Saturday, June 27, 2015

Being Independent Minded

Many of us aren't nearly as independent-minded as we like to think.  The views many of us hold are largely dictated by partisanship and ideological affiliations rather than intellectual rigor.  This leads to an almost chronic unwillingness to revisit and refine long-held positions.  Our thinking on matters of politics and philosophy and faith not only can become lazy; it can easily ossify.  It may be worth asking yourself: in the last 15 to 20 years, on what issues of importance have you changed your mind, recalibrated your thinking, or even attempted to take a fresh look? Or has every event, serious study, and new set of facts merely confirmed what you already knew? To put it another way: Do you think you've ever been wrong?
Peter Wehner in  [reprinted from "The Week" June 19, 2015; page 10]

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now is republished with permission of Stratfor
By Scott Stewart    June 25, 2015

      In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could outlast that of the Islamic State. Last week, I wrote about how ideologies are harder to kill than individuals, focusing on the effect that the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi will have on the group and the wider global jihadist movement.
      But beyond the impact of leaders like al-Wahayshi, there are other facets of strategy that will influence the war for the soul of jihadism. Specifically, I am talking about time and place. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State seek to establish a global caliphate, but both differ quite starkly in how to accomplish this task and how soon it can be achieved.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wrong-Headed Policies

      In an earlier post we accused the Democrats of "build it and they will come" thinking, except I just thought of a classic Republican policy -- "trickle-down economics" aka Reganomics.  It is often stated in the aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats" is commonly attributed to Democrat John F Kennedy who used it in a 1963 speech. The phrase has been used to defend tax cuts and other policies where the initial beneficiaries are high income earners.
     A more recent attempt at this kind of thinking was attempted in 2012 by Republican Governor Sam Brownback who urged the Kansas legislature to slash income taxes without an exact plan to make up the missing revenue.  This "trust me" policy led to a $400 Million budget deficit. In response Kansas had to approve in 2015 the largest tax increase in its history.
   However, never fear "the rising tide" dupe has not been totally defeated.  According to the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy the poorest 20% of Kansans will not pay 1.5% more in taxes than in 2012, while the wealthiest 1% will pay 1.9 percent less.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Narcisstic Personality Disorder

    I have had a theory that people who hog Facebook pages, such as those who post a half-dozen status updates daily or countless selfies, may have a mental disease known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I stumbled upon this disorder while searching demographics of psychopathology. According to a Wikipedia reference   
People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy.
The reference continues with
A nationwide study in the United States found that 7.7 percent of men and 4.8 percent of women could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (Stinson et al., 2008). These data also suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is more prevalent among younger adults, possibly supporting the impression that narcissistic personality disorder is on the rise as a result of social and economic conditions that support more extreme versions of self-focused individualism (Bender, 2012)
Of course this research didn't mention Facebook, but surely I am onto something.


     The murder of nine blacks in a Charleston SC church by a alleged deranged young white male had us doing some basic research into psychopathology.  A friend forwarded to me the CNN article, "The Birth of a Psychopath" which had appeared only a few days prior.
     In previous posts on this blog we reported finding on another mental disease schizophrenia which appears to be far more common that one might assume.  We consequently wondered how predominate psychopaths were in the population.  This CNN article claims 1% of the men in America were probably psychopaths.  (I then noticed this article was written Kelly Daniel ).  I have followed the references in her article trying to get to the root source document that supported this statistic.  I came up with nothing.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rigid Mental Processes

This video is deeper than riding a bike.  It also explains why when certain biases get hard-wired into our brains, it is almost impossible to change.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Liberal vs Conservative Approaches

     We have worked with government agencies as both adviser and advocate.  In that work we have notice a distinct difference in how liberals and conservatives approach legislative issues.  What we noticed kind of explains one of the primary difference on how Democrats and Republics want to approach the healthcare laws.
     The approach the Democrats seem to prefer is the "Field of Dreams" - build it and they will come.  They prefer to focus of policy.  They assume the details will take of themselves.  The Republicans on the other hand are "results driven" and detail oriented. They start with the results that they want to achieve and then work backward into broader plans.
     The Affordable Care Act was a huge piece of legislation and virtually impossible validate the end product.  The abysmal role-out should not have been a surprise.  It was made even worse by the fact that so few on the democratic side had little executive experience.  The Republicans harped on the law being so broad that no one knew what was in the law or how it was likely to work.  They wanted to start with much smaller measurable pieces and work backward into a broader scope legislation.
     For sure there were many other self-serving political agendas in the confrontation on this law, but this difference in approach to legislation maybe why liberal and conservative minded people find it so hard to work together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


      Approximately 2.4 million American adults, or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older, have schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The onset of schizophrenia  often appears in late teens to early 30s. Although only diagnosed in early 20th century it has throughout humankind.
       This chronic, debilitating mental disorder is characterized by distortions of thinking and perception with primary aspect of psychosis. Schizophrenics have abnormal perception of reality with hallucinations and delusions. They often hear voices or see things which do not exist.
      Also about 1 in 20 people in the general (non-schizophrenic) population has experienced at least one hallucination in their lifetime that wasn't connected to drugs, alcohol or dreaming.
     These people reported hearing voices or seen things that didn't exist, or experienced a delusion (a false belief), such as the thought that their mind was being controlled or that they were being followed.


I Side With

     Instead of just selecting a Presidential candidate because you like his or her smile.  Try matching your political and social preferences with that of each of the many candidates.
     The website provides a very comprehensive survey that you complete and it tells you which political party you best match (which may not be that unknown) and which Presidential candidate you should watch.
     Here is the link

The questions are selected because they give a broad sample of the most divisive issues being discussed this year in politics. continues to add new issues on a weekly basis.  It is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or interest group.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fake Charities

The Federal Trade Commission recently by accused Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society of defrauding donors for more than $187 million. The FTC alleges that these four "sham charities" solicited millions in donations by promising to help pay for hospice care, chemotherapy, and other services for cancer patients, but only a fraction of that money actually went to patients. Most of it went to company cars, high salaries, and a Caribbean cruise.

Before donating check the charity’s score on Charity Navigator, a website that tracks the performance of thousands of non-profit organizations. Find out what percentage of donations go to actual programs versus administrative and fundraising costs.  Don’t be fooled by a name that sounds like a well-known charity. Search for that organization name — especially with the word “complaint” or “scam.”

Obamacare Train Wreck In One Month?

     It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act become law.  A recent Gallup Poll shows little has happened to make Americans more favorably inclined toward it.

Although it has survived some 60 recall attempts by the Republicans in the House of Representatives and one major U.S. Supreme Court challenge, the latest legal challenge could be the "killer."

Individuals in the 34 states who rely on a federal on tax subsidies to help buy insurance could lose that aid if the Supreme Court rules against Secretary Burwell and the federal government this month.

To make matters worse some states are expecting huge increase in 2016
Rate increases proposed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest insurer, range from 35 percent to 39 percent. Aetna and Coventry Health Company, which merged in 2013, requested rate increases of 20 percent to 35 percent.
"We’re seeing the same sort of thing in a lot of other states,” said Sheldon Weisgrau, director of the Health Reform Resource Project in Kansas. “This is a reflection of what it actually costs to insure a large majority of population, whereas before what we had was a market that excluded a lot of people.”