Thursday, October 20, 2016

War: When Will We Ever Learn

This entry was inspired by the work of The White Helmets written by Raed Saleh.  It is a heart-breaking story of carnage caused by those who only seek their own power, not that of the people.  See

Where have all the flowers gone?  Gone by scorched earth warfare.

Where have all the young girls gone?  Bombed under rubble like the girl pictured in the article.

Where have all the young men gone?  Shot or bombed by somebody who doesn't like the side to which these young men have gone, often enticed by glory rather than defense of their homes.  Often killed by someone in the sky enticed by those who don't like the people that enticed the young men to war.  Someone who probably goes to a safe barracks with a good warm dinner.

Where have all the graves gone?  Buried under more rubble, certainly not to flowers.

When will we ever learn?

Not very soon:(

Trump and the rule of personality, not of law

"Donald Trump is the personification of the distortion of a constitution by men who hate the constitution with such passion that they are willing to swear complete fealty as they destroy everything it stands for.” - Montreal Moe in response to Ross Douthat’s “The Trump Afterlife”, New York Times, 2016-10-19.

Douthat, being a true conservative, doesn’t care much for Trump’s anti-constitutional remarks.

To Montreal Moe’s comment I added:

Hear! Hear! I find it ironic that so-called conservatives rant about activist judges. So-called conservative Supreme Court Judges have defined corporations as persons and defined "people" in the Second Amendment to be "persons". Changes like these are certainly not "conservative”.


Louis the XIV famously proclaimed “L’état, c’est moi!”.  "The state, it is me!"  Is Trump planning on being Donald the I?  Hm, in Trump’s case does “I” mean “me” or the first or both?  Trump’s remarks certainly sound monarchical (rule by one) rather than democratic (rule by many).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When leaping to conclusions…

…you can fall flat on your face.

Many of the stories say that Democrats raised about $13,000 for the Hillsborough NC Republican office that was firebombed. They also say that Republicans raised about $4,000.

But, how many Republicans donated to the first appeal and so didn't donate to the second appeal?

We just can't leap to the conclusion that the Democrats are more generous than Republicans when it comes to small donations.  Or that more Democrats reach out to Republicans than Republicans reach out to Democrats.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

A flimsy attack on clean air

I submitted the following comment to the New York Times, article "A flimsy attack on clean air" but as far as I know it was not published.

"The Congress shall have the Power to...regulate Commerce...among the several States... U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8.

Maybe the polluters have a case if ALL of their pollution stays within their own state. However to do so, they'll probably have to dam rivers and stop the winds. But since these flow into other states...

Trump and mathematics

"When you add it up, here's the math that counts. Trumpworld is a Mobius strip, with no exit ramp to reality.”

Nancy Lederman, posted as a comment to

Robert Reich predicted the likes of Donald Trump

"[People] think if the big guys cheat in big ways, they might as well begin cheating in small ways. And when they think the game is rigged, they're easy prey for political demagogues with fast tongues and dumb ideas.
- Robert Reich,  Beyond Outrage, 2012

 In Beyond Outrage Reich also pointed out that "Conservatives" don't conserve much.  He wrote they are regressives who want to return to a time when very few were very, very well-off and most had to struggle to make a living, often in dangerous, unhealthy conditions.

He didn't spell it out in detail but "conservatives" sure don't want to conserve resources, clean air, or even a well-functioning government.  "Conservatives" are certainly "liberal" in interpreting the Constitution to their ends, "liberal" at "throwing money" at the military, and "liberal" in awarding generous compensation to those at the top of large corporations, even those who really screw up the company.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quote of the Day: TV viewers vs. newspaper readers

"Yes, I know, people should be paying more attention [to candidates climate change plans or lack thereof]— but this nonetheless tells us how easy it is for voters who rely on TV news or don’t read stories deep inside the paper to miss what should be a central issue in this campaign."

- Paul Krugman, "What About the Planet", New York Times, 2016-10-07,

Why you should vote

“But when all is said and done, Jefferson has beliefs, Burr has none.”
- Lyric from "Hamilton" on Hamilton not liking either candidate but choosing Jefferson.

Quoted by Paul Anderson, retired Minnesota Supreme Court Judge and life-long Republican in "This Lifelong Republican is voting for Clinton".


If you don’t vote, you have only yourself to blame

Originally published in
Reader Weekly
October 28, 2004

The U.S. is still considered a democracy.  The word comes from the Greek demos for people and kratein for rule.  It means the people rule.  If you don’t vote, how can you rule?

Democracy has been interpreted as majority rule.  But no president has ever been elected by a majority of the adult population.  Before the 1860’s few blacks could vote.  Before 1920 few women could vote (Wyoming territory being the exception in 1869).  Since 1932 the voter turnouts have never been greater than sixty-three percent (1).

That high was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy won with 34,227,096 votes to Richard M. Nixon’s 34,108,546, a difference of 118,550.  However, over 40 million people did not vote!  More people stayed away than voted for either candidate. (2)

Ronald Reagan supposedly had a landslide victory in 1980 over Jimmy Carter.  The voter turnout was less than 53 percent.  If you consider that less than 28 percent of the eligible voters voted for Ronald Reagan, he did not have a mandate.  Almost twice as many people stayed away as voted for Jimmy Carter.

Bill Clinton had five million votes more than Bob Dole in 1992 but the turnout was 55 percent.  Fewer voters might have shown up if Ross Perot hadn’t run and won almost 20 million votes, more than half of those that went to Bob Dole.  Even then 84 million people stayed away, giving Bill Clinton a plurality of 27 percent, a lower plurality than Ronald Reagan who also had a three-way race.

Even if you don’t like any of the presidential candidates, vote.  You don’t have to mark a vote for every office.  A lot of people skip voting for judges or conservation district commissioners, why not skip voting for president?  Leaving a blank presidential ballot shows you care enough to show up, and you get counted in the vote totals.

Many people blame Ralph Nader for Bush winning in Florida in 2000.  Nader got 97,588 votes and the difference between Bush’s and Gore’s totals was 537 votes (3).  However, over three million of Florida’s eligible voters did not even show up at the polls (4).  That is, more people stayed away than voted for either Bush or Gore.

In no midterm election since 1974 have more than forty percent of the adult population voted (2).  Midterm congresses aren’t the best money can buy; they are the result of extreme voter apathy.

You can vote strategically, you can vote tactically, but vote.  You can vote because of an overall result you want; say you want one party to dominate in Congress.  Therefore you wouldn’t vote for a third party candidate you respect.  Or, you can vote because you want a specific person in Congress.  Therefore you would vote for a third party candidate or a “major” party candidate in a party different than the party you want to dominate in Congress.  Either way, vote

You think Bush should be punished for the mess he made and that Kerry shouldn’t get the blame when he tries to fix it.  So vote for Bush, but vote.

You think that Bush has done a marvelous job, then especially in Minnesota you should vote.

You think Bush should not be rewarded for the mess he made and that Kerry can clean it up.  So vote for Kerry, but vote.

You think Hilary Rodham Clinton should be president in 2008.  If so, Kerry should not be president.  But don’t stay away, vote.

You think Hilary Rodham Clinton should not be president in 2008.  So vote for Kerry, but vote.

Do you think the make up of the Supreme Court is important?

Do you consider yourself patriotic?

Do you think the country is on the right track?

Do you think the country is on the wrong track?

For any of these reasons, vote.

You can’t get time off from work to vote?  Wrong, by law (in Minnesota) your employer must allow you paid time off to vote.  It’s your future, vote.

You can’t get a ride to the polls to vote?  Call for a ride.  (Sorry, I have no current phone numbers for these, but you can probably find some party info on facebook.  Look for your party of choice at the municipal or Congressional district level.)

OK Northlanders!  Let’s show we care about our country.  Let’s have over 90% turnout of the voting age population on November 2, 2004 (as of this re-posting, November 8, 2016).


(1) World Almanac 1998
(2) "National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960-1996", Federal Election Commission (
(3) “Nader Has Impact on Presidency”, Associated Press, posted at (The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.)
(4) “Who took votes from whom?”

©2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2016 Melvyn D. Magree

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quote of the day: “free market” and government

Comment to Paul Krugman's "Progressive Family Values"

Brice C. Showell, Philadephia

To ask why we need government to manage a "free market" is like asking why we need referees, rules and managers in sport.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Paul Krugman's use of "free marketer"

I'm surprised the economist Paul Krugman is using "free market" as loosely as the so-called "free marketers" do.  "Free market" too often means fewer and fewer sellers doing whatever they please.  A true free market has many buyers and sellers, both buyers and sellers are free to enter and leave the market, both buyers and sellers have all the information they need to make a decision, and all costs are paid for in the transaction.

How many independent pharmacies are there is our cities? You can probably count on one hand the corporate pharmacies.

How many situations like Epipen where the buyers are not really free to leave the market?

As to full information how much do the sellers know about you while fighting with dozens of lobbyists to hide information about their products. GMOs?

Externalities? These "free marketers" don't want the government to regulate worker safety and don't want government to regulate the pollutants from their smokestacks, farms, and mines going downwind or downstream.

Posted at

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What corporate efficiency?

“Free marketers” laud the efficiency of corporations over the inefficiency of government.  I think there is no difference between the forms.  What it depends on is management.  A good mayor or governor can get some great things done.  A lousy CEO or low-level corporate manager can make a real mess of things, such a mess as to cause death or injury.

What follows are my notes in trying to navigate to find a report that I was told today was available.

Vanguard site navigation

You sent me email that I had a report for Vanguard High-Yield Corporate Fund Admiral Shares Report, but you provide no direct link to it.  I finally reread the message and find that there is a link to Fund Reports.

I clicked on that but did not find Vanguard High-Yield Corporate Fund Admiral Shares listed!

Oh, there is a little drop-down box in the upper right corner that toggles between regular and admiral shares.

I toggle to admiral and then I get "Please wait".  I waited!  I went downstairs to get a snack!  I came back!  The "Please wait" box was still present.  I did something or another and got a page that asked me to log in.  But I already had a page up that had me logged in!  I am using that page, without logging in again, to send this message.

Off to try to get back to where I was ten or fifteen minutes ago.

Comment in satisfaction form

Recd msg today, 2016-09-20 of fund report for High Yield Corp Admiral.  No link given in msg.  Finally found my way to page with list of reports.  Latest report is 2016-07-xx!?!?

Also added in another part of satisfaction request: hire some good human interface people.

Follow up after signing off ins satisfaction.

Downloaded report, but Vanguard was unhappy with my Adobe Reader XI.  Report would not open, damaged.  Version is 11.0.17, undated.  Finder gives date modified as 2016Aug 5.  Checking for updates gives “Already up to date”.

End of notes.

Offers just for you?

Because I have signed on with  the AARP Advantage program, I am bombarded with email with titles like the above (without the question mark).

But if these offers are just for me, why do they contain offers from companies that I already use?  In this case Consumer Cellular, a cell phone service we use.