This Is What You Should Think

Everybody-but-everybody is telling you what to think

This is What You Should Think:

Department of Defense Should Re–Brand Back to Department of War

June 1st, 2012 at 10:56 am

We have ugly habit in the U.S. (or maybe on Earth). When something terrible happens (9/11) we limit our ability to respond intelligently by refusing to believe that we had anything to do with what happened (many on the left, everybody on the right) and by demonizing those who do (Susan Sontag, Jeremiah Wright.)

And now, Chris Hayes (MSNBC) who tried to get at the tragedy of Americans dying for dumb reasons (Iraq), gets castigated for saying that all fallen vets are not automatically heroes. He was trying to say that it depends on the war.

Fallen soldiers are martyrs whose misplaced valor is the ground meat of the perpetual war machine. They are also those who heed the call for courage in times of grave peril. Depends on the war.

Our soldiers protect American freedoms. They also project Amerikan power. Sometimes they face a threat. Sometimes they are the threat. Depends on the war.

In the military the orders come from above. After the end of our most arguably defensive recent war (1949), the Department of War became the Department of Defense. Since then, the Department has been less and less about defense (George Orwell).

Bring back the Department of War!

This is What You Should Think:

Cut Republicans a Break on Bestiality

January 4th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Newly respect-worthy Presidential candidate Rick Santorum can always raise a cringe from liberals by evoking his belief that same-sex marriage could lead to different-species marriage.

Santorum referred specifically to man-on-dog , but I don’t want to unduly worry dog lovers that their best friends have been targeted. I think Santorum meant all mammals of an appropriate size.

What you should think is that among some rural Pennsylvanians whom Santorum pretends to represent, bestiality may not be as strong a taboo as it is among the metrosexual elite.

I agree with comedian Chris Rock that a person’s sexual morality should be judged in light of their opportunities. It’s easy for a poor ugly guy to be monogamous and consider himself lucky.

Metrosexuals may have explored every aspect (and combination) of human beings, but they do not seem to be breaking into the zoo to commit offenses, literally, against nature.

However, in the deep humid southern regions, or the frozen northern plains – or maybe even on a farm in rural Pennsylvania – the number of potential human sexual partners may be exceeded by animal candidates.

Throw a desperately horny male adolescent human being into the sheep pen and you may lose your family’s ability to sell virgin wool. Especially if your family is morally strict. If everything is so bad anyway, why not just do what’s easy pickings? Has anybody seen Bessie lately?

In the parts of the country that Santorum pretends to represent, bestiality might evoke only as much cringe as, say, consensual sex between siblings does in the Satan-loving Sodoms on the coasts.

And in those rural families that have gotten less for their wool for generations, bestiality may raise only the same level of eyebrow as sex between first cousins would for those who sell bona fide virgin wool — let alone the Sodomites and Gomorrahns.

So cut some slack for Santorum and the people he pretends to represent. To them, man-on-animal sex may be only as evil as sex between siblings or cousins. And Lord knows, that horse has left the barn.

This is What You Should Think:

Big Talk or Big Stick?

October 23rd, 2011 at 4:34 am

When President George W. rode into D.C. he proclaimed that Teddy Roosevelt was the kind of president he wanted to be. W. even put up a bust of the ol’ Rough Rider for inspiration.

Teddy’s most memorable utterance was, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

But, despite the bust of Roosevelt clearly grimacing in the corner, W. chose to speak loudly (“Mission accomplished!”), while exposing in Iraq and Afghanistan that the American stick had limits and vulnerabilities.

Now, T.R. would be proud of President Obama’s tactics on the Libya crisis, for instance. What others call “Leading from behind” is what Theodore would have called “Speaking softly.”

Meanwhile, Obama wielded America’s “big sticks” of satellite intelligence, drones and other technologies and expertise. And he used a quiet American diplomatic influence that quantum physics-fashion exists simultaneously as both “Speak softly” and “Big stick.”

Obamaphobes on the right think bluster is more important than results. Thank goodness our President disagrees.

T.R. claimed his “Speak softly” expression was originally of African origin. If the Roosevelt bust is still in the White House, I imagine it’s stopped grimacing.

This is What You Should Think:

Raising Taxes on the Rich is not Culture War, It’s Recovering Stolen Property

September 10th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Rich investors with big money to risk are already advantaged over small investors who must be more “risk averse.”

With their big contributions to political candidates, rich investors can promote the passing of laws they know will de-stabilize the economy in general, but will mean handsome profits for them. (Hi, oil speculators!)

But most importantly, their big bucks ensure they will automatically be taken seriously by the brokers wanting a piece of the big grubstake. The guys (and gals!) who devote their lives to the minutiae of making money.

Do you ever get to see the actual Charles Schwab? Rich-enough investors do.

Investment in business is a good thing. It makes most of our wheels go round and round. But making money because of manufactured fear, or political instability, or by preying on the carcass of a company or industry that is having temporary challenges is a bad thing.

When some rich investors exploit vulnerabilities in our system to make money – they call it “good business.”  We call it “theft.” And it’s the victims who should get to define theft, not the thieves.


This is What You Should Think:

Eminent Domain Seizures Should Be a Windfall for Granny

August 24th, 2011 at 2:24 am

It’s frustrating enough when the state comes and takes your home because they need the land for a school, hospital or highway. Usually, the state offers you less than you think your property is worth. And you have no choice but to accept the state’s offer – that’s the Eminent Domain part.

But when – as happened in Long Branch, N.J. in 2005 – private developers want to make a killing by selling luxury waterfront condos, so they enlist the state to kick out a bunch of old timers that have lived there a million years – something is very rotten.


The state justified its position by arguing that the luxury condo complex would generate more tax income – which is good for everybody, right? Right, said the U.S. Supreme Court, whose previous ruling in a New London, Connecticut case paved the way for New Jersey to screw its homeowners.


This isn’t China, where you just get a letter and a set of keys in the mail informing you that you are to be re-located to a faceless high-rise in the suburbs because your ancestral home needs to be razed to make way for a shopping mall.

Suppose Granny in the cute, waterfront cottage in New Jersey does stand in the way of the state’s collecting a bunch of taxes? And suppose she does stand in the way of developers wanting to make a bunch of money?

Here’s the solution: The state/developer can still get Grammy’s property by force. But make Nana’s getting an Eminent Domain letter in the mail the equivalent of her winning the lottery. The letter would inform her that she was going to be forced to move, but that she would enjoy a big financial windfall.

Grandmama should be made a partner – a millionaire. It’s only right – she had the foresight to buy the property 60 years ago and not cash in early.

The developer can still make plenty of money. The state can still collect plenty of taxes. Let them just recognize that Granny – in owning the coveted property – brings an important piece to the negotiating table. Like, the table itself?

I’m not asking for private business to be regulated in all land acquisitions. Nor am I suggesting that the state lose the power of Eminent Domain for hospitals and highways.

But when the state’s Eminent Domain power is to be enforced for economic development, then Granny’s vital-to-the-project collateral should be recognized.

Lest she become collateral damage.

This is What You Should Think:

Corporations May Need to Be Euthanized

August 12th, 2011 at 1:40 am

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has affirmed that corporations are legal “persons” with many of the same rights as you and I. Such as the right to spend unlimited amounts to lobby or bribe politicians. This is another of the present-day Supreme Court’s Retarded Opinions, Those Unbelievable Morons (SCROTUM).

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the government (SCOTUS included) treat all persons the same under the law, and forbids all laws that deny persons the same opportunity as other persons. Here’s a short, knowledgeable definition of our Constitutional right to equal treatment:

From Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary:  The right, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to be treated the same, legally, as others in the same situation. If a law discriminates between one group of people and another, the government must have a rational basis for doing so. A law that discriminates on the basis of a suspect classification — that is, it makes a distinction based on race, gender, or another trait that has historically resulted in discriminatory treatment — is constitutional only if there is a very compelling reason for the distinction.

I say that Mortality – the fact that human being-type persons die — has saddled them with constraints not suffered by those who — like corporations – never die.

Not ever dying, for instance, allows for vastly different investment strategies. One tenth of a percent annually is acceptable interest only if you have 500 years to wait for the payback. Boy, could you make some money buying up waterfront property in depressed areas!

May I suggest a remedy? Let there be two different types of corporations.

The first type of corporation would be Mortal. It would have all the rights of a human-type person, but it would die after 100 years. Real dying, not just spinning off the pieces  and dying in name only. The shareholders would have to be paid off, the offices closed, the logo retired, the employees sent home. No matter how profitable the corporation is, at the end of 100 years it must die. And if it won’t die on its own, it might have to be euthanized.

My guess is that a new class of prudent corporate managers will start to plan for inevitable corporate death starting at about year 85, so they can make a graceful, unpanicked exit from the marketplace. Just like the luckiest human-type persons. The dying corporations might even act is such a way as to enhance their “legacy.”

The second type of corporation would be Immortal. It can keep collecting one-tenth of a percent interest and buying up waterfront property in depressed areas forever. But an Immortal is clearly not a “person” and should therefore have limited rights. A start would be – no political speech, restrictions on lobbying and no chances to file costly, time-wasting lawsuits to punish the Mortals.

Corporations of the first type imitate Nature, whose laws we have learned to trust. The second type imitates Gods. After thousands of years of trial-and-error, we know we have to control the Gods before they control us.

This is What You Should Think:

Republicans Won’t Pony Up

July 29th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

C’mon, Republicans! Don’t you love America? Why won’t you pony up?

We know America is like a doddering old relative right now. A fraction of its pre-Obama zest, with strange new smells you don’t like.

Still, it’s your Motherland, Fatherland, Sisterland, Nephewland — Whomeverland, it’s your land.

You act like paying money reluctantly because the old lady needs dentures or Little Stevie needs rehab is not your natural place in the world. But you’re an Overlord! Act like one and pay up!

Henry Ford knew that he had to take care of his workers so someone could afford to buy his Model Ts and make him rich.

If you don’t ante up now, come Thanksgiving there may be no one left to admire your sterling silver service. Let alone have enough scratch to buy the cheap steel cutlery made in China whose profits got you the silver service in the first place.

C’mon, Republicans! You’ve always been the ones to come up with money at the last minute and save everybody’s ass. Having the money to save asses, you always told us, proved your philosophy was superior to ours.

This is What You Should Think:

A Multiplier is an Appropriate Punishment for the Criminal Rich

July 27th, 2011 at 9:17 am

Ever hear about some convicted white collar criminal sentenced to ten years in jail for stealing $50 million, who was then was fined $40 million?

Ten years in jail and $10 million waiting when he is released? For most of us folks in the mid- to lower reaches of the economy, that doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all. Especially considering the relative comfort of medium- and minimum-security prisons.

A more meaningful punishment for a rich thief would be to skip jail and fines entirely and assign them a multiplier, based on how much they stole.

Say a small-time stock poacher made off with $4 million. Instead of even trying to recover the money, let the brigand keep his ill-gotten greenbacks. His sentence would be to live off that $4 million for one year. But – based on a median income in the U.S. of $40,000 annually – the thief would be assigned a multiplier of 100. His multiplier would be applied to everything he bought

Isn’t it a bitch that candy bars cost 75 cents? Applying his multiplier, for the year of his sentence, the would-be swindler has to fork over $75 for each of his Snickers. A $4 fast-food snack would set the thief back $400. While he watches you pay four dollars for the same breaded chicken sandwich.

Filling up his car would cost the thief at least $4,000 (twice that if he drives an SUV). His monthly utility bill could easily top $20,000 ($200 for you.).

Our larcenous friend should hope he doesn’t blow out his knee from the old football injury. Because settling his health insurance co-pay on his total knee replacement (one knee) would cost him a cool $1 million — a quarter of all the money he has to live on for the entire year. Just like the impact would be for people earning the U.S. median $40,000 per year if they had to come up with a $10,000 co-pay (happens all the time.)

Now, if somebody were to steal $4 billion, the multiplier would get really fun.

We’re talking $75,000 candy bars and $4 million for a movie at the multi-plex plus two entrees at Olive Garden. The knee – mein Himmel! – would be $1,000,000,000.

One thousand million dollars. Of course, the guy stole four thousand million, so he can afford it. Still, it’s got to hurt.

As emotionally satisfying as this may seem to non-thieves, the devil, as always, is in the details. Like – where do all the extra bucks end up?

When the first guy – our $4 million buccaneer — buys his $75 Snickers, seems like we should just let the merchant keep the change and pay a share to the commons in taxes. But what about the billionaire-thief’s $7 million burger and fries? That’s a pretty big tip.

On second thought, let the waitress and restaurant owner divvy that up, too. Just make sure they pay their taxes. There’s nothing a rich scoundrel hates more than having nobodies do to him what he’s been doing to them all these years.

Of course, many people would want to do business with the multiplied crook and reap the windfall. So badly, in fact, they may even be willing to make a deal with the multiplied thief.  Says the crafty merchant:  “You pay me $20 million for the TV set now and I’ll give you back half the money at a later date.”

I don’t know what the punishment should be for the non-multiplied co-conspirator, but the crook should get his sentence extended – with no new money. Try buying a $149,000 shirt when you’ve only got $130,000 left on your debit card. We’ve all been there.

The multiplied pilferers will have to be identified in some easily recognizable way. With constant strides being made in the fast-growing field of tattoo-removal, I suggest the foreheads and both cheeks (and, perhaps, the back of the hands for devout female Muslims).

This is What You Should Think:

Praise for NASA is Cause for Worry

July 13th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The media went ga-ga last week over the final flight of the Space Shuttle program. They talked about the past successes of NASA. They insisted the that fact American astronauts will have to hitch expensive rides on Russian rockets to get to or from the International Space Station for the next five years or so is just a bump in the road. There are plans to head for Mars. We’ll be exploring Jupiter and beyond. Americans should expect their nation to continue to lead the world in space exploration.

This kind of universal praise is cause for worry.

We Americans have a habit of massaging an entrée of bad news with an appetizer of good news. It’s like the judge who praises the defense attorney for a vigorous defense before sentencing his client to hang.

Exhibit one:  The Greatest Generation.

Around the 50-year anniversary of World War II, there could not be enough praise heaped on The Greatest Generation. Everybody agreed that their can-do grit and practical intelligence saved the world. We should treasure those folks as a validation of American exceptionalism. We should look to their words and acts for guidance.

Ten years later, Social Security and Medicare, the flagship social welfare programs of the Greatest, are being cut. The Greatests’ pensions have been defunded and their health insurance reduced or cancelled. Federal aid for college students – despite the universal Greatest pride in their G.I Bill – is being cut. The public universities established by the Greatest are being starved. Their Interstate Highway System crumbles.

Now NASA is the recipient of our national fawning. So they’re probably headed for huge cuts.

And Baby Boomers Beware! If and when you start hearing yourself described as The Coolest (if not greatest) Generation and are praised for your smarts and pluck, you’re headed for the chopping block.

This is What You Should Think:

The cameos in The Adjustment Bureau were creepy

July 1st, 2011 at 10:44 am

“The Adjustment Bureau,” yet another science fiction film based on a Phillip K. Dick short story, stars Matt Damon, as an up-and-coming politician. To establish his credibility in the role, he is shown in a series of fake news and publicity shots with real political celebrities – Bill Clinton guru James Carville, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rev. Jesse Jackson and a few others. There is even Matt, in character, on a fake Daily Show with Jon Stewart – with the real Jon Stewart.

Now an occasional cameo is fun. But using a montage of real political celebrities to establish the credibility of a fictional political candidate is creepy. Isn’t there already enough blurring of fact and fiction?

I assume all these people were paid in some way. They wouldn’t prostitute themselves and compromise their authority just for the fun of it, would they? Just to strengthen their brand?

I hope either all or at least nearly all of their remuneration was donated to an organization which teaches children to respect accurate historical and civic knowledge.

The montage of cameos of real political celebrities playing themselves in “The Adjustment Bureau” represents some sort of unholy Fact/Fiction hybrid and is deeply creepy.