“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 10, 2014

What is worse, a Congress composed of millionaires or a Congress where they are all-out to become millionaires?

Make the money, make the laws: Congress has more millionaires than ever - report
Published time: January 09, 2014 22:48

The most unproductive and least popular US Congress in history can count on another distinction: For the first time ever, most members of the Legislative Branch are millionaires.
At least 268 of the 534 current members of the 113th US Congress have an average net worth of US$1 million or more, according to personal financial disclosure data members registered last year on 2012 net worth, the Center for Responsive Politics reported Thursday.
In 2011, only 48 percent of members had a median net worth of at least $1 million. That number is just over 50 percent for 2012.
The median net worth in 2012 for the 530 current congressional members who were in Congress as of the May 2013 filing deadline was $1,008,767, up from $966,000 in 2011. The totals represent a 5.8 percent net-worth increase for all members.
Net worth for Republicans and Democrats went up 10.3 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.
For all members of the House of Representatives, net worth increased 4.6 percent, from $896,000 to $856,000. House Democrats and Republicans both saw increases, at $929,000 and $884,000, respectively.
In the Senate, there was a 10.8 percent increase in net worth overall. Median net worth for all senators went up to $2.794 million from $2.5 million. For Senate Republicans, the median net worth went up to $2.9 million from $2.5 million. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, saw a decline, at $1.7 million from $2.4 million.
That decrease can be explained in part by wealthy senators no longer in the upper chamber. John Kerry, now Secretary of State, was the wealthiest member of the Senate in 2011, with a net worth of $248 million. Sen. Frank Lautenberg was worth $87.5 million before his death last year.
Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is the richest member of Congress, with a net worth of $464 million in 2012.
Issa, who made his fortune in the car alarm business, had held the top spot for years before 2011, when fellow House Republican Michael McCaul reported a net worth of $500.6 million. For much of his wealth, McCaul can thank marrying the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Chairman Lowry Mays.
Yet McCaul’s reported wealth in 2012 went down to $143.1 million. The drop exemplifies a rule change the House adopted this year from the Senate in which members reporting high-value assets, income and liabilities that belong to spouses are only required to report that wealth as being worth “$1 million or more” on official filings. McCaul’s wife was reportedly worth over $50 million in his 2011 filings. In 2012, that amount was reported as a “spousal asset over $1 million” despite the likelihood that it is much more.
Though more members of Congress are millionaires than ever, and their median net worth is tops all-time, the total net worth for all lawmakers in 2012 actually fell to $3.9 billion from $4.2 billion in 2011.
The Center for Responsive Politics found that investing in the stock market, after declining for several years with congressional members, is again on the rise. More members invested in the top 50 stocks of 2012 than in 2011, with General Electric and Wells Fargo being the two most popular for investment.
Financial powers like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, among others, make up most of the top 10 congressional investments. Mutual funds and managed portfolios are also popular, based on good returns and the ability for members to avoid blatant conflicts of interest.
Pew Research Center reported in December that the 113th Congress (2013 to 2014) was the least productive Congress in its first year. Gallup reported in November that the 113th was the least popular Congress of all-time, with a 9 percent approval rating.
"Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Of course, it's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with."


  1. There's big money in car alarms.

    Beats farming.

  2. .

    One thing.

    I noticed the new rules but needed one clarification.

    Is condescension allowed?

    I mean, it's kind of my thing.


  3. Can one beats one's own chest?

    Pound one's own drum?

    I'm not into condescension, I'm into self elevation.

    Best Congress is one where they are all self made millionaires, but don't ask me why I feel that way cause I don't know.

    1. I don't care who is a millionaire, or how they got it. Good for them. Can't take it with you, I plan to die just when I go broke.

  4. .

    I always kind of liked Bob Gates. He seemed to always say what he meant regardless of which side he was playing for. I liked that he was reluctant to get involved in wars of choice, Libya and Syria come to mind.

    Not having read his new book, I can judge it only by the blurbs I've seen written about it. From what I have seen, it appears to offer a rather parochial view of D.C., focusing on Gates' main job there, IMO, his position as SOD in two administrations. And even though it is always fun to see the Washington establishment skewed by an insider, we have all seen the polls and Gates' general venting is in a sense old news.

    Gates come across as a frustrated bureaucrat something that is understandable to most and can be sympathized with. However, I suspect his performance will be judged not only on how many people he skewers but equally on his own performance and positions. You can approve of some of the criticism he levels without agreeing with all his positions. One example, involved the Afghan surge.

    Gates accuses Obama of authorizing the surge and sending thousands of troops into Afghanistan even though he had no faith that the surge would work. The implication is it was done for political reasons. However, what Gates leaves out is that Obama demanded that the generals and DOD provide him with a range of options for moving forward in Afghanistan. What Obama got after months of coaxing was a single option, the surge, an option that as we have seen hasn't done much to move the ball.

    It is legitimate to blame Obama for taking the surge option and sending more troops into harms way iif he didn't think it would work. It is also legitimate to blame Gates and his bros for presenting Obama with only a single option.

    To my mind some of Gates' complaints are petty. He has been in responsible positions in D.C. for decades. He knows how the game is played yet he complains when Congress isn't deferential enough to him as in budget hearings. And while it is understandable that he would complains about defense cuts, one would think he would recognize the lay of the land. He complains about the competence of others but (at least I haven't seen it as yet) doesn't explain his own.

    I disagree with Gates on the surge. I disagree with him on the budget cuts issue. He was also proved wrong in other instances such as his assessment that Gorbachev couldn't be trusted and then going out of his way in pushing Congress towards that assessment. Luckily, Reagan wasn't swayed by his CIA chief and followed his own opinion with regard to Gorbachev.

    All in all, Gates' tell-all book is typical of the genre.

    Still, Gates remains one the D.C. insiders I dislike least.


    1. Gates - "He was also proved wrong in other instances such as his assessment that Gorbachev couldn't be trusted and then going out of his way in pushing Congress towards that assessment. Luckily, Reagan wasn't swayed by his CIA chief and followed his own opinion with regard to Gorbachev."

      This much is perceptive and correct.

      Gates was totally wrong.

      Maggie Thatcher knew better.

    2. Gorby lost control of events in the SU which redounded to our favor, but that doesn't make Gates wrong, any more than Bashir Assad is our buddy just because Biden shot his mouth off about a theoretical situation where Syria destroyed all their chem. Gorby is no idol of Libertarians.

      ""Many of you see the solution to your problems in resorting to market mechanisms in place of direct planning. Some of you look at the market as a lifesaver for your economies. But, comrades, you should not think about lifesavers but about the ship, and the ship is socialism." -- M. Gorbachev

  5. January 10, 2014
    Faulty numbers on Obamacare signups
    Richard Baehr

    It looks as though the numbers touted for Obamacare signups are completely misleading, even disregarding the blatant efforts to massage them.

    An article by Sean Trende has come and gone, but it is hugely important. He argues that the supposed 4 million signups for Medicaid in October and November are not net new additions attributable to Obamacare. Trende's critical point is that the Obamacare proponents assume every Medicaid signup was due to ACA, but that is ridiculous. How did Medicaid get to 60 million members before ACA? How many sign up every month on average? Why are signups in states that did not expand Medicaid about equal to those in states that did?

    His analysis suggest that maybe 200,000 of the 4 million signups can be attributed to the law. Evidence: half the signups are in states that did not agree to Medicaid expansion. Medicaid, with 60 million already enrolled, has new signups (and also loses some enrollees) every month as is. Ezra Klein and company have been arguing that 4 million Medicaid signups in two months (likely 6 million through December), plus 2 million in exchanges, means total signups are 8 million, above White House estimate of 7 million total in first 3 months.

    But if in fact Medicaid enrollment increases attributable to Obamacare is 100,000 a month, or 300,000 through December, and the two million signups on exchanges include many who lost insurance in the individual market, then net due to the ACA including Medicaid in first 3 months may be trivial, and matched or exceeded by those who lost coverage and did not get policies renewed, nor sign up on exchanges. The key number is not how many of the 2 million exchange signups (state and federal combined) are young, but how many were simply moved over from individual policies they had cancelled.

  6. Gates looked best when least seen. He had the good sense not to chase cameras and mics, leaving showboating to the “pampered peacocks of the Pentagon.” As an aside, never have so many ribbons been awarded for so little success.

    If it is his failure, his department and the Executive left the public with no good explanation for continuing the wars in Asia. They have gotten away with this because a disinterested public takes no notice of an average death toll of one per day. Not paying for the wars with taxes has made the astronomical expense painless. I suppose my single greatest complaint is that Mr. Gates had no obvious interest in auditing the monetary costs of the war.

    …more later…

    Good analysis, Quirk.

    1. Robert Gates working for President Obama was like Ikiro Kurosawa directing "Police Academy 7", or James Joyce penning a whodunnit: a stunning failure in taste, a waste of talent, genius gone slumming.


    Der Spiegel (English) has up an excellent series of articles and photographs from WWI. Even a brief glance is well worth the time and may shed some light on the irresistible beckoning of war, profit, and managerial madness. The technology may change but the impulse and the outcomes do not.

    Disaster Centennial: The Disturbing Relevance of World War I

    1. If only Kaiser Bill won that sucker, a certain corporal might have gone back to his day job painting pictures of cottages.

    2. Thanks, allen, for noting that article. I almost finished it and it is quite good. That era has been a focus of my reading of late. I just finished Lawrence in Arabia (I highly recommend it - Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East -
      Scott Anderson ) and am no almost finished Massies "Castles of Steel" which is the history of the Naval warfare of WWI.

      Note - the link doesn't work but I was able to track down the article anyway.

  8. ...possibly answering the question, "Why are these people so roundly detested"?... ... ...Or...Why I would like to see Barbara Boxer locked in an "Iron Maiden".


    1. Or as another here would put it, Asshole Pensions.

    2. Babs and Meryl Streep might make a good pair for a double maiden.

      Never seen her in a movie, can't masturbate for a week after seeing a photo, but what do I know?
      Probably about as much as she does about Disney.

      Douglas Brode, the proudly Jewish author of Multiculturalism and the Mouse:

      Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment, says,

      "There is zero hard evidence that Disney ever wrote or said anything anti-Semitic in private or public. His films feature a wide array of great Jewish actors in the most diverse roles imaginable, more so than any other studio of Hollywood's golden age, including those run by Jewish movie moguls.

      Finally, there is no evidence in the work of anti-Semitism via negatively portrayed Jewish characters.

      Disney, let's recall, was the first filmmaker ever to cast a Jewish actor, Ed Wynn, as Santa Claus, in Babes in Toyland.
      We ought to give Disney the benefit of the doubt.

      Such attacks, including the recent one by Ms. Streep, constitute the repetition of a vicious rumor that has no basis in anything that can be thought of as fact."

    3. Walt Disney didn't die, he's in suspended animation.

    4. Speaking of which, under the subject of Cancer SUCKS!:

      Simpsons co-creator, 58, has months to live, colon cancer.

    5. Ms. Streep may be the greatest character actress ever; however, in her spare time she should fight the good fight against poisoned apples or global warming in N. Dakota.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. When I was youngster, my dream was to become a Disney wildlife cinematographer.

      Does anyone else remember the Disney TV special on the Sun? Wow! That was just mind blowing to a kid of eight.

      In Hebrew there is a phrase, Lashon Hara (evil tongue; evil speech). It should not be confused with lying. What is said may be entirely true, but the motive is pointedly malicious. The Sages taught that it was equivalent to murder! Why? Because, to gossip about another person is to kill the perception of that person in the minds of the hearers. The victim, the person who was, no longer exists. Ms. Streep’s assault on the character of a dead man (Disney) is doubly bad; he cannot defend himself.

    8. When I was youngster, my dream was to become a Disney wildlife cinematographer.

      You and ten thousand other lemmings.

    9. allen wrote:

      "In Hebrew there is a phrase, Lashon Hara (evil tongue; evil speech). It should not be confused with lying. What is said may be entirely true, but the motive is pointedly malicious."

      reminds of some guy who implied Abbas was encouraging ethnic cleansing...

    10. Abbas: Arabs in Israel; No Jews in Palestine

      Now, Ash, you should know by now that I do not imply. The man said what he said; there are hundreds of links to prove it. Do you think we are going to allow Muslims to behave as they did from 1948-1967 in Jerusalem? Don't hold your breathe.

      Sorry about the WWI link.

    11. Abu Mazen is opposed to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state

      According to reports, Abu Mazen presented the precondition that the Arab League would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

      Do you think the process is going to advance with such a precondition? As I recall, it was 2003 when the Arab League offered a peace proposal. That proposal specifically refused the recognition of a Jewish state. Clearly, nothing has changed. Therefore, it should surprise no one that Israel would reject any such plan. Since Abbas knows this, why the move?

      There have been hints in Israeli media (I repeat, hints) that Israel may stake a position based on UN Resolution 181, wherein the UN specifically set a goal of creating a Jewish national homeland. As you know, even prior to a vote, Arab countries rejected 181 on the issue of Jewish sovereignty alone. Again, I just do not see any change in the positions of the parties.

      One of the weirdest facts about setting boundaries is that the West Bank is none other than Judea-Samaria, i.e. the heartland of ancient Jewish culture. A good deal of the land set aside for the proposed new state of Israel in 1947-48 had never been firmly and/or consistently under the control of the ancient monarchies - take Tel Aviv as an example.

      I am unfamiliar with Mr. Anderson's work, but I will give it a peek (Thanks). His use of "deceit" in the title captures the politics of the time, to be sure. In a single instance, the Brits had promised the same land to three different parties, brushing each off as usefulness waned; and this is quite apart from what Britain's French ally was given to understand. Mr. Churchill did not acquit himself honorably during this period. In thinking about negotiating with the Churchill of that time, I am reminded of what Mark Twain said about another fellow, "He was a confident as a Baptist with five aces."

    12. The stipulation that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state is a rather new demand is it not?

      The Lawrence in Arabia book is a good read. It has gotten some pretty good reviews as well.

    13. .

      Allen, IMO, as you know, I think you are speaking pure silliness. You and I both know the Israeli government has no intention of allowing a Palestinian state in the West Bank. All of this talk about a Jewish state being a pre-condition is silly.

      Let's get it out on the table. Why does Israel demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. It's obviously not for security reasons. The PLO has already said they recognize Israeli sovereignty. If you can't trust them on that pledge, why would you trust them if they said they agreed Israel was a Jewish state.

      If not for security reasons why does Israel insist that the world recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

      Inquiring minds want to know.


    14. QuirkFri Jan 10, 05:57:00 PM EST
      Allen, IMO, as you know, I think you are speaking pure silliness.

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      Look carefully at your two sentences above and see if you can come up with one good reason for me to give you the time of day.

      I'm now going to take my silly self to the frig and get a beer.

      Oh, I am familiar with the studies on meaning and happiness...good caveat: the difference between religiosity and spirituality is huge, and that is meant non-judgmentally. I believe that most people can find contentment in safe, formal setting, with a trusted intermediary (consistency is actually more important than justice, e.g.); others need more than a customary liturgy; thankfully we no longer burn them.

    15. .

      Once again, you ignore the simple questions and instead use my 'tone' as an excuse for not answering.

      Your sensitivities are hurt. Boo Hoo.

      The fact is you won't answer the question even though you must be aware of the answer because you are uncomfortable giving it in this setting.

      However, thanks for providing the non-sequitur on religiosity here rather than on the post were the subject was being discussed. Nice segue, though a bit forced.


    16. Grow up.

      Since it was given as an afterthought, it could not be a non-sequitur, quite apart from motive, genuine interest.

      I did not sign onto this site to spend hours arguing with a guy whose knowledge of all things Jewish is only marginally superior to that of "the name that shall be spoken."

      If you do not know the benefits that would accrue to the Jewish people by having the Muslims recognize unconditionally a Jewish homeland, I cannot help you.

      Frankly, I'm bored stiff with the nonsense.

    17. It is a good question Allen and I would be curious as to your answer. Why is it important for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as opposed to simply a State?

    18. .

      Don't expect an answer, Ash.

      It's a simple formulation. You posit that the Palestinian's refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state and claim that proves they don't want a peace settlement. The sad thing is most people just accept that lame argument. It was the same formulation used by WiO yesterday in positing that anyone who does not approve of Zionism is an anti-Semitic.

      However, when you ask the simple question, "Why?", they have no answer.

      Or to be more accurate, they have an answer but not one they wish to share.


    19. Quirk, get over yourself...

      The answer is SIMPLE...

      If the palestinians had to admit that the Jews have a RIGHT to a NATIONAL homeland (called Israel) smack dab in the middle of the middle east they will have to view their FAILURE in 1948 as their failure not the Nabka that they wish to be the perpetual victims of...

      It's simple. If Israel is the JEWISH state, then Jews BELONG there, the conflict is over, they have NO case... Period.

      They will have to admit defeat.

      Jeez get over yourself.

    20. .

      Don't be silly, WiO.

      The Palestinians have already agreed to the sovereignty of the State of Israel. Were the Palestinian's to recognize Israel as a Jewish state it would do absolutely nothing to increase Israeli security.

      So the question remains, why does Israel demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State. I mean Israel has declared itself a Jewish State. It has the power to maintain itself as a Jewish State. There are no security issues involved. The Palestinians have no power to change anything.
      So why?

      The reason, at least to me, is obvious.

      Israel is not about to agree to a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Only a fool would think otherwise. This will leave them with a long term problem, what to do with the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank. At some point the problem will need to be addressed.

      IMO, in the long term, Israel will be faced with the key issue, it can either be a Jewish state or it can be a democracy, not both. The current Israeli government and demographic trends seem to indicate it will be a Jewish state.

      IMO, Israel is pushing for recognition as a Jewish state because it is looking for legitimacy now and justification for any actions it must take in the future.


    21. You are clueless..

      "The Palestinians have already agreed to the sovereignty of the State of Israel. "


      "Were the Palestinian's to recognize Israel as a Jewish state it would do absolutely nothing to increase Israeli security."

      Has NOTHING to do sith Israeli security, it has everything to do with Arab PRIDE...

      You are CLUELESS as to the mind of the arabs.

      :IMO, in the long term, Israel will be faced with the key issue, it can either be a Jewish state or it can be a democracy, not both. The current Israeli government and demographic trends seem to indicate it will be a Jewish state.


      Palestinian population rates are vastly overblown.

      Within the state of Israel? Jews are and will be the overwhelming majority. No demographic change happening.

      Again, you bring your POV to the game and you are clueless.

    22. Israel can remain a Jewish state for as long as it wishes to defend itself.

      The issue here is the arab MIND.

      To admit that Israel is a Jewish State? Admits that Islam is NOT superior. Israel as the Jewish state is the return of the king, pardon the Lord of the Rings statement.

      The Jews, are the Kings. The prophets, G-d favorite.

      Israel is the reminder of Ishmael's falling...

      To proclaim The Jewish State is reborn in Zion?


      It's a FUCKtard day for the seed of Ishmael.

      Face it Quirk, you don't have a clue..

    23. Think of it... Israel is 1/900th of the middle east.

      the arabs control 899/900th

      Why the bother over 1/900th? Why did the arabs drive 850 thousand Jews into Israel and out of the 899/900th?

      Answer that...

      Think of it... 1/900th... A SLIVER of a sliver...

      and yet the Arabs cannot bring themselves to proclaim, our cousins, the Jews have liberated their historic homeland....

      If they proclaim a Jewish state?

      The arabs have declared surrender...

    24. .

      Again, you bring your POV to the game and you are clueless.

      You will not be surprised that I think you are wrong and that it is you who bring your POV to the game and that you are clueless.

      You are CLUELESS as to the mind of the arabs.

      Nonsense, you show your ignorance of the Arabs with your crazy ideas, like the one about destroying the black rock in Mecca for instance. The black rock is venerated as an artifact. It is a place marker. The place it marks is surrounded by the kaaba and the kaaba has been rebuilt a number of times. It's the place that is important. Somewhere around the 10th Century the black rock was stolen. The Sunnis in Mecca didn't fold up their tents. There are different rocks used by the Muslims as markers on holy places around the ME. It is not the rocks that are important but the places.

      Palestinian population rates are vastly overblown.

      You misinterpreted my references to demographics. I was not talking about the Palestinians but about the growing population and influence of the settlers and the ultra-conservatives in Israel which together with the views of the current government pretty much guarantee the continuation of the current process of settlements and land acquisition by Israel at least for the forseeable future.

      Israel can remain a Jewish state for as long as it wishes to defend itself.

      You take my words, basically agree with me, yet hand them back to me as if they are an argument.

      As to you arguments about a 'historical homeland' you already know my thoughts on that.

      You also fail to see the confusion contained within your last two posts. You talk about crushing the Palestinians as if it means anything. There are a few million Palestinians. They are crushed, surrounded by armed enemies, allowed only a police force, powerless, ruled by the PA which was installed by Israel at the start of the Oslo process as their recognized representative, a PA that is a corrupt, that has been sticking it to the Palestinians since day one, siphoning off aid dollars to private accounts in Israel and Switzerland.

      These are the people you want to want to crush. Why in the world would they agree that Israel was a Jewish state when they can see the writing on the wall.

      More importantly they are only a few million. You talk about the other 899/900th of Arab lands but you ignore them in your equations. Do you think they will agree to Israel being a Jewish state.

      No, I agree Israel will likely remain a Jewish state. If you read my post closely, you would see that. I also believe, for reasons I have outlined previously, that Israel will eventually absorb the West Bank into Greater Israel. However, before that happens, Israel will have to deal with the millions of Palestinians. At that point, to stay a Jewish State, Israel will have to take actions that will result in it no longer being a democracy.

      Merely my opinion of course.


  9. MSM loves the Christie story. It takes the spot light off the Gates book. Watch how they are losing their collective minds over it. Thank you.

    1. At least he apologized and fired someone over it. NSA, IRS, Bengazi. No apologies, no firings, except Generals.

    2. MSNBC now has their narrative for the next three years. They will be the Bridgegate Network.

    3. The MSM will be some Democrat's Bridge Over Troubled Water (they hope).

      Bridge Over Troubled Water

    4. MOME - Out this way crop dusters use both single wing and double wings. I knew a guy who used to crop dust here, and down in California both. Down there, once he lost his load right as he was going under a massive electrical power cables affair from a dam, and immediately rose up into the wires. Was very proud of the picture of his ruined plane. How he lived is hard to imagine but those planes have really well built pilot cages.

    5. He was at Visalia, California when this happened, where ever that is.

      SuperKat was the company name.

    6. Ideehoe Potatoehead guy don't know crap about Visalia.


      Best damn Restaurant in the state.

      History kinda garbled, but the one in Visalia is where we went.

      (Think it had a more tasteful paint job, and didn't have the Taco Bell Details)

      Says it was the Vukovich home.

      Bill Vukovich was born in Fresno, and won Indy in 53 and 54, then died there in 55 while holding a 17 second lead on the 57th lap.

      Vukie was a Serb, his sponsor, JC Agajanian.

      Back when Serbs and Armenians could still get along

      Then at Bakersfield:

      "1990 - Bill Vukovich III, grandson of a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and himself the only third-generation Indy 500 driver, was killed Sunday ..."

      Now you know.
      ...more than you ever wanted.

      Cars and tracks are much safer now.

  10. "Now that Christie is beginning to deny knowing anything, he is beginning to sound even more Presidential."

    Jay Leno

    1. Sounds like God's Country, to some Republicans.

    2. Really Miss T that does go too far!

      Sounds more like some medical policy in some Arab country to me.

      "Allah's Gynecological. Clitoral and Trusty Daughter Clinic"

    3. It is fortunate, then, that they did not pick the name Retro Rectal...a daily colonoscopy!!!

  11. Brain death: 4 tests determine if there is no coming back
    Jan 10, 2014

    There is a fifth element: whether the patient's body can be kept alive long enough to cast a vote for Democrats in the next election.

    1. Democratic absentee voter left behind.

  12. One of the beautiful names of God is that He is the Peace. It means more than that: submission to the One God, and to live in peace with the Creator, within one's self, with other people and with the environment. Thus, Islam is a total system of living. A Muslim is supposed to live in peace and harmony with all these segments...

    Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah has once again called for the destruction of all Churches on the Arabian Peninsula.

    1. Well now, Teresita, I am sure he means it in the best possible way. It is a well-known fact that Christians do not thrive in that climate. If shown the door, and with a slight nudge, they will go back home.

  13. AUSTIN, Texas (CBS Houston/AP) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has told a conservative conference that President Barack Obama is lawless, providing the right wing rhetoric that makes him so popular in his home state.

    The conservative Republican laid out his reasoning for why he thinks the president is “dangerous and terrifying.”

    According to the Statesman, Cruz also slammed the POTUS for what he referred to as a pattern of “lawlessness on a breathtaking scale.”

    “We are a nation of laws and not men,” Cruz was additionally quoted as saying by the website. “If we had a system where a president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim … that is seriously dangerous.”

    The public policy conference at which he spoke was sponsored by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Minutes before his address, the organization posted a photograph of Cruz on their official Facebook page.

    His address comes just one day after he released a statement on his official website that took aim at Obama’s “promise zone.”

    “It’s altogether fitting that President Obama is … talking about income inequality because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, rather than stop Washington’s job-killing policies, President Obama proposes yet more government spending and debt.”

    It concludes, “All of America needs to be a real ‘Promise Zone’ – with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs – and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS, and rolling back abusive regulations.”

    Cruz has garnered national attention by frequently condemning the Obama administration and the federal health care overhaul. In addition to calling for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he said he would replace it with a conservative alternative that would expand health care coverage.

  14. Rabbinical court legal adviser asks High Court to reject petition of mother opposed to having her son circumcised.

    Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose, says me and my Bobby McGee

    1. The child has not been circumcised and the Court has not ruled. This case might come back to bite the Rabbinate; they do not always win, you know.

    2. .

      I heard the Rabbinate is fining the mother $140 a day for not having the boy circumcised. I also heard the boy is offering his mother $150 a day to stand her ground.


  15. .

    Tunisia’s Islamist prime minister resigned today and ceded power to a caretaker government. He was not overthrown by guerrillas or by the army, but by peaceful and legal means familiar to citizens raised in democracies.

    Tunisia is still the model for post-revolutionary politics in the Arab world. I expected as much at the outset and explained why three years ago. Morocco is the only Arab country in the entire world as politically mature. Egypt is an emergency room case, Libya could turn into a failed state if it’s not careful, and Syria is suffering near-apocalypse. Iraq is…well, it’s Iraq.

    And truthfully, that headline of mine is a little exaggerated. The Islamists never actually ruled in Tunisia. They were simply the largest party in a governing coalition, and they were resisted at every step by millions of liberals, secularists, and socialists who also had a voice and a vote.


  16. .

    Where Life Has Meaning: Poor, Religious Countries

    Research indicates that lack of religion is a key reason why people in wealthy countries don't feel a sense of purpose.

    ...This looks at first like another tally in the “money can’t buy happiness” column (though in a lot of ways, it can). But the data also showed that richer countries were less religious than poorer countries. The researchers found that this factor of religiosity mediated the relationship between a country’s wealth and the perceived meaning in its citizen’s lives, meaning that it was the presence of religion that largely accounted for the gap between money and meaning. They analyzed other factors—education, fertility rates, individualism, and social support (having relatives and friends to count on in troubled times)—to see if they could explain the findings, but in the end it came down to religion.

    "Creating the meaning of your own life sounds very nice as an ideal, but in reality it may be impossible."

    Even among countries with similar GDPs, the more religious ones reported higher levels of life meaning. For example, the U.S. and Ireland, relatively religious, wealthy nations, reported higher meaning than Japan and France, which were similarly wealthy, but less religious.

    Taking the U.S. as an example, another Gallup poll from May 2013 found that 77 percent of Americans thought religion was losing influence in the U.S., but 75 percent thought the country would be better off if more Americans were religious. Precisely in what way, it didn’t say. But based on the global study, it appears there’s something to be said for being given answers to the big questions, whether they are true perhaps less important than just having them, sparing yourself the agony of looking...

    An interesting study on a number of levels. While I suspect the first reaction of some here will be to instinctively fall back into the religion vs no-religion argument, the issue raised is more nuanced than that. It separates the issue of being satisfied with your life from the issue of having purpose and meaning in your life and raises the issue of which is more important to personal happiness and optimism.

    It raises the importance of value systems. It also raises the issue of not which is the 'correct' view of religiosity but rather which is the 'best' view of it, a much more subjective matter.

    For those that argue that religion inhibits a persons ability to live in the moment and enjoy the many wonders of life, the study raises a question. If you seek purpose in life and studies show most people do, if you seek meaning and personal fulfillment, can you just assume that religiosity does not contribute to that. The differences become even more stark in societies where the means of attaining 'satisfaction' are limited by poverty and a lack of resources. Yet, it is in some of these very places that meaning and purpose are judged highest.

    I suspect, after a while, even good company a bottle of Remy Martin and watching the sunset down in Key West becomes 'insufficient'.


    1. When living the rich white man's life on the outskirts of Detroit, one concludes, finally, "Life Sucks".

      Most Mexicans are much happier......

      "Bless are the poor, for they shall see God."

      (they don't suffer the distractions of money and the fast life)


    2. It also raises the issue of not which is the 'correct' view of religiosity but rather which is the 'best' view of it, a much more subjective matter.

      I think the sense of belonging to something bigger than just one's self, family or tribe is at work in a move to religion.
      Loneliness and despair can be a great motivator for the creative part of man to fill in some void.

    3. Yeah, like trying to achieve World Class Levels of loneliness and despair.

    4. Mexicans are too dumb to know better.

      ..."most Mexicans"

      I betcha they're some of his best friends.

    5. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’”.
      ___V. Frankl

    6. Here's a little TLC.

      Oh, I am familiar with the studies on meaning and happiness...good caveat: the difference between religiosity and spirituality is huge, and that is meant non-judgmentally. I believe that most people can find contentment in safe, formal setting, with a trusted intermediary (consistency is actually more important than justice, e.g.); others need more than a customary liturgy; thankfully we no longer burn them.

      Do note: Above I used a timely quote from one of the world's authorities on the subject of happiness, mean, religiosity, and spirituality. He was one of the founders of modern psychotherapy and the author of a score of books on the subjects, as well as the holder of numerous PhD. (none form Detroit, I am sorry to report). With all these accolades he still remained a kind, humble man.

      Somewhere along the line you were given to believe that your stuff doesn’t stink; you were misinformed.

  17. Newest issue of The Journal of Near Death Studies has just arrived.

    Perusing, I see an article concerning a case of veridical perceptions during an NDE.

    Also, a video by one of the doc's involved.

    All things in their due time, the Casino is calling, but I will post on this most interesting subject later tonight, including a link to the video.

    "There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio."

    the bard

    1. .

      Q achieves meaning by setting himself apart from and above others.



    2. .

      With two dots.

      Pure Genius


    3. .

      Q achieves meaning by setting himself apart from and above others.

      Not still pouting about the condescension are we, Dougo?


    4. It's Q's exclusion zone. He's an apartheid blogger.

      Them dots act like the gargoyles and monsters and flaming swords guarding the Sacred Place.

      In this case only the impure may pass through......

      Only Q and his many girl friends are allowed to enter therein.

    5. .

      My. My. My. You boys be getting uppity again.

      Doug has accused me of being condescending. It is a charge that has been raised by others. However, I find it somewhat ironic coming from the people that raise it.

      Perhaps, you do not like my tone, the coarseness I sprinkle through my posts. But, that can’t be the case as that would make you hypocrites. Most here have used the same or worse language. In fact, I would accuse most of Doug’s crew of going beyond vulgar to ungentlemanly what with the verbal abuse you heap on the distaff side of this blog. This is especially egregious in the case of a certain faux farmer who constantly purports to be some kind of champion of women’s rights yet shows his true nature every other stream.

      Perhaps, it is my use of ad hominems you find objectionable. This would be understandable were it not for the brick bats you toss around here on a consistent basis. Likewise, I notice you are selective in your condemnation. Which is worse, being called a moron or being called a racist. Being called a nitwit or being called an anti-semite. Or perhaps, you simply think it a step up in respectability to imply a person or a country are guilty of that which is unmentionable as long as it is said in a ‘nice’ way and no cussing is used. I would be interested in how you prioritize your umbrage.

      If in fact you base your charges of condescension on any of the above, naturally I consider them merely farts in the wind.

      Admittedly, at times the tone of the arguments can be dismissive. They grow even more dismissive when instead of facts I am presented with emotional tirades or implied ‘facts’ that are easily rebutted through a simple google search. In some cases, an issue can be argued in more ways than one way and people can honestly disagree. In others, there are facts and then there are rationalizations and excuses based on moral relativism. I don’t accept either of the latter two. Now, people don’t have to accept that I don’t accept either but that means very little to me. Perhaps, that is why I am accused of condescension.

      But wait, it can’t be the facts I present that upset you because on more than one occasion I have offered you a chance to dispute them and you have refused. Doug for instance, who since he raised the issue of condescension, has refused to dispute one issue. Allen, who just today, refused to answer a simple question using my tone as an excuse. WiO, the same yesterday though he refused to even give a reason. Bob, well what can one say about Bob, who in a debate over Zionism out of the blue accuses me of misogyny. You boys are amazing.

      Condescension? I guess I can live with that. Hypocrisy? Not so much.


    6. Extremely well said !!

      I have always maintained you can talk a jury like no one else on earth, especially if there are some skirts on it.

      But, when did I ever claim not be a hypocrite ?

      I will not make an issue of this but you must examine your thoughts more closely before posting.

    7. Quirk,

      At some point you will tire of talking to yourself. I am not going to play the game.

      If you want to have a conversation or date with me, you are going to have to work on your introduction and follow through. I don't know you from Adam and have no burning desire to make your acquaintance. I don't know who you think you are but you are nothing to me. So...

      Buzz off and find someone else to mess with.

  18. Under Capitalism, the Rich become Powerful.

    Under Socialism, The Powerful become rich.

  19. The Front Bench
    •Desert Rat
    •Farmer Bob (Bob of Old) * subject to change

    Does that mean I can have the Back Bench all to myself?

    1. Post more than once a month and I'm sure management will sit up and take notice. You'll get nothing but splinters, nay thorns, for your trouble though.

    2. Believe me Dougman, you don't wanna be on this front bench....

      I got lodged in between Doug and Quirk......Doug is great but to sit next to Quirk endlessly is very very trying......

      All I ever hear is "Life Sucks"....."They're all dicks"......"They're all the same bunch of M. F'ers."

      It's tough I tell you.

    3. And he's always looking down his nose at me.

  20. Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin for folks who don't know) just turned 70.

    I was in diapers when he was sawing a Les Paul with a violin bow and the kids were "Dazed and Confused."

    1. I think Led Zeppelin jumped the shark when they played in Seattle and stayed at the Edgewater.

    2. They stayed at the Edgewater?

      That dump?

      I'd rather stay at Motel 6.

      Maybe it's improved though.

      Isn't that down there by, what's the name?, Oscar's Sardines, or something? The clam chowder place....

  21. Climate change experts have been trying for years to explain why the sea ice in Antarctica is expanding. Now scientists claim to have found the answer – global warming...

  22. The republicans moan, and bitch.

    Their Rich are too Poor,

    and the Poor are Too Rich.

    1. .


      Good to see you re-upped Rufus.


    2. Deuce wasn't shitting when he said he didn't care about the politics of his sign-ups.

    3. "Deuce wasn't shitting when he said he didn't care about the politics of his sign-ups."



      Guess I can say 'heh' again.

  23. Beijing: Renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou has been slapped with a whopping $1.23 million fine for violating the country's controversial one-child policy by having three children.

  24. By Benjamin Stix

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study of adults who experienced psychosis for the first time, having smoked marijuana daily was linked to an earlier age of onset of the disorder, according to UK researchers.

    "This is not a study about the association between cannabis and psychosis, but about the association between specific patterns of cannabis use . . . and an earlier onset of psychotic disorders," Dr. Marta Di Forti, who led the research at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, said in an email.

    Among more than 400 people in South London admitted to hospitals with a diagnosed psychotic episode, the study team found the heaviest smokers of high-potency cannabis averaged about six years younger than patients who had not been smoking pot.

    Psychosis is a general term for a loss of reality, and is associated with several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

    Some previous research has suggested that using cannabis might trigger psychosis in some people, especially those who may be vulnerable because of a family history of related mental illnesses or specific gene mutations.

    But the evidence has been unclear. For example, one recent study from the Netherlands found it's equally possible that people prone to psychosis may be more likely to smoke pot, possibly as a way of "self-medicating" (see Reuters Health article of December 25, 2012, here:

    In the new study, published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin, the researchers focused on patterns of cannabis use, gender and the relationship of those factors to the timing of a first psychotic episode.

    Age is significant, Di Forti's team notes in their report, because the teenage years and early twenties are a critical time for professional and educational development, so experiencing an acute psychotic episode for the first time early on may negatively affect the "likelihood of achieving optimum level of function."

    The researchers surveyed 410 patients between the ages of 18 and 65, two thirds of them male, all of whom had a psychotic episode and were admitted to in-patient psychiatric units.

    The surveys asked about history of using tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drugs. They also recorded the potency of cannabis used, characterizing low potency as "hash-type" and high potency as "skunk-type."

    In a previous study based on police seizures of marijuana in South East London, skunk-type cannabis was found to contain 16 percent THC, the active compound in cannabis, compared to 4 percent in the hash-type.

    1. The researchers found that males were more likely overall to use cannabis and also had a younger age of onset of psychosis. The mean age at the time of the first psychotic episode for male users of cannabis was 26, and for female users was nearly 29. That compared with nearly 30 years old for male non-users and 32 for female non-users.

      They also found the patients who started using cannabis at age 15 or younger preferentially smoked high-potency cannabis more often and had an earlier onset of psychosis than those who started using cannabis after age 15.

      The earliest onset was seen among those who used high-potency cannabis daily - on average their first psychosis was 6 years earlier than for non-users.

      "This study adds to the literature on earlier age of onset for those with significant exposure to cannabis," said Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who was not involved in the study.

      Compton cautioned that this study specifically focused on patterns of cannabis use among people who all developed psychosis, but did not compare them to users who did not experience psychosis.

      "The thorny question is whether they might otherwise have developed the disease or would have not had mental illness. It's a distinction we haven't figured out yet," Compton said.

      Di Forti emphasized that it is important to counsel educators and parents about the risks of cannabis use in teenagers.

      "I would try and understand why people use cannabis, what do they get from it first and then engage them explaining how using daily, choosing high potency type can cause harm to their brain and increase risk of psychosis," she said.

      It is still unclear whether there are safe levels of use for cannabis, she added. "We know for instance that alcohol can be highly toxic or damaging in the long term to health but that sensible use of it causes no harm. We do not yet know enough about safe use of cannabis and more research is needed," she said.

      In counseling teenagers on cannabis use, Compton said, "Parents face the challenge of keeping their children safe in many spheres. Parents must establish a nurturing environment, appropriate supervision and being aware of who their children associate with."

      In light of recent changes in marijuana laws in Washington state and Colorado, Compton said he thinks more research will be done on the effects of marijuana on mental illness to understand the risks associated with use.

      "Even if marijuana is legal for adults, and if cannabinoids have some legitimate medical purpose, that doesn't mean that they are safe for all individuals," he said.

      SOURCE: Schizophrenia Bulletin, online December 17, 2013.

  25. The article is too long to quote but here's a video the doc made and put on You Tube -

    We recall The Republic by Plato - a vision of a political hell, for the most part - redeemed by the story of the soldier Er at the end, whose body did not decay with the others on the funeral pyre. Just before the inferno, he awoke, and told his tale.......

    The doc's patient here had been without any heart beat or brain waves at all for over twenty minutes, when he 'awoke' and told his tale.....

    Er's vision was quite a vision, and Plato says concerning it......."I do not say a man of good sense would say this is exactly true, only that a man of good sense would say that something nearly resembling it is true."

    Since there is much in the vision of Er that leaves :), should conclude it is not a wish fulfillment vision.

  26. Great News !!

    The ObamaEconomy just keeps getting better and better.

    The "unemployment rate" has fallen from 7% to 6.7% because hundreds of thousands of folks gave up looking for work last month.

    When everyone has given up looking for work, the unemployment rate will be Zero, and the nation will have no idle hands, and the devil's workshop will be empty.

  27. If nothing else, Mr. Kerry has been irritatingly persistent. One would not be off the mark in observing that both the Palestinians and Israelis have grown weary of his impromptu visits. Both sides agree on one thing: Mr. Kerry is getting nowhere despite having substantially reduced his goals for a peace agreement. He has gone from pushing a formal agreement to carrying around a single sheet of paper containing the conditions for continuing talks. No one other than Mr. Kerry and his staff have actually read the document and copies have not been made available.

    In thinking about all this wheel spinning and frequently frequent-flier miles, it occurred to me that Mr. Kerry may have an agenda other than a lasting peace treaty between the Muslims and Israel. Does Mr. Kerry still have the presidential itch? If he can come away with nothing more than an autographed menu from Irving's Real China Kosher Buffet and Bris Boutique, he will have accomplished more than, say, Mrs. Clinton.

    It's just a random thought.

    1. Are you certain Kerry has actually read his own document?

      He certainly didn't write it himself.

      And an entire page is a lot of reading for some of these old guys.

  28. Our Congressmen are millionaires?

    Everyone in Norway is a Millionaire, thanks to their Sovereign Wealth Fund.

    That socialism is a bitch.

    1. In Kroners, that is. About $160,000.00 per person.

      A family of four about $640,000.00

    2. From the "dumbest fuckers in the world" file:

      McCrory and his Republican colleagues in the state House and Senate made the decision to refuse Medicaid expansion early in the 2013 legislative session despite compelling reasons for expansion, most importantly the opportunity to provide health care coverage for 500,000 low-income adults who are currently uninsured.

      The federal government would have paid the full cost of the expansion for the first three years and more than 90 percent of the tab after that. Medicaid expansion would have brought in $13 billion dollars for hospitals over the next ten years and created as many as 25,000 jobs in the state, according to a study by the N.C. Institute of Medicine.

      But legislative leaders had already made up their minds before considering any of the facts. Their decision was motivated by ideology not policy disagreements. They dislike President Obama more than they want to help people who are uninsured be able to see a doctor.

      McCrory at first seem . . .

      Stupidity beyond belief

    3. For eighty years the republicans have had one good schtick - bitch incessantly about the "welfare state," and then greedily accept all the welfare money the blue states would send them.

      Now, their mental faculties have atrophied to the point that they can't even get that right. incredible.

    4. Now, "they" are sending money to the blue states to support "their" healthcare.

      You just can't get any dumber than that.

  29. When dad came back from Italy in the 1960's he said ALL the Italians were MULTI-MILLIONAIRES !!!

    A cup of coffee was 500 lira, a bottle of good wine, 20,000 lira, and old car 600,000 lira.......

    And yet still he said you'd see once in a while somebody asleep in an alley, down on their luck.....

    A lira saved is a lira earned......