Saturday, September 20, 2014

How can being a Congressman be considered work?

They took off most of the summer and have now left until November 12. So, our leaders have had a vacation for about 3.5 months this year. When they were 'working', they did little. They have passed only 163 bills since they took office in 2012. Only 108 were considered substantive by Pew Research.

You're probably too young to remember the "Do Nothing Congress" castigated by Harry Truman. They passed over 900 laws in their two-year term.

37 military interventions in 34 years

Friday, September 19, 2014

Freedom of the Press?

The red dots indicate situations where a journalist has been threatened. The map was created by the Index on Censorship, which was created to study censorship in Europe initially. It was developed because violence against journalists seems to have increased in the European Union (EU), which espouses free speech in its charter and whose countries guarantee freedom of expression as a basic human right in their national laws. Thus far, Index has verified 276 cases of violence or threats of violence to journalists in the EU. The country most cited is Serbia with 33, but Turkey and Hungary are not far behind.

Some examples:
  • Police seized reporters’ hardware in the UK
  • Muslims threatened to behead a Kosovar journalist
  • A French reporter was blocked by the far right Front National Party from attending a rally
  • A Serbian editor was beaten—twice—with a baseball bat.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where have all the flowers gone?

The question could be rephrased as "Where have all the leaders gone". I've been watching some of the Roosevelt film of Ken Burns. I've learned a lot about Teddy. But tonight Franklin was featured, mainly in his first administration. Lord, what a difference between him and our current leaders! 

Especially when you compare what he did in 100 days with what our 21st century presidents have done in 14 years. 
FDR:Restoring confidence in the banks. Launching the FDIC, the WPA the CCC. Of course, we can't forget the other 12  years of his presidency:Social Security, TVA, NLRB, the SEC. Sure, he did screw up every so often (vide packing the Supreme Court), but we would be thoroughly pleased if GW or BO had accomplished one-tenth of FDR's achievements.
Our 21st century leaders: the Great Recession (from which we have not yet recovered), two,verging on three, wars, a Congress of ineptitude.

Manipulating Shadows

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bring the German-style corporation to the U.S.

That's the argument Susan Holmberg and Mark  Schmitt make as a way of reducing CEO pay. They contend that the emphasis on shareholder primacy or pay for performance has ignored the other stakeholders in a corporation - its customers, its community, and its employees. 

Germany has given a great deal of power to one of these stakeholders by making sure that the corporation's employees have a strong say in a corporation's activities. The employees of corporations there are on the company's board of directors; half of the members of the board of some companies are employees.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Gibbous Moon on Sengekantacket Pond, Martha's Vineyard

Photo by Timothy Johnson

What are they doing now?

Several pundits with a military background have been advocating a much stronger response to the ISIS situation than Obama has proposed, some are advocating boots on the ground. When these pundits speak on television or write an op-ed, they are identified by their former title, e.g., "former general", "retired admiral". The credit just about never refers to their current occupation.

The Nation fills in the current occupations of two frequent speakers, retired generals Anthony Zinni and Jack Keane. Neither of them is starving, as their compensation from defense companies is pretty good. Keane was paid $258,006 by General Dynamics and that's only one of his sources of income. He is also a "special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a venture partner to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC." Zinni has a similar background.

The question is: are these former generals pushing a stronger response because they are really employees of defense companies who make their money by eliciting fear in the populace so that the Pentagon can spend still more money on weapons.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stewart on the ISIS Threat

The last minute is particularly astute. Stewart calls on Muslim countries to disown the various terrorist groups operating as Muslim entities.

Why not go to war against North Korea

After all, they've convicted and imprisoned an American. Is it because he demanded asylum from the U.S. when he entered North Korea?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Football is a dangerous sport

At least as played in the NFL. Actuaries in the current case - which is trying to come to a settlement between the league and former players - have calculated that nearly a third of retired players will develop long-term cognitive problems, the most common being Alzheimer's and other forms of advanced dementia. Furthermore, the players will be struck by these diseases quite a bit younger than non-players.