Hello dahlings. Contrariana Huffenpuff is my nom de plume, yes, a sly allusion to my lefty namesake.

I propose that the current way of looking at politics and policy in the US is characterized by sharp elbows and zero sum game type thinking, often in the area of short term gain (e.g., just trying to win the election using bogus verbiage and unnecessary vilification) to the detriment of the larger long term benefit of the society. And when I say " unnecessary vilification", here's what I mean: We are all in this together, so let's take a workman-like approach to solving problems. Compete on ideas and valid feedback by the loyal opposition. Don't 'pile on', as Pushback Pam so eloquently puts it. (Pam, nice to know ya).

This is a shout out of solidarity with sensible people on the Right who are trying to 'make it right' with the Republican Party, and make the Right right again.  (But not righteous; sorry religious folks; if that is how you primarily identify yourself, I'm not automatically with you, even as I respect you and understand you.)

Trying to avoid landmines
I have some pretty conservative Christian relatives, and Intelligent Design/Creationism comes up sometimes. When they trot out the 'irreducible complexity' theme, though, I have to come back with: "Oh, in other words, you give up trying to explain some natural process or structure?" It sound like "my widdy bwain cannot handle it, wah wah". I know, harsh, but that's just me I guess.

Thoughts on today's world and Marx
As I understand it, the crux of Karl Marx's model is the physical labor of a person producing material goods. To me, the primary resource now is creativity and connectivity. We have 3D printers that can support localized, highly custom, production, where the premium is on agility, market savvy, project management and technical prowess, and a two- or three-person shop can create an entire industry within a year. This is a much more dynamic and promising world than the one Marx observed and commented on. Yes, many have been and will be pushed to the wall in this new economy, those who are less nimble and otherwise hobbled, but this is always the case. Governments sometimes, when permitted, use methods to mitigate the misery, but to me the focus is on the creative and energetic.

Barbara Ehrenreich bitch-slaps The Secret
The scientist and prolific author, who famously 'griped' her way through cancer as opposed to laughing a la Norman Cousins, has slammed the book The Secret and its worldview that many think has answers to success (also recently mocked in a Simpson's episode). She lumps such otherwise seemingly unrelated luminaries as Norman Vincent Peale, Reverend Ike and Joel Osteen in the time-honored American tradition that has recently been exemplified by that book.  On her web site she decries how our personal inclination " to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out 'negative' thoughts [and its corresponding national tendency have] brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. " She always tells it like it is, and is a refreshing adult voice in the midst of the happy talk.

Repatriating Cash to US can be boosted considerably

Maria Bartiromo was interviewing one of the Fed board members this past Sunday (Nov 15 to be exact) and he said that current taxation structure inhibits the return of cash from the worldwide activities of US-based multinationals.

The multinational corporation (MNC) is beholden to its stakeholders, and rightly so, like any sensible business. Those stakeholders are folks whose parents may have had the comfort of pensions. We are not so fortunate, in large part. So we hope our stock / stake in a corporation will thrive or at least not decline.

A multinational by inclination is looking at global-level profitability vis-a-vis any given country's prosperity, as far as I understand it. There is a single balance sheet.

Again, from my understanding based on what the interview disclosed, there are taxes on repatriation of cash to the US. Maybe tax breaks that encourage the return of billions of dollars of earnings are a good thing. If investment is to be made in physical plant, for example, why not build and employ on these shores?

How about a musical written by a defector from North Korea, about the brutal, often fatal, reality of prisons in that country? You don't see that every day, now do ya?.

Brontë Sisters Power Dolls
Those Victorian publishers, (damn their eyes or something equally antiquated) feel the wrath of Brontësaurus, as the three sisters 'transform' into a pop culture phenomenon.

Hyapatia, Alexandria, and the film Christians would prefer you not see
The Spanish film Agora is well-acclaimed, but it has made no splash in the US. In the opinion of this article's author, it's due to Christian reluctance to acknowledge their complete history, warts and all. Owning up to one's historical shortcomings to me is a sign of confidence, but I guess that attitude is not persuasive to the mindlessly faithful. This post of mine is not intended as a slam at religion or Christians, but is a reflection of one of the less appealing aspects of religion in general.

Rush Limbaugh, speaking about the BP oil mess on May 27, said that he thought there were more intelligent people in the private sector, compared to government. I grant him that point, as I tend to agree with that perspective. However, those intelligent subject matter experts and seasoned business owners have different constituencies, and do not have to think of the common good. Again, this is not a slam on private sector of course, just pointing out that there is a special purpose for government. To me, the size, transparency and efficacy of government is the issue; has been for decades now.

Obama critics: if you want to gain mindshare, and not just titillate your echo chamber, leave the Hitler references alone. Do you have ANY sense of history? It always amazes me when people go to extremes to win an argument, when there are so many valid and persuasive points that can be offered. Is it like a form of impulse control?

On a lighter note, which at least I need at present: Ph.D. from Oxford, and first Western geisha in Japan.

After viewing this video by some nutjob named Janet Porter, I have a two-word response. The second word is "..you!". Guess the first word.

Milton Friedman Quotes
From an interview with Reason magazine:

"I start...from a belief in individual freedom and that derives fundamentally from a belief in the limitations of our knowledge, from a belief...that nobody can be sure that what he believes is right, is really right...The most attractive position...is putting individual freedom first."

"There's a great deal of basis for believing that a free society is fundamentally unstable -- we may regret this but we've got to face up to the facts...I think it's the utmost of naivete to suppose that a free society is...the natural order of things."

"It's fortunate that the capitalist society is more productive, because if it were not it would never be tolerated. The bias against it is so great that...it's got to have a five-to-one advantage in order to survive" (here, I guess he means compared to socialism, but worth noting in context of BP catastrophe that will plague us for decades, generations in some areas).

"[T]he collectivist answer is a simple one. If there's something wrong pass a law and do something about it."

Honoring the Flag
I was watching a YouTube video of mine owner Don Blankenship the other day; screen shot below.

My first question is: when did it become OK to wear the flag? This man is about my age, and growing up we knew better. This is considered disrespectful.

Second question: should we doubt the sincerity of someone who literally wraps himself in the flag? My father served in WW II and I cherish this national symbol, as does he. Gimme a break, Don.

Good on ya Department
This guy was putting out some sensible things imho, and gets castigated by those that don't get it. They are out of their minds when they criticize the site.

You know, it's interesting to see what people will write for public consumption when they are relatively anonymous. Of course we see the tired and lazy charges of 'Communist' and 'Terrorist' against the Administration; give me a break. There's plenty that's substantive that we can criticize --- and CHANGE.

The sensible approach to issues is a welcome sight.

Is this an issue that can bridge ideological divide?

I'm still looking at this, but this has the potential for agribusiness to put a hurt on small farmers. Even those who raise their own food for their own consumption.

It is clear that President Obama has made apologies --- but
Let me kick this off by saying that sometimes it truly is important that a nation not look weak; it is a sensible default position. Why look weak in a world populated by sociopathic and brutal leaders? Having said this, I think the previous administration was implacable and stubborn at times in its dealing with the world. Let me say more fully: "unnecessarily implacable and stubborn at times in its dealing with the world." I mean, look at how the US reputation, and all the sympathy we had after 9/11, essentially evaporated in just a few short years. What the heck was THAT all about?

This is a good example of an actual apology by Obama, but some have said that he has apologized to the world for the US excessively and unnecessarily. Please note for example this phrase:

"The President has already apologized for his country to nearly 3 billion people across Europe, the Muslim world, and the Americas" from a web article cited below on the Heritage Foundation on the 'Top 10' ways he supposedly has "humiliated a Superpower" by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. and Morgan Roach on June 2 2009

I have scanned multiple sources for any public utterances made by Obama overseas that have the words "I apologize" or "we apologize" in them, yet I see web content that blasts the President for "apologizing". Here are examples, drawn from the two articles I cite:


#1: "So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

#2 "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."


#3. Apology to the Summit of the Americas: Address to the Summit of the Americas, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 17.

"While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms."

#4. Apology at the G-20 Summit of World Leaders: News conference in London, April 2.

"I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions."

I am a political independent, and have voted for three different parties for President in my time. To a less partisan eye, these statements by Obama seem reasonably arguable and reasonably accurate, while not music to the ears of a proud American. I don't always agree; I'm not sure how much of a leading role Europe has for example, but can cite examples where we have been dismissive.  Guess I'm just a fan of nuance and perspective, but many are not. I respect them, but do not always agree with them. It's only one country, and only one President at a time. It's tough enough out there, so let's get perspective when it matters. The US is going through a tough period.