melquiades's picture


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@TeeWee: It's more than incompetent; there is lots of bias. And I am not starting some race/culture tirade here, I am talking about the fact that the police and courts and constantly dealing with ambiguous evidence and, quite often, unsavory defendants (this guy had been in prison just before these murders). Consequently, they (the various elements of the government's side in a criminal case) experience lots of frustration because they personally know that lots of low-lifes get away scot free. But an unfortunate side effect is that they sometimes respond by railroading people in by manipulating what they pressuring witnesses that have their own neck on some line to say what will win the case as happened here.

Back in my paramedic days, I had LEO friends who told me that they carried a throw down weapon: if something crazy goes down, and you end up with an unarmed suspect shot, you thorw this thing down and swear they pointed it at you. In that case, they aren't exactly intending to do harm, just protect themselves from a real risk in a complex job

posted @ Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 11:26

The 'everybody does it' defense eh? It won't work in court, and will work against them when facing the common fate of rapists in prison

posted @ Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 09:01

@Kwijibo Junior: maybe...but the track confusion story seems plausible to me too. Back in my UGA student days, I had a near death experience from a similar bad assumption. I was leaving a job interview, walking uphill past the Physics building, glanced down Cedar St and started to cross because my mind was that the oncoming UGA E-W bus turned right onto Sanford. At the very last second, the speed of the bus and my collection that it was a different route that turned there just bareley kept me out of harm's way

posted @ Monday, January 19, 2015 - 10:47

I seem to be marching in the opposite direction from everyone else on this one. While I agree wholeheartedly that violence in response to an action deemed offensive to someone is never justified and deserves condemnation, I think there is another side lost in near unanimity. It may be legally and morally valid to exercise our freedom ('our' in this case meaning citizens of modern democracies) to deliberately offend, but that's not the same as saying it's a worthy thing to do.

I had contemplated drawing a cartoon myself, with Jesus kneeling in front of a muslim-looking man, his face buried in the crotch, and with thee words 'Je suis Charlie'. Doing so would have offended gazillions of Christians, some of whom are lately full-force in defending freedom of expression. But my point is: doing so might have been legal and one could make all the same arguments about it being moral,,,but it still would have been sort of azzholish and unlikely to achieve anything good.

I have become very sensitized to a phenomenon that, while not a moral imperative, is still invaluable to real progress: when we choose to communicate in a way that only raises a hurrah among people who already agree with us and drives away the people on the other side, we are just wasting time. On the other hand, if we can speak or write or draw in a way that gives pause to our intellectual 'opponents', can make them relax at least a little their entrenched positions THEN we have done some valuable. So, while I agree that Charlie Hebdo did nothing exactly wrong, I cannot help but observe that their practical achievement was pretty much limited to a massive sell-out of their next edition and getting themselves shot by extremists...hard to get behind that for me.

posted @ Monday, January 19, 2015 - 09:11

@swimdawg68: I did no such thing. You asked why I like these increases; my answer is because I am not motivated by greed-->paying more for a result I like better is simply saying that my interest in the money (mine in this case) is lower than my interest in other, more personal values...and a reasonable definition of greed is valuing money more than other, more personal values. Didn't say anything about you.

Maybe you are reacting to my saying 'you set yourself up': all's I meant was, I didn't jump on the grandstand just for fun and claim not be be greedy; you asked a value question that gave me an opening to describe (or at least claim) my primary motivation in the topic....

As for you other comments: great, be proud. I don't think those basics are being taught (formally) much either, although as a fairly involved parent of 4 kids that went through our local school systems, I can tell you that the individuals I know/met who do those public education jobs are trying a lot harder in those regards than many people give them credit for.

More on topic though: you haven't addressed my specific questions: you think the stock market player should pay less than the worker for the same income? You think that the fact one earned dollar earned and invested means the investment profit shouldn't be taxable?....sounded to me like you believe the answers are yes and yes. If so, say so and be proud of that too. I happen to disagree, on both moral and practical bases

posted @ Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 15:53

@swimdawg68: well swim: you kinda set yourself up:

[quote][b]swimdawg68[/b] - How can you like these increases as you stated if you are in the financial position you state? [/quote]

Because I am not primarily motivated by greed. I would way rather live in a community where the less fortunate (less capable, that sometimes means) don't do too badly, we can look each other in the eye and accept that one of us may be ahead by one measure, we are all in a game with reasonable rules. Having heaps of gold in my actively guarded fortress seems a lot less free to me.

And actually, I agree with you that our society is pretty whacked out, and accountability and responsibility are diminished as forces pushing people towards the good. But here's a question:

Do you (I am talking tangible/material here, not some spiritual/emotional angle) live better than your grandparents did? I have no idea, maybe your grandpa was Cornelius Vanderbilt, but for me and I think most of us in the upper half, the answer is not even close: yeah, WAY better. We fly around the world, have 60 inch TVs even when we vacation, whip out a card to pay for sterilized bandages whenever we get a booboo, filter the dust from our AC....WAY better.

So, if you live WAY better than your grandparents, then what's your beef? You think they oughta just eliminate all those people that used to chop, and sweep, and shovel, but have much of their opportunity to work eliminated by labor saving devices, so that we could have the same global economy, wear textiles grown in Egypt, sewn in Ecuador and shipped to you for a few minutes worth of YOUR work value, but DON'T have to think about whether those folks that maybe used to rake your grandparents yard are now malicious leeches screwing you out of what you could have because of a government program: I can't really see where you are getting screwed, except in how you interpret it all

posted @ Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 14:22

@swimdawg68: wrong, dude. I suppose you mean to be pejorative by guessing what I make (in fact, I work for a big corporation, have investments both from special offers with my own company as well as various 401Ks, handle all my mom's issues (she's 87, solid investment platform, daily expenses from SS), and make a good chunk over 100K in salary)...but who cares? Today's economy isn't capitalism, it's hypercapitalism: labor has become completely marginalized by transportation and communications, which wrap around automation and pushed production processes from south Georgia to China to Malaysia as corporations with enough money in hand can simply throw away the facilities they used to operate and get a higher rate of return using resources somewhere in the world where people are hungrier. Most of those small businesses that used to work just fine in this town are gone, and not because of 'government regulation': it's because they couldn't compete with WalMart, Lowe's, McDonald's, and Hilton.

[quote][b]swimdawg68[/b] - Don't forget, those people paying capital gains tax are the ones that have put their money at risk.[/quote]

So, you are saying that a guy who makes an extra $10K by doing an extra pool installation over some weekends should pay twice as much in taxes on it as a guy who made $10K by picking stock A over stock B and selling at the right time? Doesn't even matter whether you subscribe to the theory that those choices prove who's smart (which doesn't really have much evidence to support it; Warren Buffet believes (as I do) that stock trading is just a poker game and real investment is buying in, long-term, to companies that are going to prove out).

[quote][b]swimdawg68[/b] - Also, this is money that has already been taxed once when it was earned income. [/quote]

Yeah, when the pool guy make the $10K and pays taxes on it, that's money that the pool owner already made and paid taxes on. What's your point?

[quote][b]swimdawg68[/b] - "Pushing money from workers to wealthy", that sound like a socialist statement. Quite frankly, I'm not surprised.[/quote]

When the middle class was stronger (and in other countries, 'where the middle class is stronger'), money flows around more freely and the economy as a whole benefits. When wealth is distributed more narrowly, it doesn't flow around as well: there's only so many weekend trips to NY, caviar fetes, and crystal chandeliers that one wealthy person can do, When the pool guy gets flush, he adds a sun room (and the sunroom guy upgrades his washing machine).

And quite frankly, I doubt you are surprised very often: when you only see what you want to see, the view must get boring

posted @ Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 13:14

@swimdawg68: I like every one of those increases and think that the capital gains tax was one of the biggest shams pushing money from workers to the wealthy (a process that undeniably has significantly altered our economy and society, and not in what I see as positive ways)

posted @ Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 11:34

@snarkydude: So, first off: you put on the uniform before Pitts or Benson, and I'll note that you were quicker to back up your mouth than them...

Second: I have lived in Athens since 1959, worked in EMS here for many years, and been to each of the local courts as juror, witness, and interested bystander. I can tell you that I have witnessed extraordinary acts of selflessness, active attempts to root out the bigotry that was once standard here (and in my lifetime), and also have seen racism in every part of the system, mostly in the form of a double standard. Take the torrent of Fox newsian culture's emphasis on the facts that Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were not paragons of virtue. But neither was Paul Broun's son, or the student that we read about a few weeks ago that was screaming how he was going to murder the cops that arrested him, or the principal's son that drove away and was hidden for days by his friends and family, before finally getting sent to prison for 20 years, 10 to serve. So is there some reason in your mind why the unarmed black guys being blown away and the white guys being bailed out is just a detail of how each was acting? You were there? You talked to all the people involved? Or do you just believe that Fox News presented evidence enough to justify that there is no pattern, that the immense discrepancy in the number of people beat up, arrested, shot, and incarcerated by our common legal system is all because there's more bad black folks than white folks?

posted @ Monday, January 12, 2015 - 13:52

The problems with the Tea Party, for me, are two things:

1. They have a penchant for symbolic or unrealistic actions. Take for example the US military, obviously incredibly far from what the founding fathers intended (they also ignore obvious truths that they don't spittle about, lake that one). I think it's insane, is doing more to threaten our freedoms than protect them, and uses PR to obfuscate that NOBODY has or uses weapons of mass destruction than we do....but when you have a tiger by the tail, you can't just let it go. Years of graduated reductions, absorbing the massive social and economic disruptions as comfortably as possible: these are the approaches that could get us to a better place. The Tea Party on the other hand, responds to our hefty and messy problem by voting to shutdown the government's funding, which achieved nothing but a fair number of moderate damages to hundreds of processes, many of them useful. They could use a big shot of perspective.
2. They (selectively) pretend like the tools built into the government of a vast, partly populated, nation of people hoeing their own land as a free man, and hitching their own horse to wagon their products to town as being an inviolable recipe for how to govern today's world, in which huge corporations, perhaps registered in Trinidad, control vast conglomerations of expensive machinery doing the work of 100s of thousands of workers and having budgets bigger than the economy of the 1789 US.Case in point: they scream about Obamacare as an intrusion of government into people's private business. Well, OK: let's go back to free enterprise: I WILL do your diabetes management for half the price, using drugs I mix up right in my own kitchen. How about it guys? Let's let anybody offer a health service or product, just leave it to the tort system to weed out the boo-boos. Our healthcare system is a monopoly of business franchises protected by oodles of laws. Know who decides how many can study for accreditation as an orthopedic surgeon? While it's their guild! So, Tea Party: you want government out of health care? Or just the parts some of your members and supporters are making sickening levels of profit from?

posted @ Monday, January 12, 2015 - 11:00

@Kwijibo Junior: I agree, up to the point where you said 'when you had the chance'. While the Republicans used their usual mix of bald lies to block real debate,the Democrats have no shortage of vested interests in their corner (meaning telling them what to do in exchange for campaign riches). Way too many are making ridiculous profits in the health care bonanza to let that get away.

As with most over heavy issues, this one will never get settled while our system of campaign finance (and entertainment/news companies that support most people just picking the truth they want to hear) gets replaced by a system where the voters get to choose based on the real, clear views of the candidates they are hiring to work in their interest, rather than mega-dollar pablum advertising

posted @ Friday, January 9, 2015 - 08:51

@jtsim: I am interested to understand more of what you mean. It didn't sound to me like this was another anti-police up-and-shoot-em, but rather a confrontation between the police and armed criminals in the middle of a felony. New York City has put together a number of legal processes to reduce the number of guns around; this incident shows that such regulations don't work perfectly, but only knuckleheads would expect them to. In a perfect world (heck, even a reasonable world) it should be fairly easy for people of any political bent to find simple unbiased factual information about stuff like this, but it's not as easy as it should be.

posted @ Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 10:46

@grove600: I agree that jail should not be cush, and actually think that the question of 'cruel or unusual' should be explored quite thoroughly; for example, I did a $25 psych experiment volunteer and learned the immersing your feet in ice water for 2 minutes is quite unpleasant. But I am not on board with you about the yoga thing: TV and all kind of perks are what the incarcerators have available to them to reward better behavior, Purely stick, no carrot, has never proven to be as successful a motivator as a combination. In fact, this premise is a major separator between the political persuasions: neither 'throw them all in jail and whoop azz' nor 'give whatever they want' are as promising, in my opinion, as working toward clear reward for productive responsibility and precise punishment judiciously meted out.

posted @ Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 10:28

@meandawg: Not going to bother fact checking your claims about the Russia/Palin story...because it isn't a needed part of an argument for why that woman is NOT presidential timber, and that McCain's choice to pluck her from obscurity was at the worst level of political shenanigans

posted @ Sunday, January 4, 2015 - 20:37

Among the many myths that dominate our political processes is that of small business: one hears an awful lot about helping the small business owner, but more and more of us right here in Athens Ga work for large public or commercial institutions that are managed by some sort of board, ultimately responsible to investors or other completely money-driven groups...not that the original small business owner didn't seek to maximize profit; rather, they have (or had) other rewards figuring into their evaluation, including pride, sense of purpose, belonging, or community.

So, a penalty of today's corporate-centric economy is that it matters hardly ever who you look straight in the eye and take ownership of yourself with: 'they' are responsible for most everything, you just get what you can

posted @ Sunday, January 4, 2015 - 17:29

Kids/puppies walk on dog/mama when they are little: not a news story

posted @ Sunday, January 4, 2015 - 09:44

Hmmm, Cal: managed to work in the baby boomer hippie ideology as factor, but I gotta ask: how does that relate to the fact that a huge proportion of what we pay for is made very cheaply in countries very far away, and the proportion of production, distribution, and sale of the products and services we consume are being executed by machines or computers is vastly higher than, say, the 50s...Certainly, even an imagination like Cal Thomas' can't ignore a factor like that in explaining how our country has changed.

posted @ Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - 10:12

This one mentions raw numbers for a few countries and US:

While this one generally discusses the history of police/community interaction, comparing US cities a bit:

So, still looking for that specific one...agree that facts here should be able to be referenced, but I haven't seen it yet with The Economist's search tool. I thought I had read that about in October, but haven't found the particular statement about the 61 times...

posted @ Friday, December 26, 2014 - 07:56

Of course, as long as guns and ammo are freely available, the police will have reasonable fear that any interaction can suddenly turn deadly. And as long as the US leads the industrialized world in the number of civilians killed by the police, the number of people incarcerated, and the economic patterns so identifiable by skin, clothes, and hairstyles, officers will continue to deal with people who think their best option is to shoot before they get shot...that part goes both ways.

posted @ Thursday, December 25, 2014 - 17:46

@Scott Dougan: Hey, dude: same side, I think. Since the other side can't even deal with facts'n'figures, I was trying to start with chastising their third grade interpretive abilities...but I agree with you, the things we do KNOW (ie, unless using willful deception, like many of the the conservatives here) are not good. And the things we don't know sound worse to people that pay attention (but there's always the inside straight with three of the missing cards already showing crowd, who do get adult privileges, like voting, regardless)

posted @ Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 17:37

When will the right offer an intelligent opinion on something? As I commented last week when Stossel posed a question about how do we know global warming is bad, I lauded his article: the drastic increase in this particular pollution is unmistakable, the calculations and models interpreting what it is and will sometimes under-, sometimes overemphasize the deleterious effects about equally, but there should be a real debate about what is the cost-benefit enhancing path forward. No one has suggested that we stop driving, eliminate plastics, go back to manually operated tools: incapacitating an industry that employs millions and is a major factor in our balance of trade, and suddenly stranding billions of people further than they normally walk each day are tremendous social and economic penalties. Likewise, increased CO2 benefits certain aspects of plant growth, and heating bills gobble up significant resources. But rather than having an intelligent discussion about which strategies best accommodate the realities involved, we have a bunch of ludicrous claims (invented by the powerful interests involved) put out by their clone-head Faux news agency, and enough careless thinkers to keep the situation murky.

Of course, this is only one example: a similar thing occurs with guns: a vested interest generates huge amounts of propaganda in a situation that does have some significant delicate considerations: yes, for sure, people can an do defend their homes effectively with responsibly used guns. Undoubtedly, sneak home invasions are pretty danged rare in Madison County. But the facts are stark: America is ridiculously dominant in the world of bad shootings, the police basically get lots of airtime where they shoot someone because they feel threatened. Can't get around that if they was a lot lower chance that they might be about to get shot, they could safely take a little more time to defuse some situations....but either way, the debate takes the same form: one side just churns out highly emotional blather, while at least some of the the others want to have an intelligent debate, with actual, independent facts.

posted @ Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 11:57

So typical of today's crappy journalism: ten paragraphs with lines about bells ringing, pithy quotes from (2 or 3 out of a million affected) real people, gathering around TV sets and pretty much nothing about what policy change has taken place. It's not just the politicians banking on our population being totally engrossed in fluff and demanding little factual substance

posted @ Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 08:39

@bobbidiboo: That's bull: the officer was on duty and specifically handling duty at an impassioned, but legal public demonstration, in clear violation of department rules: of course, he'll get suspended for the same reason that the DA office employee did back in the Trayvon situation: he was being paid, but not doing what he was being paid to do

posted @ Monday, December 15, 2014 - 06:35

Actually, I agree completely with this guy on this point: the debate should be about what balance should we aim at between the costs of human induced global warming vs the benefits of those human activities known to be inducers...pretty hard to have that debate when one side spends virtually all of its energy and propaganda money claiming that the science is all made up

posted @ Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 08:34

With all the politics around health care spending, sane discussions are hard to come by. But I for one believe that a major part of the health care problem is misguided love: please respond if you want YOURSELF to be maintained indefinitely on a bed that people have to turn you on every few hours, or with a feeding tube, or without the ability to speak or understand another human being. The rest of us can consider why it is that hardly anyone WANTS to be treated those ways, but millions of people ARE. The answer, in my view, is what I said: the decision makers, usually the close family members of the decrepit person,feel that letting someone who's become incapacitated just up and die is implying that they don't love them; they somehow feel that doing everything medically possible to keep the heart beating is a measure of their devotion. But frankly, that's stupid. People die: it's OK, it's what happens to everyone eventually. Real love, in my view, is accepting that when we've declined to the point of uselessness, we should just get outta the way and rapidly turn into a memory (and one not fogged up with grotesquery).

posted @ Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 07:46

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