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Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:01 AM PDT

Food Stamps Create Dependency

by Wanderer1961

As has been noted on this board already, Dr. Annette Bosworth, a Republican Senate candidate posted this:

“The food stamp program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture," the graphic reads. "They proudly report that they distribute free meals and food stamps to over 46 million people on an annual basis."

“Meanwhile, the National Park Service, run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘please do not feed the animals.’ Their stated reason for this policy being that … the animals will grow dependent on the handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves,” the post continues. “This concludes today’s lesson. Any questions?”

So, let's look at some other examples of handouts creating dependency, below...
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Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:57 AM PDT

An Open Letter to David Koch

by Wanderer1961

Dear Mr. Koch,

This past weekend, my family and I visited the American Museum of Natural History.  This was a special visit for me.  I grew up with the Museum.  My mother did not understand science, but she saw that it interested me, so we visited the Museum regularly.  I never got tired of it.  Then I went to college, moved to California, pursued a career, and suddenly 25 years had gone by since I last paid a visit.

I couldn't wait to introduce my son to the Museum.  I wondered if it would have the same impact on him that it had on me.    It turned out to be everything I remembered, and more, and my son loved it.  Some of the great old exhibits remain exactly as I remembered them, and they have lost none of their power.  Others have changed, and have become even more interesting, enlightening and inspiring.

(More, below the orange dinosaur egg...)

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Why even ask this question?  After all, California is the biggest bastion of Blue, right?  The Democrats have achieved what Karl Rove could not have dreamed of in his wildest fantasies: Complete control of all levers of government, super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature, and a deep bench of rising young politicians to continue the run.  The Republican positions on many issues are losers here. Whether it is climate change, the social contract, reproductive choice, immigration, evolution...they are on the wrong side of history, and, increasingly, on the wrong side of the electorate.  Liberals point to California as a foreshadowing of how things could turn out nationwide.

It is not news to this Board that a core part of Republican strategy is to find wedge issues to split their opposition.  The grand-daddy of these wedge issues was the Southern strategy, in response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Pit working class whites against minorities by exploiting racism and economic fear to get them to vote against their interests.  And it largely worked, otherwise the Republican party as we know it would have ceased to exist by now. (Of course, racial divisions existed long before 1964, but it was in the 1960s that they became the organizing principle and the 'brand' of the Republican party.)

It took a long time for Democrats to realize they needed to have each others' backs, but eventually, they appeared to get it.  The two elections of Barack Obama represent the crystallization of a progressive coalition that long struggled to take shape.  Whether or not Obama is truly a progressive is not the issue here; the point is that so many disparate groups, finally recognizing that they were in the same foxhole, under attack from the same adversaries, and sharing at least some of the same values, were able to pull in the same direction long enough to turn the tide, at least a little bit.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have been flailing about, trying to find a new wedge issue that can revive their fortunes.  Unfortunately, certain Democrats may have done their dirty work for them.  

Read on for more...

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Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 10:02 PM PST

Democratic Fratricide: Part I

by Wanderer1961

There has been no shortage, on this board, of commentary on the demographic wave in favor of Democrats, or of gloating over the hole the Republicans find themselves in. As we know, Romney lost majorities of women, Blacks, Latinos, gays, Asians etc., sometimes by huge margins.  The Democratic coalition is inexorably growing, we say, with Presidential elections fore-ordained to go Blue.

We also make a lot of fun of the Republicans for their fratricidal tendencies, exemplified by the Tea Party's quest to "primary" members of their own party.  Ha ha, look at their circular firing squad!  So it comes as a shocking and depressing development that the Democrats in Sacramento are in the process of throwing an important piece of their coalition under the bus.  

California SCA5, masquerading as a restoration of progressive "affirmative action" policies, will take thousands of places in the University of California system away from ethnic Asian kids, and give them back to whites, who have been losing ground since 1996, when Prop 209 did away with race-based quotas.  (More data in follow up posts...) The fact that a few of these seats might go to Black and Latino students has been enough to persuade the mainstream Democratic party establishment to sponsor and back this bill.

The Republicans could not have found a more potent wedge issue to begin slicing away at the Democratic coalition.  Yet it is the Democrats who are doing this to themselves.  Shame on them for being so shortsighted.

More below the orange fortune cookie...

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Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:46 AM PST

NSA and Self Deception, part II

by Wanderer1961

Comments to my previous posts on this topic have included two main counter-arguments:

1.  That corporate data hoarding is innocuous, where NSA's data hoarding is dangerous; and

2.  That the difference is between voluntarily and involuntarily giving up our data.

Below, a response to these counter-arguments.

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Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:00 PM PST

Obama, NSA and self deception

by Wanderer1961

So, we can read any number of analyses--on this board, or wherever you prefer to go, and it's all about whether Obama is going far enough, or not going far enough.  And it's all a big lie.  Privacy advocates congratulate themselves if they think they got something, or whine that they didn't get enough. And everyone is missing the elephant in the room....

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I've been an independent much of my life.  When I registered with either party, it was generally to support an insurgent candidate (McGovern in 72, McCain in 2000--both quixotic campaigns in many ways).   I have endured slings and arrows from the purists on all sides, and so I can speak from experience when I try to compare them.  Actually, the difference is simple.

When I advocate something which goes against liberal orthodoxy, my liberal friends react with indignation or consternation.  But they try to reason or debate me to their point of view.

When I advocate something which goes against conservative orthodoxy, my conservative "friends" accuse me of being unpatriotic or worse.  They rarely grant that there might actually be a legitimate debate.  That is why I have fewer and fewer conservative friends.

More to the point: When these discussions occur in public forums, liberals react with everything from discussion to derision or dismissal.  Conservatives react by saying I deserve to die.  

Maybe I don't have a sense of humor, but to me that is a big difference.   The very premise of this country was pluralism.  Liberals appear still to embrace this idea.  The essence of today's brand of conservatism is exclusion, to the point of wishing death on many of their fellow Americans.  As members of a liberal board, most of you will probably have taken this for granted, but it deserves to be pointed out.

In their original incarnations, liberalism and conservatism were not about the things that divide us in 2014 America (gender issues, government programs, labor rights, etc.).  They were about openness to change vs. resistance to change.  Ironically, even though today's debate (including on this board) is couched in terms of things like women's rights, labor rights, social programs etc., it is really about resistance to change. And those who are resisting are so fearful that they believe the rest of us deserve to die.

THAT is the heart of the difference.  And there is no longer any way to deny it.


As of today:

Even after one major decision holding that NSA spying is unconstitutional, the FISA court continues to permit blanket, unrestricted data collection by the NSA.  The only way to put a dent in this nightmare is to reduce the data-hoarding at its source: make it harder for the telecom and internet companies to collect it in the first place.

We know that laws against data collection would face an uphill battle, but a law that simply requires them to ask our permission first would have a chance.  Such a law came pretty close to passing in California a decade or so ago.  That is all our proposed bill would ask for: that we be told when our data are being collected, and that they ask our permission.

There is a petition being circulated at  If you think this is an important issue, sign and pass it along to your friends.

Note that we are well aware that MoveOn itself collects data on people who circulate or sign petitions.  That is a sign of how badly the rules of the road need to be rewritten.  Meanwhile, we have to use the tools that are available.

Thank you.


Wed Jan 01, 2014 at 01:03 PM PST

Is privacy dead?

by Wanderer1961

Quite possibly.  However, we can still shine a little light on how our data are gathered and used. While the latest revelations suggest NSA's methods are deeper and more nefarious than even the most paranoid might have suspected, the fact remains that the biggest data-hoarding operations are those in the private sector--google, facebook, the telecoms, etc. They are doing the hard work for the spy agencies. As much as they whine about having their arms twisted, they are the enablers. It is silly to think that any laws restricting NSA's powers would hold up if a future administration were to declare an emergency.  

One of the newer ways of combating cancer is with drugs that kill the blood vessels which supply tumors with nutrients.  The best way to starve the cancer of NSA and similar agencies it to starve them of data.  Nothing would go further in that direction than making it harder for google et al. to hoard our data in the first place.  In the petition below, we are asking for something very simple: that these companies have to ask our permission to collect or use our data.  It is a request against which there is no plausible argument.  Services which are of true value, whose benefits are worth coughing up your data to get, will thrive. Others, maybe not so much.

Several years ago, Rep. Jackie Speier, CA, sponsored legislation to this effect which got serious consideration before being beaten back by industry lobbyists.  We want to encourage her to try again.

Note--even sites like DailyKos and MoveOn are part of the data-snatching game. We can't avoid it. But we can use the tools they provide to change the rules of the game.


I have at various times been registered as a Democrat, a Republican (that was in 2000, when I worked for McCain in order to try to stop Bush from getting the nomination) and an independent. The downside is that I get spammed by interest groups from every part of the political spectrum. The upside is I get to hear how the various groups really think, when they think they are among friends.

I recently took a call from a guy in Washington asking me to support "keeping our majority in Congress".  More below....

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If you don't want cockroaches in your house, one way is to stand around all night, waiting for them, and then try to stomp them out.  Good luck.  A more effective way would be to keep a really clean house.  Don't leave food around in the first place.  Of course, some people find that too difficult, and they just put up with the roaches.

Trying to pass laws to restrict the NSA has several problems.  First, there are at least 17 spy agencies in the US government, many of which are capable of snooping on us.  Some already are.  Second, if there weren't such agencies, someone would invent them.  The massive caches of data sitting inside companies like Google are simply too tempting (think leftover food and roaches).   Third, these databases will never be completely secure--someone inside or outside can hack them. (We can thank Snowden for proving it.)  

To get to the heart of the problem, we must make it harder for companies to collect all this data in the first place, and we must bring the process into the light of day.  Our petition seeks to do just that.    Please sign it and pass it along.

Note:  we recognize the irony that MoveOn also collects your data when you sign.  At least they tell you they're doing it, but we still would rather they didn't.  Maybe they will improve their privacy policies--we can only hope so.

thank you!


Imagine what would happen if the roads were owned by car companies, and they could ban you from driving if you expressed a negative opinion of one of their cars.  Or if a phone company could cut off your conversation the moment you express something they don't agree with.  

A year ago I posted a statement about privacy and social media on Facebook.  They froze my account for six months.  Since I only check it about once a month, and don't depend on it for my social interactions, this was not much of a punishment.  But it is a disturbing indicator of what they can do to a population increasingly dependent on them.  

The public is finally becoming aware of the threat posed by all of this surveillance and profiling, because NSA got caught red-handed.  How do we know there aren't other "security" agencies, even more secretive than NSA, tapping our phones and emails?  How do we know the companies, like Facebook and Google, which are compiling our data, won't someday use it for more nefarious purposes than just selling us junk?

Please sign on to our campaign to shine some light on the data-collecting racket.  We are making a very modest demand--not banning data collection, but requiring the collectors to ask our permission first.  

Even MoveOn, which has provided the platform for actions like this, does not behave well.  If you sign the petition, they consider you a "member".  I advise people to unsubscribe right away if they don't want to hear from MoveOn again.  Either way, the irony is not lost on me!

Yes, this is an uphill battle.  But I have yet to hear a cogent argument, from anyone of any political persuasion, that this is an unreasonable thing to ask for.

thank you!

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