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Who: Kimball Corson. Text and Photos not disclaimed or that are obviously not mine are copyright (c) Kimball Corson 2004-2016
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Scene + Obama Is a Shoo In
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Obama Is a Shoo In

What too many don't realize is that participation of the voting age population in the Republican caucuses is a tiny fraction of those who can vote and are likely to turn up at the polls come November. Further, Republican right wingers are a much smaller percentage of the population than they would like to think. The numbers simply aren't there although to read the press and Facebook you would think every other person was a religious libertarian in favor of free markets and free sperm and ova flows.

The reason for this misleading impression is fear driven, large amygdala Republicans network much more than most and have the Koch & Friends propaganda network hard at work behind them. But the truth is many if not most see past all this and around all the talking points to the real issues and will vote accordingly, leaving this bizarre Republican circus parade as a huge aside in November. It is a question of judgment and too many lack it and cannot see how Republicans are marginalizing themselves and drifting toward the trivial and inane relative to our real problems: unemployment, slow growth and the threat of rising prices and declining prospects.

Combine this with demonstrated Republican mean-spirited vindictiveness and hostility toward the interests of the middle and lower classes, while pandering to and fawning over the rich and tax breaks for them, and it becomes increasing easy to see that their agenda simply won't fly, not after the OWS movement refocused America on the economic issues. Too, a large and growing number of those now landing in Obama's social safety nets are Republicans themselves, a point not even they can continue to ignore, especially in November.

We are awash in silly talk. If the economy doesn't sink and Obama handles his campaign well, hammering the record and problems of the Republicans, we should have a shoo in.

Mark my words. I'll be saying, "As I was saying . . ."

Graves + Republicans Are the New John Birchers
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Republicans Are the New John Birchers

As I have been saying, too much of America -- impacted by Koch & Friends propaganda -- has swung hard and sharply to the right. The John Birch Society - co-founded by the Koch brother's father in the late 1950's -- was a group of fringe extremists back in the days when there were mostly Eisenhower Republicans in the party. Now Republican adoption of those extremist ideas forms the core thinking of their party and REPUBLICANS ARE CLUELESS ON WHERE THEIR CURRENT IDEAS CAME FROM. Do they really believe the answer is Ayn Rand or Austrian economics? They simply won't believe they have been victimized by the propaganda system I have described at length. They just can't acknowledge that. Well, now there is more relevant data for the Republicans to ignore. Introspective they aren't.

Modern Republicans, it turns out, are extremely conservative by historical standards; you might even, if you were Mitt Romney, claim they are "severely" conservative. Political scientists who use Congressional voting records to measure such things, now report that the current G.O.P. majority is the most conservative of any GOP majority since 1879, which is as far back as their estimates go. As I have been saying. . . . And yet all we get is Republican silence on the point.

Don't modern day Republicans wonder -- even a tinny tiny bit -- where their current ideas or their Conservativism came from? The drinking water, perhaps? How can they be so blind on such a major issue of importance? I submit they have been propagandized and just can't bring themselves to admit it.

Near a Beach + The War Regarding Iran
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The War Regarding Iran

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is in a huge power struggle with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. Ahmadinejad was popularly elected, although the elections were disputed. Khamenei is Supreme Leader by operation of Sharia law, as head of the clergy. Ahmadinejad has sought to expand his power base by attacking the clergy and Khamenei in turn has called for elimination of the position of the President of Iran. Khamenei is insistent on Iran's nuclear program as an adjunct of the country's sovereignty; Ahmadinejad is more flexible and pragmatic here and more willing to compromise on Iran's program. Indeed, an offer of concessions by Iran has been forthcoming just as a telecommunications network vital to the global banking industry prepared to expel Iranian banks.

In the meantime, there is a struggle as well behind the scenes between Israel and the US. Israel wants to attack Iran's nuclear installations and soon. The US wants to give more time to a complex set of sanctions and an oil embargo; to let them work. The sanctions program is seriously pressuring Iran and is giving Ahmadinejad an upper hand in his conflict with Khamenei. Everyone is most uneasy with the situation. Iran's behavior has become more unpredictable. Facilities hardening proceeds apace. The Strait of Hormuz, the Iranian oil shipping lane, is a volatile flash point. India refuses to join the embargo and the pressure on India from both sides is considerable. The area of Iran is becoming less stable.

If Israel decided to go it alone, they and the US know that the US would join with logistical and refueling support, as well as with help in getting air clearances where possible. A dicey, complex situation, to be sure, with multiple agendas. Room for much game theory.

Looking + The Conservative Anathema
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Conservative Anathema

A nation of black, mostly female, bitchy, homosexual atheists, professing progressiveism and screaming for free love, abortions and government benefits for all.

Sundry Church + That the Stimulus Program Was Too Small Was Summer's and Republican's Fault
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

That the Stimulus Program Was Too Small Was Summer's and Republican's Fault

Most mainstream economists agree that Obama's economic stimulus program was too small and a big part of the reason we are now in this never never land of neither depressed, nor recovered. Why? The answer is Larry Summers pulled a larger and recommended stimulus package from the Council of Economic Advisers off the table for discussion with the president so he never saw it.

When Christy Romer, Obama's about-to be chief economic adviser (Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers), sent Larry Summers, the White House top's economist, her group's $1.7-to-$1.8 trillion figure for the stimulus program the week before the memo was due, he dismissed it as impractical. ($1.8 trillion was the estimate of what was needed to eliminate the output gap by Q1 2011). So Romer spent the next day or two coming up with a compromise: $1.2 trillion. In a revised document that she sent Summers over the weekend, she included the $1.2 trillion figure, along with two more limited options: about $600 billion and about $850 billion.

At first, Summers gave her every indication that all three figures would appear in the memo he was sending the president-elect. But with less than twenty-four hours before the memo needed to be in Obama's hands, Summers informed her that he struck the $1.2 trillion figure. Though Summers, like Romer, believed more stimulus was almost unambiguously better, he also felt that a $1.2 trillion proposal, to say nothing of $1.8 trillion, would be dead on arrival in Congress because of the Republicans.

Moreover, since Obama's political operatives were convinced that any stimulus approaching a trillion dollars was hopeless, again because of the Republicans, Summers worried that urging more than this amount would stamp him and Romer as oblivious in their eyes. "$1.2 trillion is nonplanetary," he told Romer, invoking a Summers-ism for "ludicrous." "People will think we don't get it." (Reworked from HuffPo)

The truth was we didn't get the adequate stimulus program, $1.8 trillion, and better heads knew better, but Obama was never informed of what was adequate and Republicans before the fact scared everyone into a lower, inadequate figure.

Once again, politics trumped economics, which is so often the case. But economists get the blame.

Wall + On Questioning Religions
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

On Questioning Religions

Rick Santorum and Bill Graham's son question Obama's religion

So what is new here?

--Mormon leader, Thomas S. Monson, thinks privately all Christians are badly off,
--Ultra Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv challenges Christianity and Islam,
--Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denies both Christianity and Judaic belief systems
--Bramin Hindu leader Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja questions all other religions
--Shinto leader . . .

You get the idea.

Cannot a seeker of truth challenge and reject all religions, especially when they fracture and splinter so between and within themselves?

A Village + The Not So Secret Life Of Hasidic Sexuality
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

The Not So Secret Life Of Hasidic Sexuality

Here is my unvarnished truthful version: In short, Hasidic Jewish men and women physically separate during the days of menstruation and add on an additional "clean week," making about 12 days out of the month in total to assure cleanliness and no impurity. During this period, women are considered impure. When men enter and ejaculate into a woman, they also suddenly become unclean and require immersion in a mikvah or ritual bath to clean themselves. Cleanliness is the central issue and sex and mensuration are in fact considered "dirty."

Now consider the Jewish spin put on this process to elevate it and not have it cast in so squeamish and dirty a light, with my punctuations of disbelief.

"In short, religious men and women physically separate during the days of menstruation and add on an additional "clean week," [note mention of cleanness] making about 12 days out of the month in total. This is not done, as [some suggest], because the women are considered "impure," which is a common and unfortunate mistranslation. [Um Hum] Rather, the women are 'tameh' -- a word that indicates a spiritual change as the result of the loss of potential life. When men ejaculate, they also become 'tameh' and also require immersion in a mikvah or ritual bath. . . . In neither case is there any assumption of dirtiness or lack of purity. [Um Hum] In that same vein, a human corpse is considered the most "tameh" object on Earth as it is now the empty shell of a former actualized living force.[and a corpse is clean?] The mikvah -- through its laws, dimensions and construction -- is a kabbalistic practice that restores the non-corporeal equilibrium of the practitioner [the bath is not to clean, but to restore the reproductive life force -- Um Hum].

"For those who don't accept the spiritual basis for the practice [Moi, big time], there is a sociological one as well [Um Hum]. As correctly explained . . ., when there is no physical outlet available for a couple [during the "dirty" down time], they are compelled to deal with each other on an intellectual and emotional level. They communicate only through words and body language which engenders another -- perhaps deeper -- level of intimacy. [Um Hum] In addition, many couples describe the conclusion of this period of separation as a monthly honeymoon, and in a time when the majority of marriages fail, sustaining the excitement level can only be a good thing. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, it does wonders for other anatomical regions. In truth, to the average observant Jew, sex is not something mundane and titillating, but, rather, holy and sacred. [Um Hum] From this perspective, it is the puerile obsessions of the secular world which are bizarre [secular sex is bad; Jewish sex or the lack of it is good. Um Hum], not the concept of family purity and seeing one's intimate life as something sanctified -- to be guarded and cherished. [ Now, I am reminded of the line by John Donne, "Love's mysteries in souls doth grow, but tis the body that's the book" and I add a final Um Hum here]." HuffPo

This is basically a dance in deceit to my mind. An excursion into untruth. An intellectual contrivance to mask concern with uncleanliness which is considered demeaning. These kinds of contrivance apologetics are how many religions in too many quarters proceed. Candor and honestly are lacking at too many levels, in my view.

Ruin + Drones Over America
Kimball Corson
02/22/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Drones Over America

In addition to militarizing our big city police with training and gifts of military equipment, Homeland Security is now considering the uses of the eyes and firepower of drones circling high over our heads as we go about the business of our lives (or perhaps contemplate insurrection). More of the mindset of "a camera on every corner," except some of these drones can be easily armed.

The start of the matter was commercial, smaller drones, which after a bit were outlawed, but are now again to be allowed. Under new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow all police and others to fly smaller drones, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. Less noticed is a Homeland Security authorized size and weight exception that only the police and the military can use can use in American airspace.

Randy McDaniel, chief deputy of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department in Conroe, Tex., near Houston, whose agency bought a 50 pound drone to use for "various law enforcement operations," dismisses worries about surveillance, saying everyone everywhere can be photographed with cellphone cameras anyway. "We don't spy on people," he said. "We worry about criminal elements." Um-Hum. But the cat is out of the bag. Big brother will now be watching.

American courts generally allow surveillance of private property from public airspace. But how much surveillance will the public be comfortable with, given these developments? Can a drone flying over a house pick up heat from a lamp used to grow marijuana inside, or take pictures of nude hot tub bathers in fenced backyards or look in through upstairs bathroom windows? Can images taken from a drone be sold to others, and how long can they be kept? What is an unlawful search by the police, the military or private governmental agents (contractors?) under the Fourth Amendment or what is left of it? Who knows? What we do know is courts strongly tend to support the government's view on too much in these quarters.

The camel's nose is well under the tent. It is no problem to arm larger surveillance drones of the type controlled by Homeland Security and now being authorized for police use over America. We the People are clearly in further trouble. We are not shielded adequately by our Bill of Rights from intrusions by our government. -- all under the nominal guise of hunting criminals and terrorists, of course.

Dusk + My Own Critique of Murray's Book "Coming Apart: The State of White America"
Kimball Corson
02/15/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

My Own Critique of Murray's Book "Coming Apart: The State of White America"

Charles Murray's new book "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," has much to say about a claimed moral behavioral gap between white middle and lower class America on one hand and in contrast to white upper class America on the other. Ignoring the growing income and wealth disparities between the two and the declining relative position of America generally, Murray takes the typical conservative tack of claiming it is all about a decline in morals of the middle and lower classes, and not at all about the income and wealth disparities observed, the absolute economic decline of America's bottom half, American's relative decline in the world or the moral shortcomings of the upper classes in America.

Most egregiously, Murray wholly ignores the acute immortality practiced by upper class whites in America''s markets, usually at the expense of America's middle and lower classes. The recent shinnanigans of Wall Street Bankers come to mind but a truly lengthy list could be developed here. The FBI, before it was stood in a jurisdictional corner by the SEC, said it had never see such pervasive, criminal fraud in America as was committed by what amounted to America's upper classes. The "screwings" perpetrated by the upper classes against those they deal with and affect is just of a different sort -- more financial and less physical. The notion that the upper classes have the moral high ground is patently false. They are the worst out there. Who is Murray kidding here?

To be sure, there are lower class moral issues involved, but they are more consequential than causal. For example, among white Americans with a high school education or less, marriage rates and male labor force participation are down, while births out of wedlock are up. These are not good developments, but scant job availability, bad economic times and the costs and economic commitments of marriage need to be kept in mind. I argue, the changes observed are more about money than morals.

But another matter is afoot as well. America is a declining civilization on both fronts, not only relative to other nations with better educational and health care systems for all, but absolutely, given the deterioration in real wages for the middle and lower classes since about 1970, for example. These matters have a strong historical bearing on what we observe. Here is why.

It has long been known that during eras when a nation's civilization ascends, the middle classes emulate the tastes, culture and attitudes of the upper classes, but in eras of declining civilization, the middle classes emulate those of the lower classes. A strong case can be made in support of this observation presently, which, when taken together with America's transition from ascendancy to a general and relative decline, coupled with the current economic decimation of the middle classes, does leave the impression that white America is badly fragmenting, just as Murray suggests. What he doesn't understand is why or the larger moral and economic contexts. Too, the upper classes do not like not being emulated and their patrons blame that development too on the deficiencies of the lower and middle classes. Murray is one such patron. Face it. This is the era of rap, not classical music. Get over it. And given their own egregious misbehaviors, why should the upper classes expect anyone to patronize them?

Murray's effort to impute moral blame on the middle class in isolation is too small and one sided a view, but not atypically a conservative one. Murray overlooks the economic analyses and the historical consequences of America's decline which I outline here. He simply wants to point the finger at the lower and middle classes and ignore the economics involved and immoralities of the upper classes, a decidedly biased, patronizing and wormy view.

The same types of middle and lower class moral problems to not reach to white upper class America not only because of the wealth and income disparities noted, but because as historian Will Durrant has explained, throughout history the top 30 percent or so run things, noting that they are well connected and in communication with each other, and also that, in large measure, their tastes, attitudes and preferences transcend, and are largely independent of those in the middle classes. They literally live and act apart. Their current economic positions -- as the income and wealth distributions continue to skew -- can still materially improve in large measure, regardless of what happens to the middle class and poor or indeed, to America itself within a broad range. However, their own moral problems attend these discrepancies and in too large a measure have caused them.

Murray's understanding and reach are much too limited here, morally, economically and historically.

Muttinski + More Right Wing Spin in Place of News
Kimball Corson
02/14/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

More Right Wing Spin in Place of News

As Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell it with a slant..." This is the idea that conservatives want to bring more to the news media, taking a page out of the Koch & Friends play book. The idea is to encourage young followers of the conservative cause to become journalists. Conservatives, gathered in Washington D.C. for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, were busy encouraging young attendees to pursue journalism as a career.

So much for neutral, accurate news. Drown us in the spin of propaganda is the well known approach and suggestion here. Already even our well intentioned news media cannot always tell bogus research propaganda from legitimate research and is being drowned in garbage propaganda. Even the New York Times occasionally gets snagged. The consequences can be bad. The Wall Street Journal is a perfect example and over the years I have watched the WSJ spit out ever more garbage research as it has taken a hard turn to the right, to the point now where it is very unreliable on much.

Americans interested in the facts and the truth of matters are now going to have to consider their sources much more carefully and I worry that they might not know how to do that well. I have written a note on how to do that which can be found here:

Thru a Window + As I Have Been Saying . . .
Kimball Corson
02/14/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

As I Have Been Saying . . .

Conference Board economists now say that the U.S. economy is transitioning to a new and lower normal. The Conference Board, which counts half of all Fortune 500 companies among its members, provides economic and business advice and research to its member companies. And they have some bad news.

"The economy that we had before the recession is gone," said Kenneth Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. "It's not coming back."

The U.S. economy is transitioning to a new lower normal in which businesses invest less and consumers spend less than before the recession, Goldstein explains. As a result, he said, economic growth and job growth will be slower than before.

According to the Conference Board, businesses, consumers and the government would need to spend at least $1 trillion more than they are likely to spend in order for the economy to return to its pre-recession growth rate. But he added that no one is willing to spend the money necessary to jumpstart the economy, since the government is cutting spending, consumers are saving more, and businesses expect a lower return on their investments. Here we have a hat tip to Conservatives who's views always bod ill for the economy.

Consumer expectations have been lowered and that impacts the economy. Consumers' expectations for the future have plunged, Goldstein said. They suffered from such a large economic shock in 2008 and 2009 that many older people now do not expect to return to work, and many younger people no longer expect to make that much money, he continued. As a result, Americans have seriously cut back on spending and expect a smaller future. It is a vicious circle.

Now that people's homes are often worth less and credit is expensive, people are relying on their wages to be able to spend money -- and their wages have virtually stagnated. This means that economic growth will be slower than it was before the recession for the foreseeable future, since consumer spending comprises two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

We are stuck at a new lower normal just as I have been saying for some time now.

Fisherman + Now It Is Intelligence that Separates Us
Kimball Corson
02/14/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

It Is Now Intelligence that Separates Us

The outcry following publication in 1994 of "The Bell Curve," by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein was enormous. At the time of publication, most thought the book was about race and IQ, but the Chicago Tribune accurately summarized that book's key findings:

Herrnstein and Murray wrote intelligence will be the decisive dividing force of the 21st century, as smart people get the best educations and best jobs, earn the most money, marry each other, produce bright children and cluster together into a cognitive elite.

Those with markedly below-average intelligence will be left in a growing underclass, likely to drop out of school and hold routine jobs or none at all. Their children will be born into inadequate, high-risk homes, often with single parents, and destined by their low IQ to remain stuck in poverty.

Much of the nation's well-intended efforts to help the underclass have failed, the book contends, because we have refused to recognize the basic problem: low IQ. "Inequality of endowments, including intelligence, is a reality. Trying to pretend that inequality does not really exist has led to disaster. Trying to eradicate inequality with artificially manufactured outcomes has led to disaster," they say.

The forces pushing us apart cannot be stopped, asserted Herrnstein and Murray. Efforts to improve health, education and childhood interventions must fight a "demographic head wind" that results when the poor have a disproportionately high number of children and the mean IQ of immigrants in the 1980s is slightly below average.

Now, after Herrnstein's death more than a decade ago, Murray's core theme in his new book "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," is that the key American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity have eroded among those on the lower rungs of the white socio-economic ladder, and that this emergent population finds itself at or near the bottom of this ladder because its vulnerable members, on average, have less cognitive ability - IQ and education -- and thus less ability to evaluate the likely outcomes of behavioral and moral choices -- than those on the upper rungs.

The problem, he says, is not race but class. According to Murray, higher education has now become a proxy for higher IQ, as elite colleges become sorting mechanisms for finding, training and introducing to each other the most intellectually gifted young people. Fifty years into the education revolution, members of this elite are likely to be themselves the offspring of cognitively gifted parents, and to ultimately bear cognitively gifted children.

Cognitive ability, which arms elites against socio-moral unraveling - and which allows them to create optimal high-investment environments for their offspring -- was far less important to socioeconomic status 50 years ago, Murray believes. Certainly there is persuasive data, recently gathered by Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University and the Russell Sage Foundation, that demonstrates that "while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period."

Murray makes the case that cognitive ability is worth ever more in modern advanced, technologically complex hyper-competitive market economies. As an example, Murray quotes Bill Gates: "Software is an IQ business. Microsoft must win the IQ war or we won't have a future."

Murray alleges that those with higher IQs now exhibit personal and social behavioral choices in areas like marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity that allow them to enjoy secure and privileged lives. Whites in the lower social-economic strata are less cognitively able - in Murray's view - and thus less well-equipped to resist the lure of the sexual revolution and doctrines of self-actualization so they succumb to higher rates of family dissolution, non-marital births, worklessness and criminality. This interaction between IQ and behavioral choice, in Murray's framework, is what has led to the widening income and cultural gap between whites in America.

Samoan Church Ceiling + On American Conservatives as the Sperm and Ova Police
Kimball Corson
02/14/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

On American Conservatives as the Sperm and Ova Police

"Did you hear the news? Apparently the 2012 election isn't going to be about the economy after all. Instead, in the words of an AP headline, "Social Issues Retake U.S. Politics, 2012 Elections." The catalyst for this reorientation of the election was the rule announced by the Obama administration that employers must provide free coverage in their health insurance plans for contraception. [What???]

"This, we're told, has provoked a "firestorm" across the political landscape, as pundits across the ideological spectrum warned the White House of pending disaster if it continued to pursue such a divisive, controversial and incendiary path." (Ariana on HuffPo) Catholic Bishops are in a tither and the laity nationwide are up in arms. The totally thoughtless are confused. Pastors shake the timbers of their church roofs with their Sunday bellowings. Santorum has his issue. The religious are ecstatic with rage. Grandmothers are awash in "Oh My's." Teens wonder what the fuss is about. And conservative politicians are reinvigorated with indignation. Birth control! Imagine it. Free Markets and Free Sperm and Ova Flow [but only within marriages -- otherwise, it must be zero, nada, zip.] Thank you, Officers.

This is conservative America gone totally daft. With so many minds like these, does America stand any chance of recovery and progress? Geez.

The Queen Elizabeth Visits American Samoa
Kimball Corson
02/14/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

She threatens to sink our island with her tourists. (Photograph taken from about a mile away.)

Sea View + Santorum is Clobbering Romney
Kimball Corson
02/12/2012, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Santorum is Clobbering Romney

On the momentum from his trio of recent victories, Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in Public Policy Polling's newest national poll. He's at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul. The gap is large and growing.

Part of the reason for Santorum's surge is people like him. 64% of voters see him favorably and only 22% have a negative view of him, whereas Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney's favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from a December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of Gingrich to only 42% with a positive one. That's a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

Santorum vs. Obama. Now that's a hell of a choice. I wonder what the immigration requirements are for Australia or New Zealand.


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