -- why would anyone consider Obama an "apostate of Islam." An apostate is someone who's "fallen away" from a faith and no longer believes in it.

Obama is not a muslim, so how could he possibly be an "apostate?"

Robert Curry

Dan Moran said...

Mike,

If your definition of "conservative state" includes "votes reliably Democratic," I suspect some actual conservatives might disagree with you.

Marty,

OK, "freedom" as defined by conservatives and "affordability" as defined by the NLIHC are two metrics in which liberal states don't destroy conservative states.

Now if conservative states could get a handle on health, wealth, longevity, infant mortality, divorce rates, education, and crime, by God they'd have something.

Mike Ralls said...

>If your definition of "conservative state" includes "votes reliably Democratic," I suspect some actual conservatives might disagree with you.<

As with so many things, it's a matter of relativity. There can never be an "objective" definition of what is "liberal" and what is not, but in comparison with Europe or Japan, the Democratic party is a conservative party. This of course means that America is a very politically conservative nation (which makes total sense considering that people who call themselves conservatives outnumber people who call themselves liberal in EVERY SINGLE STATE. How could a country that had that _not_ be considered a conservative country?). If being politically conservative lead to being poor, one would expect the US to be poor. It is not, so we must conclude that being politically conservative does not lead to poverty.

Incidentally, Germany, France and Japan (all large countries with very different cultures, but all politically more liberal than the US) would all be on the the bottom 2/5ths of that list, so we must conclude that being liberal does not automatically lead to being rich either.

Dan Moran said...

Well, perhaps we can phrase it like this:

States that Americans consider to be liberal are rich and the people who live in them are healthier and better educated and live longer and get divorced less than Americans who live in states that Americans consider to be conservative.

Works for me. And when we examine all those commies in Europe, this has the added benefit of explaining why the richest places in the world are run by and populated with American "liberals" ... they're really "conservatives."

Though that does leave us with the odd task of what we call all those Southern states that are so atrociously run. "Double conservative?"

In any event, I take your distinction. If liberals from France try and run this country, I will oppose them. But as long as it's American liberals, who are really conservatives in the grand worldwide scheme, they've got my vote.

Though I suspect not yours, and I do wonder why.

Marty S said...

Dan: You make claims that liberal states are superior in a list of factors such as education, but what is your basis for this. Several of your liberal states score at the bottom with respect to scores an the National Math test, one measure of good education. Also even if you have creditable statistics to back you up it doesn't prove that it's due to the states being run "Atrociously". One can't evaluate that without looking at the underlying causes and how many of those causes affected by policy.

Marty S said...

Just to make my previous point clearer let's consider population density. The top 17 states in population density are all liberal. Now population density will affect the ability to deliver certain services. Medically, emergency help would tend to be available quicker in denser areas. Special medical services, and less frequently used expensive equipment would be more economically justified and therefore more available. This is just one example of factors other than government philosophy that affect state statistics.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"The top 17 states in population density are all liberal.'

This of course raises the question as to whether liberal social practices are more conducive to prosperity, or does prosperity lead inexorably to liberalism? Conversely, is the comparative economic blight and social stagnation of the Bible Belt directly caused by conservative political and religious ethos run amok?

Marty S said...

Ethiopian Infidel: Higher population density is not the same as higher prosperity. As for the relative social status of states, a favorite measure of a governments social practices is income inequality. Well the state with the highest income inequality in the country is the liberal state of New York while the state with the lowest inequality is the conservative state of Utah. Anyone who is convinced they have it right can cherry pick data to prove it.

Steven Barnes said...

Frank: "Liberal" and "Conservative" or "Left" or "Right" seem to shift within parties. And maybe the Republican party will be more Liberal than the Democrats in a hundred years. But almost by definition, "Conservative" is going to be more resistant to change (and in a great many cases, change is indeed a bad thing). In terms of racial politics, during my lifetime I've simply seen far more obstruction and resistance from the Republican side of the aisle, regardless of what might have been true in prior generations, or what might be true generations from now. Simple test: where do minorities feel more welcome? Unless you take the position that they are too stupid to know which side of the bread their butter is on, watching that flow, by itself, will tell you what you need to know about this aspect of our social fabric. And for some time, the majority of such folks have felt the Democrats understand and empathize with them more. Ignore this at your own peril.

Dan Moran said...

Marty,

Anyone who is convinced they have it right can cherry pick data to prove it.

The various statistics showing that liberal states -- or, to phrase it another way to suite Mike, "those conservative states that vote for Democratic Presidents" -- that those states are richer than conservative states, isn't cherry picking, it's hard numbers.

Now you may well conclude that having more money, as people living in liberal states do, isn't important. Fair enough. Almost all the other metrics I've mentioned -- crime, health, longevity, and so on -- are directly impacted by money, however; poor people do worse at almost everything than wealthy people.

Frank said...

Robert Curry

Frank -- why would anyone consider Obama an "apostate of Islam."

Don't ask me, I don't make the rules. But I think it has something to do with his father being a Muslim.

Ethiopian_Infidel

This of course raises the question as to whether liberal social practices are more conducive to prosperity, or does prosperity lead inexorably to liberalism?

This is an extremely interesting question. I have pondered it myself. I have grave concerns that proserity leads to complacency. As people get wealthy and secure they demand more from mommy (Government) and they begin to believe that the world really isn't a dangerous place so they let their guard down.

I'm concerned, ultimately, that prosperity leads to collapse.

Steve Barnes

Frank: "Liberal" and "Conservative" or "Left" or "Right" seem to shift within parties.

Well here's my definition: Collectivism/Statism = Left; Individualism/self-reliance = Right, at least in today's definition.

But of course not everyone will agree with this.

As I have pointed out in the past, originally Liberalism was a movement that advocated indivudual freedom over kings and dictators. Liberalism was the driving thought behind our nation's founding.

Given this definition (collectivism = Left) we can look back through recent history and say that Mao, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all collectivist/statist and therefore Leftists.

You can see how well that worked out.

Now to be fair, very few are at the extremes for either side. However, in general, the more collectivist the policy the more I am in opposition to it. Now the study I presented earlier in this thread also treated "Liberal" as collectivist; so it measured relative freedom in each state. So its results appear to be valid on that basis.

Simple test: where do minorities feel more welcome? Unless you take the position that they are too stupid to know which side of the bread their butter is on, watching that flow, by itself, will tell you what you need to know about this aspect of our social fabric.

Well, it's funny, don't you think, that the Obama administration was so worried that if voters didn't know the party affiliation of the person for whom they were voting, blacks might make the wrong choice? (I'm referring to the aticle I pointed to earlier in the thread.)

I'll let you sort out why that might be.

Marty S said...

Dan: Your wealth criteria is cherry picking. You choose GDP per capita to measure relative wealth of states. I could get a very different ranking favorable to conservative states by choosing to use state deficit per capita. There are many different ways of measuring most socioeconomic factors and people inevitably pick the ones that most favor their point of view. Often this is because they get their information from sources that agree with their point of view.

Dan Moran said...

Marty, I'd love to see an argument that shows that conservative states are actually rich. Go to it.

Marty S said...

Dan: Money is means of exchange. It is used to by goods. So it is not unreasonable to measure wealth by ownership of goods rather than dollars per capita. If I argue then that the most important good is one's home and measure how wealthy a state is by percent home ownership, the your three big liberal states New York, California, Michigan finish as follows. Michigan number 3 in the country, California 49th and New York 50th. Not so good. Just an example of picking a statistic that comes to a contrary result to a different statistic leaving one to argue about which statistic is more valid. Which is a philosophical debate not a fact debate.

Dan Moran said...

Is life expectancy a philosophical debate?

Are divorce rates a philosophical debate?

Are infant mortality rates a philosophical debate?

Are low crime rates a philosophical debate?

I grant you, the sight of conservatives badmouthing money makes this thread worthwhile all on its own, but the things money brings you are valuable in themselves.

More money is better than less money. Watching conservatives argue otherwise, simply because it turns out liberal states have more money, is a fascinating sight.

Lobo said...

Dan, minor correction, in your list of states, I'm 99.99% sure that Iowa went Obama. It shouldn't be in bold.

To paraphrase Milo Bloom:

Money can't buy happiness, but it improves your bargaining position.

To say that money is just a means of exchange is a stunning oversimplification of it's role in our society.

Marty S said...

Dan: Let's see in a recent post on this site I commented that in choosing between following my dream and my relationship I would sacrifice my dream for my relationship. I got several responses favoring leaving the relationship if my partner wouldn't support. Based on that I would say the relevance of divorce statistics is a philosophical debate. Now take infant mortality. Two points here. One is that infant mortality is somewhat dependent on definition and so not the greatest statistic. Secondly liberals don't count abortions in infant mortality. Conservatives would so I guess there is a philosophical debate there also.
At any rate. The primary point is that one can always pick measures that support their point of view in any argument and whether they are true or not they ignore other measures unfavorable to their point of view and they ignore the question of cause and affect. The reasons why some of these facts are true have nothing to do with conservative versus liberal. New York City has had both Republican and Democratic mayors and it was still the source of the state's wealth as measured by money.

Frank said...

Forget Nostradamus, it appears Johnny Mercer could tell the future. At least he could do it in plain english that everyone could understand.

THE COUNTRY'S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS
From the Musical "Lil' Abner" (1956)
(Gene de Paul / Johnny Mercer)

Recorded by: Percy Faith; Shelly Manne;
Peter Palmer; André Previn.


Them city folks and we-uns are pretty much alike,
Though they ain't used to living in the sticks.
We don't like stone or cement, but we is in agreement
When we gets down to talkin' politics:


The country's in the very best of hands,
the best of hands, the best of hands.


[Note: the above two lines are interspersed among
all the verses and wherever else needed.]


The Treasury says the national debt is climbing to the sky
And govermnent expenditures have never been so high.
It makes a feller get a gleam of pride within his eye,
to see how our economy expands,
The country's in the very best of hands.


You ought to see the congress when it's drawing up a bill,
"Where as"'s and "to wit"'s are crowded in each codicil.
Such legal terminology would give your heart a thrill.
There's phrases there that no one understands.
The country's in the very best of hands.


The building boom, they say, is getting bigger every day.
And when I asked a feller "How could everybody pay?"
He come up with an answer that made everything OK,
"Supplies are getting bigger than demands."
The country's in the very best of hands.


Don't you believe them congressmen and senators are dumb.
When they run into problems that are tough to overcome,
They just declare a thing they calls a moritorium.
The upper and the lower house disbands.
The country's in the very best of hands.


The voters are connected to the nominee,
the nominee's connected to the treasury.
When they ain't connected to the treasury,
They sits around on their thigh bones.


They sits around in this place they got,
This big congressional parking lot.
Just sits around on their you know what.
Up there they call them their thigh bones.


Them bones, them bones gonna rise again,
Gonna exercise a franchise again,
Gonna tax us up to our eyes again,
If we gets them off of their thigh bones.


The farm bill should be 89 percent of parity,
Another feller recommends it should be 93.
But 80, 95 percent, who cares about degree?
It's parity that no one understands.
The country's in the very best of hands.


Them GOP's and Democrats each hates the other one.
They's always criticizing how the country should be run.
But neither tells the public what the other's gone and done.
As long as no one knows where no one stands,
The country's in the very best of hands.


They sits around in this place they're at,
Where folks in congress have always sat.
Just sits around on their excess fat,
Up there they call them their thigh bones.


They sits around 'til they start to snore,
Jumps up and hollers "I has the floor!"
Then sits right down where they sat before,
Up there they call them their thigh bones.


Them bones, them bones gonna rise again
So dignified and so wise again
While the budget doubles in size again,
If we gets them off of their thigh bones.


The money that they taxes us, that's known as revenues,
They compound up collaterals, subtracts the residues.
Don't worry 'bout the principle and interest that accrues,
They're shipping all that stuff to foreign lands,
The country's in the very best of hands.

Marty S said...

Lobo: Let me give one more example to indicate why money is just medium of exchange and why using statistics like per capita GDP are worthless for evaluating the real picture. The poverty level is determined based upon a basket of goods. So the government translates the cost of goods into the medium of exchange money. Now the poverty threshold is determined for the contiguous 48 states by the average cost of these goods nationwide. But it is applied to all states equally. So lets take two states Cal. a "wealthy" liberal state and Tenn. a "poor" conservative state. Using a federal poverty level of about $20,000 dollars for a family of three there is more poverty in Tenn. than Cal. but the cost living Tenn. is only 88.3% of the national average. This means the family of three in Tenn. should only need $17,660 to by the poverty level basket of goods. So poverty in Tenn. is overstated. For Cal. the cost of living is 136.6% of the national average so someone living there needs $27,200 to buy the poverty level basket of goods. So the degree of poverty in Cal.is understated in the statistics. Now if you compare the ratio of cost of living to median income in the two states, the ratio is 1.54 for Tenn. and 1.36 Cal. This means that one would actually expect more families in Tenn. to be able to purchase the required basket of goods the families in Cal.

Dan Moran said...

I heard this exact same argument recently about Mexico. People in Mexico weren't as poor as we thought, this fellow tried to tell me, because though they had no money, things were cheaper there. (Because nobody else had any money either.)

I've lived in Mexico twice, in three different cities. They're poor.

I know you've already dismissed infant mortality as a metric worth paying attention to, but here it is anyway.

Deaths per thousand live births:

Minnesota -- 5.1
New Jersey -- 5.2
California -- 5.3
New York -- 5.8
Connecticut -- 5.8

Texas - 6.6
West Virginia -- 8.1
Georgia -- 8.2
Tennessee -- 8.9
Alabama -- 9.4
Louisiana -- 10.1
Mississippi -- 11.4

Just for contrast, By Country

Iceland -- 2.9
Japan -- 3.2
Switzerland -- 4.1
France -- 4.2
Cuba -- 5.1
United States -- 6.3
Kuwait -- 8.1
Costa Rica -- 9.9
Serbia -- 11.7

So at least Alabama does better than Costa Rica. By a bit.

The liberal states are damn near first world when it comes to keeping babies alive. Conservative states, not so much.

Frank said...

Dan

I heard this exact same argument recently about Mexico.

Dan, I'm sorry, but you are simply delusional if you don't think cost of living figures into the equation. Marty has made some serious and valid points on this matter.

As for birth statistics, well I'm thinking "cherry pickin'"

Let's look at places you didn't include in your "liberal" list:

Vermont 6.5
Maryland 7.3
District of Columbia 14.1

And compare it to non-Liberal States you left out.
Nebraska 5.6
Nevada 5.8
New Hampshire 5.3

It would appear that Liberalism is not the controlling variable.

Dan Moran said...

Yep, Frank, I included that link as an attempt to trick people. :-)

As to liberalism being the defining factor in wealth, I haven't the vaguest. All I know is that it's an extraordinarily strong, generations-long correlation. If liberalism causes wealth, or wealth causes liberalism, I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you conservatism doesn't cause wealth.

As for cost of living, of course it matters. This is why Americans who've built up wealth living in rich places then retire to cheap places, because the people who live there are poor and it's inexpensive by comparison with where they lived when they built up their wealth. This is why Americans retire to Mexico, and Californians and New Yorkers retire to the South.

Marty S said...

Dan: It seems I'm not the only one who thinks purchasing power is important when making these kind of comparisons. Here is a link to a comparison of median household income between a number of countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income#International_statistics

In it actual, median incomes are adjusted by something called "purchasing power parity".
The article contains a link to a description of "purchasing power parity".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchasing_power_parity

The approach described was developed and is used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

By the way the U.S does pretty well in the comparison in spite of most of the other counties being more liberal.

Dan Moran said...

Yep, I know what PPP is. I've written on it before. And of course purchasing power is relative -- people surviving on $200 a month in Mexico couldn't do it in Los Angeles.

But end of day, if I have to decide whether to live in Mexico on $10K a year or Mississippi on $30K or Connecticut on $56K ... I'm picking Connecticut. And living better, and healthier, and longer ...

Lobo said...

Marty,

I disagree with your analysis on two points.

1) I could not confirm the figures for your calculations. Closest I could come was the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI numbers. Per the BLS and the CA state government, CA is only 2% higher than the national average. Per the BLS, the Southern region (BLS doesn't keep CPI statistics per state) was only 2% below the national average. So if you could source your data, that'd be neat. There's a difference between manipulating statistics to say what you want and just making statistics up.

2) My objection to your statement that money is JUST a means of exchange is akin to saying a gun is JUST a device that moves lead from one location to another. While technically true, it doesn't give an accurate impression.

Dan Moran said...

I updated the spreadsheet I used to compile this. Anyone wants a copy, drop me a line at danmoran909 at yahoo.

Summing up:

12 of the 14 lowest divorce rate states voted for Obama.

18 of the 20 richest states voted for Obama.

16 of the 21 lowest infant mortality states voted for Obama.

These are all 2008 numbers. When I have a chance, I'll update for crime & education stats, if I can find them for '08.

Dan Moran said...

The 16 states with the highest % of people over 25, with bachelor's degrees, voted for Obama.

The 15 states with the highest % of doctors, voted for Obama.

Ximena Cearley said...

"Now, it can be hard to separate the lying from the "teasing"--which is another form of lie, of course."

God, THANK YOU for finally saying this out loud. I HATE teasing and try not to do it myself. I've fought for years against the idea that "it's in fun" or "they do it because they like you". No, it's LYING. How can I trust you when you say you love me when I'm not supposed to believe you when you say you don't? It's such a CHORE to "puzzle out" whether some people "mean what they say" or not--and god help you if you *do* mean what you say, because those people just won't BELIEVE you. I have dumped many so-called friends who just could not be honest in our relationship and who just HAD to use me as mere entertainment. It's not just dishonest, it's distancing. (Yeah, I have an issue around this. I'm working on it. I'm just SO GLAD to hear you say this.)

Marty S said...

Lobo: The two sites I got my numbers from were

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States#Income_by_state
and

http://www.top50states.com/cost-of-living-by-state.html

I have no idea how good the cost of living numbers are, but let's just assume the median income numbers are at lest approximately right and look at how some of the major expenses play out. First of all consider federal income and FICA taxes. Assuming a family of four and standard deductions the Tenn. family will pay $5340 and the Cal. Family $9281. A difference of $3940. If you look up the state income tax rates on the net you will find that the Tenn. family pays $0 dollars in state income taxes and the Cal. family will pay $3370. So after taxes the original difference in comes of approximately $17,400 dollars between the two families is reduced to approximately $10,100. Now while their are no sites I could find directly giving comparisons of median home prices looking at several Cal. and Tenn. real estate sites indicates that a ball park number $275,000 for Cal. and $150,000 for Tenn. is reasonable. Using these numbers if both Families made a 20% down payment and got a 30 year mortgage at 5% interest. The annual mortgage payment for the Cal family would be $14,350 while for the Tenn. family it would be $7925. This further reduces the income difference between families to just under $3500 dollars. So just using these couple of items you can see that the purchasing power of the Cal family is not significantly greater than the Tenn. family

Marty S said...

Dan: Your liberal states have lower infant mortality than prove nothing about whether liberal policies or conservative policies are better for infant mortality. Blacks have an infant mortality rate(for whatever reason) more than twice that of Whites. This site lists percent Black population by state.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=phNtm3LmDZEM5olfIMvRWCQ

This site lists infant mortality rate by state.

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ranks/rank17.html

If you put the data into an excel spreadsheet and do a correlation you get a correlation coefficient of .83 which is pretty high(1.0 is perfect) and indicates the main factor in a states infant mortality is race.

Marty S said...

Dan:I'm going to at least partly take back what I said in my last post. I can never resist looking deeper into the data and looking at infant mortality by race and state it appears that while the ratio of Black infant mortality to White infant mortality stays constant between states there also seem to be some correlation between White levels in a state and Black levels in a state. That is if the White level is lower than the U.S. Average then the Black level is also. So state looks like a factor as well as race. Of course we still don't know what the factor is.

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