Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Monthly Archives: February 2014

How Republicans Can Learn to Love Gays

The primary contradiction of modern conservative philosophy is the fact that they’re against Gay sex and Gay marriage at the same time that they’re against abortion. One of their mantras has been “Adoption not Abortion”. Okay, got it.

But Gay sex, by its very nature, can never, ever result in an unwanted pregnancy and so, by extension, can never result in an abortion. And Gay couples who want children have no choice but to adopt.

So, my conservative friends, if you truly want to reduce abortions at the same time you’re increasing adoptions, you should be promoting, rather than fighting, Gay marriage.

Discuss…

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Patriots Pay Taxes

I’ve been reading quite a bit about patriotism lately. Those who claim to be the most fervent patriots tend to be socially and fiscally conservative. Not all, but certainly most hyper-patriots tend to identify with the right. They revere the military, conservative principals and Ronald Reagan, not necessarily in that order.

Now, I like living here as much as the next guy, and I even get a little choked up when I see the breadth of military power we can bring to bear at a moment’s notice. (watch the rescue scene in Captain Phillips).

Now, the fact that I think the USA is a neat place to live doesn’t inform my other social and political opinions. I am a balls-out lib and will explain it nice and slowly to anyone who wants to know, but that is separate and distinct from anything resembling patriotism which may reside within my psyche.

I once considered joining the Civil Air Patrol and went to a couple of meetings in order to help me decide. In one meeting, the man in charge of the local group was teaching a lesson in military ethics. He spoke of the dilemma of a soldier being given an illegal order by his commander. The question posed to the group was whether the soldier should obey the order, thereby potentially breaking the law, or report his commander to superiors higher up the chain of command, knowing full well that doing so would likely destroy any chance of him ever being promoted, since he would thereafter be tagged as a “rat”.

Most in the group said that they would obey the order, for various reasons, most of which included not wanting to ruin their military careers. I must admit that I was perplexed, at first saying to myself that I would turn him in, but later agreeing with most of the others that I would probably just do what he said for the sake of self-preservation. I thought that the leader of the group would agree, offering some sage bit of military advice like “leave no one on the battlefield” or some other such brothers-in-arms sort of platitude so common in military settings. But the old soldier surprised me by saying that we should turn him in.

When I expressed my shock at this answer he responded to me with what I could only describe as one of the most logical, ethical things ever said to me by anyone. He said, “My friend, those who join the military are expected to be willing to give their life for their country. If that’s really true, then giving up your career is a walk in the park, wouldn’t you say?”

I’m reminded of the brilliance and honesty of that remark whenever I hear so-called patriots who scream about small government, taxes and their hatred of so-called entitlement plans, the Affordable Care Act and imaginary welfare queens. I wish I could say to them that if it is righteous to give one’s life for his country, giving up some money should be a walk in the park.

It seems to me that true patriots should be willing to give up a couple of bucks to help those for whom they claim to be willing to give their lives.

I don’t know how you can claim to love your country but hate those who live in it.
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Attributive Shortcuts and Stand Your Ground

We are all racists.Some are just better at it than others. Just as we are all sexists and ageists (I’m pretty sure that’s actually a thing). The point is, we all tend to me more comfortable around those who are most like us, and tend to categorize those who aren’t. Seeing others through the filter of their race, sex or age is a cheap and simple way for us to assign attributive shortcuts to others, such as intelligence or willingness to work for a living, or some other made-up set of characteristics. It requires little cognitive ability. Its a trait that many smart people share with idiots.

These attributive shortcuts are however, purely subjective and are assigned by any and all of us to anyone we like at any time. When you hear of a shuffleboard game being playing in Florida, you think old people. When you hear of a gossip session over herbal tea you think women, when you hear of a bunch of kids walking around in a bad neighborhood, yeah, you think of black people. Oh yes you do.

These things are part of our nature and reinforce the premise that we are good at seeing patterns (we’re not as good as we think) and so enables us to believe that we’ve got the world figured out. Once again, what I referred to above as attributive shortcuts.

The Florida Stand Your Ground Law (what a horrible name that is) reads, in part:

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

The operative words in the above paragraph are “reasonably believes”. This is truly problematic since it relies on reasonableness rather than rationality. The problem is that it can’t be measured quantitatively. Assigning a degree of reasonableness to a decision is like assigning a specific degree of beauty to a poem or a specific degree of stupidity to an imbecile (Although god knows I try).

Reasonable belief lies solely within our consciousness and cannot be measured, nor can it be judged objectively. If an 85-year-old grandma who lives in an all white, gated community where the most difficult decision she makes all day is whether her pants matches her sweater has car trouble in a “bad neighborhood”, and is approached by 4 youths with their pants down around their asses (I’ll let your brain decide what race they are. Ready, ok, I’m sure you’re done), she will likely have visions of that overhyped “knockout game” that was so breathlessly reported by the conservative media a couple of months ago (I think it happened a total of about 5 times but was reported as rampant, especially in conservative media, kinda like they report shark attacks) and in all likelihood will “reasonably believe” that she is in danger and, according to that law, can pull out her legally concealed Glock 19 from the glovebox of her Caddy and go all wild west on them.

Now, if those youths happen to be approaching to help her, well, we’ll probably never know, especially if she’s a good shot. The Glock 19 gives her 17 tries since that’s its magazine capacity, so taking out 4 kids shouldn’t be too hard.

Michael Dunn might have truly believed that he was in some sort of danger. After all, black kids playing “thug” music in an SUV fits right into our attributive shortcut. All us white folk know that the site of more than one of them at a time is almost always trouble (wink, wink). And because there are more of us than there are of them (white folk, that is) we get to use our majority status to determine the relative value of a group of people who we have deemed dangerous. The fact that we have the money to purchase a gun bestows upon us the power of life and death, simply because something scared us. Rational options like driving away or simply putting up with the loud music are apparently not valid options (I am 58 years old and quite specifically remember playing loud music in my car when I was 17, as do most adults. Somehow, though, my life was spared).

Although I don’t have any facts on this, I’d be willing to bet that Michael Dunn, at least once in his life, was in a car with other kids playing loud music. But it probably wasn’t “thug” music, so that makes it OK.

But, according to Michael Dunn and his apologists, my life and his are more valuable than that of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, the kid he killed.

Kinda like the old lady from the gated community in the broken down Caddy. According to Florida 776.013, every time one of us white folk gets scared, we get to kill at least one black kid.

Being Critical of “Critical Thinkers”

There is a group of people I meet with on occasion, lets call them the Old Guy Liberals. It is a group of somewhat like-minded people who meet in a local library and talk about world events and politics and the like. There is a lot of righteous indignation over this or that particular political or otherwise contemporary issue, with some expressing moderate thoughts, and others expressing, shall we say, opinions that align with Marx, Lenin, Castro and Che’ Guevara. No really, I meet with these guys once a month or so.

Anyway, we were discussing the state of education and other such banalities when someone who is considered one of the more reasonable members brought up the subject of critical thinking, somewhat as if none of us had ever heard of the concept before. He lamented that “kids today” are not as good at critical thinking as, I guess, we, or maybe just he, are, or is. As soon as he bellowed this oft-repeated lament, I slowly counted down, commenced and brought to completion a full-blown, appearances-be-damned obvious and quite ostentatious eye-roll. This guy had to be kidding.

Critical thinking is one of those expressions that, in the negative, usually refers to others yet, in the positive, usually refers to ourselves. Kinda like being good in bed, possessing excellent driving skills and having above average children. Everyone thinks that they are, have and do, yet are eager to point out their uniqueness among what is commonly referred to as “most people” or some abruptly pulled-out-of-their-asses “percentage of the population”. Like most things you pull out of your ass, those thoughts tend to be covered in…I digress.

What many tend to leave out of the equation is the need for originality. You can’t think critically if you can’t think originally. For a Repub, when your favorite political personality says that Barack Obama is a Socialist, Marxist, Nazi, your options are to nod your head and say “yeah, he sure seems like one of those” or to question, well, what exactly is a Socialist, Marxist, etc? Then, once you’ve done that research, try to find specific instances were he has acted like one of those people. That is original research and original thought, which leads to criticality.

For a Democrat, when you hear that there is a “war on women” within the Republican party, agreeing with it after listening to the pablum promulgated by your favorite pundit is one way of forming your conclusions, but it is not critical thinking. In order to think critically, you must assume that this person potentially is motivated by agenda other than your own, and you must critically take all that he says and research it yourself, arriving at a conclusion that will, quite possibly, contradict what your trusted newsman has been saying.

For those of us who believe that we are critical thinkers, ask yourself: Do you believe in any generalities, like all Repubs are racists, or all Democrats are tree-hugging communists, or Donald Trump is really thinking about running for president again, or Sarah Palin has ever actually read the Constitution? If you do, you are being influenced by what you are being told by those who you assume to have done original research. It is quite likely that they have not, and are simply repeating to you what they know you enjoy hearing.

Criticality is originality. You can’t espouse a commonly held (or simplistic or reductive) belief and say that you think critically unless you’ve arrived at it yourself, including information which may not comport with your preferred conclusion.

Lefties can’t think critically unless they have the courage to watch Fox. (I know, I know, its hard for me too). And righties have to really listen to at least a few Rachel Maddow shows before they can say that they’ve arrived at their convictions in a critical manner. You can’t claim to think critically and do so in a comfortable manner. It takes work, it is stressful and it takes being willing to be proven wrong-sometimes by your own actions. Critical thinking is hard. And it is critical to rationality.

And that guy at my meeting who complained that kids today don’t think critically, well, he thinks we’re all going to hell in a handbasket any day now.

How original.
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Welfare Queens, Kings, and Bill O’Reilly.

I can’t help it folks. This stuff drives me insane.

On Sunday, Bill O’Reilly once again took advantage of the fact that Barack Obama has more class than O’Reilly will ever, and asked, as impertinently as possible, of the twice duly elected leader of the free world some of the most insolent questions, to which the President replied with all the restraint and lack of animus for which he’s become well-known.

One question (or statement) in particular related to the premise that Obama is a “nanny state kind of guy” (O’Reilly’s words) whereas O’Reilly ostensibly rose to his elevated station with no help from the government whatsoever. They bandied this idea back and forth and then went on to other things. The President smirked at O’Reilly’s gracelessness quite a few times, but never let on his true feelings, as he usually does not with the Fox cabal. Kind of like the way you treat a wise-ass teenager who is too stupid to know how badly his impudence makes him look. Obama, as usual, comported himself well with this self-aggrandizing simpleton O’Reilly.

But I’m tired of these Repubs whose only claim to fame is a bad memory who act as if they’ve lived their lives on an island somewhere where they’ve never received any help from anyone to achieve the greatness which they now exhibit. It’s boring. And I’m tired of it.

So, lets go down a few “entitlement” programs that O’Reilly and most of the rest of us welfare kings and queens have sucked from the government teat, shall we?

1. O’Reilly grew up in Levittown, NY, where the FHA subsidized every mortgage. The FHA was instrumental in Bill O’Reilly’s father getting his mortgage. The FHA is a government agency.
2. O’Reilly’s father went to college on the GI bill. For Free. On Uncle Sam’s dime. GI or no GI, he got a free college education.
3. O’Reilly, before he became a gazillionaire, owned numerous houses throughout the country, each upon of which was a mortgage, upon which there was interest, which O’Reilly deducted from his federal income tax every year. The only reason that the government gives this form of welfare to home owners is to support home ownership. But it also applies to multiple houses, like vacation homes. The mortgage interest deduction is basically a welfare-like handout to every homeowner in the country who has a mortgage.
4. For the rest of us, Repubs included, which of you will refuse Medicare when you turn 65? Which of you will refuse Social Security when you come of age? Which of you returned the tax credit that George Bush gave you in the early part of his presidency? Which one of you would turn one down today?
5. Is the air you breathe cleaner than Athens, or Bejing, where the exhaust coming out of the tailpipe of a modern car is LESS polluted than the air that it sucks in? Well, you can thank that socialist organization, the EPA for that (BTW, Richard Nixon, that socialist, marxist pig, started the EPA).
6.Is the water you drink cleaner than the Ganges in India which is so dirty they don’t even recommend washing clothes in it, yet millions get their drinking water from it? Yup, EPA again.
7. Do you pay 110% interest on your credit cards? No? Well I guess a thank you card is owned to the Federal Reserve, who regulates credit card companies.
8. Was the pilot on your last airplane ride licenced and properly trained? Well, a call to the FAA might be in order.

Yeah, yeah, yeah you pay for all that stuff with your taxes, I know, I’ve heard it before. But that is not an argument for suggesting that someone who takes advantage of government programs is on welfare, or a nanny state guy, any more than it suggests that you are a welfare recipient when you take advantage of any of the above, or a government scholarship, or low interest student loan.

And I know at least a few people with large properties who claim farm deductions for their large tracts of land, thereby saving huge amounts of property taxes. This is quite a common occurance, but you won’t find a lot of poor people with large tracts of land ripping off the government for their fair share of property taxes. That’s because poor people don’t own large tracts of land!

I have been a businessman for a large part of my life and fully understand the concept of fending for yourself and not relying on others, but this sanctimony has to stop.

So, to recap. If you’ve ever accepted a mortgage interest deduction, if you receive more in Social Security or Medicare in your lifetime than you pay, or, for that matter, ever gotten a scholarship or student loan, then you, according to Bill O’Reilly’s definition, are a nanny-state kind of guy.

Or, by the same definition, a Welfare Queen.

Reading Lessons for the Fox News Crowd.

From Foxnews.com this morning:
“ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says”.
“The long-term effect of ObamaCare on the U.S. economy was rewritten Tuesday with the Congressional Budget Office issuing a revised projection that nearly 2.5 million workers could opt out of full-time jobs over the next 10 years — allowing employers to wipe 2.3 million full-time jobs off the books.”
Here is the link to the article

Well, as usual, Fox “News” is hoping that their short-attention-span readers don’t go any further than the first paragraph for their proof that the ACA is a failure. But, since I’m sure Fox “News” doesn’t want to be accused of bias, they waited until the second paragraph to include a little ditty about what the CDC report actually says:

“Budget experts say that because ObamaCare offers an insurance alternative to employer provided coverage, many Americans who hold full-time jobs may decide to work part-time — or not at all — and get their coverage from the exchanges.” This is an exact and direct contradiction to their headline. Jobs won’t be lost, they will be given up voluntarily by those who were only working for health insurance benefits!

So, Fox “News” hooks its readers to the headline and the first paragraph, both of which are abjectly false, then covers their butts by including the truth in the second paragraph, well past the point that most of their readers have gone on to read the sports scores.

The CDC report did, in fact say that those workers who felt tied to their jobs in order to receive health insurance could now retire or leave their jobs voluntarily because they could buy insurance on the ACA Exchange. That is the exact opposite of employers wiping “2.3 million full-time jobs off the books”. What it does mean is that 2.3 million workers will likely give up their jobs since they don’t need them for health insurance any more, thereby creating 2.3 million NEW JOB vacancies!

Can you imagine Fox actually having a headline saying Obamacare Creates New Jobs!

The Folly of Arguing With An Idiot

There are none so foolish as those who underestimate their opponents due to their own inability to, err, ah, think.

The problem with philistines is that they rarely know that they are. Their simplistic efforts are followed by the self-delusion of fabricated victories. When they can’t successfully counter an argument, they cheaply attack their opponents history. And think that they’ve won.

If you think you’re winning at checkers, you may want to confirm that your opponent has not been playing chess. But you probably thought you knew that.

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