Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lunatics/Asylum



How much more insane can they get? The elected governor of Texas, no more crazy than any of them, has acted swiftly and with courage in response to clear evidence of an existential threat:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor a U.S. military training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15" amid Internet-fueled suspicions that the war simulation is really a hostile military takeover. The request comes a day after more than 200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law...
Can we, finally and forever, stop with the "both sides do it" bullshit? Today's R party is insane. There's no equivalent to this embarrassing idiocy on the left. It's beyond shameful, beyond unbelievable. It's the living, breathing, frothing-at-the-mouth proof that one party, the party currently in control of Congress and trying like hell to get the White House, is ruled by people wholly detached from reality. It should make anyone question anything said by anyone in that party about any subject or person. Period.

The United States of America, once a leader in thought, innovation, science, education, invention; on its way to becoming a laughing stock at best and a disaster in fact. And there are enough of these people effectively to thwart the best efforts of the one remaining half-way sane party to prevent it.

It's appalling. It really, really is. On what basis can one hold onto hope?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Newspaper Columny



Here's my latest in the local paper, as of this morning:

Republicans in Congress just voted to repeal the estate tax, and it’s perfect. By which I mean it’s the perfect demonstration of the mystifying current state of political affairs, a master class in what’s happening at all levels of right-wing “governance” today. Let’s start with some facts (www.tinyurl.com/natabut): the estates of married couples that are subject to the tax are those valued at more than about eleven million dollars. Second, the tax – currently 40% -- is applied only to money above that level; in other words, the tax on an estate worth about eleven million one hundred dollars would be forty bucks. Because of that, and various loopholes, the average overall rate ends up around 17%. Third, estates of that amount account for two-tenths of one percent of all estates. In 2013, about twenty small businesses and family farms paid estate taxes. The total number of families paying estate taxes is just over five thousand. Using the ten-year metric by which tax policies are measured, eliminating the tax adds over 300 billion dollars to deficits, including interest on the debt. 
Whatever side of the political divide you’re on, you can’t disagree that elimination of the estate tax is of benefit to none but the very most wealthy; nor can it escape notice that among that group are those who contribute astonishing amounts of money to various political candidates. Since Citizens United, we’re informed we needn’t know the exact amounts, nor even the sources of the cash; but if anyone thinks it doesn’t lead to quids pro quo, they’re off-planet. Or they’re Anthony Kennedy. 
As usual, despite their claims to fiscal high ground, Republican Congressfolk proposed nothing to make up for the hit to budgetary balance. But we all know from where it’d come, were the bill to make it into law (which it won’t, as long as there’s a Democratic president): It’ll come from services to the rest of us. Which is exactly the point. Average people elected these guys. The people most hurt, every time and everywhere this trickle-down fantasy has been implemented, are the ones serially selecting the brokers of bogosity. How can this be explained? 
Well, for one thing, Republicans and their media mouthpieces managed to rebrand the estate tax as the “death tax.” Brilliant. Because if most of us will never get within miles of that kind of money, we’ll all die. So we can relate. Clearly, Republicans are infinitely more effective at selling messages that make no sense than Democrats are at selling ones that do. Like “Death Panels” vs. “Affordable Care.” Polls show how ill informed Republicans are on the effects of the ACA. (www.tinyurl.com/mne7weu) 
Repealing the estate tax does no good for the country at large. It can only be understood as a payoff to a tiny number of people giving huge amounts of cash to politicians. Everyone who’s not in that category ought to be outraged at how much power has been given to so few, promising to vote the givers out of office faster than the Koch brothers can sign a check. So how do they get away with it? Like they always have: by ginning up outrage at something else. It’s like shooting fish in a barn door, and we can already see the latest prestidigitation taking shape. To get their electorate, yet again, to vote against their own interests in the important things, to ignore, as usual, the damage caused by the policies they’ll endorse by default, to overlook the glaring differences, for example, between Republican-governed Wisconsin and Democrat-governed Minnesota, the Republican machine is grinding up their latest summer sausage. To wit: 
You’re aware, right, as Mike Huckabee has revealed, that gay marriage will lead to criminalization of Christianity. (Benghazi.) You’re upset that, as Bill O’Reilly informs us, rich people suffer oppressive tax rates, while poor people have it too easy. (Benghazi.) Like the Kansas legislature (Benghazi), you’ve noticed all those folks spending food stamps on cruise ships. And if those don’t get you, Lindsey Graham, about to announce his candidacy (Benghazi), reminds us we have to stop ISIS before “we all get killed here at home.” Our ever-vigilant media, meanwhile, would rather know if Scott Walker would attend a gay wedding than how he explains his economic disaster.
 
[Image source]

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The President Speaks About Baltimore



President Obama's words (spontaneous, in response to a question) on Baltimore and the issues involved:

First, obviously, our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray. Understandably, they want answers. And DOJ has opened an investigation. It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.  
Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances. It underscores that that’s a tough job, and we have to keep that in mind. And my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible. Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive. When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement, they’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. 
And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area. So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction. That is not a protest, that is not a statement, it’s people – a handful of people taking advantage of the situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.  
Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore led by clergy and community leaders, and they were constructive and they were thoughtful. And frankly, didn’t get that much attention. And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way, I think, have been lost in the discussion.  
The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore, I think, have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray and that accountability needs to exist. I think we have to give them credit. My understanding is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of protesters – a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  
What they were doing – what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement. That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem. And they deserve credit for it and we should be lifting them up. Point number five, and I’ve got six, because this is important. Since Ferguson and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now or once every couple of weeks. And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations, but more importantly moms and dads across the country might start saying this is a crisis. What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new. And we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.  
The good news is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are – are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond. What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House had come up with very constructive, concrete proposals that if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference. Wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.  
Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is is that we don’t run these police forces. I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain. But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves. And we – coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities. 
The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdiction that want to purchase body cameras. We are gonna be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference. And we’re gonna keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary. I think it’s gonna be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organizations to acknowledge that this is not good for police. We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are gonna be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  
There are – there are some bad politicians, who are corrupt. And there are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing. Well, there are some police who aren’t doing the right thing. And rather than close ranks, you know, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize, they’ve got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem. And we’re committed to facilitating that process. So the heads of our COPS (ph) agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore. Our head – assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore. But we’re gonna be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.  
And I’ll make my final point – I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us – we can’t just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty. They’ve got parents, often, because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves, can’t do right by their kids.  
If it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead than that they go to college. In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men. Communities where there’s no investment and manufacturing’s been stripped away. And drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks. In those environments, if we think that we’re just gonna send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there, without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not gonna solve this problem. 
And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets. And everybody will feign concern until it goes away and then we go about our business as usual. If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do, the rest of us, to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons, so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a non-violent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  
That’s hard, that requires more than just the occasional news report or task force, and there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that. Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities and trying to attract new businesses in.  
But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant, and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped. We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids and we think they’re important and they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.  
That’s how I feel. I think they’re a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way. But that kind of political mobilization, I think we haven’t seen in quite some time. And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference, but I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough, because it’s too easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law-and-order issue as opposed to a broader social issue. That was a really long answer, but I felt pretty strongly about it.

The above is from here, where there is also video of the remarks. I find it impressive, and comprehensive. I wonder if a single person in our right-wing media and legislatures will find a single thing they could agree with. I wonder how the speech will, as usual, be seen only as divisive and critical of America and unworthy of the slightest effort to understand.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marco?



So Marco Rubio, alone among potential R presidential candidates as far as I know, understands that sexual preference is not a choice. Good for him. Given the proclivities of his potential voters, it seems brave and principled; also rare commodities among his fellow supplicants. (There's plenty of time for him to change on this one, though, as he has with so much else.)
... During an appearance on CBS' "Face The Nation," Rubio, who launched his 2016 presidential campaign last week, said that he believes the definition of marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The Florida senator also added said that same-sex marriage was not a constitutional right and should be decided by state legislatures, not the courts. Despite his position, Rubio added that he didn't think being gay was a choice. "I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people," he said. "In fact, the bottom line is I believe sexual preference is something that people are born with."...
Now all he needs to do is reconcile the irreconcilable: if sexual preference is inborn, and since the bible declares homosexuality an abomination punishable by eternal damnation and no cake or pizza at weddings, not to mention diesel repair when the need arises, how can his god be a loving one? Explain, please, Marco. Along with the basis for rejecting same-sex marriage.

But who cares? Rubio has tried to position himself pretty much everywhere, sort of a Schrodinger's hep cat. I've heard it said that he's everyone's second choice for president (everyone being Republicans, of course.) Guess it's better than last place, but it doesn't seem likely to get him very far. Maybe #2 on the ticket? Having such a generally reasonable view of the origins of sexual preference seems unlikely to get him through the primaries. But veep is about general elections and appealing more broadly.

Guess we'll have to stay tuned.

[Image source]

Sunday, April 19, 2015

One Day, One Website



These headlines are all on the Talking Points Memo website today. Just a single slice of the molded bread that is what's become of today's Republican party and those who support it. And those whose support it seeks. And the propaganda machine that spews its insanity. Is it any wonder that those of us who pay attention and who have/had hopes for a future for a viable two party system, are depressed? As Charles P Pierce likes to say, these truly are the mole people.


Rep. King: Obama Importing Millions Of ‘Undocumented Democrats’


GOP Rep: Obamacare Makes America More Like North Korea

Huckabee: Don't Enlist till We Get a More Godly President

Fox Contributor: If We Allow Gays To Get Married, Why Not Siblings?


Trump Lets His Followers Know 'Hillary Clinton Can't Satisfy Her Husband'



Neo-Nazi: I Hate Gay People 'With A Passion' And I've Killed

Others

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Death And Taxes



Currently, the estate tax applies to leavings over about $11 million for a married couple, which represents significantly less than one percent of the populus. Not only that, as many people don't seem to understand, the tax, currently @ 40%, applies only to money above that amount. So the tax on an estate of about $11 million plus one dollar would be forty cents. In addition to which, there are loopholes aplenty, allowing many large estates to avoid taxes.

Despite those facts, the right wing screamers have managed to get Joe and Jane Sixbucks to be outraged that such a tax, cheerfully transmogrified into "the DEATH tax," exists. As if.

Today those America-loving Congressional Teabaggers voted to repeal the tax, giving a sop to the wealthiest of their contributers, and doing nothing for average Americans except to reduce funds available to pay for stuff that average Americans need, and about which the most wealthy don't need to give a shit. As long as there's a D in the White House (one assumes) it won't pass; but it makes clear, yet again, just where their priorities are. And why electing a Republican president would be a disaster for anyone and everyone not among those to whom the estate tax applies.

Senator Warren has some thoughts:
"I can't believe it," she said. "Well, yes, I can. This isn't just a really bad idea. This is an attack on our values -- getting rid of the estate tax in order to help a handful of really rich people, and telling our children that there's no money for them to go to school, to help them with their student loans, to build the necessary infrastructure so that they can get to and from the jobs that will help them pay off those loans...well, that's just...obscene."

And yet. And yet, they'll mangage to get the votes from the very people most adversely affected, by the usual techniques: Pretend Christianity is under attack, that white males are under attack, that ISIS is ready to come out from under our beds and impose Sharia law in kitchens around the land. It's embarrassing, is what it is: embarrassing that in what those very people like to call "the world's greatest democracy," voters are so easily bamboozled.

Which is the greater threat to our future? Straw men or budgets designed to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of everyone else? Seems pretty obvious, unless you watch Fox "news" every day, listen to Rush and Michael and Alex and Ann and Laura... In which case, yet again, you'll vote to retain the most regressive and cynical Congress in generations, and believe you're doing yourself and your country a favor. When the opposite, clearly as it can be, is true.

[Image source]

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake


Here's my latest newspaper column, a belated (the paper's timing, not mine) entry into the Christians-selling-cake controversy:
This is a tough one. 
My first reaction, when our neighbor-state baker refused to serve a gay couple, was that she ought to have the right to decide who takes her cake. There’s a funambulist in me that still wonders. But the crudely hatched, later revised Indiana law has brought issues into focus, especially as we watched their governor serially refusing to answer whether it provides an excuse for discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. It did, of course, until changed, as a pizza joint subsequently showed us. (And yet they indulge the sin of gluttony!) Which raises the question: do the revisions make the Indiana law moot? Not really. They gave it a shot. Other states are upping the ante. 
When considering whether anti-discrimination laws impinge on religious freedom, it’d be nice to have agreement on what such freedom actually means. It’ll never happen. Is requiring equal treatment for LGBT citizens really an attack on religious practice? Every potential R presidential candidate thinks so. Does speaking out against discrimination based on sexual orientation amount to a lynch mob? Newt and Ted say yes. A thoughtful letter here recently asked why a pro-choice sign-maker isn’t forced to make signs against abortion. To that, anyway, the answer is blessedly simple: anti-discrimination laws are about classes of people, not opinions. 
Maybe it depends on the meaning of “religious practice.” The more I think about it, the stranger I find claims of interference, because it suggests that selling a cake is a religious act with religious implications. What it is, is commerce, suggesting nothing about the religion of the actor; nor can religious devotion be deduced by transferring possession of a cake. How does selling one amount to renunciation of your religion? Isn’t it just following the Golden Rule? If you love the sinners, bake them a cake. If you don’t love their sexual behavior, don’t participate. Religion survives, everyone’s happy. 
Well, no, of course not. This is America, land of the highest percentage of evolution deniers, the lowest percentage of climate change believers, and the highest number of houses of worship per capita of any Western country. It’s a nation that rounds off to entirely Christian, nearly all of the elected variety of whom are busy writing and enacting Bible-based laws (while warning about Sharia law); yet who claim it’s they whose beliefs are under attack. 
Many individual Christians and churches have no problem with same-sex marriage. In that sense, exercising one’s religious beliefs is a particular, not a universal act. If you believe homosexuality is a sin, you’re hardly alone; but neither are you in possession of religious consensus or immutable truth, especially the sort that generally justifies defiance of civil law. So unless someone is telling you not to believe what you choose to believe, not to attend the church of your choice, not to transfer your creed to your kids, when you conclude your religion requires you to break the law, you’ve made a profound decision. In this case, you will have concluded that your faith obligates treating a group of people as second-class citizens, demands discriminating against them based on their sexual orientation, compels taking upon yourself the judgment of individuals whose legal behavior affects you in no way -- judgments that others might comfortably leave to God. That failure to act on that judgment negates your religion. Historically, civil disobedience has been carried out for higher purpose than the right to discriminate. The opposite, usually. 
I wish we lived in a world where religion wasn’t used as an excuse for bigotry. I wish there were agreement on where the line is between religious and secular law. I wish laws protecting minorities weren’t necessary. Maybe really small, family-owned businesses should be allowed their prejudices if they post them on a sign. Let the market decide. 
The good news is that godly people around the country who share the pizzeria owners’ views of homosexuality, certain, among other misconceptions, that it’s a choice, have donated nearly a million dollars to the shop owners. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I’d have thought He’d prefer to have seen that kind of money given to food banks. But maybe that’s just me.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bloody Awful


This article, admittedly on a left-wing blog, confirms what I've said many times, many ways: there may be liberal whackos, people who reject facts to serve their beliefs, who post conspiratorial claims; but, unlike their Republican equivalents, they aren't considered mainstream, nominated to run against Obama, nor are their publications given credence by Democratic politicians. Like this website receives from Republicans across the board:
... The first article coincided with the April 15, 2014 lunar eclipse (also referred to as a "blood moon"). WND argued that the blood moon was actually a divine warning against Obama's evil executive actions. 

Now, almost one year later, another WND article coincided with the April 4, 2015 blood moon.  This time, the article stated that it was actually Obama's negotiation over Iran’s nuclear program that was “totally tied to these Blood Moons”.
As you can see, they can't make up their mind why Obama is to blame, just know that he is. 
The conservative pastor they featured in the article also argued that the blood moons are coinciding pretty closely with major Jewish holidays.  True, actually.  If he had done even the smallest amount of research, he would know that is because the Jewish calendar is based on the LUNAR calendar rather than the 12-month solar calendar. But NO:  a natural and predictable phenomenon that has occurred since our planet's birth is due to President Obama.  That makes more sense. 
Seriously.  Article posits that the blood moons are actually divine warnings to the president because he is trying to promote peace in the Middle East... 
Well, other than it's laughable, it's pretty disturbing. A phenomenon that's been predictable, and predicted for thousands of years, is attributed to our current president's evil ways. If the idiot who spewed the drivel is unaware of how solar and lunar cycles work, he's deeply uninformed. Just as today's Republicans, with their attacks on public education, would like their voters to be.

If he is aware and says it anyway, he's a liar, a deliberate deceiver, and a shameful hypocrite. (Yeah, say today's elected Rs, you say that as if it's a bad thing.)

[Image source]

Friday, April 10, 2015

Give Me Your Tired, Your Home-Schooled


If there's one thing Republicans hate it's granting asylum for people fleeing danger in their home country. Except, you know, the danger of public education.
... “The Republicans have put home-schooling as a priority for asylum in the United States ahead of murder, rape, child abuse,” Rep. Luis GutiĆ©rrez (D-IL) said. Gutierrez doesn’t “object to the provision in Chaffetz’s bill but thinks it’s unfair to help home-school families without aiding children fleeing drug and gang violence and abuse in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” USA Todayreported after the bill’s passage in committee. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is the original sponsor for the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act...
Covering the back end, I guess. Because in case their plan to ruin public education in this country fails, they know they can count on the home-schooled (i.e., kids taught that science is evil and the earth is 6,000 years old and Obama is a Kenyan terrorist) to produce future fodder (cannon, and otherwise.) And just in case that falls short, let's bring 'em in from wherever we can find them.

Priorities. I'm gonna assume I'm not the only person who finds this weird. But I've been wrong before.

[Image source]

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Wealth Runs Dry



Looks like there are limits to the latest right-wing scam: if you want to make money online after doing something egregious, like shooting a black guy if you're a cop, you need to look both ways before pulling the trigger. Because if you're being filmed, and if the video shows you were flat out lying, even the fundie funders may balk. Hard as that is to believe.

As long as there's no evidence, I'm sure you're still good to go. And if you want to refuse service to gays, the big bucks will still roll in. Don't know why the florist only made $150K while the pizza joint hauled in $840K, but it's a good gig either way.

One can hardly imagine how much Darren Wilson would have raked in, had he also been in the pizza shop/bakery/florist business.

[Image source]

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Money For Nothing



Congressional Rs loves them some defense spending. (Well, okay, some Ds do, too.) Here's a few examples of how wisely our bucks are spent:
... The flying radar that practically has to be over the launch pads to see anything. The rocket-interceptor that was too long for any ship in the Navy to carry. (Nobody figured this out in advance? Even I could have done that math.) The multiple-kill vehicle -- cool name, by the way -- that was so completely fked up that they couldn't even figure out a way to make it fly. And the big ugly ship with the massive seaborne radar that was vulnerable to corrosion because ships spend much of their time, you know, at sea...
[Picture is a screenshot from a link within the link]

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Central Question



But happy Easter anyway. I suppose half good is better than not good at all.

[Image from somewhere on the internets, probably Facebook.]

Friday, April 3, 2015

Heads Will Explode


Oh, no! The horror!! A possible agreement with Iran on their nukes??? Without a shot being fired??? My god. Our right wing will hype this as tantamount to treason, at worst, and as deadly naivete at best. While Dick Cheney spews his usual "worst president in my lifetime" claim. Peace. Healthcare. Recovering economy. Jobs. What could be worse?

And, no, I don't really trust Iran. But there is precedent for bad actors following the rules, especially when they know the consequences of not doing so. And, yes, I think the sanctions, decried as usual by all the right wing screamers, were a major part of pressuring an agreement.

Today's elected Republicans, and those that elect them, and the networks of propaganda that help with the deceptions, won't find anything good in anything Obama has done or will do. Especially if it means robbing them of their most favorite thing, war. Useless weapon systems. Defense contractors. Sending other people's kids to fight and die. While not paying for it. Scott Walker promises to do to the deal what he's already done to his state. Destroy it. But for the rest of us, including those scarce true conservatives, avoiding war isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I assume, as it is with efforts to address climate change, Mitch McConnell is, as we speak, penning letters, maybe with Tom Cotton's help, to our allies suggesting they reject any agreement with Iran, and to Iran, imploring them to choose war. It's what patriots do, after all. God bless us, one and all.

[Image source]

Thursday, April 2, 2015

And Not A Drop To Drink


When we lived in San Francisco during my surgery training, we went through a time of city-wide water restrictions. As I remember, it started out voluntary, and we did all the recommended things: quick showers (ours was too small for the together thing), reusing "grey water" to water a few plants, following the "yellow is mellow, brown goes down" rule. When it became mandatory that people cut their use by some percent or other, we worried that since we'd already done it we might be penalized based on our reduced use. I don't recall that that happened.

So now it's way worse in California, and Jerry Brown has ordered rationing statewide. Charles P Pierce has a few things to say about it and, as usual, I agree:
.... I have no idea what will happen if water, fully commodified, becomes the new oil. (And that process already is underway in a lot of places, including here.) But one thing that will make that phenomenon immeasurably worse would be if the conservation-vs.-consumption argument frames the policy alternatives. If it devolves to the point where the unlimited ability to water your lawn, or to build your new golf course, becomes the same kind of battle for "freedom" that owning an SUV has become in relation to climate change and the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. This is too important an issue to be handled by the engineered infantilism of our political culture.
This is yet another example of how the devolution of our political system into uselessness, by way of childish gamesmanship and selfish denialism, will have long-lasting effects. And whereas liberals might have to make some compromises when it comes to fish, I'd say it's conservatives and their refusal to address climate change, and their pathetic insistence that the only money we spend will be to build more tanks and useless aircraft, that will bear the blame of history. Assuming history doesn't stop.

[Image source]

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hey, Republicans. Your Heroes Are Calling


Microcosm


Everyone knows that abstinence education doesn't work, right? Or at least doctors must know. And if not them, certainly people in the party of former half-term governors of Alaska with out-of wedlock grandkids. Right?

Honest to gods, I can't understand why any halfway normal person (and I suppose I just answered my own question) can vote for a single Republican at any level, even if the politician in question were that theoretical thoughtful one, the kind of which legends speak, and about which, in the future, stories will be told, in whispers, around campfires fed by the rotting timbers of buildings long gone. Because a vote for any of them is a vote for this guy. Who happens to be, among other things, a doctor.
Texas has the third highest rate of HIV infections in the country, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from passing an amendment that defunds HIV/STD prevention programs Tuesday. The amendment to the House budget proposal—offered by Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman)—diverts $3 million over the next biennium to abstinence-only sexual education programs. 
House Democrats fought against the amendment in a debate that rapidly devolved into awkward farce, with Rep. Spitzer revealing details of his own sexual history as proof of the effectiveness of abstinence. For those keeping tabs at home, he was a virgin until marrying his wife at age 29, although he declined to answer a question from Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) on whether she was the first person he propositioned. “Decorum,” shouted state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs).
How much stupid can be piled in front of one's face before one starts to think today's Republican party, at all levels, on all issues, has gone fking insane? That denial of reality is their starting point, from which things predictably and demonstrably go from bad to worse. That the party places certain religious-based beliefs above all else, and, on that basis, will do and say pretty much anything, no matter how dangerous, even to themselves and their kids.

It's beyond mystifying. It's incomprehensible, and while it slowly drives me crazy, it's rapidly running our country to ruin on the rails of Republican radical refusalism.

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