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29 Members of Congress: Freedom for Paris, but Not for America

This month, the number of members of Congress supporting a constitutional amendment to ban the burning of American flags as an act of political protest rises to 29.  The following are sponsors or cosponsors of the bill, H.J. Res. 9:

Rep. Abraham, Ralph Lee [R-LA-5]
Rep. Amodei, Mark E. [R-NV-2]
Rep. Ashford, Brad [D-NE-2]
Rep. Babin, Brian [R-TX-36]
Rep. Bishop, Rob [R-UT-1]
Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7]
Rep. Boustany, Charles W., Jr. [R-LA-3]
Rep. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND-At Large]
Rep. DesJarlais, Scott [R-TN-4]
Rep. Fortenberry, Jeff [R-NE-1]
Rep. Huelskamp, Tim [R-KS-1]
Rep. Johnson, Bill [R-OH-6]
Rep. Jones, Walter B., Jr. [R-NC-3]
Rep. King, Steve [R-IA-4]
Rep. Kline, John [R-MN-2]
Rep. Latta, Robert E. [R-OH-5]
Rep. Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL-3]
Rep. LoBiondo, Frank A. [R-NJ-2]
Rep. Miller, Jeff [R-FL-1]
Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22]
Rep. Palazzo, Steven M. [R-MS-4]
Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1]
Rep. Simpson, Michael K. [R-ID-2]
Rep. Smith, Adrian [R-NE-3]
Rep. Smith, Jason [R-MO-8]
Rep. Tiberi, Patrick J. [R-OH-12]
Rep. Wilson, Joe [R-SC-2]
Rep. Womack, Steve [R-AR-3]
Rep. Young, David [R-IA-3]

Without exception, each of the above members of Congress took part in the unnanimous approval of H.Res. 37 on January 20, 2015.  H.Res. 37 is a bill that responds to a deadly attack on anti-Islamic cartoonists in Paris, noting the “fundamental principles essential to a democratic society, including the universal right to free expression and freedom of religion,” and declares that the House of Representatives “remains committed to the defense of free expression.”

Is freedom for France but not for America? Is casting offense acceptable in Paris but not in Washington, DC? If one of the above is your member of Congress, ask.

Seriously, John Kasich

Perhaps yesterday’s initial reaction by Irregular Times to the news that Ohio Governor John Kasich is running for the Republican presidential nomination was a bit dismissive. However, it’s a challenge to pin Kasich down for a serious examination, because the Kasich for President campaign so far seems to be little more than a series of platitudes strung together.

Explaining his qualifications for the Oval Office, Kasich writes of himself that, “John Kasich is a lot of things and through it all runs his honest, direct, authentic, tenacious approach to life that has allowed him, time and again, to do what they said couldn’t be done and, as his mom told him as a boy, “make things a little better because you were there.” Does that actually mean anything?

john kasich Though he’s been preparing for this campaign for years, so far, John Kasich offers little in the way of specific policies. He says he wants to lower taxes, but doesn’t say which taxes for which citizens he wants to lower, and doesn’t explain how he would have America pay for it. He says he wants national security, but cites old ideas from the Cold War, to fight enemies that no longer exist. He says he’s in favor of “boosting the economy”, but is anyone against that?

John Kasich has expressed some specific positions outside of his presidential campaign, but they don’t offer much more clarity.

Unlike most Republican presidential candidates, Kasich admits that climate change is real. His plan for dealing with climate change is less reassuring: Oppose all attempts to regulate the pollution that causes climate change. Kasich merely wants the federal government to ask polluters to stop spewing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, and if they don’t want to stop, well, golly.

On education, Kasich’s policy is to insist upon higher rates of achievement from students, and then cut the budgets of the schools that teach them.

On healthcare, Kasich simply wants to destroy what we have. He wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And then what? Kasich hasn’t come up with any solid ideas.

Kasich’s one concrete policy idea isn’t reassuring: He wants to send American soldiers to go fight on the ground in Iraq and occupy the country for years, all over again, repeating George W. Bush’s greatest blunder.

John Kasich’s leadership style seems to be to mumble along, trying not to say very much, identifying problems while avoiding solutions, and then, when cornered, blurt out old ideas that have already failed. It’s no wonder that, in spite of having had his own TV show on Fox News, Kasich only has the support of 2 percent of the voters in his own political party.

John Kasich Launches Presidential Campaign

kasich for presidentJohn Kasich launched his presidential campaign today, but was immediately consumed by leaks from disgruntled insiders revealing that his initial budget has already been spent on an outreach effort designed to explain to the American people how to pronounce his last name. Kasich’s top adviser, John Bloomsbottom, resigned this afternoon amid allegations that he registered using funds directly from Sanofi, the French parent company of Kaopectate, a brand of anti-diarrheal medicine.

John Kasich’s campaign is also fighting off rumors that the candidate has been named the winner of a Politician Least Likely To Be Brought Down By The Ashley Madison Hacking Scandal contest. Kasich has struggled in the polls, where he is currently stuck somewhere between Ulysses S. Grant and the generic write-in option “My Son-In-Law”.

On the positive side, Kasich’s campaign begins with the catchy slogan, “I’ve been there at all levels, OK?”

Kasich also is the only candidate who can claim to have “led on national security for 18 years” – not 17 years, not 19 years, but 18 years. Do you remember those 18 years of Kasich-led national security? I know I sure do. Oh, those were the days, when America was secure… nationally… with Kasich doing… security stuff.

Big Gods Followed Development of Big Societies, Rather Than Building Them, Suggests Cross Cultural Study

A cross-cultural study of societies in Austronesia published in the journal Nature debunks the idea that belief in moralizing high gods is necessary for the formation of complex societies.

Of the societies surveyed, 22 were politically complex, but only 6 had belief in moralizing high gods. The study traced the ancestral relationships between the societies to reconstruct the cultural history, and concluded that belief in moralizing high gods followed, rather than preceded, the development of complex societies throughout the region.

In other words, first the people came together to construct complex societies in which everyone worked together to create something lasting and larger than themselves, and only afterwards, in some societies, did people develop religious beliefs about big gods that were supposedly responsible for it all.

The moral for our story, here in the United States, is that when theocratic politicians preach at us that we all have to believe in God, to prevent our own society from falling apart, they’re telling a just-so story. We live in a democracy. We set up our society ourselves, and we keep it up ourselves.

setting up the tent of society

Jeb Bush Says He Will Not Be An Establishment Candidate

Yesterday, Jeb Bush made an astonishing speech, in which he cast himself as an outsider who will act to curb the political establishment.

This is the same Jeb Bush who:

– Is the son of one President of the United States
– Is the brother of another President of the United States
– Was born a millionaire
– Has spent the last several years making millions of dollars more by sitting on the boards of directors of corporations like Swisher Hygiene and Rayonier that abuse their workers and run slipshod management to enrich a few at the expense the many
– Has spent most of this year touring the homes and playgrounds of America’s wealthiest families
Mocks Americans who depend on Social Security and Medicare
– Gets just three percent of his campaign funds from small donors
– Gathered 103 million dollars from shadowy corporate and financial elitist sources for his Right To Rise Super PAC

Is that what someone who will take on the establishment looks like?

In his speech yesterday, Bush said, “I’m offering a different agenda altogether. It will not be my intention to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it accountable to the people.”

The last time John Ellis Bush made the establishment accountable, he used his power as Governor of Florida to block people’s votes from being counted, so that the Supreme Court could appoint his brother President of the United States.

I’d rather not see Jeb Bush given another chance to make anything accountable to his elitist idea of “the people”, thanks.

jeb bush financial elite

George Pataki Puts Politics Above People By Linking Hillary Clinton and Iran To September 11 Terrorism

George Pataki, a Republican who has recently come out of retirement to run for his party’s 2016 presidential election, is running under the slogan People Over Politics. That sounds nice, but how does George Pataki’s campaign embody that ideal?

pataki mistake on iran and september 11Most recently, George Pataki published a statement on Twitter reading, “It’s clear by her support of the #IranDeal that @HillaryClinton has forgotten the lessons of September 11th.”

Exactly how is it clear by her support of diplomatic a deal that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon that Hillary Clinton has forgotten the lessons of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

Precisely what diplomatic agreement to prevent a country from developing weapons of mass destruction led to the attacks of September 11?

Does George Pataki really think that the lesson of September 11, 2001 is that diplomatic agreements with Iran are a mistake?

It seems more likely that the lesson of September 11, 2001 that George Pataki learned is that when a Republican politician can’t come up with a reasonable justification for disagreeing with someone else’s foreign policy, saying something vague about “lessons of September 11th” is an effective alternative.

That’s not people over politics. It’s politics over people.

George Pataki is rejecting a solid diplomatic deal simply because it’s a piece of work created by a political opponent. That’s the kind of self-interested vision that leads the United States into failed foreign policies. It has no place in the White House.

Fact Check: Did Sean Hyman use the Bible to Predict Best Buy Stocks Sinking to $11 a Share?

Today I received a spam e-mail message linking to the conservative website “NewsMax,” on which the following claim was made:

What the Bible Says About Money (Shocking)

Most people know Sean Hyman from his regular appearances on Fox Business, CNBC, and Bloomberg Television, but what they don’t know is that Sean is a former pastor, and that his secret to investing is woven within the Bible.

Perhaps that can explain why, despite his uncanny ability to predict precise moves in the stock market, Sean is often laughed at for his unique stance on investing.

For example . . . in 2012, Sean appeared on Bloomberg Television. At that time, Best Buy (BBY) was dropping to all-time lows of $16 a share. Sean predicted the stock could go down to $11 a share, and would then quickly rebound to $25 per share, and after that would rally to $40 per share over the next year.

For Sean, the Bible is his FOUNDATION for investing.

He explained to me how there is actually a “Biblical Money Code” woven into Scripture.

Sean says it is this Biblical Money Code that took him from making a mere $15,000 a year to now giving away up to $50,000 a year. Sean also credits this code with helping him turn his father’s $40,000 retirement account into $396,000.

Certain investment titans, Sean says, such as Warren Buffett and John Templeton, have already used this code to amass billions.

Wow, you’re supposed to declare as you check the actual Best Buy stock history:

Best Buy Stock History Chart


Can you guess where the rest of the appeal is headed?  I bet you can: after you click a link and watch a video, you’ll be invited to pay $97 for the secret code, while you also agree to terms and conditions which declare you can’t sue NewsMax if it turns out that the code is bunk, although NewsMax reserves the right to sue you.  You may be surprised (or not) to find that at the top of the NewsMax terms and conditions page there’s a link declaring in red that “Chemist turns Alzheimer patient into chess champion!”

Now that we’re clear this is a sales pitch, let’s evaluate it.  There are two claims I’d like to evaluate today:

  • First, that Sean Hyman predicted in 2012 on Bloomberg TV that Best Buy’s stock value would go down to $11.
  • Second, that the basis for this prediction was the Bible.

Here’s what Sean Hyman actually said in an interview on August 20, 2012 with a Bloomberg News anchor (you can watch the video for yourself):

Sean Hyman being questioned by Trish Regan on Bloomberg TV in August of 2012

Trish Regan: OK, let’s look at the stock price from a technical perspective.  Sean Hyman, you’ve been watching it.  It’s been so beaten down.  Is it so beaten down that it can only get better from your point of view, if you’re the CEO?

Sean Hyman: Well, it has been in a downtrend for the last six years, so the trader would say, “The trend is your friend,” and they would short on rallies.  However, the Best Buy investor, of course, could take another approach and say, “Well, it has been down for six years, it is approaching the 2008-2009 lows at around $16 to $18 a share, and so therefore they could start nibbling away if they had a 2 year time horizon.  Should it slip through that support, then, it might slip as low as $10 or $11, but I find that highly unlikely.

So how does the claim of a miraculous Bible Code Best Buy prediction wash out?

  • Point one: FAIL.  Hyman actually said of a “$10 or $11” price share that it was “highly unlikely,” which is pretty much the opposite of him predicting that it would occur.
  • Point two: FAIL.  In making his prediction, he said absolutely nothing about the Bible.

The bottom line is that if you’d like to throw $97 away on some silly “Bible Code” literature that promises to make you rich (despite the whole Matthew 19 thing), then you’re free to do it.  But if you’re planning to throw away that $97 because you think that Sean Hyman made an amazing prediction based on a Bible code, then think again.  Sean Hyman’s actually predicted that came to pass would be “highly unlikely,” and the Bible had nothing to do with his reasoning.  Not a jot.  Not a tittle.  NewsMax is lying to you to make a buck, and that’s just not right.

Four Minutes Amid The Mint

Mint brings all of life into slow motion.

4 Minutes Amid Mint by oakgall

Gotta Be Tailgating?

You breed dogs to sell in Ontario; you drive like a freak in Cato.  Your chattel incessantly hump legs; I watched you incessantly hump bumpers. You make those who purchase your dogs promise not to spay or neuter right away; your need for speed right now endangers lives on the highway.

“Gotta Be Goldens,” you’re going to kill someone if you keep driving like I saw you driving this summer.

Gotta Be Goldens, Tailgating Summer 2015 in Central New York

You’ll notice I can’t read your license plate in this picture I took from the passenger’s seat.  That’s a result of what’s called a safe following distance.  Please look it up.

Apparently, I’m not the only person so frustrated with a driver that I’ve decided to post a story on the internet.  There’s this example taken from stop-and-go traffic in Fairfax, Virginia, and over at Platewire, posters share identifying information about reckless drivers.  The Australians are upset by this behavior, too.


Which Revolution Media Group Is Getting Its Revolting Act On For The 2016 Election?

Revolution Media Group in San Francisco is “a new breed of agency that draws outside the box” and “harnesses beauty & brains” in order to embody “the simple idea of getting back to basics — working with a handful of talented people and keeping things honest… through wide-eyed creativity and meticulous craftsmanship”.

The people who work at the company see themselves as agents of change, explaining that, “We are not content with the status quo. We’re different and we like it that way. We believe the power of a single, great idea, brought to life through design and technology, can transform a boot-strapped start-up into an unforgettable powerhouse.”

The Revolution Media Group makes this solemn pledge: “Every campaign we work on reflects beauty at its core”.

It’s an exciting vision, isn’t it? These people are out there, living fearlessly, on the edge, dedicated to a new way of seeing the world, full of wide open possibility. Courage!

So, guess what bold new project was this group of media revolutionaries working on this week:

They took $50,000 from Jeb Bush’s corporate-funded super PAC to make advertisements slamming Hillary Clinton in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – on behalf of Jeb Bush. That’s what the FEC filings made by Right To Rise this week seem to suggest, but, the discrepancy between the idealistic language and the crass acceptance of political hack jobs funded by shadowy corporate sources just doesn’t make sense.

A closer look at the FEC filings reveals another discrepancy: The Right To Rise filing shows the address of the Revolution Media Group as 1020 Princess Street in Alexandria, Virginia – on the other side of the continent from San Francisco. This is the address of the Revolution Agency, a firm that describes itself as working on conventional corporate projects, “from directing public affairs campaigns for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to designing a new image strategy for Walmart.”

The Revolution Agency brags about having on its staff a political hack who dropped out of college and got his start writing ad copy for the National Conservative Political Action Committee, and a partner who has “served as a media consultant to every major Republican Party committee”. The Revolution Agency is officially registered as the Revolution Media Group LLC, but it doesn’t appear to be the same as the Revolution Media Group in San Francisco. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Revolution Media Group LLC was the 8th biggest recipient of money for media placement in the 2012 campaign, receiving 16 million dollars of work from Super PACs. They’ve worked in astroturf as well, with one project “building a grassroots army for the wireless industry”, for example. This agency is proud to talk about its part in “turning public opinion against Medicaid Expansion”, and in “defeating organized labor”.

That sounds an awful lot more like the kind of agency that would help Jeb Bush go after Hillary Clinton.

Wage and Hour Complaint Backlog at US DOL still higher than under Bush, but Improving

Quick Guess: under what kind of presidential administration is a backlog of official employee complaints about wage and hour violations allowed to build up at the Department of Labor?  A Republican presidential administration or a Democratic presidential administration?

If you guessed “Republican,” think again.

The staffers of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor are tasked with investigating worker complaints to make sure that workers aren’t being abused by employers who exploit labor laws — by withholding pay, by refusing to grant overtime, by employing child labor, and otherwise exploiting people who are desperate for work.

This is important work to protect the powerless against the powerful in America, but the Wage and Hour Division is suffering from a backlog of cases.  Measured by the average number of days taken to resolve complaints to the Wage and Hour Division, the backlog has been cut back in fiscal years 2013-2014 (the last year for which data is currently available), but is still worse than when George W. Bush was the sitting President of the United States:



And it was under George W. Bush’s administration that a backlog dating to the Clinton administration was whittled away.